Progressives

Dawsonville, GA

#5107 Mar 25, 2013
The Progressives' Rejection of consent and Compact as the Basis of Society

In accordance with their conviction that all human beings are by nature free, the Founders taught that political society is "formed by a voluntary association of individuals: It is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good" (Massachusetts Constitution of 1780).

For the Founders, the consent principle extended beyond the founding of society into its ordinary operation. Government was to be conducted under laws, and laws were to be made by locally elected officials, accountable through frequent elections to those who chose them. The people would be directly involved in governing through their participation in juries selected by lot.

The Progressives treated the social compact idea with scorn. Charles Merriam, a leading Progressive political scientist, wrote:

The individualistic ideas of the "natural right" school of political theory, indorsed in the Revolution, are discredited and repudiated…. The origin of the state is regarded, not as the result of a deliberate agreement among men, but as the result of historical development, instinctive rather than conscious; and rights are considered to have their source not in nature, but in law.

For the Progressives, then, it was of no great importance whether or not government begins in consent as long as it serves its proper end of remolding man in such a way as to bring out his real capacities and aspirations. As Merriam wrote, "it was the idea of the state that supplanted the social contract as the ground of political right." Democracy and consent are not absolutely rejected by the Progressives, but their importance is greatly diminished, as we will see when we come to the Progressive conception of governmental structure.

Since: Nov 08

Location hidden

#5108 Mar 25, 2013
Aggie23 wrote:
<quoted text>
Thank you for such an outstanding post. The portion I quoted above to me is, regrettably, the crux of the matter. It is hard not to come to the conclusion that that is the goal of the Liberals. Create a permanent underclass that considers itself incapable of surviving without a paternalistic government to take care of them. This ensures that those same people will always vote for whomever promises the most handouts, rather than "hand ups." They will never rise above that and so will guarantee the perpetual power of those promising the handouts. What both groups (the Liberals and their dependents) will not recognize is that it is impossible to sustain an economic system that keeps taking more and more away from those who produce and contribute to this country in order to support those who WILL not (not CAN not) support themselves. And yet the people (top 5% income earners) who already pay more in taxes than the bottom 95% combined are called whiners and greedy for not wanting to pay even more taxes to support wasteful, duplicative programs. If we do not get a handle on the out of control spending in all areas, there will not be money for those who truly need help. And yet those on the Left think that those who make this country work will just sit back while more and more gets taken from them. Is anybody paying attention to what happened in Cyprus today, there are lessons to be learned there - or warnings to be heeded.
You NAILED it, Aggie. Excellent.
Progressives

Dawsonville, GA

#5109 Mar 25, 2013
For the Founders, the purpose of government is to protect the private sphere, which they regarded as the proper home of both the high and the low, of the important and the merely urgent, of God, religion, and science, as well as providing for the needs of the body. The experience of religious persecution had convinced the Founders that government was incompetent at directing man in his highest endeavors. The requirements of liberty, they thought, meant that self-interested private associations had to be permitted, not because they are good in themselves, but because depriving individuals of freedom of association would deny the liberty that is necessary for the health of society and the flourishing of the individual.

For the Founders, although government was grounded in divine law (i.e., the laws of nature and of nature's God), government was seen as a merely human thing, bound up with all the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. Government had to be limited both because it was dangerous if it got too powerful and because it was not supposed to provide for the highest things in life.

Because of the Progressives' tendency to view the state as divine and the natural as low, they no longer looked upon the private sphere as that which was to be protected by government. Instead, the realm of the private was seen as the realm of selfishness and oppression. Private property was especially singled out for criticism. Some Progressives openly or covertly spoke of themselves as socialists.

Woodrow Wilson did so in an unpublished writing. A society like the Founders' that limits itself to protecting life, liberty, and property was one in which, as Wilson wrote with only slight exaggeration, "all that government had to do was to put on a policeman's uniform and say,'Now don't anybody hurt anybody else.'" Wilson thought that such a society was unable to deal with the conditions of modern times.

Wilson rejected the earlier view that "the ideal of government was for every man to be left alone and not interfered with, except when he interfered with somebody else; and that the best government was the government that did as little governing as possible." A government of this kind is unjust because it leaves men at the mercy of predatory corporations. Without government management of those corporations, Wilson thought, the poor would be destined to indefinite victimization by the wealthy. Previous limits on government power must be abolished. Accordingly, Progressive political scientist Theodore Woolsey wrote, "The sphere of the state may reach as far as the nature and needs of man and of men reach, including intellectual and aesthetic wants of the individual, and the religious and moral nature of its citizens."

However, this transformation is still in the future, for Progress takes place through historical development. A sign of the Progressives' unlimited trust in unlimited political authority is Dewey's remark in his "Ethics of Democracy" that Plato's Republic presents us with the "perfect man in the perfect state." What Plato's Socrates had presented as a thought experiment to expose the nature and limits of political life is taken by Dewey to be a laudable obliteration of the private sphere by government mandate. In a remark that the Founders would have found repugnant, Progressive political scientist John Burgess wrote that "the most fundamental and indispensable mark of statehood" was "the original, absolute, unlimited, universal power over the individual subject, and all associations of subjects."

Since: Nov 08

Location hidden

#5110 Mar 25, 2013
Man in Plaid wrote:
We right-wingers complain when we "have to contribute" because we are the main contributors of tax dollars. At some point, the parasite-infested host realizes that if he doesn't get rid of the bloodsuckers, he won't sustain life much longer. And parasites, being parasites, couldn't care less.
It appears to me that the contribution of the progressives to the modern political landscape is the creation of a large and growing class of people who depend upon the government to support them in various ways. My favorite government dependent this time of year is the recipient of the six thousand dollar tax refund. How can someone who doesn't pay taxes draw such an enormous check at the taxpayers' expense? It makes me wonder if a person who persists in a non-productive lifestyle because he/she can depend upon the government to tax money taken from solvent workers to supplement his/her meagre income each year is the embodiment of a new kind of American Dream. This gives a new meaning to "full faith in the American government."
I wonder what Marx and Engels would say were they here to observe this new means of manipulating and robbing the working class voters. Perhaps they would see the creation of a dependent class as a way of splitting the proletariat, thus diminishing its political potential. This raises an important question: What are the Progressives progressing toward? If this split of the proletariat is any indicator, then it appears to be a progression toward oligarchy. Should not a Progressive see this as a problem? Should they not be disconcerted by the growth of a large group of voters who cast ballots for their cause out of economic dependence rather than informed decisions based upon critical thought? Is not this only a means of using the conditioned needs of many to ensure the power of the few? Is this progress or regress?
As a reader of history and classic literature, I cannot help but see the Progressives' recent use of those dependent on the government as a contemporary episode of a courtship with a fickle mob. When allegiance derives from handouts, the mob will turn to those with the deepest pockets and the most lucrative offer. Should the parasitic nature of entitlements-based politics reach its inevitable end, the failure of the American economy and currency, how will the Progressives fare with the monster hat they have created as a means to power?
Thanks for such a great post. "Informed Opinion" is an admitted Progressive. I am interested in his response to this. I asked him earlier today what he wants our country to "look" like when all is said and done. Haven't heard back, yet.
Progressives

Dawsonville, GA

#5111 Mar 25, 2013
The Founders thought that laws should be made by a body of elected officials with roots in local communities. They should not be "experts," but they should have "most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society" (Madison). The wisdom in question was the kind on display in The Federalist, which relentlessly dissected the political errors of the previous decade in terms accessible to any person of intelligence and common sense.

The Progressives wanted to sweep away what they regarded as this amateurism in politics. They had confidence that modern science had superseded the perspective of the liberally educated statesman. Only those educated in the top universities, preferably in the social sciences, were thought to be capable of governing. Politics was regarded as too complex for common sense to cope with. Government had taken on the vast responsibility not merely of protecting the people against injuries, but of managing the entire economy as well as providing for the people's spiritual well-being. Only government agencies staffed by experts informed by the most advanced modern science could manage tasks previously handled within the private sphere. Government, it was thought, needed to be led by those who see where history is going, who understand the ever-evolving idea of human dignity.

The Progressives did not intend to abolish democracy, to be sure. They wanted the people's will to be more efficiently translated into government policy. But what democracy meant for the Progressives is that the people would take power out of the hands of locally elected officials and political parties and place it instead into the hands of the central government, which would in turn establish administrative agencies run by neutral experts, scientifically trained, to translate the people's inchoate will into concrete policies. Local politicians would be replaced by neutral city managers presiding over technically trained staffs. Politics in the sense of favoritism and self-interest would disappear and be replaced by the universal rule of enlightened bureaucracy.
Progressives

Dawsonville, GA

#5112 Mar 25, 2013
So let us conclude by briefly considering the differences between our current liberalism and Progressivism. We may sum up these differences in three words: science, sex, and progress.

First, in regard to science, today's liberals have a far more ambivalent attitude than the Progressives did. The latter had no doubt that science either had all the answers or was on the road to discovering them. Today, although the prestige of science remains great, it has been greatly diminished by the multicultural perspective that sees science as just another point of view.

Two decades ago, in a widely publicized report of the American Council of Learned Societies, several leading professors in the humanities proclaimed that the "ideal of objectivity and disinterest," which "has been essential to the development of science," has been totally rejected by "the consensus of most of the dominant theories" of today. Instead, today's consensus holds that "all thought does, indeed, develop from particular standpoints, perspectives, interests." So science is just a Western perspective on reality, no more or less valid than the folk magic believed in by an African or Pacific Island tribe that has never been exposed to modern science.

Second, liberalism today has become preoccupied with sex. Sexual activity is to be freed from all traditional restraints. In the Founders' view, sex was something that had to be regulated by government because of its tie to the production and raising of children. Practices such as abortion and homosexual conduct -- the choice for which was recently equated by the Supreme Court with the right "to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life" -- are considered fundamental rights.

The connection between sexual liberation and Progressivism is indirect, for the Progressives, who tended to follow Hegel in such matters, were rather old-fashioned in this regard. But there was one premise within Progressivism that may be said to have led to the current liberal understanding of sex. That is the disparagement of nature and the celebration of human will, the idea that everything of value in life is created by man's choice, not by nature or necessity.

Once sexual conduct comes under the scrutiny of such a concern, it is not hard to see that limiting sexual expression to marriage -- where it is clearly tied to nature's concern for reproduction -- could easily be seen as a kind of limitation of human liberty. Once self-realization (Dewey's term, for whom it was still tied to reason and science) is transmuted into self-expression (today's term), all barriers to one's sexual idiosyncrasies must appear arbitrary and tyrannical.

Third, contemporary liberals no longer believe in progress. The Progressives' faith in progress was rooted in their faith in science, as one can see especially in the European thinkers whom they admired, such as Hegel and Comte. When science is seen as just one perspective among many, then progress itself comes into question.

The idea of progress presupposes that the end result is superior to the point of departure, but contemporary liberals are generally wary of expressing any sense of the superiority of the West, whether intellectually, politically, or in any other way. They are therefore disinclined to support any foreign policy venture that contributes to the strength of America or of the West.
Progressives

Dawsonville, GA

#5113 Mar 25, 2013
Liberal domestic policy follows the same principle. It tends to elevate the "other" to moral superiority over against those whom the Founders would have called the decent and the honorable, the men of wisdom and virtue. The more a person is lacking, the greater is his or her moral claim on society. The deaf, the blind, the disabled, the stupid, the improvident, the ignorant, and even (in a 1984 speech of presidential candidate Walter Mondale) the sad -- those who are lowest are extolled as the sacred other.

Surprisingly, although Progressivism, supplemented by the more recent liberalism, has transformed America in some respects, the Founders' approach to politics is still alive in some areas of American life. One has merely to attend a jury trial over a murder, rape, robbery, or theft in a state court to see the older system of the rule of law at work. Perhaps this is one reason why America seems so conservative to the rest of the Western world. Among ordinary Americans, as opposed to the political, academic, professional, and entertainment elites, there is still a strong attachment to property rights, self-reliance, and heterosexual marriage; a wariness of university-certified "experts"; and an unapologetic willingness to use armed forces in defense of their country.

The first great battle for the American soul was settled in the Civil War. The second battle for America's soul, initiated over a century ago, is still raging. The choice for the Founders' constitutionalism or the Progressive-liberal administrative state is yet to be fully resolved.
Progressives

Dawsonville, GA

#5114 Mar 25, 2013
All of the above posts pretty much describes the progressives of today.

Since: Nov 12

Location hidden

#5115 Mar 25, 2013
@Progressives

That was an incredible dissertation on the contrast of our Founders' views on the individual and the relationship to government with that of the Progressive view. If that is from a book, please share the title. If that was your own creation: Bravo - I am in awe,

Since: Nov 12

Location hidden

#5116 Mar 25, 2013
Bill in Dville wrote:
<quoted text>
+1 well stated.
I've (attempted to) to say pretty much the same thing several times, you said it so much better...
I would definitely dispute the idea that I said it any better than you have on other occasions. It seems so redundant at times, but those of us on the conservative side of the spectrum are forced to repeat facts and indisputable conclusions from time to time to offset the misinformation that is often posted here.

And what an incredible series of posts from Progressives - I cannot wait to share those with my husband when he gets home.
jeb stuart

Savannah, GA

#5117 Mar 25, 2013
Progressives wrote:
All of the above posts pretty much describes the progressives of today.
I am beginning to understand,except for one thing.if the founders really did believe that all men were created equal,then how did they manage to explain and condone slavery?

Since: Nov 08

Location hidden

#5118 Mar 25, 2013
Progressives wrote:
All of the above posts pretty much describes the progressives of today.
Thank you for taking the time to post the info. about progressives. Now we all know what we are dealing with.
Pictures

Dawsonville, GA

#5119 Mar 25, 2013
Aggie23 wrote:
@Progressives
That was an incredible dissertation on the contrast of our Founders' views on the individual and the relationship to government with that of the Progressive view. If that is from a book, please share the title. If that was your own creation: Bravo - I am in awe,
copied from this link.

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007...

Since: Nov 12

Location hidden

#5120 Mar 25, 2013
jeb stuart wrote:
<quoted text>I am beginning to understand,except for one thing.if the founders really did believe that all men were created equal,then how did they manage to explain and condone slavery?
My understanding is that the issue of slavery was a HUGE problem for the founders. There were many who wanted slavery addressed and banned from the new nation about to be born. But they realized they would never keep the support of those colonies whose economic foundation was heavily dependent on slavery. A compromise had to be reached that did not address slavery in order to keep the southern colonies. The infamous part of the constitution that counted slaves as only 3/5's of a person was not a reflection on the value of the slave as an individual, it was another compromise to keep the southern slave holding colonies from having an uneven over representation in Congress through the counting of the slaves (who obviously could not vote) in the population that would determine the number of representatives the states would have. The founders were trying to keep the southern states from having such a disproportionate number of representatives that slavery could never be abolished by Congress. The Founders who wanted slavery ended were willing to play the long game and realized that first they had to create this nation, the abolition of slavery would have to wait.
I believe that is mostly accurate - I stand to be corrected.

Since: Nov 12

Location hidden

#5121 Mar 25, 2013
Pictures wrote:
<quoted text>
copied from this link.
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007...
Thank you.
domino

Americus, GA

#5122 Mar 25, 2013
Synergy wrote:
<quoted text>
You are TRYING to converse with a low information voter. It's frustrating, huh? He's uninformed just like the rest of his ilk.
Even though I totally agree with all that you and Aggie say, I usually only read and not post. I have strong beliefs about politics, religion,abortions and same-sex marriage. but I will keep those to myself. However, being from an all military family, I do not like anyone playing on words and thinking they know it all. I personally love the military and we were all George Bush fans. if some of these people knew what my family knows, they too would like George Bush. Wish I could elaborate, but I can't.
jeb stuart

Savannah, GA

#5123 Mar 25, 2013
Aggie23 wrote:
<quoted text>
My understanding is that the issue of slavery was a HUGE problem for the founders. There were many who wanted slavery addressed and banned from the new nation about to be born. But they realized they would never keep the support of those colonies whose economic foundation was heavily dependent on slavery. A compromise had to be reached that did not address slavery in order to keep the southern colonies. The infamous part of the constitution that counted slaves as only 3/5's of a person was not a reflection on the value of the slave as an individual, it was another compromise to keep the southern slave holding colonies from having an uneven over representation in Congress through the counting of the slaves (who obviously could not vote) in the population that would determine the number of representatives the states would have. The founders were trying to keep the southern states from having such a disproportionate number of representatives that slavery could never be abolished by Congress. The Founders who wanted slavery ended were willing to play the long game and realized that first they had to create this nation, the abolition of slavery would have to wait.
I believe that is mostly accurate - I stand to be corrected.
not trying to correct you,aggie.but you do seem to admit that it may not have been a perfect union from the get-go.btw,i am not a progressive,or at least I don't think I am,if all the above info is correct.

Since: Nov 12

Location hidden

#5124 Mar 25, 2013
jeb stuart wrote:
<quoted text>not trying to correct you,aggie.but you do seem to admit that it may not have been a perfect union from the get-go.btw,i am not a progressive,or at least I don't think I am,if all the above info is correct.
Ah, but the Founders didn't claim a "perfect union", nearly a "MORE perfect union".(emphasis mine)
Informed Opinion

Alva, FL

#5125 Mar 25, 2013
Progressives wrote:
The Progressives' Rejection of consent and Compact as the Basis of Society

In accordance with their conviction that all human beings are by nature free, the Founders taught that political society is "formed by a voluntary association of individuals: It is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good" (Massachusetts Constitution of 1780).

For the Founders, the consent principle extended beyond the founding of society into its ordinary operation. Government was to be conducted under laws, and laws were to be made by locally elected officials, accountable through frequent elections to those who chose them. The people would be directly involved in governing through their participation in juries selected by lot.

The Progressives treated the social compact idea with scorn. Charles Merriam, a leading Progressive political scientist, wrote:

The individualistic ideas of the "natural right" school of political theory, indorsed in the Revolution, are discredited and repudiatedÂ…. The origin of the state is regarded, not as the result of a deliberate agreement among men, but as the result of historical development, instinctive rather than conscious; and rights are considered to have their source not in nature, but in law.

For the Progressives, then, it was of no great importance whether or not government begins in consent as long as it serves its proper end of remolding man in such a way as to bring out his real capacities and aspirations. As Merriam wrote, "it was the idea of the state that supplanted the social contract as the ground of political right." Democracy and consent are not absolutely rejected by the Progressives, but their importance is greatly diminished, as we will see when we come to the Progressive conception of governmental structure.
Almost nothing asserted in the post above is at all accurate.

This is a classic example of a "Straw Man" argument.

That's where you create an opponent, unfairly and inaccurately imbue in that opponent all sorts of evil traits, then attack the Straw Man claiming he has all those evil traits.

Can't wait to see documentation supporting all those inaccurate assertions about Progressives.

But, don't hold your breath - since none of it's true - that documentation just ain't gonna show.
jeb stuart

Savannah, GA

#5126 Mar 25, 2013
Aggie23 wrote:
<quoted text>
Ah, but the Founders didn't claim a "perfect union", nearly a "MORE perfect union".(emphasis mine)
ah, but wouldn't 'more perfect' imply that they were trying to improve(or progress)?

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