Monday, January 21, 2013

Progressivism and the rejection of consent. (Consent of the governed)

Progressives have talked a good game about "democracy" for generations now, but if you'll note they never link that word together with another which is just as important in the mixture of Liberty: "Consent". If you are an admirer of the Founders as I am, you've seen this word "Consent" routinely. Consent of the governed is something that was paramount in the belief of those who secured our rights. Progressives primarily use the word "democracy" because they know that we generally associate the word with a free people, because that's what we're taught by progressive professors to believe that's what it means, all the while what they mean by "democracy" is a euphemism for "socialism" and I am going to again demonstrate this.

When speaking of the "Problems of Democracy", John Dewey, the widely acknowledged Father of Modern American Education and President of the radical group League for Industrial Democracy, wrote in an essay titled "Liberalism and Social Action":

The problem of democracy becomes the problem of that form of social organization, extending to all the areas and ways of living, in which the powers of individuals shall not be merely released from mechanical external constraint but shall be fed, sustained and directed.

When seeing this, it's no wonder that progressives never speak of "consent". They don't mean democracy as a free society. True democracies - if they ever are free societies when they begin, are never free for long, and nearly every Founding Father as made some comment or another about this true historical fact of how dangerous democracies are. Which again, gets at the socialistic nature of democracy, as I demonstrated above in the first link. How shall you vote, for what or how many bureaucracies, which shall control the lives of individuals in how many ways?

That's surely democratic, but it's clearly socialistic. But not so socialistic as to outright nationalize everything. Progressivism is instead "regulation, not socialism" - it's "control without ownership". That's the dividing line between the ideologies. Now, there's a greater context to this quote. Why does Dewey believe that the problem of democracy is a social organization which feeds, sustains, and directs the lives of individuals?

The reliance of liberalism is not upon the mere abstraction of a native endowment unaffected by social relationships, but upon the fact that native capacity is sufficient to enable the average individual to respond to and to use the knowledge and the skill that are embodied in the social conditions in which he lives, moves and has his being. There are few individuals who have the native capacity that was required to invent the stationary steam-engine, locomotive, dynamo or telephone. But there are none so mean that they cannot intelligently utilize these embodiments of intelligence once they are a part of the organized means of associated living.

Because he fully rejects the Founders ideals that we are endowed by our creator, natural law, and the whole lot. We aren't born with any gifts whatsoever to speak of. As I mentioned yesterday, Dewey believed that government needed to "create individuals". Inherently(as the quote above makes clear), progressives do not think highly of individuals. We are nothing without government.

Going back to the original quote above, but looking at it's larger context:

The life-long struggle of Mill to reconcile these ideas with those which were deeply graven in his being by his earlier Benthamism concern us here only as a symbol of the enduring crisis of belief and action brought about in liberalism itself when the need arose for uniting earlier ideas of freedom with an insistent demand for social organization, that is, for constructive synthesis in the realm of thought and social institutions. The problem of achieving freedom was immeasurably widened and deepened. It did not now present itself as a conflict between government and the liberty of individuals in matters of conscience and economic action, but as a problem of establishing an entire social order, possessed of a spiritual authority that would nurture and direct the inner as well as the outer life of individuals. The problem of science was no longer merely technological applications for increase of material productivity, but imbuing the minds of individuals with the spirit of reasonableness, fostered by social organization and contributing to its development. The problem of democracy was seen to be not solved, hardly more than externally touched, by the establishment of universal suffrage and representative government. As Havelock Ellis has said, "We see now that the vote and the ballot-box do not make the voter free from even external pressure; and, which is of much more consequence, they do not necessarily free him from his own slavish instincts." The problem of democracy becomes the problem of that form of social organization, extending to all the areas and ways of living, in which the powers of individuals shall not be merely released from mechanical external constraint but shall be fed, sustained and directed. Such an organization demands much more of education than general school, which without a renewal of the springs of purpose and desire becomes a new mode of mechanization and formalization, as hostile to liberty as ever was governmental constraint. It demands of science much more than external technical application--which again leads to mechanization of life and results in a new kind of enslavement. It demands that the method of inquiry, of discrimination, of test by verifiable consequences, be naturalized in all the matters, of large and of detailed scope, that arise for judgment.

There's a lot here in this paragraph, so I'm going to try to wrap this all up as best as I can. I once wrote a comparative article detailing how the evolution of progressivism followed a similar path to the Fabians over in Britain, and you see that here in Dewey's writings, as he makes it clear that he was deep in thought about Mill and Bentham. Furthermore, the comparison continues as Dewey quotes directly from Havelock Ellis, who was one of the founding members of the Fabian Society. I have also written in the past about the friendly relationship between progressives and Fabians. I typically mean this ideologically as shown above, not friendly personally.(though that did exist too, see Margaret Sanger in that link)

As I mentioned above, Dewey was president of the group LID, and according to the LID themselves, they were America's Fabian Society.

We know what Fabians think of individuals. The key phrase is "big organization of our society". That's exactly what Dewey is talking about. That's the problem of democracy, the bigness of the organization, not the consent of the governed. The consent of the governed is the problem of a republic, of a society which still has it's liberty and doesn't live under bureaucratic despotism - progressivism.

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