Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hillsdale's Constitution 201: Have you signed up yet? It's about progressivism.

I signed up for the lecture series last night, and I'm very excited about it. The page for the Constitution 201 program describes it this way:
"The Progressive Rejection of the Founding and the Rise of Bureaucratic Despotism"

In a word, Administrators. Hillsdale has nailed it: Bureaucratic Despotism. I think going in that the whole series will be top notch. Hillsdale is one of those institutions that has been on the forefront of defending American ideals, history, traditions, and liberty for a very long time. I can't help but notice already which sections will (based on the schedule) be the most interest to myself, those are sections 2, 3, and 5.

Especially 5, which is "FDR's New Bill of Rights"; The lecturer is William Morrisey. I've been wanting to write something about the Second Bill of Rights for a long time now, but have refrained while I have gotten to other things. I would think that using a Hillsdale lecture as a basis for what I have already as a potential outline would be outstanding.

Constitution 201, progressivism vs the Founding Fathers is at least in it's proposals everything that I've wanted to make the progressingamerica project into. But they have resources which I don't, from audio/video production to a team of researchers.

You should sign up. Right now.


Progressivism: Utilitarianism, Georgism, and Comtism, just like the Fabians

From Edward Pease' "History of the Fabian Society", Chapter 1 - The Sources of Fabian Socialism - is opened this way:
The ideas of the early eighties—The epoch of Evolution—Sources of Fabian ideas—Positivism—Henry George—John Stuart Mill—Robert Owen—Karl Marx—The Democratic Federation—"The Christian Socialist"—Thomas Davidson

This list is curiously similar to what's found in the evolution of progressivism:(the major points are in order based on their listing as excerpted above)

Positivism. Developed by Auguste Comte - there were Positivist ideals right here in the US in the progressive movement. Last week I wrote "Herbert Croly was raised on Comtean beliefs", in which I limited the discourse to the original source's content. Beyond Croly's father and his influence upon his son, there was a "Positivist Church" right here in the states, in New York. It's influence may be limited when compared to other larger movements of the day(such as Georgism or Nationalism), but it did have a notable influence with one of the unions in the area, and Gillis Harp points out that those who were in attendance were the key opinion-makers of their day. Another of Harp's works includes this one about Positivism and Progressivism for those interested. The chapter on the Crolys is fairly compelling.(Google books has a page limit)

Henry George. Henry George's writings were pretty important in the era that preceded/led to the progressive era. Also, as noted above, George had an impact upon the Fabians as well. Georgist ideas were very popular amongst the Unions of the day(using his book for educational purposes), which supported his run for Mayor of N.Y. City.

John Stuart Mill. Utilitarianism, present within both the Fabian as well as progressive movements.

Robert Owen. I've never gone into detail about Owen. But Owen, amongst many others set up these socialist cooperatives around the United States, which were certainly influential in their day because they kept being built. Late in the 19th century, colonies based on George's ideas started popping up.

Christian Socialism. I have not yet gone into details much on this one, though I've swerved into it many times. Richard T. Ely (Who I've written about recently) was a leader of Christian Socialism. So too was the founder of the Fabian Society here in America, W. D. P. Bliss.

Thomas Davidson. Pease' writing describes Davidson this way:

Thomas Davidson was the occasion rather than the cause of the founding of the Fabian Society. His socialism was ethical and individual rather than economic and political. He was spiritually a descendant of the Utopians of Brook Farm and the Phalanstery, and what he yearned for was something in the nature of a community of superior people withdrawn from the world because of its wickedness, and showing by example how a higher life might be led.

That's the opening paragraph of the relevant section. Few notes: First, Brook Farm was in America(see above comments regarding Owen) Second, Phalanstery is a nod to Charles Fourier, who inspired many of the socialist communities built here in the US.

As to the description, note how he writes "showed by example how a higher life might be led". This could easily be a descriptor for the book Looking Backward, written by Edward Bellamy. But instead of a personal example in himself, Bellamy provides it in the book in Julian West and the plot line of the model society.

I highlight all of this to show how historically similar that progressivism is to the Fabians not just in tactics(making progress) but also in the evolution of how they came to be.

The obvious ones as listed above are Evolution(and it's other half, eugenics), and Karl Marx. The progressives, just like the Fabians, prefer to reject Revolution and engage in Evolution.(Disruption and subversion, making progress in small steps)

And then there are the clear differences. The time lines are different. British culture vs American culture. The Democratic Federation was a British political party. The coherence of the Fabian Society as a structured group, there hasn't been any official 'progressive society'. American Progressivism a century ago had the legacy of the Founding Fathers still lingering. But while the differences are notable, the similarities are profound.

Despite being an ocean apart, progressivism and Fabianism share a lot of the same dna, had similar childhoods, and had many of the same teachers.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The importance of Georgism in the development of progressivism

Outside of specific circles, Henry George is an all but forgotten philosopher. But in his day, he had a profound impact. John Dewey, the father of modern education, was quite fond of many of his ideas having said the following:
The fact that Henry George has an ardent group of disciples who have a practical program for reform of taxation has tended to obscure from the recognition of students of social theory that his is one of the great names among the world's social philosophers. It would require less than the fingers of the two hands to enumerate those who from Plato down rank with him . . .

Dewey is sticking up for him in this comment amongst other professors quoted, as in his day Henry George was fairly controversial. Back then nationalization of the land was not looked at quite so fondly, which is one of the things that George had called for: (page 295)

We must make land common property

One only needs to go to Google Books and insert the phrase "single tax": the top 12 returns are all written between 1900 to 1921. Dewey also wrote of George's ideas:

Henry George was right when he said that while socialization of natural opportunities, the land and the materials and power that come from it, is not a panacea, it is the foundation measure. but it is difficult to put this measure through on the scale necessary as long as it stands alone. As an integral and basic part of a larger program of socialization such as this Conference stands for, its appeal will be irresistible.

As I wrote recently regarding the "Nationalist Clubs" that once existed in America, so too did Single Tax Clubs and Leagues have their effect.

While Dewey doesn't say who those ardent disciples are, he makes it fairly clear that he is himself one. I was able to find another high profile voice in his favor; Upton Sinclair. In 1924, Sinclair wrote this:

So, I no longer advocate the Single Tax. I advocate many taxes. I want to tax the rich man's stocks and bonds, also his income, and his inheritances, and his wife's jewels. In addition, I advocate a land tax, but one graduated like the income tax. If a man or a corporation owns a great deal of land, I want to tax him on the full rental value. If he owns only one little lot, I don't want to tax him at all.

So prior to 1924, Sinclair was a Georgist. This is his turning point on the matter. But we don't have to look so high for evidence of how wide spread George's ideas had become. Earlier I mentioned Single Tax Clubs, here is a menu from the Manhattan Single Tax Club. It's from 1900. I link this to illustrate that these were upscale clubs, which would have put on an air of respectability Note that admission price was $2 dollars - the menu doesn't appear to list prices for the food, but I would imagine that this puts the admission into the range of $40-60 in today's dollars. At that price range, it would've likely been a suit/tie setting.

There weren't just Single Tax Clubs, there were single tax colonies, such as Fairhope, AL. There was a whole single tax party, which called itself The Commonwealth Land Party. George made a run for mayor of New York City, which he didn't win, but one of his biggest supporters was the Knights of Labor. This is important because of what many of the unions had for reading material. From the Biennial report of the BLS of the State of Colorado: (page 10)

To educate its membership upon sociological industrial and economic questions. Very many of the unions have regular night schools, where the writings of Henry George, Edward Bellamy and other standard authors are taken up chapter by chapter and discussed in a capable and intelligent manner.

Given George's support by the Knights in NYC, it's likely a similar program was instituted there as well.

The early progressives even engaged in debates, regarding "Henry George or Edward Bellamy". "The Dawn" was published by W.D.P. Bliss, who would later publish The American Fabian.

Even with any controversies that existed because of his ideas, Henry George had a big impact upon the thought of Americans in his day. Even Richard Ely,(one of NRO's Four Horsemen of Progressivism) who was not particularly a fan of George's proposals, wrote the following in his book "Social Aspects of Christianity: And Other Essays": (page 143)

We have also the movement instituted by Henry George, designed to modify a fundamental economic institution, private property in land, and Henry George's name within ten years has become a household word in America, Europe, and Australia, and is not unknown in Asia and Africa.

It is sometimes foolishly asserted by ignorant people that these social and economic movements are not American, but essentially foreign. This is absurd. They are, as pointed out, cosmopolitan, and not national at all, and take them all together it may be doubted whether any country has contributed so much to these social movements as the United States. From every land the wage earning classes are looking to America for inspiration and direction.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Henry George: We must make land common property - inch by inch

In "Progress and Poverty" (1879) on page 295, Henry George wrote the following:
We have traced the unequal distribution of wealth which is the curse and menace of modern civilization to the institution of private property in land. We have seen that so long as this institution exists no increase in productive power can permanently benefit the masses; but, on the contrary, must tend still further to depress their condition. We have examined all the remedies, short of the abolition of private property in land, which are currently relied on or proposed for the relief of poverty and the better distribution of wealth, and have found them all inefficacious or impracticable.

There is but one way to remove an evil—and that is to remove its cause. Poverty deepens as wealth increases, and wages are forced down while productive power grows, because land, which is the source of all wealth and the field of all labor, is monopolized. To extirpate poverty, to make wages what justice commands they should be, the full earnings of the laborer, we must therefore substitute for the individual ownership of land a common ownership. Nothing else will go to the cause of the evil—in nothing else is there the slightest hope.

This, then, is the remedy for the unjust and unequal distribution of wealth apparent in modern civilization, and for all the evils which flow from it:

We must make land common property.

We have reached this conclusion by an examination in which every step has been proved and secured. In the chain of reasoning no link is wanting and no link is weak. Deduction and induction have brought us to the same truth—that the unequal ownership of land necessitates the unequal distribution of wealth. And as in the nature of things unequal ownership of land is inseparable from the recognition of individual property in land, it necessarily follows that the only remedy for the unjust distribution of wealth is in making land common property.

But this is a truth which, in the present state of society, will arouse the most bitter antagonism, and must fight its way, inch by inch.

This is one of the earliest that I've seen that is word for word exactly the kind of thing that a modern progressive will say. Early reform/progressives took time to become the uniform statists that we would recognize in the early 20th century progressives to today.(and it's likely that George himself is no different - I am hardly the George expert, knowing every minute detail) But in just these short few paragraphs, we have the following:

Government stealing of property - while that theft is mis-labeled as 'justice'? Check.

Incessant focus on 'the unequal distribution of wealth'? Check.

But most importantly, "inch by inch". The directive is given: You must make progress!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Nationalism" is how socialism was introduced to the American people

In "Social Aspects of Christianity: And Other Essays", Richard T. Ely writes the following: (page 143)
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.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Herbert Croly was raised on Comtean beliefs

In "Memories of Jane Croly", Herbert relates a story: (Page 61)
I should like to relate one incident in the history of my father's relations with myself--an incident which was eminently characteristic of certain aspects of his nature.

From my earliest years it was his endeavor to teach me to understand and believe in the religion of Auguste Comte. One of my first recollections is that of an excursion to Central Park on one bright Sunday afternoon in the spring; there, sitting under the trees, he talked to me on the theme which lay always nearest his heart--that of the solidarity of mankind.

And the story goes on. It culminates this way:

While I was at college I was surrounded by other influences, and while retaining everything that was positive and constructive in his teaching, I dropped the negative cloth in which it was shrouded.

This is significant, in that he is saying that he is a "Salad Bar Comtist", picking and choosing those parts he wants to follow, and others he does not. But what fascinates me isn't so much that he kept some of his Comtean beliefs, so much as the fact that those beliefs did not conflict with the new progressive beliefs that he was importing from his professors. It is my understanding that Auguste Comte held totalitarian views.

Herbert Croly co-founded The New Republic, a progressive publication which still publishes to this day. There has been a question that existed even during his day as to if "New Nationalism" was taken directly from Croly's writings, even having his writings recommended by a U.S. President. His 'star' is one that was, and perhaps still is bright in the movement of progressivism.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Conservation is utilitarian?

I have in the past noted the friendly relationship between Fabian Socialists (The British Fabian Society) and American progressives, I also pointed out how Utilitarianism leads to Fabianism.

Enter Conservation in the United States. Charles Richard Van Hise (who was an advisor on conservation to President Theodore Roosevelt) wrote the following in his book "The conservation of natural resources in the United States": (page 379)

Conservation means "the greatest good to the greatest number - and that for the longest time".

Pretty straight forward. Utilitarianism is often thought to start with Jeremy Bentham(in a classical/modern sense), and here is what he says in his book "A Fragment on Government": (In the preface, page ii)

it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong

That's Bentham's fundamental axiom,(Mill also used the phrase in his own way) to which you will see far and wide a seemingly limitless variation of this quote, as an explanation of what Utilitarianism actually is.

It's virtually identical. And Hise wasn't alone. Gifford Pinchot, a Bull Moose/Progressive republican and first chief of the US Forest Service, wrote this in his autobiography "Breaking New Ground": (page 353)

"Conservation is the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time"

Despite the fact that this is almost verbatim what Hise wrote, on page 326 Pinchot writes that McGee was who convinced him of this view. The book says W J McGee, which is William John McGee, who on page 359 Pinchot considered to be "the scientific brains of the Conservation movement all through its early critical stages".

I highlight this for one specific reason: in a lot of ways, American progressivism and British Fabianism grew and evolved in similar ways, along similar ideological lines. Henry George was a American, yet his writing was significant in the development of the Fabian Society. And here's clear utilitarian thought(whether imported or domestically developed, probably doesn't matter) right there as well.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan, Theodore Roosevelt on Progressivism in Wisconsin

In April 2010, Glenn Beck interviewed Paul Ryan. Ryan is someone who from what I've heard, understands correctly the history of progressivism because he lives in Wisconsin, and as he says he grew up seeing the dangers of it. Wisconsin(as many people have come to know) is the birthplace for Progressivism proper. Here are a couple of great quotes from him:
PAUL RYAN: So people can actually see what this ideology means and where it’s going to lead us and how it attacks the American idea.

, (shortened):

PAUL RYAN: this(progressivism) is really a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and says, no, no, no, no, no, they come from government, and we here in government are here to give you your rights and therefore ration, redistribute and regulate your rights. It’s a complete affront of the whole idea of this country and that is to me what we as conservatives, or classical liberals if you want to get technical ought to be doing to flush this out.


PAUL RYAN: Where we raise our family, 35 miles from Madison. I grew up hearing about this stuff. This stuff came from these German intellectuals to Madison‑University of Wisconsin and sort of out there from the beginning of the last century.


PAUL RYAN: Look, I grew up in the orbit of Madison, Wisconsin. I know who these people are, I know what they think

But wheras Ryan calls it out for the cancer that it is, Roosevelt held up Wisconsin and it's progressive movement as the ideal movement.

It is fair to say that Paul Ryan has a whole century of progressivism to look back on, wheras Roosevelt stood at the beginning and didn't see the destruction that lies in the path, it's also fair to say that progressive ideals really are not all that new. Centralized planning has gone on for a very long time(centuries), and just because these guys had a new way to do it, that's no excuse. It's still a big State telling everybody what to do, intervening in all aspects of people's lives. And it's important to note that make no mistake, Theodore Roosevelt was rejecting many of the things that made America great. In the article he says:

We, who boast that we represent the freest people on the face of the earth, that our Nation is the home of popular rights and equal rights, and of justice as between man and man, when we try to translate our words into deeds, have to go to Australia for our ballot, and have to study what is done in England or Germany for the protection of wage workers (and, having studied them and tried to follow the example set us, are then obliged to see some State court, still steeped in the political philosophy of the eighteenth century, solemnly declare that America, alone among civilized nations, is incompetent to right industrial wrongs).

I've seen this kind of contempt before. "Eighteenth century" was a way for progressives to openly declare their contempt for that old "individualistic" America, as John Dewey makes abundantly clear. They would also say "nineteenth century", as a lot of those ideals carried forward past the Founding. That's exactly what Ryan talked about. Once government takes over, it tries taking over everything. There's no way to keep that kind of separation.

But moreso, looking toward Europe and elsewhere is exactly what progressives do to this day that aggravates us so much, it's the source for so many of our problems. Now does this really sound to you like someone who truely loves America? You hear that from time to time about Roosevelt. In what way did he love America? How about American liberty, and constitutionally limited government? If these things were said by anybody else, it wouldn't be given a pass. Current Justice Ginsburg was excoriated for saying look outside the US for better ideas. Honestly, what's the difference?

In Roosevelt's day at the time of Progressivism's birth, there were people who saw it for what it truely was:

I have often listened to well-meaning men who have spoken with a certain horror of Wisconsin, as if it were a community engaged in reckless experiment and in the effort to introduce impossible and revolutionary principles of law and governmental practice.


It is only in Wisconsin, so far as I know, that a really serious and thorough effort is being made to find out how to frame measures which shall give the people effective control over the big corporations without going into wild extravagance; and in this effort politician and student have joined hands.

There's important phrasing here: "control of business". See, Roosevelt was not a marxist, so extreme communal beliefs offended him. But he was fond of government controlling businesses, and didn't consider it to be tyrannical. He was warned. He rejected those warnings. He embraced a more active government and actively circumvented the constitution when it pleased him.

I know I've gone off on a bit of a tangent with this, but it serves as an important contrast. This is what the cancer looks like, what words it uses, and how it uses them. And I hope people wont mistake the man for the movement, because I don't. Progressivism is much larger than just Theodore Roosevelt. These ideals were, and still are widespread. Knowing the similarities makes them easier to spot.



I doubt whether American students of social economics fully realize the extraordinary work that has been accomplished during the last decade, and is now being accomplished, in the State of Wisconsin under the lead of Senator La Follette and of the group of entirely practical and at the same time zealously enthusiastic workers who have come into active control of the State mainly or largely because of the lead he has given them. It has been both a comic and a lamentable fact that this great democratic republic, which has vaunted itself as a leader in the work of human betterment, which has boasted that it is the especial champion of the rights of the people, has usually been obliged, when it entered any field of social or economic reform, humbly to follow the lead already given in the same line by some Old World monarchy, or by one of the new commonwealths of the South Seas. We, who boast that we represent the freest people on the face of the earth, that our Nation is the home of popular rights and equal rights, and of justice as between man and man, when we try to translate our words into deeds, have to go to Australia for our ballot, and have to study what is done in England or Germany for the protection of wage workers (and, having studied them and tried to follow the example set us, are then obliged to see some State court, still steeped in the political philosophy of the eighteenth century, solemnly declare that America, alone among civilized nations, is incompetent to right industrial wrongs). In hardly one case of recent years have we been able to initiate a great reform ourselves and usually the reforms which have been denounced by the reactionary press as subversive of all social order have represented principles already as a matter of course in effect in various European countries.

But for our good fortune, one of our States, the State of Wisconsin, has now developed such a body of public opinion, and such a body of leadership among its public men and its students, that hereafter we have good reason to hope that we can find within our own borders what we need.

We can now, at least in many cases, look for leadership to Wisconsin when we desire to try to solve the great social and industrial problemsof the present and the future, instead of being forced always to look abroad. It is noteworthy that in Wisconsin when one speaks of such leadership it is possible to include therein the student as well as the political leader. In no other State in the Union has any university done the same work for the community that has been done in Wisconsin by the University of Wisconsin. *1

It was my good fortune recently to address the Legislature of Wisconsin, and to meet not only the members of the legislative body but the Governor, the Lieutenant-Governor, and most of the judges of the higher courts; and characteristically enough, the hall in which I was entertained after my address was one of the buildings of the University of Wisconsin. I found the President and the teaching body of the University accepting as a matter of course the view that their duties were imperfectly performed unless they were performed with an eye to the direct benefit of the people of the State; and I found the leaders of political life, so far from adopting the cheap and foolish cynicism of attitude taken by too many politicians toward men of academic training, turning equally as a matter of course, toward the faculty of the University for the most practical and effi cient aid in helping them realize their schemes for social and civic betterment. I have often listened to well-meaning men who have spoken with a certain horror of Wisconsin, as if it were a community engaged in reckless experiment and in the effort to introduce impossible and revolutionary principles of law and governmental practice. As a matter of fact, it has rarely been my good fortune to meet a body of public men who are more practical and at the same time more obviously earnest in their desire to achieve ideals for social and civic betterment than the public men whom I met at Madison. They were as free from the cant of the professional reformer who deifies words and refuses to face facts as they were free from the cant of his reactionary brother who thinks it a sign of cleverness to disbelieve in the possibility of warring against corruption. They were bound to make human rights rather than property rights the first consideration in governmental action; but they made it evident not merely by words but by deeds that they would not for one moment sanction any pandering to class hatred or any unjust assault on property rights. A big railway official, before I entered the State, had casually mentioned to me that if he had a just cause there was no tribunal in the country before which he would rather present his case than the Wisconsin Railway Commission; and not only did I find that this was the opinion of those best competent to express an opinion, but I found that it expressed the general belief of the men of property who wish nothing but justice and who are not interested in some form of special privilege. It is only in Wisconsin, so far as I know, that a really serious and thorough effort is being made to find out how to frame measures which shall give the people effective control over the big corporations without going into wild extravagance; and in this effort politician and student have joined hands. Again I found the legislators grappling with the question of workmen's compensation. Through one of the Wisconsin University professors they were accumulating every fact of importance which had bearing on the proposed legislation, and they were engaged in businesslike fashion in trying to secure a law which should work the maximum amount of good and be open to the minimum number of objections. They were engaged in considering the introduction into the State political system of the initiative, referendum, and recall; and here what interested them was not any abstract talk about "the rights of the people" or "the wisdom of the multitude," or any appeals of the type made by the men of 1789 in France; on the contrary, what they were considering in each case were the probable practical results of the measure, what it would do for good, what it would do for evil, and how in actual practice it should be so guarded and so applied as to make it likely that it would secure the maximum of good at the cost of the minimum of evil. This is not the place to describe the various extremely interesting fields of governmental experiment for social and civic betterment upon which Wisconsin has entered. The general public already knows that the State has done much along varying lines. What is much less widely known is the very impressive and significant fact that the public men of the State have entered upon these experiments with cool-headed caution and wisdom, with a firm purpose to go forward in the true progressive spirit, and yet with a no less firm purpose not to be misled by names, and to do nothing foolish merely because they were afraid of being called unprogressive if they did not do it. After my visit I felt like congratulating Wisconsin upon what it had done and was doing; and I felt much more like congratulating the country as a whole because it has in the State of Wisconsin a pioneer blazing the way along which we Americans must make our civic and industrial advance during the next few decades.

Theodore Roosevelt

*1 Some time ago an admirable article appeared in the "American Magazine," by Mr. Lincoln Steffens, describing the work the University of Wisconsin was doing. Three or four years ago The Outlook published an article of appreciation of this work written by Mr. William Hard. Year by year this work grows in value and importance.

Transcriber's note: I made one single lone change to the transcript as it appeared in The Outlook, May 27th, 1911. The footnote. The footnote appears at the end of a column and thus would have appeared in the center of this transcript. So I moved it to the end of the whole article.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Herbert Hoover, the "Independent progressive" in Woodrow Wilson's administration

In the "Mining and Scientific Press", March 20th, 1920 a section titled "Two Famous Letters From Mr. Hoover", this a paragraph from the second letter: (page 423)
First I am an independent progressive in the issues before us today. I think that at this time the issues before the country transcend partisanship. It is well known that I was a Progressive Republican before the war and, I think rightly, a non-partisan during my war service. The issues confronting us are new and the alignment upon them has not yet been made by the great parties. I still object as much to the reactionary group in the Republican party as I do to the radical group in the Democratic party.

The reactionary group? He means the conservatives, naturally. Progressives, communists, and socialists all use this word as a demonizing one. They do it to this day. Hoover also engaged in this. He wasn't just a progressive in name only. Even while President, Mr. Hoover would denounce the "reactionaries" who were urging him to do less.

And here he is:

Standing with his fellow progressives. There's a larger version, this comes from The National Archives.

The narrative that Hoover was a "do nothing" president (Unlike Coolidge, who absolutely was a "do nothing" president and look how good the economy was!) requires that information like this be forgotten.

There's probably a good argument to be made that post-New Deal/Great Depression, Hoover learned his lesson and did become the conservative that most modern progressives claim him to be. Because much of it is behind the scenes stuff, it becomes harder to track. But one can make reasonable assumptions by simply looking at the Hoover Institute. What Hoover Institute is today, it really didn't become that until the mid 50's. It had an evolution from a library to a center for research to a full blown think tank. The 1959 Mission Statement that's up on Wiki(which is repeated on the Institute's website) is only a clip, but it does sound remarkably different than the Hoover that was lamenting reactionaries, encouraging planning, and calling for government stimulus.

It is possible, even likely, that America could quit repeating the mistake of progressivism if the record would be allowed to be correct itself on it's own without revisionists claiming obvious falsehoods to be true.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book review- Bending the Twig: The Revolution in Education and Its Effect on Our Children

'Tis education forms the common mind
Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined
- Alexander Pope

Progressive education.... what is it? Where does it come from? Is America the only place it's ever been tried?

I've made my own attempts to dig into progressive education, but I can only use the internet for my queries. This book titled "Bending the twig; the revolution in education and its effect on our children" is a genuine inquiry based on thoughtful research into the topic using sources I'd probably never have access to. The review for this book comes from a website titled unz.org, which has a plethora of magazines spanning decades that it has catalogged.

Starting here is the gateway to the magazine article, this (pdf direct download) is the first page of the review(page 62), I can't see a way to get a direct download to page 63, but its easy to get just click the blue 'next page' button.

I have kept a copy of these just in case.

The thing that stands out to me more than anything from the review(and thus, the book) is the fact that progressive education was tried in Russia, and they got rid of it real quick when they started seeing the results of it. This is a small excerpt from the book:

Few Americans realize that Progressive Education was given a thorough tryout in Soviet Russia. When the Bolsheviks under Lenin destroyed the Kerensky government in November, 1917, they believed that a similar revolution was imminent in other countries and they sought to expedite it by creating in Russia a Communist model for the world. They proceeded to inaugurate a series of drastic reforms and changes in the traditional life of the Russian people. A veritable orgy of change followed in all segments of their society from education to marriage. Many of these "reforms" were not only unnecessary but proved to be harmful to the Communist cause.

Anything new or extreme was tried, provided it was a break with the traditional. The Communist leaders had heard of the Progressive Education system in America and in 1918 they imported its program almost intact.*

* "The 'new' schools in Russia were organized and conducted after the model laid out by John Dewey in Chicago many years earlier. . . . Indoctrination in the practice of Communism was included as direct instruction." Dr. John Almack, San Francisco Examiner, October 12, 1942.

The review was done by Frank B. Keith, of The Freeman. Unz.org's page appears to be the only place it can be found.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Declaration of Independence is of no consequence

In one of his speeches titled "What is Progress?", Woodrow Wilson said the following:
Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776. Their bosoms swell against George III, but they have no consciousness of the war for freedom that is going on today.

The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day and substitute them in some vital way for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately involved in the circumstances of the day in which it was conceived and written. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use of practical men; not a thesis for philosophers, but a whip for tyrants; not a theory for government, but a program of action. Unless we can translate it into the questions of our own day, we are not worthy of it, we are not the sons of the sires who acted in response to its challenge.

As you read this, keep in mind that Wilson was the guy who wrote that "nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual", the Declaration of Independence is the document which enshrines all of this "nonsense" as a foundational bedrock. But if that isn't enough, Wilson also stated that "If you want to understand the real Declaration, do not repeat the preface.". The "preface" is where all of the important stuff is at. Unalienable, god given rights. That "nonsense". Knowing that helps to put all of this into context. (Other parts of the Declaration while very important are not at issue here.)

As he continues, he attempts to re-define "tyranny":

What form does the contest between tyranny and freedom take to-day? What is the special form of tyranny we now fight? How does it endanger the rights of the people, and what do we mean to do in order to make our contest against it effectual? What are to be the items of our new declaration of independence?

By tyranny, as we now fight it, we mean control of the law, of legislation and adjudication, by organizations which do not represent the people, by means which are private and selfish. We mean, specifically, the conduct of our affairs and the shaping of our legislation in the interest of special bodies of capital and those who organize their use. We mean the alliance, for this purpose, of political machines with selfish business. We mean the exploitation of the people by legal and political means. We have seen many governments under these influences cease to be representative governments, cease to be governments representative of the people, and become governments representative of special interests, controlled by machines, which in their turn are not controlled by the people.

What he's getting at is plutocracy.(or oligarchy, the two are similar) But he goes too far in that he doesn't include himself in the equation. He was very sly in his wording(see what I bolded and italicized in the last paragraph) about control by small groups of individuals.

Wilson believed in control by a small group of individuals. He believed that administration needed to be separated away from politics, as Goodnow believed. He believed that "Administration cannot wait upon legislation", that it "must be given leave, or take it, to proceed without specific warrant in giving effect to the characteristic life of the State".

Just do it. If the people object? Oh well. If the congress objects? Oh well. If the courts object? Oh well. This gets at his wording, he says "by special bodies of capital" - what he means is that it's ok for central planners to be academics. It's ok for central planners to be unaccountable to the people, as long as they aren't rich. That's the wrong kind of small body of special interests, but we are the right type of small body of special interests.

What Wilson appears to never have considered, is that documents like the Declaration and the Constitution were designed specifically to put a halt to men like Woodrow Wilson. The declaration does mention the questions of Wilson's day, he just didn't like what he heard. He would often times go around re-defining anything 1 2 that didn't fit his worldview, to advance the statist agenda.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thomas Jefferson: out of control spending leads to oppression and tyranny

In a letter to Samuel Kercheval (June 12, 1816), Jefferson wrote the following:
And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers. Our landholders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

One necessarily follows the other; excessive spending inevitably brings taxes and oppression. In a word: tyranny.

Like so many of the other things I make note of, this could have been written today, by any one of us. It is being written today, by my fellow tea partiers far and wide.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Progressivism: the proper role of government is to encourage co-operation

The FTC's website has a PDF file on it's servers titled "The Origins of the FTC: Concentration, Cooperation, Control", (Google Docs) which is more telling than it leads on:
Concentration and co-operation are conditions imperatively essential for industrial advance; but if we allow concentration and co-operation there must be control in order to protect the people, and adequate control is only possible through the administrative commission. Hence concentration, co-operation, and control are the key words for a scientific solution of the mighty industrial problem which now confronts this Nation.

Theodore Roosevelt, who is quoting from Charles Van Hise at the Progressive Party Convention. Notice the language used, it's consistent. Concentration, and Cooperation. This one is the interesting one, from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: (A Wilson appointee)

The proper role of the government is to encourage not combination, but co-operation.

If encouraging combination is government's role, how would they do this? With social regulations. Nudging people, groups, and companies into "doing the right thing" according to the planners.

This notion of co-operation is an important one in progressivism, which I will explore in later detail in the future.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chameleons: Bernard Shaw and Van Jones

In his 1928 book The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism (page 386) George Bernard Shaw says the following:
And I, who said 40 years ago that we should have had socialism already but for the Socialists, am quite willing to drop the name, if dropping it will help me to get the thing done.

Oh really? I've heard this before:

I'm willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.

This is Jones' turning point, where he becomes an Evolutionary Radical instead of a Revolutionary one. (which I have no doubt, he'll take full revolution should it come) He said this in an interview with the East Bay Express, in an article titled "The New Face of Environmentalism". Here's the larger context:

Jones' fixation on solidarity dates from this experience. He took an objective look at the movement's effectiveness and decided that the changes he was seeking were actually getting farther away. Not only did the left need to be more unified, he decided, it might also benefit from a fundamental shift in tactics. "I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists -- shudder, shudder -- who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy, and were having bigger impacts than me and a lot of my friends with our protest signs," he said.

First, he discarded the hostility and antagonism with which he had previously greeted the world, which he said was part of the ego-driven romance of being seen as a revolutionary. "Before, we would fight anybody, any time," he said. "No concession was good enough; we never said 'Thank you.' Now, I put the issues and constituencies first. I'll work with anybody, I'll fight anybody if it will push our issues forward. ... I'm willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends."

See. He got rid of the antagonism and the overtly/outward radical ways; but his beliefs haven't changed one iota. He still believes in centralized planning.

This is when radicals become their most dangerous. When they stop looking like this:

And they start looking like this:

Very few people will listen to that first guy. Everybody will listen to that second guy.

Taking a revolutionary and laundering them into the appearance of respectability is a process, which is go into some detail here. This is a process that all of us are well familiar with, it's been happening for a long time. It's just not been something that's been highlighted much over the years. As I mentioned in the previous posting, Bill Ayers. Who went from revolutionary to respectable professor. Ayers isn't the only one, several of the Weathermen are teachers now. The father of modern community organizing, Saul Alinsky... Have you ever seen a picture of him where he wasn't in a suit?


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it

"I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world"

That's Margaret Sanger, in an interview with Mike Wallace.(at 2 minutes 35 seconds) Surprisingly, the left hasn't scrubbed this interview off of the internet, yet. I quoted this interview more fully here, when I dug into the eugenic history of Planned Parenthood.(PP) I made note of the pause, as well as the tense look on her face. This post will more fully explain that awkward moment.

In Sanger's 1920 book "Woman and The New Race", Margaret Sanger writes the following: (page 62-63)

This does not complete the case, however, for those who care to go farther into the subject will find that many of those who live for a year die before they reach the age of five.

Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old fashioned ideas to the facts. The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it The same factors which create the terrible infant mortality rate and which swell the death rate of children between the ages of one and five operate even more extensively to lower the health rate of the surviving members.

And of course, in typical Sanger fashion she ends up going back into the usual screed(down the page) of the feeble minded and defectives and all this other nasty stuff.

What's even more bothersome is progressive revisionism. Sanger said(wrote) downright evil things, if you're going to defend it, be honest in your defense. In searching for the quote and the source, it's impossible to miss this document on PP's website. It says this:

"The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."

This statement is taken out of context from Margaret Sanger's Woman and the New Race (Sanger, 1920). Sanger was making an ironic comment - not a prescriptive one — about the horrifying rate of infant mortality among large families of early 20th-century urban America. The statement, as grim as the conditions that prompted Sanger to make it, accompanied this chart, illustrating the infant death rate in 1920:

The chart can be found on page 62 of the book. But as to this notion that Sanger has been somehow taken out of context, like hell she was! What PP is hoping you won't do is go and actually read the book, or at least that section to see what it is she really wrote. This gets right at why I believe having the original sources is so paramount.

They say she was taken out of context, here's a segment of what I quoted at the top:

Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old fashioned ideas to the facts.

Old fashioned ideas, like having immoral large families.

I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world

Like I said the last time I quoted from that interview, this line, this first part of her response was the most honest part. Backed up by what's in her books, regarding the "immorality of large families". Which brings us back to PP's shameful document.

To be fair, Sanger is on record as being against the lethal chamber, and the way this segment above is written, PP is correct that it's not written prescriptively. But then again, PP doesn't more specifically enumerate what or whom they are replying to, so it could very well be the typical false progressive narrative, where they've set up two completely false choices.

She believed wholly in the immorality of large families. Chapter 5 of the book is titled "THE WICKEDNESS OF CREATING LARGE FAMILIES". (starting on page 57). She recommended an American Baby Code, she wrote openly of sterilizations, her magazine Birth Control Review is loaded with Malthusian operpopulation nonsense, and she even put forth her idea for the need of a Population Congress which would deal with all of these undesirables and so forth. She was clearly against large families.

Two notes in observation to point out. The publishing company(or one of) for Sanger's book "Woman and The New Race", was the Eugenics Publishing Company.

I recently wrote about the friendly relationship between fabian socialists and American progressives, in which I discussed both Sanger and Havelock Ellis. Ellis wrote the preface to "Woman and The New Race".