Friday, February 3, 2017

How progressivism re-bounded after Wilson

One thing I don't think conservatives truely recognize and appreciate,(and I include myself in that - I always do) is that after the Woodrow Wilson era, how utterly devastated progressive ideology was. They were so annihilated, that a decade later they were forced to re-appropriate the word "liberal" and take it for themselves.

In many ways, the 1920's is a "lost decade" for American tyranny aka progressivism. They were completely routed, and after the way Wilson abused regulatory and other powers, the American economy and American life suffered for it. There were no excuses. There was nobody to blame. Progressives caused it, and they knew it. They owned it. And electorally, they suffered because of what they had done.

Where did the progressives go in the 1920's? Who became their new leaders? How did progressivism change? One thing we all know now, and it was just as true then, is that the elitism of progressives won't allow them to give up on their ideas. They just have to tweak their ideas a little. "We just weren't progressive enough the first time around, that's all."

Enter the 1920's era "Regional Planning Association of America".(RPAA) Focus on the second word of their organizational name, "planning". Centralized planning is the inevitable end result of excessive regulation. That is, you can only regulate and regulate so far before structure and super-structure naturally begin to form and planning commences. It's just inevitable. That and the elitist, arrogance of progressives. The mixture produces a predictable end result. This is kind of a dividing line, between the earliest progressives who only engaged in planning in sparse, selective ways, while they engaged in trust busting and maximal regulation. The second generation of progressives which were to come in the 1930's, were deeply attached to the concept of planning and regulation is only the means to an end and not the end itself.

Now, The RPAA was formed in 1923, with its interesting mix of ideological influences. Many of which are familiar refrains in progressivism: Thorstein Veblen, Stuart Chase, John Dewey, the British Fabians, and Edward Bellamy and Henry George via Ebenezer Howard.(source)

Long story short, the RPAA was at the center of the progressive revival, having a vast influence via its most important achievement, Radburn New Jersey. Radburn was a planned society, which would serve as a model for the later planned communities of Greenbelt MD, Greendale WI, and Greenhills OH of the New Deal. One of the primary members of the RPAA, Benton MacKaye, was a member of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

That, in short, is how the progressives got their groove back. More to come as I continue.

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