In practical application, how is a “progressive” society any different from a monarchy? Do kings and queens not appoint regents, ministers, governors and government officials without elections?
Does a monarchy not exist in a line of heredity, even after a ruler dies? How is a perpetual bureaucracy not analogous to the family of kings and queens? Does it not retain power no matter who is elected to run the federal government, as does the royal family?
How does the fact that citizens get to “elect” their representatives of government change the fact that in a “progressive” society, the intent is for the affairs of the citizens to be run by elite “experts” appointed by government officials, czar’s in effect?
The only real difference is the title by which we address our overlords.
If you think that we are just blind ideologues writing here on TRNL, I’ll defer to two presidents who have been put forth in our school curriculum as among the greatest presidents in our history. Here, in their own words, are Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. It must be noted that these “men of the people” were far from it. Roosevelt was born into a family possessing great wealth and never worked in the private sector, his only “work” was political office. Wilson was a career academic and a politician (other than a brief stint as a lawyer, he never held a private sector job). How could either of these men speak of business and “labor” with nothing more than a political or academic understanding of them?
The same question is valid when asked of our own current president.
Is it really surprising then that these men believed that the regular citizen was ill prepared to make decisions for themselves, that they required a munificent government to take care of them?
First from Republican Teddy Roosevelt, TR was a “progressive”, his belief in total government can be seen in the text of a speech called “The New Nationalism”:
At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth. That is nothing new. All I ask in civil life is what you fought for in the Civil War. I ask that civil life be carried on according to the spirit in which the army was carried on. You never get perfect justice, but the effort in handling the army was to bring to the front the men who could do the job. Nobody grudged promotion to Grant, or Sherman, or Thomas, or Sheridan, because they earned it. The only complaint was when a man got promotion which he did not earn.
Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.
So what about free enterprise and wealth creation? TR – not a big fan:
We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.
No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered-not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective-a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.
And how did he hope to achieve his ideal of “practical” equality? Why it was by creating an unelected group of experts who would not be influenced by “special interests” – or for that matter, because they were unelected, the voting public either:
There is a wide-spread belief among our people that, under the methods of making tariffs which have hitherto obtained, the special interests are too influential. Probably this is true of both the big special interests and the little special interests. These methods have put a premium on selfishness, and, naturally, the selfish big interests have gotten more than their smaller, though equally selfish, brothers. The duty of Congress is to provide a method by which the interest of the whole people shall be all that receives consideration. To this end there must be an expert tariff commission, wholly removed from the possibility of political pressure or of improper business influence. Such a commission can find the real difference between cost of production, which is mainly the difference of labor cost here and abroad. As fast as its recommendations are made, I believe in revising one schedule at a time. A general revision of the tariff almost inevitably leads to logrolling and the subordination of the general public interest to local and special interests.
How about this little nugget:
The right to regulate the use of wealth in the public interest is universally admitted. Let us admit also the right to regulate the terms and conditions of labor, which is the chief element of wealth, directly in the interest of the common good. The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare.
Sound a little like Marxism to you? Sure as Hell does to me…
Now from Democrat Woodrow Wilson – just so you know where TR was coming from, here’s a quote from on of his predecessors, Woodrow Wilson, from his book, The State; Elements of Historical and Practical Politics (1898)
It by no means follows, nevertheless, that because the state may unwisely interfere in the life of the individual, it must be pronounced in itself and by nature a necessary evil. It is no more an evil than is society itself. It is the organic body of society : without it society would be hardly more than a mere abstraction. If the name had not been restricted to a single, narrow, extreme, and radically mistaken class of thinkers, we ought all to regard ourselves and to act as socialists, believers in the wholesomeness and beneficence of the body politic.
If the history of society proves anything, it proves the absolute naturalness of government, its rootage in the nature of man, its origin in kinship, and its identification with all that makes man superior to the brute creation. Individually man is but poorly equipped to dominate other animals : his lordship comes by combination, his strength is concerted strength, his sovereignty is the sovereignty of union. Outside of society man’s mind can avail him little as an instrument of supremacy ; and government is the visible form of society. If society itself be not an evil, neither surely is government an evil, for government is the indispensable organ of society.
Every means, therefore, by which society may be perfected through the instrumentality of government, every means by which individual rights can be fitly adjusted and harmonized with public duties, by which individual self-development may be made at once to serve and to supplement social development, ought certainly to be diligently sought, and, when found, sedulously fostered by every friend of society. Such is the socialism to which every true lover of his kind ought to adhere with the full grip of every noble affection that is in him.
I’ll bet you only know about Teddy Roosevelt as the hero of San Juan Hill and the founder of our national park system and Wilson as the creator of the concept of the League of Nations.
The roots of “progressivism” run deep in America. Less than 100 years after the Constitution was ratified, there were powerful forces seeking to change the meaning of America. It isn’t exclusive to one party, it was both then as it is now. As long as we have elected officials who are willing to believe that the average citizen is too stupid to manage their own lives and the populace continues to petition them to remove all the risks of life, there will be “progressives” seeking to re-establish a monarchy-in-practice. As long as we continue to accept the expansion of the manna of “progressives”, the government, we will continue to lose more control over our own lives through rules and regulations promulgated by unelected bureaucrats.
Our contemporary politicians sound like pikers compared to these two but they are no less dangerous.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why it is going to take a while to unwind it. It is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of America that it will be like excising a brain tumor. Hard to separate the parasitic tissue from the host without killing the host.
The first step is learning to recognize it – educate people as to that to be “progressive” does not mean that they are for progress.
The second step is to contain it – elect people who will at least arrest the growth of government.
The third step is to isolate it – identify illegitimate “progressive” programs.
The final step is to cut it out – eliminate or privatize.