Monday, January 17, 2011

America in the Progressive Stranglehold


What is Progressivism? 

Progressivism springs from a basic human urge to sort, organize, and move the human lot along the road of progress.  Life is messy, and progressives are intent on cleaning it up, usually shouting "science!" to justify their latest assault on the sovereignty of the individual. 

Conservatism does not rule the day here.  We are living in a progressive age ushered in over 100 years ago.


Professor Thomas G. West explains progressivism's roots:
A growing body of scholars -- including John Marini, Charles Kesler, R.J. Pestritto and my colleague Tiffany Miller -- finds the origins of today’s liberalism in the Progressive era. Leading intellectuals of that day openly repudiated the principles of the American founding. In that group, Wilson is often highlighted because he was uniquely both a major politician and an academic.

Referring to his own time period, Wilson continues,
“Life is so complicated that we are not dealing with the old conditions, and that the law has to step in and create new conditions under which we may live.”
In other words, the Founders’ idea of protecting property rights is outmoded. We need a government that intrudes into and even micromanages the private sphere. 

Wilson anticipates today’s liberals by telling Americans to follow the example of Europe:
“In the city of Glasgow, for example (Glasgow is one of the model cities of the world), they have made up their minds that the entries and the hallways of [apartment buildings] are public streets. Therefore, ... the lighting department of the city sees to it that the lights are abundantly lighted.”

Glasgow is Wilson’s ideal. Government knows best. (NY Times - Government in Every Part of Life)
Think of Obama as a Wilson only without the professorship, scholarly writing, or intellectual firepower.  All he's got is a hopium-fueled cult of personality redolent of charismatic third world maximum leaders.  Nonetheless, he harbors the same Wilsonian belief in the power of the state over the petty concerns of the individual

George Will does an excellent job explaining why progressives persist in their pseudo-intellectual utopianism:
The point of progressivism is that the people must progress up from their backwardness. They cannot do so unless they are pulled toward the light by a government composed of the enlightened - experts coolly devoted to facts and science.

The progressive agenda is actually legitimated by the incomprehension and anger it elicits: If the people do not resent and resist what is being done on their behalf, what is being done is not properly ambitious. If it is comprehensible to its intended beneficiaries, it is the work of insufficiently advanced thinkers.

Of course the masses do not understand that the only flaw of the stimulus was its frugality, and that Obamacare's myriad coercions are akin to benevolent parental discipline. (George Will - Progressives)
Progressivism is not pretty, but like a car wreck or the face of a benevolent dictator, we must look upon it and learn what it is in order to save ourselves.  We must, before its practitioners declare the hallways of our houses a public thoroughfare that can only be lighted by government-approved means.

Oops!  Too late...  They've already banned the incandescent bulb...

Further reading
CSM - Progressives
Heritage Foundation - The Progressive Movement

14 comments:

Always On Watch said...

George Will does an excellent job explaining why progressives persist in their pseudo-intellectual utopianism.

I like to refer to the progressives' persistence as perseverating.

Jersey McJones said...

I wish you had more of a substantive argument. These vague loose-associations conservatives use today in regard to their opinion of preogressivism just don't make a cohesive, comprehensible argument.

The first thing you have to understand about "progressivism" is that it does not always embrace civil libertarianism, and civil libertarianism is essentially what modern American "liberalism" is. So you see the two philosophies are not the same, though they are ofetn shared by the same people and do overlap.

For example, the progressive believes that national investment - in the physical and intsitutional infrastructure of the nation - is essential to national progress. IE - You have to build the roads and maintain them and keep them safe if you want people to build the houses and businesses along them.

Beyond the need for government to maintain the infrastructure, it should also promote the general welfare. IE - If you assist people in advancing their education, their future productivity will ensure the investment pays well and advances the whole nation.

Beyond this, most progressives are against Free Trade, something a modern Wilsonian would find abhorent. Though not against trade in general, most progressives believe that international trade should be fair and balanced, with our national interests first and foremost in mind, and the ability of individuals to profit from international trade second.

Finally, and again unlike Wilsonian thought, most progressives see the military industrial complex as a drain on the nation and that we should withdraw from most international military presense.

Really, most progressives are not fans of Wilson at all. It is only in the misunderstanding mind of the conservative do progressives even remotely resemble Wilsonian thinkers, or even most progressives from the turn of the last century. You are simply describing people as you want to see them, not as they actually are. You are projecting your anachronistic epistemology on progressives. Rather than just pretend to understand them, why not engage in a debate with them on the issues? Then you can actually see what progressivism is really about.

By the way - that picture? Really, really silly.

JMJ

Jersey McJones said...

I wish you had more of a substantive argument. These vague loose-associations conservatives use today in regard to their opinion of preogressivism just don't make a cohesive, comprehensible argument.

The first thing you have to understand about "progressivism" is that it does not always embrace civil libertarianism, and civil libertarianism is essentially what modern American "liberalism" is. So you see the two philosophies are not the same, though they are ofetn shared by the same people and do overlap.

For example, the progressive believes that national investment - in the physical and intsitutional infrastructure of the nation - is essential to national progress. IE - You have to build the roads and maintain them and keep them safe if you want people to build the houses and businesses along them.

Beyond the need for government to maintain the infrastructure, it should also promote the general welfare. IE - If you assist people in advancing their education, their future productivity will ensure the investment pays well and advances the whole nation.

Beyond this, most progressives are against Free Trade, something a modern Wilsonian would find abhorent. Though not against trade in general, most progressives believe that international trade should be fair and balanced, with our national interests first and foremost in mind, and the ability of individuals to profit from international trade second.

Finally, and again unlike Wilsonian thought, most progressives see the military industrial complex as a drain on the nation and that we should withdraw from most international military presense.

Really, most progressives are not fans of Wilson at all. It is only in the misunderstanding mind of the conservative do progressives even remotely resemble Wilsonian thinkers, or even most progressives from the turn of the last century. You are simply describing people as you want to see them, not as they actually are. You are projecting your anachronistic epistemology on progressives. Rather than just pretend to understand them, why not engage in a debate with them on the issues? Then you can actually see what progressivism is really about.

By the way - that picture? Really, really silly.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

Wilson praised Glasgow government intrusion into the hallways of private buildings for the purposes of adequate lighting. Modern day progressives have outlawed the incandescent bulb and mandated the spiral ones. If you can't see that connection then you are blind.

You prove the point I have made with this and yesterdays post. Modern-day liberalism/progressivism is a confused, loony hodgepodge.

I made the picture myself. Self-assured father of progressivism hell-bent on regulating us to nirvana does not notice the messy graffiti on the wall behind him.

Mustang said...

The citizens of Scotland (the genesis of one-third of my ancestors) have gorged themselves at the trough of British socialism. Now, as economic reality forces the UK to cut back on government entitlement programs, Scottish municipalities bicker among themselves as they pick the bones of what is left of this failed system. While entries and hallways may contain lighting, no one can any longer afford the utility bill and have extinguished the lights. There are two profound truths: money is a scarce resource, and wealth isn’t what you make; it is what you keep of what you make. Our government policies appear to following the opposing arguments. Our municipalities, used to getting their fair share of free money, are about to learn a very painful lesson; the collapse has already begun.

Sam Huntington said...

My first thought in response to your leftist commenter was incomprehension. Can anyone be so inane? Then it occurred to me that we aren’t talking about their money; we’re talking about government money. In that context, liberalism makes perfect sense.

WomanHonorThyself said...

Our municipalities, used to getting their fair share of free money, are about to learn a very painful lesson; the collapse has already begun...exactly right...tragic isnt it...

Jersey McJones said...

Look, guys, I don't know who's telling you otherwise (other than Glenn Beck, perhaps, though he's a ridiculous clown), but Woodrow Wilson is not a hero of the liberal or progressive movements in America today.

In your minds, somehow, you've drawn this neat little pseudo-historical narrative in which Wilson is a founder of some demonic socialist movement in America, but when you look at all the related dynamics, the history, the changed times, no sane person would draw that far-out and rather cartoonish conclusion.

The modern "liberal," civil libertarian, movement in America can trace most of it's roots to the post-war (WWII) social movements and cultural changes. These strongly affected both the left and right of the civil libertarian movement.

The rural civil libertarians have a lot in common and tend to get along fine with the right of the movement. In the cities there really is no "right of the movement" because it is understood that the lifestyles of the cities are incombatable with too liberal a view of certain civil liberties; like loose vagrancy laws, for example.

The modern progressive movement was affected by that same post-war America, but more importantly by the Depression. It was during the Depression that Keynesian experiments, on a mass scale, in a developed economy, were attempted. Many failed. But some worked very well.

After the war, America began to expand and change rapidly. We were becoming a far more complex, interdynamic society. The primacy of rural America was effectively over. We were becoming urbanized people.

Realizing this was a fact and there was no stopping it, presidents after FDR applied the same experiments. The interstate highways, fully nationally available electric and telephone, schools, public transportation, the GI Bill, the most advanced military, space program, medical r&d, on the planet. These are examples of things that work and are all, to one American or another - necessary to the welfare of the state. All of this vital progress is intensively dependent on the government.

If you guys want to live in a perpetually backward-looking state, then I don't know what to tell ya's. America is a growing, dynamic, complex nation. These easy answers of yours seem to jibe better with small rural states. Heck, sometimes I'd swear you guys want to go back to the days of feudalism.

JMJ

Jersey McJones said...

Look, guys, I don't know who's telling you otherwise (other than Glenn Beck, perhaps, though he's a ridiculous clown), but Woodrow Wilson is not a hero of the liberal or progressive movements in America today.

In your minds, somehow, you've drawn this neat little pseudo-historical narrative in which Wilson is a founder of some demonic socialist movement in America, but when you look at all the related dynamics, the history, the changed times, no sane person would draw that far-out and rather cartoonish conclusion.

The modern "liberal," civil libertarian, movement in America can trace most of it's roots to the post-war (WWII) social movements and cultural changes. These strongly affected both the left and right of the civil libertarian movement.

The rural civil libertarians have a lot in common and tend to get along fine with the right of the movement. In the cities there really is no "right of the movement" because it is understood that the lifestyles of the cities are incombatable with too liberal a view of certain civil liberties; like loose vagrancy laws, for example.

The modern progressive movement was affected by that same post-war America, but more importantly by the Depression. It was during the Depression that Keynesian experiments, on a mass scale, in a developed economy, were attempted. Many failed. But some worked very well.

After the war, America began to expand and change rapidly. We were becoming a far more complex, interdynamic society. The primacy of rural America was effectively over. We were becoming urbanized people.

Realizing this was a fact and there was no stopping it, presidents after FDR applied the same experiments. The interstate highways, fully nationally available electric and telephone, schools, public transportation, the GI Bill, the most advanced military, space program, medical r&d, on the planet. These are examples of things that work and are all, to one American or another - necessary to the welfare of the state. All of this vital progress is intensively dependent on the government.

If you guys want to live in a perpetually backward-looking state, then I don't know what to tell ya's. America is a growing, dynamic, complex nation. These easy answers of yours seem to jibe better with small rural states. Heck, sometimes I'd swear you guys want to go back to the days of feudalism.

JMJ

Finntann said...

Civil Libertarian? ROFLMAO

Please, don't call yourself or anything associated with the Democratic Party, Libertarian... it is an insult to Libertarians everywhere.

Libertarians don't regulate what kind of lightbulbs you can buy, what kind of health insurance you can have or not have...

"Civil libertarianism is a strain of political thought that supports civil liberties, or who emphasizes the supremacy of individual rights and personal freedoms over and against any kind of authority (such as a state, a corporation, social norms imposed through peer pressure, etc)."

You Sir, and the Democratic Party are the antithesis of Libertarians!

Silverfiddle said...

Herein lies the problem with these statists who disguise themselves as "liberals:"

In the cities there really is no "right of the movement" because it is understood that the lifestyles of the cities are incombatable with too liberal a view of certain civil liberties

So out in the country we can enjoy our liberties, but in the cities a committee of experts only allow us to exercise those that are "compatible" with city life.

That must by why Bloomberg wants to ban salt in NY City; it's not compatible and it's a danger to city living...

Funny, we had cities back at the time of the founders, and not one of them made the absurd notion you just made, Jersey.

Thanks again for stopping by and proving my point.

Jersey McJones said...

You see, Silver, really you're making my point. You guys have a completely unrealistic ideology. A highly advanced, industrialized, 310,000,000 person nation cannot operate without the rule of law.

Yes, out in the country, where people have a lot of personal space, they can enjoy more libertine behavior than people in the cities. DUH!

If your rights end at my nose, then you can't act like any ol' screwball you want in close quarters with me. Get it?

And Finntann, sorry to burst your bubble, but there is left and a right of the civil libertarian movement. What you guys call "liberals" or "social liberals" are simply the left wing of the civil libertarian movement. And they are not aalways, and often not, progressive.

JMJ

Finntann said...

Jersey, who is advocating a nation without the rule of law? I think most Libertarians would make the distinction between victim and victimless crimes.

Yes I am a Right-Libertarian...at least according to the political compass test, for whatever that is worth. But I think you would find that the Left-Libertarians are less enamoured of the rule of law than I am.

My point is that the majority of Libertarians, left or right, want less government regulation. Any one advocating more regulation, more law, more restriction is not a libertarian.

Silverfiddle said...

wanting to ban salt and fatty foods is not the action of a civil libertarian. Sorry Jersey, the civil libertarians left the modern-day liberal movement long ago.

You want to see what a liberal civil libertarian looks like? Go google Steve Chapman.

And your giving one group more rights than another explains how democrats have enslaved people in those big, blue, failed and bankrupt cities.