The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

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The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby tzor on Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:44 pm

As I promised, I'm going to start a thread to discuss the notion of the Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and how it has evolved into the political policies and actions of the modern 21st century progressive politician. Recommended reading would include “Ameritopia” by Mark R. Levin as well as the online Constitutional classes by Hillsdale College.

Mark Levin links the Progressive movement with all other Utopian movements that preceded it. “Utopianism has long promoted the idea of a paradisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo 'ideal' societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide for all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual – in exchange for his abject servitude.” (Ameritopia pg. xi)

Utopianism is irrational in theory and practice, for it ignores or attempts to control the planned and unplanned complexity of the individual, his nature, and mankind generally. It ignores, rejects, or perverts the teachings and knowledge that have come before – that is, man's historical, cultural, and social experience and development. Indeed, utopianism seeks to break what the hugely influential eighteenth-century British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke argued was the societal continuum “between those who are living and those who are dead and those who are to be born.”


Don't believe Mark? Well here are the writings of Frank Goodnow, The American Conception of Liberty in 1916

The end of the eighteenth century was marked by the formulation and general acceptance by thinking men in Europe of a political philosophy which laid great emphasis on individual private rights. Man was by this philosophy conceived of as endowed at the time of his birth with certain inalienable rights. Thus, Rousseau in his “Social Contract” treated man as primarily an individual and only secondarily as a member of human society. Society itself was regarded as based upon a contract made between the individuals by whose union it was formed. At the time of making this contract these individuals were deemed to have reserved certain rights spoken of as “natural” rights. These rights could neither be taken away nor be limited without the consent of the individual affected.

Such a theory, of course, had no historical justification. There was no record of the making of any such contract as was postulated. It was impossible to assert, as a matter of fact even, that man existed first as an individual and that later he became, as the result of any act of volition on his part, a member of human society. But at a time when truth was sought usually through speculation rather than observation, the absence of proof of the facts which lay at the basis of the theory did not seriously trouble those by whom it was formulated or accepted.

While there was no justification in fact for this social contract theory and this doctrine of natural rights, their acceptance by thinking men did nevertheless have an important influence upon the development of thought and in that way upon the actual conditions of human life. For these theories were not only a philosophical explanation of the organization of society; they were at the same time the result of the then existing social conditions, and like most such theories were also an attempt to justify a course of conduct which was believed to be expedient.

At the end of the eighteenth century a great change was beginning in Western Europe. The enlargement of the field of commercial transactions, due to the discovery and colonization of America and to the contact of Europe with Asia, particularly with India, had opened new spheres of activity to those minded for adventure. The invention of the steam engine and its application to manufacturing were rapidly changing industrial conditions. The factory system was in process of establishment and had already begun to displace domestic industry.

The new possibilities of reward for individual endeavor made men impatient of the restrictions on private initiative incident to an industrial and commercial system which was fast passing away. They therefore welcomed with eagerness a political philosophy which, owing to the emphasis it placed upon private rights, would if acted upon have the effect of freeing them from what they regarded as hampering limitations on individual initiative.

This political philosophy was incorporated into the celebrated Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen promulgated in France on the eve of the Revolution. A perusal of this remarkable document reveals the fact, however, that the reformers of France had not altogether emancipated themselves from the influences of their historical development. For almost every clause of the Declaration refers to rights under the law rather than to rights which were natural to and inherent in man.

The subsequent development in Europe of this private rights philosophy is along the lines thus marked out by the Declaration. The rights which men have been recognized as possessing have not been considered to be inherent rights, attaching to man at the time of his birth, so much as rights which find their origin in the law as adopted by that organ of government regarded as representative of the society of which the individual man is a member.

In a word, man is regarded now throughout Europe, contrary to the view expressed by Rousseau, as primarily a member of society and secondarily as an individual. The rights which he possesses are, it is believed, conferred upon him, not by his Creator, but rather by the society to which he belongs. What they are is to be determined by the legislative authority in view of the needs of that society. Social expediency, rather than natural right, is thus to determine the sphere of individual freedom of action.

The development of this private rights philosophy has been, however, somewhat different in the United States. The philosophy of Rousseau was accepted in this country probably with even greater enthusiasm than was the case in Europe. The social and economic conditions of the Western World were, in the first place, more favorable than in Europe for its acceptance. There was at the time no well-developed social organization in this country. America was the land of the pioneer, who had to rely for most of his success upon his strong right arm. Such communities as did exist were loosely organized and separated one from another. Roads worthy of the name hardly existed and communication was possible only by rivers which were imperfectly navigable or over a sea which, when account is taken of the vessels then in use, was tempestuous in character.

Furthermore, the religious and moral influences in this country, which owed much to the Protestant Reformation, all favored the development of an extreme individualism. They emphasized personal responsibility and the salvation of the individual soul. It was the fate of the individual rather than that of the social group which appealed to the preacher or aroused the anxiety of the theologian. It was individual rather than social morality which was emphasized by the ethical teacher and received attention in moral codes. Everything, in a word, favored the acceptance of the theory of individual natural rights.

The result was the adoption in this country of a doctrine of unadulterated individualism. Every one had rights. Social duties were hardly recognized, or if recognized little emphasis was laid upon them. It was apparently thought that every one was able and willing to protect his rights, and that as a result of the struggle between men for their rights and of the compromise of what appeared to be conflicting rights would arise an effective social organization....


Discuss. I'll throw in another quote from the Great one and the Progressives later.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:04 pm

I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby tzor on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:14 pm

I call myself a "conservative" because I believe in "conservation."

Shouldn't you look at the principles of a thing and not the label of a thing. You really can't tell a Romantic Novel by the cover art illustration.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:15 pm

tzor wrote:I call myself a "conservative" because I believe in "conservation."


I agree with that definition, as that is largely what a conservative is about.

tzor wrote:Shouldn't you look at the principles of a thing and not the label of a thing. You really can't tell a Romantic Novel by the cover art illustration.


I find it much more appropriate to look at the definition of a word rather than the label someone else has applied to it at some point in history.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Army of GOD on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:17 pm

yea, progressivism sucks. I wish we still had slavery...
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Phatscotty on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:18 pm

Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


progress over Liberty?
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:20 pm

Phatscotty wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


progress over Liberty?


No, I didn't say I was a Republican.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Phatscotty on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:22 pm

Another take on modern Progressivism...



Last edited by Phatscotty on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby patches70 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:23 pm

FTOF wrote:With all due respect, Six, and I'm just talkin' here is all, points to consider is that FDR was a progressive. Now that's all fine and dandy and Progressivism fits in well to people who have a desire to control all aspects of society in order to bring about what they feel is "fair".

If one were to feel that the US Constitution was an outdated and ineffective document, though at one time it was the bees knees but times have a changed, then you'd be a Progressive.

If one were to feel that in the name of efficiency, then all areas of society should be Centrally Planned, then you'd be a Progressive.

If one were to feel that Central Planning was the best way to eliminate corruption and waste, then you'd be a Progressive.

Let us not forget that it was the Progressives who championed the 18th amendment, blistering testament to the Progressive desire to control society.

I'm not going to argue that Progressive intentions weren't noble, but I would say that they did (do) poorly in evaluating the consequences of their philosophy. Good intentions are one thing, but viewing actual results with a critical eye is not a Progressive strong point IMO.
Not that Progressives didn't accomplish some things that were all right, I suppose. Only that Progressivism is far and away from the ideal and is in no way the best way. IMO.

It is human nature to control all that we see. But in the efforts to realize that control it is a blow to individuality and that which is lost is greater than that which is gained in most cases.

If one were to be more realistic, more accepting of human limitations, the better off one would be and one would not go the Progressive route despite what it is that they are facing. One would find another way.

Just sayin' is all.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Phatscotty on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:24 pm

the road to hell is paved with good intentions....
"I want you to remember that, to remind you to stay out of my way. In all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you."
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:25 pm

Phatscotty wrote:Another take on modern Progressivism...


I'm just glad you've found all these conservatives to explain progressivism to you. That way, you won't have to actually think about it. Well done!
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:25 pm

Phatscotty wrote:the road to hell is paved with good intentions....


As opposed to bad intentions...
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Night Strike on Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:47 pm

Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Army of GOD on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:16 pm

Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.


Yeah! Progressivism took away our freedom to be slaveholders!
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Night Strike on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:18 pm

Army of GOD wrote:
Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.


Yeah! Progressivism took away our freedom to be slaveholders!


And today Progressivism is turning the government into our masters by forcing half the population to work for the government while the other half depends on handouts from the government.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Army of GOD on Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:30 pm

So don't you think calling Progressivism wholly good or wholly bad is a bit short-sighted?
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:33 pm

Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.


I disagree, because if it's progress then it is, by definition, an improvement.

Aside from that, the right-wing (yes, you and Phatscotty) simply wants another label to throw at liberals, along with "socialist", "marxist", "liberal" and now "progressive".
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:35 pm

Night Strike wrote:
Army of GOD wrote:
Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.


Yeah! Progressivism took away our freedom to be slaveholders!


And today Progressivism is turning the government into our masters by forcing half the population to work for the government while the other half depends on handouts from the government.


When the half is depending on handouts from the government because there aren't any jobs to be had (they've been shipped overseas or eliminated), I'm not sure that's a function of progressivism as much as it's a function of capitalism (seeking profit).

But certainly, it would be better to have those folks with no means of support. After all, the right-wing cares about you before you're born, and after you're old enough to go fight wars for them...but after you're born and if you're not going to go be part of the military grinder, the right-wing simply says "get a job, hippie!" and that satisfies their level of effort.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby patches70 on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:02 pm

Woodruff wrote:
I disagree, because if it's progress then it is, by definition, an improvement.



Aye, mankind has made great progress in many areas. One in particular is the great strides forward we've made at killing each other.

We used to have to use spears, swords and stone to bash and hack each other to death. But, that's very labor intensive, inefficient and quite tiring. It seems a man can only bludgeon and stab but so many people before he is either cut down himself or falls exhausted.

But just look at us today! We can obliterate whole cities in the blink of an eye and all it takes is the push of a button. Why, I bet if we really wanted to, we could kill every single human being on the planet in a matter of hours!

Progress! Ain't it great?
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Night Strike on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:32 pm

Woodruff wrote:
Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.


I disagree, because if it's progress then it is, by definition, an improvement.


So we've progressed from a country founded on individual freedoms to a society that depends on the government if they don't get what they want. Yep, that's quite the improvement. =D>
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:43 pm

patches70 wrote:
Woodruff wrote:
I disagree, because if it's progress then it is, by definition, an improvement.



Aye, mankind has made great progress in many areas. One in particular is the great strides forward we've made at killing each other.

We used to have to use spears, swords and stone to bash and hack each other to death. But, that's very labor intensive, inefficient and quite tiring. It seems a man can only bludgeon and stab but so many people before he is either cut down himself or falls exhausted.

But just look at us today! We can obliterate whole cities in the blink of an eye and all it takes is the push of a button. Why, I bet if we really wanted to, we could kill every single human being on the planet in a matter of hours!

Progress! Ain't it great?


I don't consider that progress, actually, though I suppose some do.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:45 pm

Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:
Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:I call myself a Progressive, because I believe in progress.


What about when the Progressivism is taking away the freedoms we have? And what are you "progressing" to? Progress for the sake of progress is not inherently good.


I disagree, because if it's progress then it is, by definition, an improvement.


So we've progressed from a country founded on individual freedoms to a society that depends on the government if they don't get what they want. Yep, that's quite the improvement. =D>


As opposed to people dying in the streets from disease and plague, due to lack of support? Yes, I'd say so. Though I can see why a knee-jerk neo-con who couldn't give a rat's ass about his fellow man might think otherwise.

Also, it's nice how you evolved this to "a society that depends" from "individuals who depend". Society has always depended on the governmnet to some extent, so that's...very...well, something...of you. Well done, again!
...I prefer a man who will burn the flag and then wrap himself in the Constitution to a man who will burn the Constitution and then wrap himself in the flag.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Night Strike on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:52 pm

Woodruff wrote:As opposed to people dying in the streets from disease and plague, due to lack of support? Yes, I'd say so. Though I can see why a knee-jerk neo-con who couldn't give a rat's ass about his fellow man might think otherwise.


So if I don't want individuals to rely on the government for everything they want, I therefore don't give a "rat's ass" about others?
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Juan_Bottom on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:52 pm

Nobody is going to read this.
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Re: The Progressive Movement - A political history lesson

Postby Woodruff on Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:54 pm

Night Strike wrote:
Woodruff wrote:As opposed to people dying in the streets from disease and plague, due to lack of support? Yes, I'd say so. Though I can see why a knee-jerk neo-con who couldn't give a rat's ass about his fellow man might think otherwise.


So if I don't want individuals to rely on the government for everything they want, I therefore don't give a "rat's ass" about others?


No, I certainly didn't say that. I don't know why you don't give a rat's ass about your fellow man, to be honest, but my view certainly wasn't limited to just this one issue/situation.
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