Over the last several weeks I’ve had numerous discussions with my blog readers about “What is progressivism?” Progressivism, interventionist, and social engineering are views of how government functions in the economy. Most are not familiar with those terms since they are not taught in schools or discussed on the news. I’m sure that Oliver DeMille will be insightful about these subjects as always when he speaks at the Milwaukee leadership convention next week. His new book, ‘1913’ will be a welcomed product under the Freedom ‘F’ from the LIFE business. These products are committed to bringing insight about the precious gift of freedom. Today I write a lengthy perspective on this subject, so work your way through this information. Our freedom is at a precipice. This information is worthy of your time.
Who and what are the progressives? It’s a theory that past government practices and beliefs need to be modernized and made relevant to our times. These social theories were given birth in the 1800’s at the times of Karl Marx. Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto advocated definite interventionist measures. Regarding traditions, Marx said, “The legacy of the dead generations weighs like a nightmare upon the brains of the living.” Ronald J. Pestritto, associate professor of politics at the U.of Dallas and research fellow of the Clairemont Institute wrote, “The election of 1912 was the high water mark of national progressive politics." During this time, Woodrow Wilson had a direct influence with the progressive movement. According to Pestritto, Wilson felt both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had to be understood anew through a progressive lens. Partritto wrote, “Wilson’s teachers at Hopkins were all educated in Germany and in the German States Theory and philosophy of History.” According to Matthew Spalding in his book ‘We Still Hold These Truths’, “The new progressive view rejected outright the very idea, at the heart of the Founders’ way of thinking. The progressives held that there were no fixed truths- certainly no objective or unchanging standards of right to guide politics. All truth claims are contingent, merely personal “values” relative to other equally valid claims. It made no sense to say anything was a “self evident” truth. This relativist view renders meaningless the whole American political tradition.”
These theories are in conflict with the founding father’s principles. Those foundations were built on the belief that liberty of self – government must be acquired, one person at a time. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Agriculture, manufacture’s, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are the most thriving when left to individual enterprise.”
The great Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises writes, “Most acedemic economists try to make economics difficult. These intellectuals give the general population the impression the entrepreneur and average citizen are at odds with each other. Planning means that the plan of the government should be substituted for the plans of the individual citizen. This amounts to the transfer of control from the entrepreneur to the government. Thus the social and economic philosophy of the ‘progressive’ is a plea for socialism, and communism. The immense majority of the socialist intellectuals were convinced that in fighting for socialism they were fighting for freedom. They declare, The state must interfere in order to realize social justice."
Complimenting the theories and practices of the progressives are those of John Dewey who has shaped the modern educational system. Unlike Dewey's theories, the classical humanities of the renaissance defined itself in separation from the professional monopoly of learning reflected in the university. Past President of Hillsdale College, George Roche writes about Dewey's views, “These reformers said the educational system was out of touch with the times. It gave far too much attention to the dead languages and literature of the ancient works." This begins to cut the roots of education according to great historian Thomas Carlyle who said, "What is all knowledge too, but recorded experience, and a product of history.” Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute, Jim Powell wrote, " Dewey believed that education should discourage individualism and promote collectivism." Sadly, today only 8% of college graduates receive degrees in Humanities. Bachelor’s degrees in English have declined to 4% of the whole. Should we have listened to Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “The learning of Greek and Latin I am told, is going into disuse in Europe. I know not what their manners and occupations call for: But it would be very ill – judged in us to follow their example in this instance.” ?
In a nutshell, the progressive movement has married the theory of social engineering of economic theorist John Maynard Keynes who said, “By a process of inflation governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of wealth of their citizens. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society, than debauch the currency. The process of inflation engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”
Could a review of the fall of the Roman Republic reveal similar causes that we are witnessing today?
- The expansion of a city state into a world empire.
- Economic expansion created lower wage earners and unemployed.
- Economic downturns created slave labor.
- Class warfare commenced. The lower class became influenced be demagogic politians.
- Roman magistrates held almost unrestricted power.
- A large segment of the senate came to office in a time of economic depression.
- Grain prices were abnormally high.
Thomas Jefferson warned, “When all government, domestic and foreign, in little and great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government to another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.” Let’s read the words of great historian Tacitus as he witnessed the fall of the Roman Republic, ‘Ruere in Servitium’, “They plunged into slavery.” Let’s learn about Freedom from Orrin Woodward and the LIFE business in Milwaukee. God Bless, George Guzzardo