Saturday, January 30, 2010

Behind the Third Door - Progressivism!

Collectivism without the Teleprompter
The Progressive movement and Progressives in Government have over the last one hundred years, all but obviated the limitations set by the U. S. Constitution
By William R. Mann
Thursday, June 17, 2010
“On New Year’s Day the official Soviet newsorgan, Izvestia, confidently predicted that J. Stalin’s new decrees will break the peasant’s strike, speed the wheels of industry. Front-paging a nearly lifesize sketch of the Dictator whose left arm extended clear across the bottom of the page, Izvestia captioned and clarioned: AHEAD, COMRADES, TO NEW VICTORIES !” - TIME Magazine, January 1933.
Reading “The Federalist Papers” provides us a thorough brief of how our Founders envisioned our Republic operating under the strictures of its Constitution. Government is necessarily restrained. Freedoms from overbearing government encouraged innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit that made America the world giant and leader in industry, science, economics and banking, and education. Are we are allowing the accomplishments our the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the American Dream to slip away by inattention and lack of exercise? Are we failing this maxim: “Use it of lose it?”
If so it is “our bad.” We have no doubt lost the edge. What has happened? Have ever bigger government and incessant regulation quashed incentives? Have ever higher taxes flattened our wallets and ruined our retirements? Has an increasingly intrusive welfare state crushed our will? Does no one any longer appreciate that the business of America is business? What has happened to the “pursuit of happiness?” What has changed over the past one hundred years?
What has changed is this: The Progressive movement and Progressives in Government have over the last one hundred years, all but obviated the limitations set by the U. S. Constitution. A Progressive Politician [who formerly described themselves as Liberals] are Big Government Statists The U. S. Constitution is not even a “speed bump” in Barack Obama’s plan to transform the United States into some kind of post-modern Totalitarian State. This is because both Political Parties of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary actively employ the theory that today the Constitution must adapt to Government, the Government need not be constrained by the Constitution. As Congressman Alcee Hastings, [D, Pluto] recently stated to the media during the unconstitutional debate and passage of the “Healthcare Reform Act,”
“I wish that I had been there when Thomas Edison made the remark that I think applies here: ‘There ain’t no rules around here — we’re trying to accomplish something.’ And therefore, when the deal goes down, all this talk about rules, we make ‘em up as we go along, and I’m here now 18 years, and a significant amount of that time here on this committee under the leadership of the Republicans…”
Stop! Think! There is a severe logical fallacy at work here! One cannot invoke the words of the inventor, Thomas Edison, regarding his laboratory’s method of investigation and invention when discussing Constitutional law! Perhaps this gives an insight as to why Alcee Hastings was not fit to be a Federal Judge. Hastings was impeached for soliciting bribes while on the bench; in other words: “… making up the rules as he went along.” He is a convicted criminal, serving in the House of Representatives.
So … how easy is it to go from [a.] making up the rules as we go along, to [b.] eliminating all rules for those in charge of making rules, to [c.] those making rules, ruling out our freedoms, to [d.] rulers ruling our lives totally, more precisely, the creation of a Totalitarian State? If the Constitution is ignored, then We the People are no longer in charge, it is entirely possible
How far are we from becoming slaves or serfs when this happens? In it’s heyday, following the Great War, the Totalitarian State was supposed to be the answer to the perils of living in modern, mass society. It was not a dirty word at first. Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler had many admirers, at least at first. Liberals in the United States supported “Uncle Joe” Stalin to the bitter end; and to this day many of them claim that the United States, and not Stalin, were responsible for the Cold War. Go figure. We failed to drive the stake through the heart of this vampire! Today, Socialism is acceptable to most Americans, even though it is antithetical to tour way of life and our economy!
Let’s take a look at the worst of the worst totalitarians, Joseph Stalin. Stalin was a Marxist Revolutionary and an early follower of Vladimir Lenin. He was initially a lower level Apparatchik and Communist Party Hack, and hit man within Lenin’s Regime [“Death is the solution to all problems. No man - no problem. - J. Stalin].
Stalin became a member of the Politburo in 1919 [the inner circle of the CP Central Committee], it’s Membership Administrator in 1921, and General Secretary in 1922. 1922. Lenin made the mistake of criticizing Stalin’s ambition and abilities openly in 1923 “Coincidentally,” Lenin died in early 1924 of a stroke. Lenin thought of Stalin as a crude and dangerous bumpkin: rude, capricious, vulgar, untrustworthy. Stalin apparently thought otherwise of himself. In truth Stalin was at certainly a narcissist, but more likely a dangerous psychopath [I believe the latter]. Following the death of Lenin in 1924, Stalin eliminated his political opponents, Zinoviev and Kamenev by the end of 1925. By 1928 he had tightened his grip on the Soviet Union State Machinery.
Read the TIME Magazine article from 1933. It describes perfectly how even a Supreme Dictator, like the Soviet butcher, Joseph Stalin, cannot make something happen simply by decree. What this does show us is how such decrees and Five Year Plans establish false premises, ridiculous production quotas, exaggerated results and calls for more Five Year Plans. Each Five Year Plan is more grandiose in scope and demanding of producers and workers. Reading ” title=“Stalin’s speech”>Stalin’s speech shows that in the absence of teleprompters, J. V. Stalin held his audience captive for hours delivering his reports on progress of his Five Year Plans. If they did not applaud, they were reported and reprimanded; if they fell asleep, they were punished and re-educated; if they objected, they were shot.
It is interesting to read certain revised histories by progressive American “historians” regarding Stalin’s three, Five Year Plans and compare them to the actual record. The revisionists point to the “successes” of Stalin’s forced industrialization of Russia, and hail collectivization and forced mechanization of the farms. In truth, Stalin ruthlessly transformed a peasant society into a slave society. The successive Five Year Plan transformation’s were organized under a bureaucratic administration called GOSPLAN. The plans never met established goals and quotas. Failure resulted in dismissal, banishment, exile, or execution. In speeches before the Central Committee the Plans were hailed as great successes. Subsequent plans sought to achieve even loftier when by all industrial and economic measures and estimates such goals were impossible.
A reign of terror by Secret Police and assassination squads proceeded side by side with the Five Year Plans. No one really knows how many deaths for which Stalin is directly or indirectly responsible, but estimates generally range from 25-40 Million! Estimates vary, but it is suggested that 10 million were deported to Gulags, and upward of 15-20 million were deliberately starved to death in the Ukraine. The paranoid Stalin reportedly executed a million or more political rivals. [“One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”]
Hitler stated the Mussolini gave the National Socialists the Blueprint for Nazism. Adolf Hitler was a piker compared to Stalin. Stalin is somehow still seen by many as a great man. But Stalin, a mass murderer by any reckoning, has been given a pass. Still Stalin was the Blueprint for the horrific transformation of China under Mao Tse-Tung. Mao Tse-Tung is a “favorite philosopher” of Obama White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn. “Wherefore art thou Barack Obama?”
So now I ask you, dear reader, why would anyone want a return to Big Government Totalitarianism? Does not the record show that our Constitutional Republic thrived prior to the emergence of Progressivism? Once progressivism gained a foothold, our Free Enterprise, market economy and American Exceptionalism still held the ship of the Republic aright. But after 100 years of incorporating unconstitutional progressive, Statist social welfare and social engineering “fixes,” the Ship of State is listing hard to starboard and in danger of sinking. We now have an unprecedented 13 Trillion dollar [plus] debt, most of which is owned by our adversary China, still herself a Totalitarian State.
It is a sad and stupid mistake to follow Obama, Reid, and Pelosi into this progressive nightmare. It is sad because we may never recapture our Founder’s Vision. It is stupid because we already know where this will lead. Each day I meet more and more people who ask, “How do we fix this?” My standard reply is this: Support those candidates who clearly state that they will only support bills clearly enumerated in the Constitution. Also demand that they vow to resign if they fail to obey their sworn oath of office: to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help them God. Only an out-of-control, over-reaching government or foreign adversaries can be our enemy, not “We the People.”
And oh … by the way: Illegal aliens are NOT part of We the People.
Alcee Hastings and the rest of those in Congress who think like him must go. Work to vote him and those like him out this November. Remember this: Making up the rules as they go along, is not too many steps away from having the secret police dragging us out of our home at night for questioning. Bill Ayers [who Obama described as only “a guy down the block“] and his friends actually discussed the elimination of 10% of the US population who would resist their terrorist plans of the 70s for transforming the USA into a Revolutionary Socialist State. These people are the now the very same people, somehow never put in jail for their terrorist actions, who try to tell us that Arizona may not protect its own borders from illegal aliens and criminal incursions when the Federal Government refuses to do so. This is an example of “making it up as we go along.” Is that the kind of government that we want?
If it is, Stalin would be proud. It is those same Sixties Radicals who are Barack Obama’s “Brain Trust” and who comprise many of Barack Obama’s Czars. We have our work cut out for us.
“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” - Joseph Stalin
Progressivism in the United States
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly-based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large corporations and railroads, and fears of corruption in American politics. In the 21st century self-styled progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice. Social progressivism, which states that governmental practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, forms the ideological basis for many American progressives.
Historian Alonzo L. Hamby defines progressivism as the "political movement that addresses ideas, impulses, and issues stemming from modernization of American society. Emerging at the end of the nineteenth century, it established much of the tone of American politics throughout the first half of the century."
1 Tenets
1.1 Democracy
1.2 Municipal administration
1.3 Efficiency
1.4 Regulation of large corporations and monopolies
1.5 Social justice
1.6 Conservationism
2 Politics
2.1 Municipal reform
3 Cultural progressivism
4 Other progressive movements
4.1 Second progressive movement
4.2 Third progressive movement
4.3 Contemporary progressivism
Many of the principles that were laid out by the Progressive Movement focused on the need for efficiency in all areas of society, plus the elimination of waste and corruption. Purification to eliminate waste and corruption was a powerful element.
Progressives such as William U'Ren and Robert La Follette argued that the average person should have more control over their government. The Oregon System of "Initiative, Referendum, and Recall" was exported to many states, including Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin. [4] Many progressives, such as George M. Forbes—president of Rochester's Board of Education—hoped to make government in the U.S. more responsive to the direct voice of the American people when he said:

"[W]e are now intensely occupied in forging the tools of democracy, the direct primary, the initiative, the referendum, the recall, the short ballot, commission government. But in our enthusiasm we do not seem to be aware that these tools will be worthless unless they are used by those who are aflame with the sense of brotherhood...The idea [of the social centers movement is] to establish in each community an institution having a direct and vital relation to the welfare of the neighborhood, ward, or district, and also to the city as a whole"
"initiatives, referendums, and recalls, along with direct primaries and the direct election of US Senators, were the core achievements of 'direct democracy' by the Progressive generation during the first two decades of the twentieth century."
Progressives also fought for women's suffrage and the elimination of supposedly corrupt black voters from the election booth.
While the ultimate significance of the progressive movement on today's politics is still up for debate, Alonzo L. Hamby asks:
"What were the central themes that emerged from the cacophony [of progressivism]? Democracy or elitism? Social justice or social control? Small entrepreneurship or concentrated capitalism? And what was the impact of American foreign policy? Were the progressives isolationists or interventionists? Imperialists or advocates of national self-determination? And whatever they were, what was their motivation? Moralistic uptopianism? Muddled relativistic pragmatism? Hegemonic capitalism? Not surprisingly many battered scholars began to shout 'no mas!' In 1970, Peter Filene tried declared that the term 'progressivism' had become meaningless".
Municipal administration
During the Progressive Era the United States had gone through many changes. There were many changes introduced into municipal administration during the Progressive Era in the 1880s and 1890's. These changes led to a more structured system, power that had been centralized within the legislature would now be more locally focused. Articles have shown that the changes were made to the system to effectively make legal processes, market transactions, bureaucratic administration, and democracy easier to manage, thus putting them under the classification of ‘Municipal Administration’. There was also a change in authority for this system; it was believed that the authority that was not properly organized had now given authority to professionals, experts, and bureaucrats for these services. These changes led to a more solid type of municipal administration compared to the old system that was underdeveloped and poorly constructed.
Many progressives such as Louis Brandeis hoped to make American governments better able to serve the people's needs by making governmental operations and services more efficient and rational. Rather than making legal arguments against ten hour workdays for women, he used "scientific principles" and "data produced by social scientists documenting the high costs of long working hours for both individuals and society."
Professional administrators
Brandeis and others argued that governments would function better if they were placed under the direction of trained, professional administrators. One example of progressive reform was the rise of the city manager system, in which paid, professional administrators ran the day-to-day affairs of city governments under guidelines established by elected city councils.
Centralization of decision-making process
Many progressives[who?] sought to make government more rational through centralized decision-making[citation needed]. Governments were reorganized to reduce the number of officials and to eliminate overlapping areas of authority between departments. City governments were reorganized to reduce the power of local wards within the city and to increase the powers of the city council. Governments at every level began developing budgets to help them plan their expenditures (rather than spending money haphazardly as needs arose and revenue became available). The drive for centralization was often associated with the rise of professional administrators.
Movements to eliminate governmental corruption
Corruption represented a source of waste and inefficiency in government. William U'Ren, LaFolette, and others worked to clean up state and local governments by passing laws to weaken the power of machine politicians and political bosses. The Oregon System, which included a "Corrupt Practices Act", a public referendum, and a state-funded voter's pamphlet among other reforms was exported to other states in the northwest and midwest. In the cities, this movement was expressed as an effort to restructure the ward system. Power was transferred from political bosses to professional administrators, and decisions of the legislature became subject to the public referendum in many states.
There were also movements led during the Progressive Era that would also have changes on the Social Efficiency of education for each state. Many believe that these changes that followed the movements of the 1900s were to make education a more focused part of life for students. Such ideas used were the integration of family life in the child’s life and how the use of family interaction was an important factor for a child’s education. Other types of integration that articles have said to be effective were the use social centers; these centers provides a safe area for children to interact with each other while supervision is present and kept under control. The use of social centers were also used for other means then the interaction of children; they would also be used to counteract class division and ethnic issues within neighborhoods.
The progressives' quest for efficiency was sometimes at odds with the progressives' quest for democracy. Taking power out of the hands of elected officials and placing that power in the hands of professional administrators reduced the voice of the people in government. Centralized decision-making and reduced power for local wards made government more distant and isolated from the people it served[citation needed]. Progressives who emphasized the need for efficiency sometimes argued that an elite class of administrators knew better what the people needed than did the people themselves[citation needed].
Regulation of large corporations and monopolies
Many progressives hoped that by regulating large corporations they could liberate human energies from the restrictions imposed by industrial capitalism. Yet the progressive movement was split over which of the following solutions should be used to regulate corporations:
Pro labor progressives such as Samuel Gompers argued that industrial monopolies were unnatural economic institutions which suppressed the competition which was necessary for progress and improvement. The federal government should intervene by breaking up monopolies into smaller companies, thereby restoring competition. The government should then withdraw and allow marketplace forces once again to regulate the economy. President Woodrow Wilson supported this idea.
Progressives such as Benjamin Parke De Witt argued that in a modern economy, large corporations and even monopolies were both inevitable and desirable. With their massive resources and economies of scale, large corporations offered the U.S. advantages which smaller companies could not offer. Yet, these large corporations might abuse their great power. The federal government should allow these companies to exist but regulate them for the public interest. President Theodore Roosevelt generally supported this idea.
Social justice
Many progressives such have supported both private and governmental action to help people in need (social justice). Reforms have included:
Development of professional social workers
The idea that welfare and charity work should be undertaken by professionals who are trained to do the job.
The building of Settlement Houses
Jane Addams of Chicago's Hull House typified the leadership of residential, community centers operated by social workers and volunteers and located in inner city slums. The purpose of the settlement houses was to raise the standard of living of urbanites by providing schools, day care centers, and cultural enrichment programs.
The enactment of child labor laws
Child labor laws were designed to prevent the overworking of children in the newly emerging industries. The goal of these laws was to give working-class children the opportunity to go to school and to mature more naturally, thereby liberating the potential of humanity and encouraging the advancement of humanity.
Support for the goals of organized labor
Progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt often supported such goals as the eight-hour work day, improved safety and health conditions in factories, workers compensation laws, minimum wage laws, and unionization.
Prohibition laws
Susan B. Anthony was one of the many progressives who adopted the cause of prohibition. They claimed the consumption of alcohol limited mankind's potential for advancement. Progressives achieved success in this area with the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. However, this was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1933.
During the term of the progressive President Theodore Roosevelt (1901 – 1909), the largest government-funded conservation-related projects in U.S. history were undertaken:
National parks and wildlife refuges
On March 14, 1903, President Roosevelt created the first National Bird Preserve, (the beginning of the Wildlife Refuge system), on Pelican Island, Florida. In all, by 1909, the Roosevelt administration had created an unprecedented 42 million acres (170,000 km²) of national forests, 53 national wildlife refuges and 18 areas of "special interest", including the Grand Canyon.
In addition, Roosevelt approved the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902, which gave subsidies for irrigation in sixteen western states.
Another conservation-oriented bill was the Antiquities Act of 1906 that protected large areas of land. The Inland Waterways Commission was established in 1907 to control the United States' streams and waterways.
In the early 20th century, politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties, Bull-Moose Republicans, Lincoln-Roosevelt League Republicans (in California) and the United States Progressive Party began to pursue social, environmental, political, and economic reforms. Chief among these aims was the pursuit of trustbusting (breaking up very large monopolies), support for labor unions, public health programs, decreased corruption in politics, and environmental conservation.
The Progressive Movement enlisted support from both major parties (and from minor parties as well). One leader, Bryan, had been linked to the Populist movement of the 1890s, while the other major leaders were opposed to Populism. When Roosevelt left the Republican party in 1912, he took with him many of the intellectual leaders of progressivism, but very few political leaders. The Republican party then became notably more committed to business-oriented and efficiency oriented progressivism, typified by Taft and Herbert Hoover.
A social attitude underlying some forms of Progressivism has been populism, which can range from the political left to the political right. Populism has often manifested itself as a distrust of concentrations of power in the hands of politicians, corporations, families, and special interest groups, generating calls for purification and the rejection of rule by elites.
Municipal reform
The Progressives were very active in reforming local government to introduce efficiency and weed out corruption. Many felt the saloon was the power base for corruption, so tried to get rid of it. Other (like Jane Addams) promoted Settlement Houses. Many cities created municipal research bureaus, and did in-depth studies of budgets and the schools. Early municipal reformers included Hazen Pingree (mayor of Detroit in the 1890s) and Tom L. Johnson in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1901, Johnson won election as mayor of Cleveland on a platform of just taxation, home rule for Ohio cities, and a 3-cent streetcar fare. Columbia University President Seth Low was elected mayor of New York City in 1901 on a reform ticket.
Cultural progressivism
The foundation of the progressive tendency was rooted in the uniquely American philosophy of pragmatism, which was primarily developed by John Dewey.
Equally significant to progressive-era reform were the crusading journalists, known as muckrakers. These journalists revealed to middle class readers the evils of economic privilege, political corruption, and social injustice[citation needed]. Their articles appeared in McClure's Magazine and other reform periodicals. Some muckrakers focused on corporate abuses. Ida Tarbell, for instance, exposed the activities of the Standard Oil Company. In The Shame of the Cities (1904), Lincoln Steffens dissected corruption in city government. In Following the Color Line (1908), Ray Stannard Baker criticized race relations. Other muckrakers assailed the U.S. Senate, railroad practices, insurance companies, and fraud in patent medicine.
Novelists, too, revealed corporate injustices. Theodore Dreiser drew harsh portraits of a type of ruthless businessman in The Financier (1912) and The Titan (1914). In The Jungle (1906) Socialist Upton Sinclair repelled readers with descriptions of Chicago’s meatpacking plants, and his work led to support for remedial food safety legislation. Leading intellectuals also shaped the progressive mentality. In The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen attacked the “conspicuous consumption” of the wealthy. Educator John Dewey emphasized a child-centered philosophy of pedagogy, known as progressive education, which affected schoolrooms for three generations.
Other progressive movements
Following the first progressive movement of the early 20th century, later groups have also used the term "progressive".
Second progressive movement
Main article: Progressive Party (United States, 1924)
The second progressive movement got underway in 1924. This time the key leadership role was fulfilled by Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette. La Follette campaigned for such things as direct elections in primaries, fairer taxation, conservation of natural resources, control of lobbyists, and banking reform. He vigorously opposed both oligarchy -- government by a tiny elite—and plutocracy (government of, by, and for the wealthy).
Third progressive movement
Main article: Progressive Party (United States, 1948)
The third progressive movement was initiated in 1947 by former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, who ran for president in 1948, attracting support from voters who were disillusioned by the Cold War policies of Democrat Harry S. Truman. Many progressives were uncomfortable with Wallace's religiosity, but were nonetheless admirers of his call for a sort of global "New Deal" and his advocacy of better relations with the Soviet Union.
Contemporary progressivism
The fourth and current liberal Progressive movement grew out of social activism movements, Naderite and populist left political movements in conjunction with the civil rights, GLBT (Gay rights), women's or feminist, and environmental movements of the 1960s-1980s. This exists as a cluster of political, activist, and media organizations ranging in outlook from centrism (eg. Reform Party of the United States of America) to left-liberalism to social democracy (like the Green Party) and sometimes even democratic socialism (like the Socialist Party USA).
Modern American progressivism includes political figures such as Barack Obama who calls himself a progressive, as do Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Al Franken, Debbie Stabenow, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Cynthia McKinney, John Edwards, Sherrod Brown, Kathleen Sebelius, David McReynolds, Ralph Nader, Howard Dean, Peter Camejo, Al Gore, and the late Paul Wellstone and Ted Kennedy. Also in this category are many leaders in the women's movement, cosmopolitanism, the labor movement, the American civil rights movement, the environmental movement, the immigrant rights movement, and the gay and lesbian rights movement. Other well-known progressives include Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, George Lakoff, Michael Lerner, and Urvashi Vaid.
Significant publications include The Progressive magazine, The Nation, The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, In These Times, CounterPunch, and Broadcasting outlets include Air America Radio, the Pacifica Radio network, Democracy Now!, and certain community radio stations. Notable media voices include Cenk Uygur, Alexander Cockburn, Barbara Ehrenreich, Juan Gonzalez, Amy Goodman, Thom Hartmann, Arianna Huffington, Jim Hightower, the late Molly Ivins, Ron Reagan, Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, Stephanie Miller, Mike Malloy, Keith Olbermann, Greg Palast, Randi Rhodes, Betsy Rosenberg, Ed Schultz, David Sirota, and The Young Turks (talk show).
Modern issues for progressives can include[citation needed]: electoral reform (including instant runoff voting, proportional representation and fusion candidates), environmental conservation, pollution control and environmentalism, same-sex marriage, universal health care, abolition of the death penalty, affordable housing, a viable Social Security System, renewable energy, smart growth urban development, a living wage and pro-union policies, among many others.
Examples of the broad range of progressive texts include: New Age Politics by Mark Satin; Why Americans Hate Politics by E.J. Dionne, Jr.; Community Building: Renewing Spirit & Learning in Business edited by Kazimierz Gozdz; Ecopolitics: Building a Green Society by Daniel Coleman; and Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.
The main current national progressive parties are the Democratic Party and the Green Party of the United States. The Democratic Party has major-party status in all fifty States, while there are state Green Parties or affiliates with the national Green Party in most states. The most successful non-major state-level progressive party is the Vermont Progressive Party. However, progressives often shy away from parties and align within more community-oriented activist groups, coalitions and networks, such as the Maine People's Alliance and Northeast Action.
The Two Progressivisms
by Nate Silver
The definitions of the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have been the subjects of much debate in contemporary American politics. But it has become increasingly clear that the term "progressive" is equally ambiguous, and is associated with at least two relatively distinct philosophical traditions. Although these two "progressivisms" share common ground on many (probably most) issues, they are at loggerheads on some others, as has perhaps become more apparent since the election of President Obama.
The first type of progressivism has its philosophical underpinnings in 18th Century, Enlightement-era thought. It believes that politics is a battle of ideas. It further believes that through the use of reason and the exchange of ideas, human society will tend to improve itself through scientific and technological innovation. Hence, it believes in progress, and for this reason lays claim to the term “progressive”. Because of its belief and optimism in the faculties of human reason, I refer to this philosophy as rational progressivism.
Rational progressivism tends to be trusting, within reason, of status quo political and economic institutions -- generally including the institution of capitalism. It tends to trust these institutions because it believes they are a manifestation of progress made by previous generations. However, unlike conservatism, it also sees these institutions as continuing works in progress, subject to inefficiencies because of distorted or poorly-designed incentives, poorly-informed or misinformed participants, and competition from 'irrational' worldviews like religion. It also recognizes that certain persons who stand to benefit from preserving the status quo, particularly elected officials but also corporations, may seek to block this progress to protect their own interests. The project of rational progressivism, then, is to propagate good ideas and to convert them, through a wide and aggressive array of democratic means, into public policy.
The second type of progressivism is what I call radical progressivism. It represents, indeed, a much more radical and comprehensive critique of the status quo, which it tends to see as intrinsically corrupt. Its philosophical tradition originates in 19th Century thought -- and specifically, owes a great deal to the Marxist critique of capitalism and the Marxist theory of social change. It also finds inspiration in both the radical movement of the 1960s and the labor and social movements of late 19th and early 20th centuries (from which it borrows the label "progressive").
Radical progressivism is more clearly distinguishable from "conventional" liberalism and would generally be associated with the "far left" -- although on a handful of issues such as free trade, it may find common cause with the "radical" right. Radical progressivism embraces the tradition of populism and frequently adopts a discourse of the virtuous commoner organizing against the corrupt elite. It is much more willing to make normative claims than rational progressivism, and tends to view conservatism as immoral and contemporary American liberalism as amoral (at best). Its project is not reform but transformation.
Rational progressives sometimes regard radical progressives as impractical, self-righteous, shrill, demagogic, naïve and/or anti-intellectual. Radical progressives, in turn, regard rational progressives as impure, corrupt (or corruptible), selfish, complacent, elitist, and too quick to compromise.
It should come as no surprise that I regard myself as a rational progressive. I believe in intellectual progress -- that we, as a species, are gradually becoming smarter. I believe that there are objectively right answers to many political and economic questions.
I believe that economic growth is both a reflection of and a contributor toward societal progress, that economic growth has facilitated a higher standard of living, and that this is empirically indisputable. I also believe, however, that our society is now so exceptionally wealthy -- even in the midst of a severe recession -- that it has little excuse not to provide for some basic level of dignity for all its citizens.
I believe that answers to questions like these do not always come from the establishment. But I also believe that it is just as important to question one's own assumptions as to question the assumption of others.
The truth is, I don’t particularly care whether you call me a “progressive” or not. In fact, I'm suspicious of people who line up on the same side of the ideological divide on every single issue. The world is more complicated than that, especially when one strives to see the world through a scientific, empirical lens. While progressives, in my view, clearly have the preponderance of good ideas, they do not have a monopoly on them. Nor do conservatives have a monopoly on bad ideas, especially when radical progressives flirt with Marxist modes of discourse.
Let me be very clear about what I am saying. I believe that our country needs a lot of work -- a lot of work -- almost certainly more work than Barack Obama is going to be able to accomplish in four or eight years. I believe that greater awareness and greater participation on behalf of everyday citizens is almost certainly a necessary condition to facilitate that work. To the extent that blogs, political campaigns, church groups, labor unions, and whatever other organization you can think of can coalesce that participation and turn it into a "movement", I am all for the "movement".
But if someone wants to marshal an army to fight a battle of wills while playing fast and loose with the truth and using some of the same demagogic precepts that the right wing does, I am not particularly interested in that. In fact, I think it is acutely dangerous.

A Brief Overview of Progressive Education
During most of the twentieth century, the term "progressive education" has been used to describe ideas and practices that aim to make schools more effective agencies of a democratic society. Although there are numerous differences of style and emphasis among progressive educators, they share the conviction that democracy means active participation by all citizens in social, political and economic decisions that will affect their lives. The education of engaged citizens, according to this perspective, involves two essential elements: (1). Respect for diversity, meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and (2). the development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good. These elements of progressive education have been termed "child-centered" and "social reconstructionist" approaches, and while in extreme forms they have sometimes been separated, in the thought of John Dewey and other major theorists they are seen as being necessarily related to each other.
These progressive principles have never been the predominant philosophy in American education. From their inception in the 1830s, state systems of common or public schooling have primarily attempted to achieve cultural uniformity, not diversity, and to educate dutiful, not critical citizens. Furthermore, schooling has been under constant pressure to support the ever-expanding industrial economy by establishing a competitive meritocracy and preparing workers for their vocational roles. The term "progressive" arose from a period (roughly 1890-1920) during which many Americans took a more careful look at the political and social effects of vast concentrations of corporate power and private wealth. Dewey, in particular, saw that with the decline of local community life and small scale enterprise, young people were losing valuable opportunities to learn the arts of democratic participation, and he concluded that education would need to make up for this loss. In his Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, where he worked between 1896 and 1904, Dewey tested ideas he shared with leading school reformers such as Francis W. Parker and Ella Flagg Young. Between 1899 and 1916 he circulated his ideas in works such as The School and Society, The Child and the Curriculum, Schools of Tomorrow, and Democracy and Education, and through numerous lectures and articles. During these years other experimental schools were established around the country, and in 1919 the Progressive Education Association was founded, aiming at "reforming the entire school system of America."
Led by Dewey, progressive educators opposed a growing national movement that sought to separate academic education for the few and narrow vocational training for the masses. During the 1920s, when education turned increasingly to "scientific" techniques such as intelligence testing and cost-benefit management, progressive educators insisted on the importance of the emotional, artistic, and creative aspects of human development--"the most living and essential parts of our natures," as Margaret Naumburg put it in The Child and the World. After the Depression began, a group of politically oriented progressive educators, led by George Counts, dared schools to "build a new social order" and published a provocative journal called The Social Frontier to advance their "reconstructionist" critique of laissez faire capitalism. At Teachers College, Columbia University, William H. Kilpatrick and other students of Dewey taught the principles of progressive education to thousands of teachers and school leaders, and in the middle part of the century, books such as Dewey's Experience and Education (1938) Boyd Bode's Progressive Education at the Crossroads (1938), Caroline Pratt's I Learn from Children (1948), and Carlton Washburne's What is Progressive Education? (1952) among others, continued to provide a progressive critique of conventional assumptions about teaching, learning and schooling. A major research endeavor, the "eight-year study," demonstrated that students from progressive high schools were capable, adaptable learners and excelled even in the finest universities.
Nevertheless, in the 1950s, during a time of cold war anxiety and cultural conservatism, progressive education was widely repudiated, and it disintegrated as an identifiable movement. However, in the years since, various groups of educators have rediscovered the ideas of Dewey and his associates, and revised them to address the changing needs of schools, children, and society in the late twentieth century. Open classrooms, schools without walls, cooperative learning, multiage approaches, whole language, the social curriculum, experiential education, and numerous forms of alternative schools all have important philosophical roots in progressive education. John Goodlad's notion of "nongraded" schools (introduced in the late 1950s), Theodore Sizer's network of "essential" schools, Elliott Wigginton's Foxfire project, and Deborah Meier's student-centered Central Park East schools are some well known examples of progressive reforms in public education; in the 1960s, critics like Paul Goodman and George Dennison took Dewey's ideas in a more radical direction, helping give rise to the free school movement. In recent years, activist educators in inner cities have advocated greater equity, justice, diversity and other democratic values through the publication Rethinking Schools and the National Coalition of Education Activists.
Today, scholars, educators and activists are rediscovering Dewey's work and exploring its relevance to a "postmodern" age, an age of global capitalism and breathtaking cultural change, and an age in which the ecological health of the planet itself is seriously threatened. We are finding that although Dewey wrote a century ago, his insights into democratic culture and meaningful education suggest hopeful alternatives to the regime of standardization and mechanization that more than ever dominate our schools.
Early 20th Century Progressives, Eugenics, Minimum Wage
By Randall Parker at 2005 October 27
Over at Marginal Revolution Alex Tabarrok says early 20th century progressives advocated a minimum wage for women only in order to promote their eugenic goals.
Progressives, including Richard Ely, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, the Webbs in England etc., were interested not in protecting women but in protecting men and the race. Their goal was to get women back into the home, where they belonged, instead of abandoning their eugenic duties and competing with men for work.
Unlike today's progressives, the originals understood that minimum wages for women would put women out of work - that was the point and the more unemployment of women the better!
Are today's progressives dumber than the progressives of a hundred years ago? Or are today's progressives more brain washed by the accumulated lies of politically correct ideology? My guess is the latter. People have become more unrealistic because public discussions are conducted under taboos that prevent honest discussion of obvious truths.
Alex is reacting to a paper by Princeton academic Tim Leonard: "Protecting Family and Race: The Progressive Case for Regulating Women's Work."
Seems to me these progressives who were pursuing eugenic goals made a fundamental mistake. To the extent that a minimum wage would keep some women home and pregnant it would tend to have a dysgenic effect. Why? Because a minimum wage would reduce labor market participation of dumber women more than smarter women. Dumber women are more likely than smarter women to have their market wage fall below the minimum wage. Very smart women will still go off to work at higher paying jobs which their cognitive abilities enable them to do. Dumber women will get locked out of the labor market given a sufficiently high minimum wage.
A maximum wage for women only (and mind you I'm not advocating this) would be far more eugenic than a minimum wage. But a maximum yearly income would be even more eugenic. Smart women would, on average, work a fairly small fraction of the time to achieve their maximum income, freeing them up for child-rearing duties. Whereas dumber women would, again on average, work many more hours to achieve their maximum allowed yearly income.
To the extent that dumber women get locked out of the job market by a minimum wage that creates conditions that create support for the welfare state. Any woman whose husband died, became ill, or left her who was also locked out of the job market could be left in a position of being unable to support herself. At the same time, the welfare state encourages reproduction among those who have the least earning power in the job market. No need to spend time at work? The state will pay for your babies? Some (though not all) women will have more childen under those circumstances.
The progressives probably lost the ability to use state power to coerce for eugenic goals when women gained the vote. However, when DNA sequencing costs fall far enough to demonstrate in undeniable ways that genetic variations cause large variations in cognitive ability I predict the political Left will once again take up eugenic politics. I expect most of us will live to see progressives promote the use of state power to achieve eugenic goals in order to uplift the poor with genetic engineering and with restrictions on reproduction by those who refuse to use genetic engineering to have smart babies.
The Progressive Movement
Ideas and Movements, 19th century
NWtravel Magazine Online
The Progressive Movement was an effort to cure many of the ills of American society that had developed during the great spurt of industrial growth in the last quarter of the 19th century. The frontier had been tamed, great cities and businesses developed, and an overseas empire established, but not all citizens shared in the new wealth, prestige, and optimism.
Efforts to improve society were not new to the United States in the late 1800s. A major push for change, the First Reform Era, occurred in the years before the Civil War and included efforts of social activists to reform working conditions, and humanize the treatment of mentally ill people and prisoners.
Others removed themselves from society and attempted to establish utopian communities in which reforms were limited to their participants. The focal point of the early reform period was abolitionism, the drive to remove what in the eyes of many was the great moral wrong of slavery.
The second reform era began during Reconstruction and lasted until the American entry into World War I. The struggle for women's rights and the temperance movement were the initial issues addressed. A farm movement also emerged to compensate for the declining importance of rural areas in an increasingly urbanized America.
As part of the second reform period, Progressivism was rooted in the belief, certainly not shared by all, that man was capable of improving the lot of all within society. As such, it was a rejection of Social Darwinism, the position taken by many of the rich and powerful figures of the day.
Progressivism was also imbued with strong political overtones and rejected the church as the driving force for change. Specific goals included:
The desire to remove corruption and undue influence from government through the taming of bosses and political machines;
the effort to include more people more directly in the political process;
the conviction that government must play a role to solve social problems and establish fairness in economic matters.
The success of Progressivism owed much to publicity generated by the muckrakers, writers who detailed the horrors of poverty, urban slums, dangerous factory conditions, and child labor, among a host of other ills.
The successes were many, beginning with the Interstate Commerce Act (1887) and the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890). Progressives never spoke with one mind and differed sharply over the most effective means to deal with the ills generated by the trusts; some favored an activist approach to trust-busting, others preferred a regulatory approach.
A vocal minority supported socialism with government ownership of the means of production. Other Progressive reforms followed in the form of a conservation movement, railroad legislation, and food and drug laws.
The Progressive spirit also was evident in new amendments added to the Constitution, which provided for a new means to elect senators, protect society through prohibition and extend suffrage to women.
Urban problems were addressed by professional social workers who operated settlement houses as a means to protect and improve the prospects of the poor. However, efforts to place limitations on child labor were routinely thwarted by the courts. The needs of blacks and Native Americans were poorly served or served not at all — a major shortcoming of the Progressive Movement.
Progressive reforms were carried out not only on the national level, but in the states and municipalities of the country as well. Prominent governors devoted to change included Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin and Hiram Johnson of California.
Such reforms as the direct primary, secret ballot, and the initiative, referendum and recall were effected. Local governments were strengthened by the widespread use of trained professionals, particularly with the city manager system replacing the all-too-frequently corrupt mayoral system.
Formal expression was given to progressive ideas in the form of political parties on three major occasions:
The Roosevelt Progressives (Bull Moose Party) of 1912
The La Follette Progressives of the 1920s
The Henry Wallace Progressives of the late 1940s and early 1950s.