We have the opposite of anarchy, socialism, the extension of which over the face of the earth has been one of the most remarkable social movements of modern times. It is as yet scarcely a generation since a well-known French historian of social movements penned the obituary of socialism, but penned its obituary, as we now see, before it was scarcely born. The ink was hardly dry on this obituary notice before socialism again reared its head, and now it has become a power felt in every civilized nation the world over without an exception. We have in this country the American type of socialism, the new Nationalism, which has made so much noise in the world and has spread so rapidly that it is difficult to realize that the first Nationalists' Club has not yet held its second anniversary.
This is significant for so many reasons. Edward Bellamy's book "Looking Backward" was written in 1887, and here you have American socialists applauding it. This book of Ely's, 'Social Aspects of Christianity' was written in 1889, just two years after Looking Backward's publication. This shows us how wide spread it was from the view of a socialist. It makes sense since at the time Looking Backward was published, it was one of the best sellers of the day.
Richard T Ely is a very important person to the evolution of progressivism here in the US, having been the subject of a major expose by NRO titled "The Four Horsemen of Progressivism".(Ely is on the far left)
As is pointed out in the above excerpt from Ely, Americans formed Nationalist Clubs after Looking Backward, which were pretty far spread. Chapter 10 of the book Fabian Freeway - Putting the Silk Hat on Socialism - contains additional information: (page 129)
For a few years, the Bellamy cult spread like a brush fire across the United States. By November, 1890, its leaders reported 158 Nationalist clubs in twenty-seven states. Sixteen of these clubs were located in New York and sixty-five in California, which Laurence Gronlund exuberantly judged to be more nearly ripe for the Cooperative Commonwealth than any other state in the Union. The movement bypassed former Confederate states and made few overtures to the Catholic church, generally viewed in the nineteenth century as an immigrant church—notwithstanding the fact that Catholic colonists in Maryland and Pennsylvania had fought almost to a man in the War of Independence.
According to Edward Bellamy, his new social gospel was to be spread "not by foreign malcontents, but by Americans descended from generations of Americans." In February, 1891, 165 chartered clubs existed throughout the country, a majority of them in the Far and Middle West. Fully fifty newspapers supported the Nationalist cause in whole or in part, and Sylvester Baxter declared you could not go into a major newspaper office in New York, Philadelphia or Boston without finding one or more Nationalists on the staff. Though the Atlantic remained aloof, other respected monthly magazines of the age opened their pages to Nationalist propaganda. Bellamy himself contributed a brief article to the North American Review on the "Progress of Nationalism in the United States."
America didn't just get to problematic people like FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and all of the things/people that happened after that simply because a few intellectuals got together in their colleges. Sure, that's important. As Paul Ryan noted in an interview, intellectuals were very fond of German philosophers. But this is the ground up aspect of it. The major progressive intellectuals a century ago had to have a choir to preach to, and Bellamy and his supporters in the press gave them one.
We could even do a pre/post comparison with this. Richard Ely is elated at how successful that "Nationalism" has been in getting Americans to adopt socialist doctrine,(1889) here is the view from 1898, roughly a decade later:
In Bellamy, social science and imagination were combined at their best. He has given us a substantial revelation whose scientific deductions from economic phenomena are unassailable. In the work of speeding the light he has made the valued distinction between Nationalism and Socialism. Nations advance toward their destiny upon lines marked out by the temper of their peoples, the character of their institutions, the conditions of soil, climate, and surroundings. Consequently the forward movement must be by national rather than international pathways. Bellamy saw this clearly, and formulating his Socialism to a purely American applicability, named it Nationalism. What has been the result? We hear no more the philistine cry that Socialism is an alien product. The far-reaching influence of "Looking Backward" has given us a native development of this definite form of Socialism, and has made possible the realization of his dreams in the near future.
That was written in the American Fabian. From there, it's not a far cry to people writing about the need for expert boards to run the show.(Wilson was out there during this time period making his views very clear) "We don't need socialism anymore", the progressive says. We can do it with regulation and administrators. We can let them keep their property. We'll just dictate how every aspect of it shall be used.
That's a very compelling argument for any statist who keeps getting rejected in the kind of America that used to exist.