Steven Pinker jokes that the irony of progressives is that they deny progress. It's a sharp observation, but I wouldn't call it an irony. It's the point. If there is progress, they are out of a job. While I think that many people go in for progressive ideas and advocacy because they believe in the cause and want to help, there is a secondary motive of being a progressive. Some of that is seeking the appearance, yet I think the desire for identity is stronger for most of them. This secondary motive grows over time. It has been true for decades that young people go into journalism because they "want to make a difference." A difference about what? While many can give some answer if pressed, these are usually a bit vague and unsatisfactory.
The artist/photographer Angel Eduardo was uncomfortable and even a bit appalled to be at a gathering of young filmmakers, and every one of them wanted to "be woke as f***" making films to create political change.
The standard idea is that the election of Barack Obama activated all the white racists to come out and found things like the Tea Party to resist change. What if that's projection? What if it is the various leftist radicals that got activated, increasingly working to prevent change and convince us that there has been no change? Progress has to be denied or redefined or both - or they are gradually going to be out a job. Worse, their status and importance will diminish consistently while this is happening. So many traditional things are being dismissed as merely socially constructed. What if that is primarily true about new ideas being put forth to replace them instead? Every age has its biases and we need to account for that when studying history. Yet how if it our own age that is the most biased, the most socially constructed?