Tag Archives: NEW AGE

Kendall Rice: Don’t doubt sinister motivation behind progressivism

13 Aug


This theme is well-documented but people just don’t read anymore. Here is a book about it this…

Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making


The author can be found on YouTube making speeches/lectures about his book. It’s a disturbing theme which was born a century ago.

We can thank the Progressives for building big government that is now run by big business interests posing as “national security interests”. The radical Left’s beloved regulation means big business gets to write the rules for small business to prevent them from offering any meaningful competition in the marketplace. This hurts consumers too.

The most egregious examples of this I have seen are the stories about small family farmers, including the Amish, who run co-ops to share food, raw milk and cheese with others when suddenly their farms are raided in SWAT style to prevent this movement from growing and offering competition for the industrial dairy farms. Their food inventories are destroyed and they face fines and penalties, etc. SWAT raids over raw milk! How dare anyone date to compete with established industry powers!

The great myth Americans have bought is that the people are easy prey for entrepreneurs to exploit so Uncle Sam must intervene and ‘level the playing field’. So power was given to the feds by Progressive founders and launched into orbit by the radical FDR New Dealers in response to the Great Depression brought about by the beloved Progressive creation the Federal Reserve…

Ever since Ross Perot ran for Prez both parties have placed huge obstacles in the way of anyone wanting to start another party, whether it’s Independent, Libertarian, Green, or the Constitutional party. This makes for a system easier to manipulate and screen candidates. Nobody runs for Prez anymore that isn’t first approved by the CFR, which is a group created once again by the Progressives after WW1.

Today most policies are all about keeping the status quo to secure special interests already deeply entrenched into the system. Therefore, groups like the AARP can endorse OmamaCare along with the AMA, Big Pharma, and the health insurers who all hate competition. The ACA is giving us much less competition. Just go to any of their exchanges and see how many insurers are not there. Typically the HD editor penned a piece moaning over this situation but his faith in the ACA remained.

If anyone doubts the sinister motives of the founding of the Progressive Era then just read their philosophy of the public school system:

“In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to rise up from among them authors, editors, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply…The task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops and on the farm.” – General Education Board, Occasional Papers, No. 1 (General Education Board, New York, 1913) p. 6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Education_Board

progressive theme

Such philosophy is what logically results from evolutionary zealots. The assault on Christian culture was about to hit high gear! The mantra also spread to liberal college professors who sought to make their students as unlike their parents as possible. How much more evidence do we need to prove how radical these people are? Their heirs today reside in the federal Department of Education.

During the 1980’s the emerging home school movement became a target as state boards sued families and tried to outlaw all homeschooling. Thou shall not escape our liberal, progressive public school indoctrination! In the mid-West a pastor defended his private school next to his church against the public school board and ended up in jail for contempt of court. His name escapes me at the moment but it did become national news.

By the grace of God an orthodox theologian, Rousas Rushdoony, used his expertise to offer testimony in defense of dozens of families under assault for daring to exercise religious freedom. It was in Texas where one family was awarded a huge judgment against the county school system and afterwards no other county school system dared to sue again. Now that was deliverance not unlike Moses commanding Pharaoh: Let my people go!

Only true limited government as outlined by the Framers will restore prosperity for everyone again. Most of all End the Fed and return to an honest money system as written in the Constitution.

Mark Caserta: One demographic can block progressivism

7 Aug

Aug. 07, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Liberals would like nothing better than to convince Americans that progressive ideology merges with mainstream values. In point of fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Progressives quietly understand that successfully imposing their ideological beliefs upon America requires systematically creating a voter base which can sustain their movement.

In the fifth and final addition of my series, “Exposing the Progressive Movement in the United States,” we’ll deal with the heart and soul of the progressive stratagem to fundamentally change America.

Propagating progressive ideology has nothing to do with offering new, innovative solutions to our nation’s woes. It does, however, have everything to do with acquiring votes!

Consider “for whom the ‘bureaucratic’ bell tolls” within the Obama administration.

The “war on women” theme was a key component of Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. And rest assured, it will continue to escalate into 2016, no doubt in preparation for a Hillary Clinton campaign where all opposition will be treated as evidence of sexism.

The race card has become the wild card for liberals and many Democrats. Progressives would have you believe that anyone who offers criticism of this president, or any “liberal” African-American member of his administration, must be a racist.

As the first sitting president to openly support same-sex marriage, I believe Barack Obama’s “evolution” in his position on gay marriage was politically expedient to proselytize the LGBT vote heading into a very contentious 2012 presidential election where the delineation in ideology between conservatives and liberals could be no clearer.

To say liberal Democrats court the Hispanic vote is an understatement. Liberals continue to vehemently fight against voter ID laws claiming suppression of their voter base. And they’re right! Under what circumstances would a “legal” individual not be able to obtain a simple identification card for the purpose of voting in a U.S. election?

And it’s absolutely criminal what liberals are willing to sacrifice to protect the environmentalist vote. Obama’s willingness to allow American’s electricity costs to skyrocket to advance his war on coal, not to mention the impact on coal families, is very telling indeed. And blocking the Keystone Pipeline is, well, progressive.

For the first time in history, working age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps.

A low-wage job supplemented with food stamps is becoming increasingly common as more hard-working people are becoming trapped in the net of a progressive administration.

Winning the popular vote is prerequisite to the progressive movement’s impetus, even if it requires some liberal kowtowing.

Yet, we are not without hope. There is still one demographic the progressive movement will never own — Christians.

Polling suggests as much as 77 percent of Americans identify with the Christian faith. If we work together we can take back our country and return her to Godly principles. But we must not “be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Friends, only one thing will stop the progressive movement — a Christian movement.

And it’s time for revival.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Progressive ideology nurtured in classroom

10 Jul


Jul. 10, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The United States’ greatest enemy may very well be “an enemy from within” — the progressive movement.

This is the first of a series of columns intended to define and expose the tactics I believe progressive visionaries plan to employ in the U.S. over the next several years.

One must first understand the idiopathic process of the progressive movement is literally revealed in the name. Through a progressive, resolute methodology of challenging the status quo, liberals doggedly advance the standards from right to left. They understand that rooted mindsets will not change overnight, but through a gradual desensitization to liberal theology, they can create an ideology more befitting a “new age” of Americans.

Progressives often leverage the liberal factions of our judicial system and the classroom in their quest for fundamental change. Over the next several weeks I plan to deal with the evolving strategies we’re witnessing in the United States and how to recognize and avert them.

Abe Lincoln was quoted as saying, “The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.” In my youth, religion was a welcome part of the classroom. Saying the Lord’s Prayer and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was simply part of our daily morning routine. Most of my teachers even had a Bible on their desk, and why not? It was the accepted foundation for all we knew and loved about America. And nearly every classroom wall displayed the Ten Commandments.

Scripture was something we reverenced and referenced nearly every day.

Then in 1962 the Supreme Court ruled that official prayer had no place in the public school system. While many blame Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an outspoken atheist of the time, her role was minimal.

The decision resulted from the case of Engel v. Vitale in which parents challenged a prayer written by a New York education board. These multi-denominational parents did not want their children subjected to state-sponsored devotions which the high court equated to the government “respecting an establishment of religion.”

The relatively benign invocation in question read, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country.” Still, parents were adamant that it shouldn’t be uttered in the public sphere.

In the following year, 1963, the Supreme Court handed down another important ruling dealing with prayer in public schools. In Abington Township School District v. Schempp, the court declared school-sponsored Bible reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer unconstitutional. And in 1980, the Ten Commandments were eventually removed from the classroom.

It’s been 50 years since the Supreme Court first ruled that official prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. The landmark decision has given liberals the opportunity to debase Christianity and begin progressively removing God from the classroom where it would instill conservative values in young minds.

Since then, this liberal “progression” has marred the path for our nation’s youth and indeed unconstitutionally “impeded” the “free exercise of religion” in America.

Removing God from the classroom was integral to the progressive agenda.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Obamacare more about power than healthcare

29 Apr


Dec. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Americans have been given a false choice regarding healthcare reform.

There were many viable alternatives for making healthcare more available and affordable in America that didn’t require tearing down the entire system and replacing it with a mandate that all Americans “bow” at the altar of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Internal Revenue Service.

Yet Democrat leadership failed to pursue reasonable solutions which studies have shown would significantly improve healthcare in the U.S. while maintaining an individual’s right to choose the coverage which best suits their needs.

Americans struggling to make ends meet should receive tax breaks commensurate with their income enabling them to afford quality healthcare for themselves and their family. I would personally like to see the money our government sends to other nations outside of humanitarian needs redirected to subsidize healthcare coverage for Americans at or below our nation’s poverty level. America must stay strong to help others!

People with pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be left out in the cold. But we can’t expect insurance companies to simply “absorb” these additional costs. Again, our government should re-allocate foreign aid funding, as well as eliminate their own irresponsible spending, to cover these additional costs in the form of a tax subsidy.

We must allow insurance companies to sell their policies across state lines. We have every reason to believe that healthy competition will reduce costs and provide more options for Americans just as every other U.S. industry.

Tort reform on medical malpractice is needed. Our current system increases costs both directly, in the form of higher malpractice insurance premiums, and indirectly, in the form of defensive medicine when medical services are prescribed simply to circumvent liability rather than benefit the patient.

Employers should be encouraged to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees. HSAs allow individuals to set aside money from each paycheck, before taxes, for future medical care. The American people are much more frugal and conscientious with their money than the government! An HSA may also be an excellent fit with a high-deductible insurance plan.

Pre-Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, (CBO) there were around 15 million uninsured Americans in the U.S. But based on CBO projections, once Obamacare is fully implemented, and working smoothly, that number climbs to 30 million in 2023!

I submit the Obamacare journey, which has cost our nation billions of dollars, has never really been about providing health coverage for all Americans, but something entirely different.

President Obama and Democrats sold Obamacare on a series of lies knowing it would result in a base of voters not only dependent upon government, but subject to extortion of their tax dollars if they defied the mandate.

A defining characteristic of this administration is to arrogantly operate within the narrowest definition of executive power and outside of the people’s consent.

The fact that Obamacare shifts power away from the people and to government challenges the fundamental belief that government must derive its “just powers from the consent of the governed”.

Obamacare isn’t about healthcare. It’s about power.

The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics

6 Apr


By Thomas G. West and William A. Schambra

Progressivism was the reform movement that ran from the late 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century, during which leading intellectuals and social reformers in the United States sought to address the economic, political, and cultural questions that had arisen in the context of the rapid changes brought with the Industrial Revolution and the growth of modern capitalism in America. The Progressives believed that these changes marked the end of the old order and required the creation of a new order appropriate for the new industrial age.

There are, of course, many different representations of Progressivism: the literature of Upton Sinclair, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the history of Charles Beard, the educational system of John Dewey. In politics and political thought, the movement is associated with political leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt and thinkers such as Herbert Croly and Charles Merriam.

While the Progressives differed in their assessment of the problems and how to resolve them, they generally shared in common the view that government at every level must be actively involved in these reforms. The existing constitutional system was outdated and must be made into a dynamic, evolving instrument of social change, aided by scientific knowledge and the development of administrative bureaucracy.

At the same time, the old system was to be opened up and made more democratic; hence, the direct elections of Senators, the open primary, the initiative and referendum. It also had to be made to provide for more revenue; hence, the Sixteenth Amendment and the progressive income tax.

Presidential leadership would provide the unity of direction — the vision — needed for true progressive government. “All that progressives ask or desire,” wrote Woodrow Wilson, “is permission — in an era when development, evolution, is a scientific word — to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.”

What follows is a discussion about the effect that Progressivism has had — and continues to have — on American politics and political thought. The remarks stem from the publication of The Progressive Revolution in Politics and Political Science (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), to which Dr. West contributed.

Remarks by Thomas G. West

The thesis of our book, The Progressive Revolution in Politics and Political Science, is that Progressivism transformed American politics. What was that transformation? It was a total rejection in theory, and a partial rejection in practice, of the principles and policies on which America had been founded and on the basis of which the Civil War had been fought and won only a few years earlier. When I speak of Progressivism, I mean the movement that rose to prominence between about 1880 and 1920.

In a moment I will turn to the content of the Progressive conception of politics and to the contrast between that approach and the tradition, stemming from the founding, that it aimed to replace. But I would like first to emphasize how different is the assessment of Progressivism presented in our book, The Progressive Revolution, from the understanding that prevails among most scholars. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that few scholars, especially among students of American political thought, regard the Progressive Era as having any lasting significance in American history. In my own college and graduate student years, I cannot recall any of the famous teachers with whom I studied saying anything much about it. Among my teachers were some very impressive men: Walter Berns, Allan Bloom, Harry Jaffa, Martin Diamond, Harry Neumann, and Leo Strauss.

Today, those who speak of the formative influences that made America what it is today tend to endorse one of three main explanations. Some emphasize material factors such as the closing of the frontier, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the modern corporation, and accidental emergencies such as wars or the Great Depression, which in turn led to the rise of the modern administrative state.

Second is the rational choice explanation. Morris Fiorina and others argue that once government gets involved in providing extensive services for the public, politicians see that growth in government programs enables them to win elections. The more government does, the easier it is for Congressmen to do favors for voters and donors.

Third, still other scholars believe that the ideas of the American founding itself are responsible for current developments. Among conservatives, Robert Bork’s Slouching Toward Gomorrah adopts the gloomy view that the Founders’ devotion to the principles of liberty and equality led inexorably to the excesses of today’s welfare state and cultural decay. Allan Bloom’s best-selling The Closing of the American Mind presents a more sophisticated version of Bork’s argument. Liberals like Gordon Wood agree, but they think that the change in question is good, not bad. Wood writes that although the Founders themselves did not understand the implications of the ideas of the Revolution, those ideas eventually “made possible…all our current egalitarian thinking.”

My own view is this: Although the first two of the three mentioned causes (material circumstances and politicians’ self-interest) certainly played a part, the most important cause was a change in the prevailing understanding of justice among leading American intellectuals and, to a lesser extent, in the American people. Today’s liberalism and the policies that it has generated arose from a conscious repudiation of the principles of the American founding.

If the contributors to The Progressive Revolution are right, Bork and Bloom are entirely wrong in their claim that contemporary liberalism is a logical outgrowth of the principles of the founding. During the Progressive Era, a new theory of justice took hold. Its power has been so great that Progressivism, as modified by later developments within contemporary liberalism, has become the predominant view in modern American education, media, popular culture, and politics. Today, people who call themselves conservatives and liberals alike accept much of the Progressive view of the world. Although few outside of the academy openly attack the Founders, I know of no prominent politician, and only the tiniest minority of scholars, who altogether support the Founders’ principles.

The Progressive Rejection of the Founding

Shortly after the end of the Civil War, a large majority of Americans shared a set of beliefs concerning the purpose of government, its structure, and its most important public policies. Constitutional amendments were passed abolishing slavery and giving the national government the authority to protect the basic civil rights of everyone. Here was a legal foundation on which the promise of the American Revolution could be realized in the South, beyond its already existing implementation in the Northern and Western states.

This post-Civil War consensus was animated by the principles of the American founding. I will mention several characteristic features of that approach to government and contrast them with the new, Progressive approach. Between about 1880 and 1920, the earlier orientation gradually began to be replaced by the new one. In the New Deal period of the 1930s, and later even more decisively in the 1960s and ’70s, the Progressive view, increasingly radicalized by its transformation into contemporary liberalism, became predominant.

1. The Rejection of Nature and the Turn to history

The Founders believed that all men are created equal and that they have certain inalienable rights. All are also obliged to obey the natural law, under which we have not only rights but duties. We are obliged “to respect those rights in others which we value in ourselves” (Jefferson). The main rights were thought to be life and liberty, including the liberty to organize one’s own church, to associate at work or at home with whomever one pleases, and to use one’s talents to acquire and keep property. For the Founders, then, there is a natural moral order — rules discovered by human reason that promote human well-being, rules that can and should guide human life and politics.

The Progressives rejected these claims as naive and unhistorical. In their view, human beings are not born free. John Dewey, the most thoughtful of the Progressives, wrote that freedom is not “something that individuals have as a ready-made possession.” It is “something to be achieved.” In this view, freedom is not a gift of God or nature. It is a product of human making, a gift of the state. Man is a product of his own history, through which he collectively creates himself. He is a social construct. Since human beings are not naturally free, there can be no natural rights or natural law. Therefore, Dewey also writes, “Natural rights and natural liberties exist only in the kingdom of mythological social zoology.”

Since the Progressives held that nature gives man little or nothing and that everything of value to human life is made by man, they concluded that there are no permanent standards of right. Dewey spoke of “historical relativity.” However, in one sense, the Progressives did believe that human beings are oriented toward freedom, not by nature (which, as the merely primitive, contains nothing human), but by the historical process, which has the character of progressing toward increasing freedom. So the “relativity” in question means that in all times, people have views of right and wrong that are tied to their particular times, but in our time, the views of the most enlightened are true because they are in conformity with where history is going.

2. The Purpose of Government

For the Founders, thinking about government began with the recognition that what man is given by nature — his capacity for reason and the moral law discovered by reason — is, in the most important respect, more valuable than anything government can give him. Not that nature provides him with his needs. In fact, the Founders thought that civilization is indispensable for human well-being. Although government can be a threat to liberty, government is also necessary for the security of liberty. As Madison wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But since men are not angels, without government, human beings would live in “a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger.” In the Founders’ view, nature does give human beings the most valuable things: their bodies and minds. These are the basis of their talents, which they achieve by cultivating these natural gifts but which would be impossible without those gifts.

For the Founders, then, the individual’s existence and freedom in this crucial respect are not a gift of government. They are a gift of God and nature. Government is therefore always and fundamentally in the service of the individual, not the other way around. The purpose of government, then, is to enforce the natural law for the members of the political community by securing the people’s natural rights. It does so by preserving their lives and liberties against the violence of others. In the founding, the liberty to be secured by government is not freedom from necessity or poverty. It is freedom from the despotic and predatory domination of some human beings over others.

Government’s main duty for the Founders is to secure that freedom — at home through the making and enforcement of criminal and civil law, abroad through a strong national defense. The protection of life and liberty is achieved through vigorous prosecutions of crime against person and property or through civil suits for recovery of damages, these cases being decided by a jury of one’s peers.

The Progressives regarded the Founders’ scheme as defective because it took too benign a view of nature. As Dewey remarked, they thought that the individual was ready-made by nature. The Founders’ supposed failure to recognize the crucial role of society led the Progressives to disparage the Founders’ insistence on limited government. The Progressive goal of politics is freedom, now understood as freedom from the limits imposed by nature and necessity. They rejected the Founders’ conception of freedom as useful for self-preservation for the sake of the individual pursuit of happiness. For the Progressives, freedom is redefined as the fulfillment of human capacities, which becomes the primary task of the state.

To this end, Dewey writes, “the state has the responsibility for creating institutions under which individuals can effectively realize the potentialities that are theirs.” So although “it is true that social arrangements, laws, institutions are made for man, rather than that man is made for them,” these laws and institutions “are not means for obtaining something for individuals, not even happiness. They are means of creating individuals…. Individuality in a social and moral sense is something to be wrought out.” “Creating individuals” versus “protecting individuals”: this sums up the difference between the Founders’ and the Progressives’ conception of what government is for.

3. The Progressives’ Rejection of consent and Compact as the Basis of Society

In accordance with their conviction that all human beings are by nature free, the Founders taught that political society is “formed by a voluntary association of individuals: It is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good” (Massachusetts Constitution of 1780).

For the Founders, the consent principle extended beyond the founding of society into its ordinary operation. Government was to be conducted under laws, and laws were to be made by locally elected officials, accountable through frequent elections to those who chose them. The people would be directly involved in governing through their participation in juries selected by lot.

The Progressives treated the social compact idea with scorn. Charles Merriam, a leading Progressive political scientist, wrote:

The individualistic ideas of the “natural right” school of political theory, indorsed in the Revolution, are discredited and repudiated…. The origin of the state is regarded, not as the result of a deliberate agreement among men, but as the result of historical development, instinctive rather than conscious; and rights are considered to have their source not in nature, but in law.

For the Progressives, then, it was of no great importance whether or not government begins in consent as long as it serves its proper end of remolding man in such a way as to bring out his real capacities and aspirations. As Merriam wrote, “it was the idea of the state that supplanted the social contract as the ground of political right.” Democracy and consent are not absolutely rejected by the Progressives, but their importance is greatly diminished, as we will see when we come to the Progressive conception of governmental structure.

4. God and religion

In the founding, God was conceived in one of two ways. Christians and Jews believed in the God of the Bible as the author of liberty but also as the author of the moral law by which human beings are guided toward their duties and, ultimately, toward their happiness. Nonbelievers (Washington called them “mere politicians” in his Farewell Address) thought of God merely as a creative principle or force behind the natural order of things.

Both sides agreed that there is a God of nature who endows men with natural rights and assigns them duties under the law of nature. Believers added that the God of nature is also the God of the Bible, while secular thinkers denied that God was anything more than the God of nature. Everyone saw liberty as a “sacred cause.”

At least some of the Progressives redefined God as human freedom achieved through the right political organization. Or else God was simply rejected as a myth. For Hegel, whose philosophy strongly influenced the Progressives, “the state is the divine idea as it exists on earth.” John Burgess, a prominent Progressive political scientist, wrote that the purpose of the state is the “perfection of humanity, the civilization of the world; the perfect development of the human reason and its attainment to universal command over individualism; the apotheosis of man” (man becoming God). Progressive-Era theologians like Walter Rauschenbusch redefined Christianity as the social gospel of progress.

5. Limits on Government and the Integrity of the Private Sphere

For the Founders, the purpose of government is to protect the private sphere, which they regarded as the proper home of both the high and the low, of the important and the merely urgent, of God, religion, and science, as well as providing for the needs of the body. The experience of religious persecution had convinced the Founders that government was incompetent at directing man in his highest endeavors. The requirements of liberty, they thought, meant that self-interested private associations had to be permitted, not because they are good in themselves, but because depriving individuals of freedom of association would deny the liberty that is necessary for the health of society and the flourishing of the individual.

For the Founders, although government was grounded in divine law (i.e., the laws of nature and of nature’s God), government was seen as a merely human thing, bound up with all the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. Government had to be limited both because it was dangerous if it got too powerful and because it was not supposed to provide for the highest things in life.

Because of the Progressives’ tendency to view the state as divine and the natural as low, they no longer looked upon the private sphere as that which was to be protected by government. Instead, the realm of the private was seen as the realm of selfishness and oppression. Private property was especially singled out for criticism. Some Progressives openly or covertly spoke of themselves as socialists.

Woodrow Wilson did so in an unpublished writing. A society like the Founders’ that limits itself to protecting life, liberty, and property was one in which, as Wilson wrote with only slight exaggeration, “all that government had to do was to put on a policeman’s uniform and say, ‘Now don’t anybody hurt anybody else.'” Wilson thought that such a society was unable to deal with the conditions of modern times.

Wilson rejected the earlier view that “the ideal of government was for every man to be left alone and not interfered with, except when he interfered with somebody else; and that the best government was the government that did as little governing as possible.” A government of this kind is unjust because it leaves men at the mercy of predatory corporations. Without government management of those corporations, Wilson thought, the poor would be destined to indefinite victimization by the wealthy. Previous limits on government power must be abolished. Accordingly, Progressive political scientist Theodore Woolsey wrote, “The sphere of the state may reach as far as the nature and needs of man and of men reach, including intellectual and aesthetic wants of the individual, and the religious and moral nature of its citizens.”

However, this transformation is still in the future, for Progress takes place through historical development. A sign of the Progressives’ unlimited trust in unlimited political authority is Dewey’s remark in his “Ethics of Democracy” that Plato’s Republic presents us with the “perfect man in the perfect state.” What Plato’s Socrates had presented as a thought experiment to expose the nature and limits of political life is taken by Dewey to be a laudable obliteration of the private sphere by government mandate. In a remark that the Founders would have found repugnant, Progressive political scientist John Burgess wrote that “the most fundamental and indispensable mark of statehood” was “the original, absolute, unlimited, universal power over the individual subject, and all associations of subjects.”

6. Domestic Policy

For the Founders, domestic policy, as we have seen, concentrated on securing the persons and properties of the people against violence by means of a tough criminal law against murder, rape, robbery, and so on. Further, the civil law had to provide for the poor to have access to acquiring property by allowing the buying and selling of labor and property through voluntary contracts and a legal means of establishing undisputed ownership. The burden of proof was on government if there was to be any limitation on the free use of that property. Thus, licensing and zoning were rare.

Laws regulating sexual conduct aimed at the formation of lasting marriages so that children would be born and provided for by those whose interest and love was most likely to lead to their proper care, with minimal government involvement needed because most families would be intact.

Finally, the Founders tried to promote the moral conditions of an independent, hard-working citizenry by laws and educational institutions that would encourage such virtues as honesty, moderation, justice, patriotism, courage, frugality, and industry. Government support of religion (typically generic Protestantism) was generally practiced with a view to these ends. One can see the Founders’ view of the connection between religion and morality in such early laws as the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which said that government should promote education because “[r]eligion, morality, and knowledge [are] necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind.”

In Progressivism, the domestic policy of government had two main concerns.

First, government must protect the poor and other victims of capitalism through redistribution of resources, anti-trust laws, government control over the details of commerce and production: i.e., dictating at what prices things must be sold, methods of manufacture, government participation in the banking system, and so on.

Second, government must become involved in the “spiritual” development of its citizens — not, of course, through promotion of religion, but through protecting the environment (“conservation”), education (understood as education to personal creativity), and spiritual uplift through subsidy and promotion of the arts and culture.

7. Foreign Policy

For the Founders, foreign and domestic policy were supposed to serve the same end: the security of the people in their person and property. Therefore, foreign policy was conceived primarily as defensive. Foreign attack was to be deterred by having strong arms or repulsed by force. Alliances were to be entered into with the understanding that a self-governing nation must keep itself aloof from the quarrels of other nations, except as needed for national defense. Government had no right to spend the taxes or lives of its own citizens to spread democracy to other nations or to engage in enterprises aiming at imperialistic hegemony.

The Progressives believed that a historical process was leading all mankind to freedom, or at least the advanced nations. Following Hegel, they thought of the march of freedom in history as having a geographical basis. It was in Europe, not Asia or Africa, where modern science and the modern state had made their greatest advances. The nations where modern science had properly informed the political order were thought to be the proper leaders of the world.

The Progressives also believed that the scientifically educated leaders of the advanced nations (especially America, Britain, and France) should not hesitate to rule the less advanced nations in the interest of ultimately bringing the world into freedom, assuming that supposedly inferior peoples could be brought into the modern world at all. Political scientist Charles Merriam openly called for a policy of colonialism on a racial basis:

[T]he Teutonic races must civilize the politically uncivilized. They must have a colonial policy. Barbaric races, if incapable, may be swept away…. On the same principle, interference with the affairs of states not wholly barbaric, but nevertheless incapable of effecting political organization for themselves, is fully justified.

Progressives therefore embraced a much more active and indeed imperialistic foreign policy than the Founders did. In “Expansion and Peace” (1899), Theodore Roosevelt wrote that the best policy is imperialism on a global scale: “every expansion of a great civilized power means a victory for law, order, and righteousness.” Thus, the American occupation of the Philippines, T.R. believed, would enable “one more fair spot of the world’s surface” to be “snatched from the forces of darkness. Fundamentally the cause of expansion is the cause of peace.”

Woodrow Wilson advocated American entry into World War I, boasting that America’s national interest had nothing to do with it. Wilson had no difficulty sending American troops to die in order to make the world safe for democracy, regardless of whether or not it would make America more safe or less. The trend to turn power over to multinational organizations also begins in this period, as may be seen in Wilson’s plan for a League of Nations, under whose rules America would have delegated control over the deployment of its own armed forces to that body.

8. Who Should Rule, Experts or Representatives?

The Founders thought that laws should be made by a body of elected officials with roots in local communities. They should not be “experts,” but they should have “most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society” (Madison). The wisdom in question was the kind on display in The Federalist, which relentlessly dissected the political errors of the previous decade in terms accessible to any person of intelligence and common sense.

The Progressives wanted to sweep away what they regarded as this amateurism in politics. They had confidence that modern science had superseded the perspective of the liberally educated statesman. Only those educated in the top universities, preferably in the social sciences, were thought to be capable of governing. Politics was regarded as too complex for common sense to cope with. Government had taken on the vast responsibility not merely of protecting the people against injuries, but of managing the entire economy as well as providing for the people’s spiritual well-being. Only government agencies staffed by experts informed by the most advanced modern science could manage tasks previously handled within the private sphere. Government, it was thought, needed to be led by those who see where history is going, who understand the ever-evolving idea of human dignity.

The Progressives did not intend to abolish democracy, to be sure. They wanted the people’s will to be more efficiently translated into government policy. But what democracy meant for the Progressives is that the people would take power out of the hands of locally elected officials and political parties and place it instead into the hands of the central government, which would in turn establish administrative agencies run by neutral experts, scientifically trained, to translate the people’s inchoate will into concrete policies. Local politicians would be replaced by neutral city managers presiding over technically trained staffs. Politics in the sense of favoritism and self-interest would disappear and be replaced by the universal rule of enlightened bureaucracy.

Progressivism and Today’s liberalism

This should be enough to show how radically the Progressives broke with the earlier tradition. Of what relevance is all of this today?

Most obviously, the roots of the liberalism with which we are familiar lie in the Progressive Era. It is not hard to see the connections between the eight features of Progressivism that I have just sketched and later developments. This is true not only for the New Deal period of Franklin Roosevelt, but above all for the major institutional and policy changes that were initiated between 1965 and 1975. Whether one regards the transformation of American politics over the past century as good or bad, the foundations of that transformation were laid in the Progressive Era. Today’s liberals, or the teachers of today’s liberals, learned to reject the principles of the founding from their teachers, the Progressives.

Nevertheless, in some respects, the Progressives were closer to the founding than they are to today’s liberalism. So let us conclude by briefly considering the differences between our current liberalism and Progressivism. We may sum up these differences in three words: science, sex, and progress.

First, in regard to science, today’s liberals have a far more ambivalent attitude than the Progressives did. The latter had no doubt that science either had all the answers or was on the road to discovering them. Today, although the prestige of science remains great, it has been greatly diminished by the multicultural perspective that sees science as just another point of view.

Two decades ago, in a widely publicized report of the American Council of Learned Societies, several leading professors in the humanities proclaimed that the “ideal of objectivity and disinterest,” which “has been essential to the development of science,” has been totally rejected by “the consensus of most of the dominant theories” of today. Instead, today’s consensus holds that “all thought does, indeed, develop from particular standpoints, perspectives, interests.” So science is just a Western perspective on reality, no more or less valid than the folk magic believed in by an African or Pacific Island tribe that has never been exposed to modern science.

Second, liberalism today has become preoccupied with sex. Sexual activity is to be freed from all traditional restraints. In the Founders’ view, sex was something that had to be regulated by government because of its tie to the production and raising of children. Practices such as abortion and homosexual conduct — the choice for which was recently equated by the Supreme Court with the right “to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” — are considered fundamental rights.

The connection between sexual liberation and Progressivism is indirect, for the Progressives, who tended to follow Hegel in such matters, were rather old-fashioned in this regard. But there was one premise within Progressivism that may be said to have led to the current liberal understanding of sex. That is the disparagement of nature and the celebration of human will, the idea that everything of value in life is created by man’s choice, not by nature or necessity.

Once sexual conduct comes under the scrutiny of such a concern, it is not hard to see that limiting sexual expression to marriage — where it is clearly tied to nature’s concern for reproduction — could easily be seen as a kind of limitation of human liberty. Once self-realization (Dewey’s term, for whom it was still tied to reason and science) is transmuted into self-expression (today’s term), all barriers to one’s sexual idiosyncrasies must appear arbitrary and tyrannical.

Third, contemporary liberals no longer believe in progress. The Progressives’ faith in progress was rooted in their faith in science, as one can see especially in the European thinkers whom they admired, such as Hegel and Comte. When science is seen as just one perspective among many, then progress itself comes into question.

The idea of progress presupposes that the end result is superior to the point of departure, but contemporary liberals are generally wary of expressing any sense of the superiority of the West, whether intellectually, politically, or in any other way. They are therefore disinclined to support any foreign policy venture that contributes to the strength of America or of the West.

Liberal domestic policy follows the same principle. It tends to elevate the “other” to moral superiority over against those whom the Founders would have called the decent and the honorable, the men of wisdom and virtue. The more a person is lacking, the greater is his or her moral claim on society. The deaf, the blind, the disabled, the stupid, the improvident, the ignorant, and even (in a 1984 speech of presidential candidate Walter Mondale) the sad — those who are lowest are extolled as the sacred other.

Surprisingly, although Progressivism, supplemented by the more recent liberalism, has transformed America in some respects, the Founders’ approach to politics is still alive in some areas of American life. One has merely to attend a jury trial over a murder, rape, robbery, or theft in a state court to see the older system of the rule of law at work. Perhaps this is one reason why America seems so conservative to the rest of the Western world. Among ordinary Americans, as opposed to the political, academic, professional, and entertainment elites, there is still a strong attachment to property rights, self-reliance, and heterosexual marriage; a wariness of university-certified “experts”; and an unapologetic willingness to use armed forces in defense of their country.

The first great battle for the American soul was settled in the Civil War. The second battle for America’s soul, initiated over a century ago, is still raging. The choice for the Founders’ constitutionalism or the Progressive-liberal administrative state is yet to be fully resolved.

Thomas G. West is a Professor of Politics at the University of Dallas, a Director and Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute, and author of Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America (Rowman and Littlefield, 1997).

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