The endorsing of 'progressive' issues is embedded in the imaginary of the East-West slope. It is especially issues defined more in terms of recognition than redistribution and framed in terms of individual tolerance that have become emphatic signifiers of ‘progress’, ‘Western’/‘European’ values, and thus the civilizational and moral hierarchy of the East-West slope. Aligning oneself with these issues (such as LGBT rights, liberal anti-racism, liberal feminism) on the periphery of Europe is a means of distinguishing oneself against the rest of the ‘backward’ country or region. As a strategy of raising one’s social status it is a tool of social antagonism. We look at two case studies from Hungary to analyze how progressivist narratives are enmeshed in self-colonization. We conduct discourse analysis to examine how self-appointed advocates activate the West-East hierarchy as they claim to morally elevate society, and how this progressivist narrative feeds a populist mobilization that increasingly uses ‘gender’ as a symbol for corrupting foreign forces. We argue that representing social issues such as women’s disadvantages as a matter of tolerance rather than as a deep-seated, structural, material issue serves as a mutual legitimating mechanism for the progressivist actors who accomplish it and the region’s position in the global world order. 

"If progressivism is inherently tied to elites contesting each other, then the downfall of progressivist agendas are also the failures of the elite legitimizing itself through being the harbinger of Western progress. At the time of the transition from state socialism to market capitalism, ‘progress’ has been conflated with the ‘West’, the Western model of society namely market capitalism and bourgeois liberal democracy. The modernist theory of progress is teleological, according to which progress naturally leads to ‘evolved’ societies, only some are further ahead, some are lagging beyond. Almost 30 years after the regime change Hungary could not reproduce Western European living standards due to the inherent hierarchies of the world system (and not any inherent civilizational deficit of Hungarians), and even the existence of the so-called ‘enlightened’ West comes to be questioned. Erzsébet Szalai (2014) even argues that none of the promises of the regime change were fulfilled. Also the broader concept of linear, modernist progress has been proven to be entirely false.
No wonder then that the progressivists are either detached from or try to rule over the material, the local and the actual."

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