Five Facts About Progressivism

ali-abdul-rahman-767366-unsplash.jpgShortly after the Civil War, a group of American elites, armed with current European philosophies and purported science, formulated a new political movement and ideology. It was not designed to operate alongside the government and principles of the Founding Fathers, but to replace them. Had these elites been citizens of foreign countries, their designs to overthrow the Founder’s government of the United States would have immediately been recognized and thwarted, but since they were American citizens, their essentially European philosophies were considered, debated and took hold. Rather than pursue violent overthrow as their more virulent European contemporaries, these elites preferred a more gradual, democratic approach to replacement. As elites, they already had the advantage of influence in the US educational system. Supported by political leaders of both parties including presidents, their ideas and policies rapidly took hold, entwining with our laws and government policies, choking out the system designed by the Founders.

That movement and ideology is Progressivism. If some descriptions in this post seem blunt, I do apologize as it is not my intention to offend, but Progressivism has operated by stealth and misdirection for many years. Therefore, any forthright description of the origin, vision, intent and actions of this ideology/movement may seem harsh. This topic is far too broad to be covered in a single post, but I believe the five facts addressed here will make a good introduction.

1) Progressivism Defined – Progressive Self Definition Contains Politically Correct Jargon that Obscures the Real Meaning  

Three definitions of Progressivism are provided below. The first two are provided by individuals who are not Progressives. The third is provided by Progressives themselves from the Center of American Progress website under The Progressive Tradition in America, Part One of the Progressive Tradition Series.

  1. According to Wolfer’s Primer on Progressivism, Progressivism is a political ideology, movement and mindset in which the primary drive is to employ democratic means to consolidate more and more power in a central location under the control of political elites, in which the end justifies the means, and in which there is no end point in the amount of power to be acquired. (1)
  2. According to Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, Progressivism stands for the proposition that freedom, liberty, voluntary cooperation and the free market are not enough. To best improve life, the state must intervene…and impose its will by brute force to achieve different and presumably better results. At the bottom of progressivism is a quasi-religious belief in state action (force) over individual choice. (2)
  3.  Progressivism at its core is grounded in the idea of progress – moving beyond the status quo to more equal and just social conditions consistent with original American democratic principles such as freedom, equality, and the common good. Progressivism as an intellectual movement emerged between 1890 and 1920 as a response to the multitude of problems associated with the industrialization of the U.S. economy – frequent economic depressions, political corruption, rising poverty, low wages, poor working conditions, tenement living, child labor, lack of collective bargaining power, unsafe consumer products, and the misuse of natural resources.

 As a philosophical tradition, progressivism in its most complete form developed  as a “new liberalism” for a new century – updating the American liberal tradition from its Jeffersonian, small-government, republican roots best suited for the agrarian economy of the nation’s founding era to a more democratic and modern liberalism capable of checking rising corporate power, The original progressives argued that changes in the economy’s organization required a more complete understanding of human freedom, equality, and opportunity that Jefferson championed s persuasively. Progressives believed that formal legal freedom alone – the negative protections against government intrusions on personal liberty – were not enough to provide the effective freedom necessary for citizens to fulfill their human potential in an age of rising inequality, paltry wages, and labor abuses. Changed conditions demanded a changed defense of human liberty.

Writing at the height of the New Deal reform era, John Dewey explained the progressive view of liberty as a continuation of historic movements for human liberation:

 “Liberty in the concrete signifies release from the impact of particular oppressive forces; emancipation from something once taken as a normal part of human life but now experienced as bondage. At one time, liberty signified liberation from chattel slavery, at another time, release of a class from serfdom. During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries it meant liberation from despotic dynastic rule. A century later it meant release of industrialists from inherited legal customs that hampered the rise of new forces of production. Today it signifies liberation from material insecurity and from the coercions and repressions that prevent multitudes from the participation in the vast cultural resources that are at hand.”

Progressives argued that rigid adherence to past versions of limited government had to be discarded in order to promote genuine liberty and opportunity for people at a time of concentrated economic power. Progressives challenged excessive individualism in social thought and politics, promoted an alternative to laissez-faire economics, and replaced constitutional formalism with a more responsive legal order that expanded American democracy and superceded the economic status quo with a stronger national framework of regulations and social reforms.

Progressives sought above all to give real meaning to the promise of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution – “We the people” working together to build a more perfect union, promote the general welfare, and expand prosperity to all citizens. Drawing on the American nationalist tradition of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, progressives posited that stronger government action was necessary to advance the common good, regulate business interests, promote national economic growth, protect workers and families displaced by modern capitalism, and promote true economic and social opportunity for all people.

In the famous formulation of progressive thought often associated with the progressive theorist Herbert Croly, this meant using Hamiltonian means (national action) to achieve Jeffersonian ends (liberty, equality, and opportunity). Progressives’ overall goal was to replace a rigid economic philosophy – one that had morphed from its egalitarian roots into a legalistic defense of economic power and privilege – with a more democratic political order that allowed people to flourish individually within a larger national community.

In terms of its political values, progressivism throughout the years stressed a range of ideals that remain important today: (For sake of brevity, I am including only four)

  1.  The common good, broadly meaning a commitment in government and society to placing public needs and the concerns of the least well-off above narrow self-interest or the demands of the privileged.
  2. Pragmatism, both in its philosophical form of evaluating ideas based on their real world consequences rather than abstract ideals, and in more practical terms as an approach to problem solving grounded in science, empirical evidence, and policy experimentation.
  3. Equality, as first put forth by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence and updated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
  4. Social justice, the proper arrangement of law, society, and the economy to ensure that all people have the formal and informal capacity to shape their own lives and realize their dreams. (3)

The first two definitions of Progressivism, written by men who obviously are not Progressives, seem blunt and very harsh when compared to the definition of Progressivism given by the Center of American Progress. The Progressives’ definition illustrates a dominant trait of Progressivism, the use of language, semantics to obscure actual meaning. Their use of the term “common good” would be more accurate if they used either the term “general will” or “public good” since these are the terms often used by totalitarians in support of the state over the rights of the individual. Their challenge to “excessive individualism in social thought and politics” is antithetical to the Founding Fathers and the Bill of Rights. Their flowery description of pragmatism hides the Progressive rejection of fixed standards of right and wrong, good and evil for concepts relative to their time and place in history. According to Progressive pragmatism, moral standards must not be based upon concrete principles, but must adapt to the movement of history. In their definition of equality, they very smoothly replaced Jefferson’s assertion in the Declaration of Independence that people are created by a Supreme Being and the rights of all men and women come from their Creator, with the United Nations “update” of merely being born with rights that hopefully will be acknowledged and granted by man. Their social justice through “proper arrangement of law, society, and the economy” is just a flowery politically correct term for government, social and economic coercion and pressure.

My personal definition of Progressivism is that it is a chimera. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary a chimera is

  1. a fire-breathing she monster in Greek mythology having a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail of an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
  2. an illusion or fabrication of the mind or
  3. an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution, a hybrid created through fusion of a sperm and egg from different species.

As you will see in this post, the Progressive utopian goal is an illusion, a fabrication of minds that consider mankind to be God. Progressivism is a hybrid philosophy and ideology consisting of parts of fascism, socialism, humanism, Social Gospel, American Pragmatism, Nietzsche, Hegel, Rousseau, and more. Progressives took the egg of the nation founded upon the beliefs and Constitution of the Founding Fathers and infused it with some of the most oppressive, godless ideology and political movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their hope is to create a nation that retains the appearance of the once free United States of America but that is in fact a nation governed by unelected elites imposing their beliefs and will upon its citizens and ruthlessly suppressing all dissenters.

2) Progressivism belongs to Darwin as Conservatism belongs to Judeo-Christian thought and principles

Woodrow Wilson, one of the most accomplished Progressives of that era, stated during one of his 1912 Presidential campaign speeches, “All that progressives ask or desire is permission – in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word – to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle….” (4) This fact will explore the history, DNA and vision of Progressivism.

Progressivism as a movement began and rose to prominence sometime between 1880 and 1920. As a political ideology, it remains a dominant political force in America today. After the Civil War, most Americans shared beliefs concerning the purpose of government and its structure based upon the principles of America’s founding. Between 1880 and 1920, those shared beliefs were aggressively supplanted by the Progressive viewpoint.(5)

Progressivism has much in common with other collectivist totalitarian ideologies such as communism, socialism, fascism and Nazism. The primary differences between Progressivism and the rest involve strategy rather than substance. American Progressives chose democratic gradualism over the violent revolution often preferred by their European cousins. Another difference concerns the degree of collectivism and social change. The Progressive vision is to replace free society with a managed economy run by political elites/experts insulated from the electoral process. Progressives then and now come from both political parties. Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican, Woodrow Wilson was a Democrat.(6)

Progressives believe that the institutional structure of society must evolve, adapt to time and circumstance rather than be grounded in the principles expounded by America’s Founders. The Founders’ beliefs and principles, that all men are created equal with inalienable rights and responsibilities to obey the laws of nature and nature’s God, were rejected by Progressives as outmoded and naive. Woodrow Wilson said in his 1911 speech to the Jefferson’s Club of Los Angeles, “The question is not whether men are born free and equal or not. Suppose they were born so, you know they are not. John Dewey, another prominent Progressive, wrote that freedom is not “something that individuals have as a ready-made possession.” It is “something to be achieved.”(7)

It is not surprising that Arch-Progressive President Barak Obama frequently omitted reference to the Creator when publicly reading the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, nor is the omission a casual one. Progressives believe that freedom is a gift of the state, not of God.(8)

Progressive ideology supports the doctrine that all institutions, whether religious, moral, political, legal, or economic are continually evolving, adapting to time and change. Every change is considered superior to what it has supplanted, thus insuring that history “progresses” or advances toward the ever-greater perfection of human society. The concept identifying Progress with movement through time simultaneously points to a final goal, an end to time and change, the End of History.(9)

3) The early Progressives supported segregation and imperialism on the basis of Darwinian principles

As a historian and writer, Theodore Roosevelt wrote a biography of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. The biography defended “Manifest Destiny” on the basis of Darwin. Roosevelt wrote it was “our manifest destiny to swallow up the land of all adjoining nations who were too weak to stand with us.” Regarding such conflicts as contests between unequal races at very different stages of development, Roosevelt dismissed as “maudlin nonsense” arguments that the white men had robbed the Indians of their lands. He held no criticism of Texas frontiersmen who regarded “the possessions of all weaker races as simply their natural prey.” The principles of the Declaration of Independence held little merit to Roosevelt who viewed historical development rather than “abstract” equal rights as the standard by which the races should be judged.(10)

Woodrow Wilson was an avid supporter of segregation and Jim Crow. He not only supported Jim Crow in the South, but he brought it to the North barely a month past his inauguration in 1913 and only a year after his bid for the African-American vote in 1912. As an Arch-Progressive, Wilson championed eugenics and racial theory. Like Progressives of his day, Wilson pursued “rational administration”, insisting that public policy conform to the dictates of the new racial science. Secure in his new science and his conviction that African-Americans were racially inferior to whites, he instituted a segregation of the civil service as public policy that lasted 35 years.(11)

To further Social Darwinism and the eugenics movement, Wilson campaigned in Indiana for the compulsory sterilization of criminals and the mentally retarded in 1907 and in 1911, as governor of New Jersey, he signed into law a bill that did just that. It was only after Hitler gave eugenics and “scientific racism” a bad name that segregation came to seem objectionable in America.(12)

Even in the deep South, segregation was not the norm until 1890. It became the norm in the South only after receiving sanction from Progressives in the North. In 1900, E.L. Godin, founder editor of The Nation wrote, “The Declaration of Independence no longer arouses enthusiasm; it is an embarrassing instrument which requires to be explained away. The Constitution is said to be ‘outgrown’. Those who once boasted that it had secured for the negro the rights of humanity and citizenship now listen in silence to the proclamation of white supremacy and make no protest against the nullification of the Fifteenth Amendment.” (13)

President Wilson’s foreign policy reflected Progressive ideology that was contrary to the Founder’s ideology concerning foreign policy. Those Progressive beliefs are still influential to foreign policy today, including the belief that the primary, if not exclusive use of force in foreign affairs should be to promote the freedom and welfare of other peoples. Yet the Progressive concept of promoting the freedom and welfare of other peoples is not as altruistic as it sounds.

The Founders’ approach to foreign policy was guided by the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, namely that governments are instituted among men to secure their natural rights bestowed by nature and nature’s God, which promotes their safety and happiness. Government fulfills this obligation by establishing domestic laws that punish and deter violations of citizens’ rights and by promoting national security through foreign policy. When force becomes necessary, government has both the right and duty to use it with prudence. The Heritage Foundation Report, Remaking the World: Progressivism and American Foreign Policy, provides basic ideas that embodied the Founders’ theory of foreign policy:

  • A people has the right to assert its political independence. This universal right arises from the principles that peoples should be governed by their own consent. Political independence is essential for a nation, once formed, to freely decide for itself what should or should not be done to promote its own safety and happiness.
  • Because of the purpose of the social compact, civil government, once established has the right and duty to defend the nation and secure the natural rights of its own citizens.
  • While claiming the rights of self-defense and independence for ourselves, the United States has a duty to recognize them in others. This demands a prudential degree of respect for the domestic affairs of other peoples or nations.
  • The right and duty to provide for one’s own security trumps the duty to respect the right of other nations to domestic sovereignty and political independence.
  • When it becomes necessary, the most justifiable ground for intervening militarily in the affairs of other peoples and nations is prudential consideration of what is necessary for our immediate or long term security. (14)

The Progressive approach to foreign policy was grounded in their ideology. One prominent Progressive intellectual, Charles Merriam, described the Progressive rationale for replacing the natural rights foundation of American foreign policy with ethical idealism and historical evolution. He wrote that historical evolution reveals that some peoples or societies have evolved at a faster pace and others are less historically advanced. Therefore, men are not born free and have no natural right to liberty. Freedom must be achieved over the course of history. It belongs only to a people who have arrived at a specific level of cultural, intellectual, political and moral development. Woodrow Wilson agreed with this ideology. He wrote, “Liberty is the privilege of maturity, of self-control, of self-mastery. Some peoples may have it, therefore, and others may not.” For a people to enjoy the right to liberty and independence, discipline must precede it,-if necessary, the discipline of being under masters.(15)

Ethical idealism, within the context of foreign policy, requires a nation’s actions to be “moral” and to be undertaken out of a sense of duty to contribute to human freedom with less narrow concerns for its own security, well being, or happiness. In addition, according to Progressive ethical idealism, nations such as the United States that had evolved to a higher stage of civilization possessed an ethical duty to help the less civilized to catch up whether they wanted to or not.(16)

Merriam claimed that an analysis of history showed that “the Teutonic nations” (Northern European and American peoples, especially those of Anglo-Saxon or Germanic ancestry) were especially endowed with political capacity and were therefore duty bound to “civilize the politically uncivilized.” Therefore, Progressives must conclude that historically advanced societies “must have a colonial policy” and “barbaric races” incapable of political development may be ruled without their consent or, if necessary, “may be swept away.” Thus the former policies of the Founders of limited intervention in the affairs of other peoples were replaced by an American policy of imperialism.(17)

4) The Progressive movement targeted Christianity from the beginning

Progressivism is not an ideology that coexists with other beliefs or types of thought. It is a dominant , replacement ideology. The Founders’ beliefs in a limited government to protect the rights and property of the individual were attacked and discredited by the Progressive movement which promoted a government designed and empowered to solve all of society’s problems. The Progressive movement also targeted the Christian faith (with its emphasis on the relationship between the individual and a Divine Supreme Being) for destruction. Christianity is a major threat to an all-powerful government designed to determine the rights and privileges of its citizens.

Although Progressivism is essentially American, as stated above, Progressive ideology originated in Europe. Charles Darwin is well-known as a British naturalist, geologist and biologist with his contributions to the theory of evolution. What is less known about Darwin is that his degree was not in science, but in theology from Cambridge.(18)

The Social Gospel movement was the spiritual arm of the Progressive movement. Its leaders included Christian ministers such as Walter Rauschenbusch and Washington Gladden in addition to economists such as Richard T. Ely, founder of the Christian Social Union. Many of these Progressive thinkers received their degrees and ideology from Germany.(19)

German Idealism was one such philosophy. According to German Idealism, the “state” possesses an independent reality separate and distinct from the people who comprise it. According to Rauschenbusch and other Social Gospelers, this concept meant that society is a “social organism”. Woodrow Wilson and other Progressives applied this concept to the Constitution, declaring that it should be a “Living”, i.e. growing, organic Constitution. The term living Constitution is still used by Progressives today.(20)

This living, organic society and government was determined of necessity to be elevated over the individual. Progressives determined that the individual must be subordinated to the collective, namely the national, political and social order. Such subordination of the individual was deemed essential to progress and reform. These ideas are antithetical to Christianity and the Founders’ government.(21)

Christianity was heavily attacked by Progressive/Social Gospelers, many of whom fully embraced socialism. Many Social Gospelers tried to reconstruct the image of Christ, portraying Him as a socialist. While socialism was portrayed as the embodiment of selfless concern for others, Christianity was portrayed as selfish and egotistical. The all important relationship of God to man was replaced by ministering to material suffering in the world. Religious obligation replaced service to God with service to humanity. Woodrow Wilson expressed the Humanistic social creed with his statement, “There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed”.(22)

Progressives/Social Gospelers also subscribed to the German Idealist philosophy of Hegel and Marx. Both Hegel and Marx believed, as well as other 19th century thinkers, that History was moving by inexorable laws toward its final goal, the “End of History.” According to the Hegelian version, History was directed in this movement by the “cunning of reason.” In addition, Hegel believed that the highest ethical force in society is the state. He said that the state represents the “march of God through the World” and the “Divine Idea as it exists on earth.” Therefore, “we must worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on Earth.” (23) Christians, of course, consider worship of the state to be idolatry.

Another belief Social Gospelers shared with Marxists is determinism. Philosophical determinism is defined as a theory supporting that all events and moral choices are determined by previously existing causes. Therefore, “humans cannot act otherwise than they do.” This belief completely nullifies free will, a central factor in the Christian faith. Social Gospelers applied determinism to the social environment in the conclusion that the individual’s environment, not the individual, determines his behavior. Since evil is allegedly not the result of individual moral choice (an illusion of the Judeo-Christian imagination) but the external social environment and/or faulty social institutions, the elimination of evil and the creation of a good society required the reconstruction of the social environment rather than the Christian conversion or moral development of the individual.(24)

Social Gospelers/Progressives  advocated the coercion of government to bring about the desired social environment, also known as social engineering. This resulted in the Progressive effort to remove constitutional limits on the power of the federal government. The Progressive/Social Gospel religion and morality was intentionally designed as a rival to and substitute for orthodox Christianity and traditional biblical morality. (25)

5) The Progressive objective is the fundamental transformation of America

The transformation of a society requires the transformation of its values, beliefs, and traditions. [note] Raeder, Introduction [/note] For over 200 years, Progressives have assaulted all three including Americans’ reverence for the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and the Christian faith. For the last three decades, major cultural vehicles of attack have been postmodernism, multiculturalism, and relativism.(27)

Postmodernism is a cultural perspective that rejects absolute Truth including moral and religious truth. Therefore, the postmodern era is also known as the post-Christian or post-theological era. According to the postmodern view, there is no unconditional Truth that transcends historical cultures, groups or individuals. Truths are subjective and relative to the perspective of the perceiver. This postmodern viewpoint is called perspectivism.(28)

German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who announced the death of God at the close of the nineteenth century, is very popular with contemporary postmodernists. He was also popular with twentieth century tyrants such as Hitler, as well as Columbine killer Eric Harris. According to Nietzsche:

  1. There is no Truth transcending history.
  2. There is no substantive reality transcending this world, only a void/nothingness.
  3. The realization of the first two should not be met with despair, but with courage and the will to create. (29)

Only the Ubermenschen (Supermen) will have the courage to face the “metaphysical void” and realize that they alone must create the values, meaning and purpose for their existence. The majority of people are weak and cowardly, preferring the delusions of supernatural religion. Nietzsche claimed Christianity was hostile to life itself and that Christianity is a religion of slaves and its morality is a slave morality. The Superman, however, creates his own rules, exerting his “will to power” to create his own existence.(30)

There are variants on Nietzschean perspectivism. Some postmodernists associate perspectivism with neo-Marxist categories including the “Marxian Trinity” of gender, race, and economic class. These postmodernists believe that traditions and values of Western Civilization such as Judeo-Christian morality, constitutionalism, the rule of law, capitalism, etc. didn’t rise to dominance because of their inherent truth and value, but because they are constructs designed to enable the powerful to control or “marginalize” the less powerful. Further, postmodernists believe that power possessed by political elites includes the power to define language and thereby define truth and reality itself.(31)

Multiculturalism is a major postmodernist doctrine. The term no longer refers to the study and understanding of cultures besides your own. Contemporary multiculturalism follows perspectivism in its denial of universal Truth that transcends historical experience. Multicultural education teaches that all cultural perspectives are relative. No standard exists to evaluate the contributions of different cultures to world civilizations. Therefore, no civilization may be regarded as superior or inferior. One cultural perspective is deemed as valid as another. For one culture to judge its values superior to those of another culture would be considered intolerant. This concept represents radical cultural relativism.(32)

The danger of multiculturalism is cultural suicide. If all cultures (values, beliefs, and practices) are equally and relatively true, then nothing is True. The lesson learned from multiculturalism is that efforts to preserve your own society, culture are misguided. The most basic requirement for the preservation and survival of a culture is the desire of a people to maintain the values and beliefs that comprise their culture’s foundation. A people indifferent to the characteristics and values of their culture, or a people hostile to the customary values, beliefs and practices of their culture, or a people who have become apathetic will not put forth the effort that may be required to preserve their way of life, especially when faced with opposition from competing cultures. Therefore, the imposition of Multiculturalist doctrine in contemporary educational institutions may result in not only the intended transformation of American culture, but it can be considered a form of attempted cultural suicide.(33)

Tolerance is the most widely preached virtue of Multiculturalism. Like Multiculturalism, its contemporary definition has changed. Tolerance has always been a Judeo-Christian virtue that basically meant to put up with beliefs and behaviors that you may find objectionable (as long as the behaviour does not infringe on the legitimate rights of another) as you would want another to put up with your beliefs and behaviors. However, the definition of toleration under contemporary Multiculturalism is quite different. That definition says, “a disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations.” The addition of accept is profound and has become part of our socialization and formal education from kindergarten through post-doctoral training. To tolerate is to accept without judgement. Intolerance, the failure to accept is “the most reprehensible of social crimes.” To even think in traditional moral categories is condemned.(34)

All behavior, opinions and cultures must be considered as more or less equal. No one is entitled to judge certain beliefs and actions as absolutely right or wrong or that certain cultural norms are superior to others. These judgements are considered mere opinions. There is no objective standard to judge between conflicting opinions and to make moral or truth judgements would be intolerant.(35)

Diversity holds a place in Multiculturalism that is second only to tolerance. Like Multiculturalism and tolerance, the meaning and emphasis of diversity has changed. American society has always been diverse. Between 1782-1956, the motto of the United States was “E pluribus Unum” – “out of many, One.” During the Founding era, it referred to the joining of the colonies, then the states under the Constitution. Over time, it came to represent the melting pot of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. American identity does not arise from birth or biology, but from a commitment to certain values and principles, specifically, the moral and political principles of the structure of the American constitutional order. The unity of moral and political principle makes the diverse “Many” one people, the American people. Multiculturalism eviscerated the elements of unity and universalism and glorifies only the “Many” – “diversity,” “difference,” “otherness,” ignoring the unifying “One.”  It rejects the view that American identity is defined by subscription to unifying morals and principles.(36)

I have relied heavily on Dr. Linda Raeder (The Transformation of American Society: Progressivism, Multiculturalism, Tolerance). She is Professor of Politics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She received her Ph.D. in politics and American government from The Catholic University of America and serves as associate editor of the academic journal Humanitas and senior fellow at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee. I highly recommend this book and will close this fact with a quote from her.

“Over the past several decades American society has been engaged in what is popularly described as a “culture war,” pitting secular “liberal progressives” against “conservative” traditionalists…The contemporary battle over the direction of culture in the United States is ultimately a battle not over discreet issues but rather conflicting religious worldviews. Modern liberal progressivism (the Left) generally embodies novel secular or human-centered faith that, as has been discussed, arose in competition to traditional biblical faith, generally defended by contemporary conservatism (the Right)…What is ultimately at stake is not the substance of particular public policy but rather preservation or destruction of the characteristically American way of life, dependent as it is upon inherited religious values (culture) implicit in both its institutional structure and customary practices.” (37)

Notes

  1. Stephen H. Wolfer, Wolfer’s Primer on Progressivism: Revealing the Secrets of the Political System Destroying American Liberty, Kindle Edition, Progression Defined
  2. James Ostrowski, Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, (Buffalo, New York: Cazenovia Books, 2014) Kindle Edition, 28
  3. Center for American Progress website, The Progressive Intellectual Tradition in America, Part One of the Progressive Tradition Series, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/democracy/reports/2010/04/14/7677/the-progressive-intellectual-tradition-in-america/
  4. Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom: A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People, (New York and Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913) Kindle Edition, 19
  5. William A. Schambra and Thomas West, The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics, The Heritage Foundation, July 18, 2007, 2-3,  https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/the-progressive-movement-and-the-transformation-american-politics
  6. Linda C. Raeder, The Transformation of American Society: Progressivism, Multiculturalism, Tolerance, (Palm Beach, Florida: Sanctuary Cove Publishing), Kindle Edition, Introduction
  7. Schambra and West, 3
  8. Schambra and West, 3
  9. Raeder, The Law of Three Stages
  10. Jeam M. Yarbrough, Theodore Roosevelt: Progressive Crusader, The Heritage Foundation, September 25, 2012, 3,  https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/theodore-roosevelt-progressive-crusader
  11. Paul Rahe, “Progressive Racism,” National Review, April 11, 2013,  https://www.nationalreview.com/2013/04/progressive-racism-paul-rahe/
  12. Rahe
  13. Rahe
  14. Christopher C. Burkett, Remaking the World: Progressivism and American Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation, September 24, 2013, 4-5,   https://www.heritage.org/political-process/report/remaking-the-world-progressivism-and-american-foreign-policy
  15. Burkette, 6
  16. Burkette, 6
  17. Burkette, 6
  18. Tejvan, Pettinger, “Biography of Charles Darwin,” Biography Online.net, February 21, 2018,  https://www.biographyonline.net/scientists/charles-darwin.html
  19. Raeder, Social Gospel
  20. Raeder, Social Gospel
  21. Raeder, Social Gospel
  22. Raeder, Social Gospel
  23. Raeder, Social Gospel
  24. Raeder, Social Gospel
  25. Raeder, Social Gospel
  26. Raeder, Introduction
  27. Raeder, Progressiivism, Social Gospel, Secular Humanism
  28. Raeder, Postmodernism
  29. Raeder, Nietzschean Perspectivism
  30. Raeder, Nietzschean Perspectivism
  31. Raeder, Nietzschean Perspectivism
  32. Raeder, Multiculturalism
  33. Raeder, Multiculturalism
  34. Raeder, Tolerance
  35. Raeder, Tolerance
  36. Raeder, Diversity
  37. Raeder, Postmodernism, Multiculturalism, Tolerance

4 thoughts on “Five Facts About Progressivism”

  1. Wow – this post is packed full of pseudo-intellectual straw man arguments. It is the same old tired cries of boogeymen and people who disagree with the author on government policy are considered evil and have ulterior motives to usurp our freedom.

    Add in a couple citations of radical right wing authors and this article reveals a lot more about the person who posted this than the progressive movement.

  2. @JimmyfromDelaware has it right. David, your absence is sorely missed. Filling the blog with this nonsense is unbecoming.

  3. For JimmyfromDelaware and Faithful Skeptic:

    Thank you for commenting on Five Facts about Progressivism. I have a few comments in response. The article did not address government policy or agreement/disagreement with it. I wrote the article because government policy and different sides of agreement/disagreement is less important than the ideology and intent behind the policy. Nothing in the article called anyone evil – that deduction came solely from JimmyfromDelaware.
    Concerning the “couple of citations of radical right wing authors,” that comment says more about you than my 37 citations from 11 authors reveals about me. Calling someone you disagree with “radical right wing” in an attempt to deprecate their character and cause others to reject them and their ideas is the worn out Progressive/Left practice to avoid addressing the facts of a premise. I will list the alleged “radical right wing” authors below for the benefit of other readers.

    1. Stephen H. Wolfer – Author, psychotherapist, software developer.

    2. James Ostrowski – Trial and appellate lawyer and author. Graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Degree in philosophy from State University of New York at Buffalo, Graduate of Brooklyn Law School. Served as vice-chairman of the law reform committee of the New York County Lawyers Assoc. Chair of the human rights committee, Erie County Bar Assoc. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Buffalo News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Legislative Gazette. His policy studies have been published by the Hoover Institution, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. His articles have been used as course materials at numerous colleges including Brown, Rutgers and Stanford.

    3. Center of American Progress website – A Progressive public policy research and advocacy organization.

    4. Woodrow Wilson – ArchProgressive, 28th U.S. President.

    5. William A. Schambra – Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute and Director of the Institutes Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal. Served as a senior advisor and speechwriter for Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Director of the Office of Personnel Management Constance Horner, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan. Was also Director of Social Policy Programs for the American Enterprise Institute and Co-Director of AEI’s “A Decade of Study of the Constitution.” Served as a member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Served on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Has written extensively on the Constitution, the theory and practice of civic revitalization, and civil society in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Policy Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Nonprofit Quarterly, Philanthropy, The Chronical of Philanthropy and Crisis.

    6. Thomas West – Professor of Politics, Hillsdale College. Received his B.A. in Government, Cornell University, M.A. in Government, Claremont Graduate University, Ph.D. in Government, Claremont Graduate University. Author of The Political Theory of the American Founding: Natural Rights, Public Policy, and the Moral Conditions of Freedom. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017 and Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class and Justice in the Origins of America. Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977.

    7. Linda C. Raeder – Professor of Politics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Received her Ph.D. in Politics and American Government from The Catholic University of America. Serves as Associate Editor of Humanitas and Senior Fellow at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee. Received the Charles and Hazel Corts Award for outstanding teaching.

    8. Jean M. Yarbrough – Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College. Twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Author of Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition (American Political Thought). Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2014 and American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People.

    9. Paul Rahe – Historian of political philosophy. Professor of History at Hillsdale College. Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. Ph.D. in Ancient History at Yale University. Also taught at Cornell University, Franklin and Marshall College, and the University of Tulsa. Author of Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution. Published articles in The American Journal of Philology, The American Journal of Archaeology, The American Historical Review, The Review of Politics, The American Journal of Business and Professional Ethics, The Woodrow Wilson Quarterly and History of Political Thought. Spent two years in Istanbul, Turkey as a Institute of Current World Affairs Fellow. Awarded Research fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Earhart Foundation. Held research fellowships at the Center for Hellenic Study, the National Humanities Center, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, Clare College at Cambridge University, All Souls College at Oxford University and the American Academy in Berlin.

    10. Christopher C. Burkett – Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University. Co-Chair Master of Arts in American History and Government. Co-Director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program. Named Outstanding Male Faculty Member of the Year in 2008. Received the Edward and Louaine Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011.

    11. Tejvan Pettinger – Founder of Biography Online. Author. Studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford. Teaches economics part-time.

  4. Stacy – Thank you responding, I prefer to engage with people I disagree with far more than an echo chamber that confirms my beliefs.

    With that being said, I stand by my comments, I will start with the radical right wing authors you cited.

    * James Ostrowski badly misidentifies what progressivism is then makes up strawman arguments against his made up definition. He also has written another book titled “Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know”. His position is in direct opposition to our founding fathers when it comes to public education. It seems James is simply anti-government.

    * Stephen H. Wolfer claims that progressives want to consolidate unlimited power to the elites. The progressive movement does have some nefarious beginnings, but trying to claim progressives have the same beliefs as those from over 100 years ago is like trying to claim southerners today that display confederate memorabilia are pro-slavery. There is literally no evidence that this is the goal of today’s progressives besides people and blogs like you claiming it. The definition of progressive is promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods.

    * Paul Rahe This author even admits, in his own article, that he is criticizing ” Progressives of yesteryear” Once again talking about policies from more than 100 years ago. Using yours and Paul Rahe’s logic the United States is a racist country today because we had slavery more than 100 years ago.

    * Many other authors that you cite at length that talk about progressivism from over 100 years ago.

    It seems the point of your entire post was about labels instead of policy. And with the current administration I can understand why you would not talk about policy.

    As far as you calling progressives evil, this is directly from your article:

    “4) The Progressive movement targeted Christianity from the beginning
    Progressivism is not an ideology that coexists with other beliefs or types of thought. It is a dominant , replacement ideology. ”

    Why don’t you think something is evil that is trying to replace Christianity?

    In conclusion you and your authors make up your own definitions then develop strawman arguments against those made up definitions, make arguments against discredited concepts from 100 years ago, and argue about labels instead of policy.

    I can understand that these times can be unsettling for someone who does not want progress and has nostalgia from the past.

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