Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The legacy of false 'progressivism'

This blog was named "A True Progressive" to highlight the wisdom in C.S. Lewis' observation that when one is on a wrong road, progress means backtracking to the correct one.  In contrast, the common view of 'progress,' is a stubborn insistence on moving forward, even when it's clear one is well off-road and lost in the wilderness.  Such is the century-long legacy of the so-called "Progressive movement:"
One of the criticisms of the Constitution by the Progressives, and one still heard today, is that the Constitution is so hard to amend that judges have to loosen its restrictions on the power of the federal government by judicial reinterpretations. Judicial activism is one of the enduring legacies of the Progressive era...

Theodore Roosevelt interpreted the Constitution to mean that the President of the United States could exercise any powers not explicitly forbidden to him. This stood the 10th Amendment on its head, for that Amendment explicitly gave the federal government only the powers specifically spelled out, and reserved all other powers to the states or to the people.

Woodrow Wilson attacked the Constitution in his writings as an academic before he became president. Once in power, his administration so restricted freedom of speech that this led to landmark Supreme Court decisions restoring that fundamental right.

Whatever the vision or rhetoric of the Progressive era, its practice was a never-ending expansion of the arbitrary powers of the federal government. The problems they created so discredited Progressives that they started calling themselves "liberals" -- and after they discredited themselves again, they went back to calling themselves "Progressives," now that people no longer remembered how Progressives had discredited themselves before.
In other words, because the vast majority of people do, in fact, fail to learn from the lessons of history, each generation has to learn them over again.  The hard way.


KSH said...

"Have we reached a point in history where we are ready to embrace a new way of living in the world, expanding not our military power, but our humanity?"

Jemison Thorsby said...


We will always need a military of some sort, because the world will always produce people/regimes who seek to dominate others. That is a fundamental aspect of the fallen human nature that will not be solved this side of eternity, no matter how much we think we can achieve the "new model man."
That said, any nation can become tempted to find its pride and security in its martial prowess, when that is but one aspect of a nation's form.
The biggest problem with Statism is that it attempts to expand martial regimentation, discipline and overweening authority far beyond the military to the society as a whole. That's the real point of the post. The Constitution was designed to limit the government's ability to exercise such broad authority. That's why the document is ignored, attacked, and circumvented at every opportunity.
The "progressives" -- of both parties, mind you -- progressively minimized the limits on Federal power. And we are reaping the results of that today.

Hope you're doing well these days!

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