Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Progressivism?

You can’t argue against it if you don’t understand it...

Michael Barone, America’ preeminent political scholar, explores the roots of progressivism, that un-American and statist doctrine spawned at the dawn of the 20th century.

Progressivism’s Premise
The Progressives explicitly repudiated the Founders’ vision of limited government. They argued that government needed to redistribute property, to take money from one group of citizens to help others, and to regulate economic activity in ways previously considered unconstitutional.
More importantly, says Barone, “They feared revolution.”  Even “good” countries experienced such upheavals back in the late 1800’s.  People of the early 1900’s looked up to central-planning strong men as the wave of the future, if not out of fear of central-planning communists.  You see, fascism, communism and progressivism were not opposing ideologies, they were competing for the support of the same group of people!

The teeming hordes of city dwellers who manned America’s factories became a particular concern of progressives:
Most city residents rented rather than owned their homes; they cashed their paychecks for cash rather than have bank accounts; they depended on charity if they became disabled or widowed.
It was the America of Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie—a very hard America (as I used the term in my 2004 book, Hard America, Soft America), an America with plenty of competition and accountability, but which could be very unforgiving of mistakes and misfortunes. Millions made their way upwards, but most never accumulated significant wealth.
Progressivism was sprung from a sense of condescending paternal benevolence, urged along by a will to order.
The Progressives and their progeny, the New Dealers—whether acting out of benevolence, hunger for power, or fear—were paternalistic; but they were also precautionary.
Give the masses work relief, Social Security, deposit insurance, a floor on wages and prices, they thought, and the masses will not revolt or be attracted to the totalitarian faiths advancing in the Old World—the Communism that many intellectuals championed, the fascism that Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote was “the wave of the future.”
The irony here, is that the US government, insulating itself from socialist totalitarian ideologies, itself became more totalitarian and more socialist.
The Progressives argued that economic freedoms were unimportant because ordinary people, lacking property, didn’t really have much economic freedom anyway.
As such, property rights must be subordinated to human rights. It was better to guarantee people education, healthcare, food, housing—the domestic programs that Franklin Roosevelt advanced as victory in World War II neared in 1944 and 1945
It’s always for the good of society, security, equality, social justice...  As The State increases, the individual decreases. 

It is helpful to recall that Benjamin Franklin quote progressives were so fond of spouting in the days after 9/11:

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." -- Benjamin Franklin


Trestin said...

One of the keys to defeating the Progressive wing of Marxism is personal responsibility. If more people were responsible for their own lives the Progressive Marxists would never have gained power.

Mustang said...

I have an up-coming post on this topic, as well. Like minds —and I’m adding you to my blogroll.

Semper Fidelis,

Silverfiddle said...

Mustang: Cool, I'll do the same.

WomanHonorThyself said...

good one Silver..I agree with Trestin too on this one! .hope your weekend is's hot hot hot here!!:)

commoncents said...

Just wanted to say I really like your blog - keep up the great work!

Common Cents

Most Rev. Gregori said...

How little people learn from the past.

Abraham Lincoln had it right when he said:

The philosophy taught in school today will be the philosophy of the government of the next generation. How true.

So many folks today don't know the meaning of self-sufficiency because the schools have taught them to rely on the government.

Ray said...

Nice work Silver and this is very poignant:

"The irony here, is that the US government, insulating itself from socialist totalitarian ideologies, itself became more totalitarian and more socialist"

Indeed it's always the 'unintended consequences' from overreaching government that haunt us the most. Obamacare is just that.

In fact, this entire 'presidency' in name only is one big unintended circumstance of Affirmative Action.

Silverfiddle said...

Ray: In Obama's case, I think it is all intended...

Ray said...

Oh sure but then even those intended things bring unintended consequences and they'll be immeasurable if this OCARE stands.

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