The political philosophy of the eighteenth century was formulated before the announcement and acceptance of the theory of evolutionary development. The natural rights doctrine presupposed almost that society was static or stationary rather than dynamic or progressive in character, it was generally believed at the end of the eighteenth century that there was a social state which under all conditions and at all times would be absolutely ideal. The rights which man had were believed to come from his Creator. These rights consequently were the same then as they once had been and would always remain the same. Natural rights were in theory thus permanent and immutable. Natural rights being conceived of as eternal and immutable, the theory of natural rights did not permit of their amendment in view of a change in conditions.
The actual rights which at the close of the eighteenth century were recognized were, however, as a matter of fact influenced in large measure by the social and economic conditions of the time when the recognition was made. Those conditions have certainly been subjected to great modifications. The pioneer can no longer rely upon himself alone. Indeed with the increase of population and the conquest of the wilderness the pioneer has almost disappeared. The improvement in the means of communication, which has been one of the most marked changes that have occurred, has placed in close contact and relationship once separated and unrelated communities. The canal and the railway, the steamship and the locomotive, the telegraph and the telephone, we might add the motor car and the aeroplane, have all contributed to the formation of a social organization such as our forefathers never saw in their wildest dreams. The accumulation of capital, the concentration of industry with the accompanying increase in the size of the industrial unit and the loss of personal relations between employer and employed, have all brought about a constitution of society very different from that which was to be found a century and a quarter ago.
Changed conditions, it has been thought, must bring in their train different conceptions of private rights if society is to be advantageously carried on. In other words, while insistence on individual rights may have been of great advantage at a time when the social organization was not highly developed, it may become a menace when social rather than individual efficiency is the necessary prerequisite of progress. For social efficiency probably owes more to the common realization of social duties than to the general insistence on privileges based on individual private rights. As our conditions have changed, as the importance of the social group has been realized, as it has been perceived that social efficiency must be secured if we are to attain and retain our place in the field of national competition which is practically coterminous with the world, the attitude of our courts on the one hand towards private rights and on the other hand towards social duties has gradually been changing. The general theory remains the same. Man is still said to be possessed of inherent natural rights of which he may not be deprived without his consent. The courts still now and then hold unconstitutional acts of legislature which appear to encroach upon those rights. At the same time the sphere of governmental action is continually widening and the actual content of individual private rights is being increasingly narrowed.
Today's progressives will not speak the truth about who they are, they are all wearing masks. But the old original progressives were alarmingly honest. That's when/why they learned to wear masks in the first place.
That's why we need to hear from the original progressives. But at the same time, "quotes" like this make clear why the original progressives are not really quotable. There aren't nearly as many 10 word or 20 word pull quotes, where one can show the ill intent that these people have towards us.
The danger of progressivism is the culture. And when we read the original progressives, it is frightening indeed. These are exactly the people that the Founding Fathers tried to protect us against.