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    The Dark Heart of Progressivism. A conversation with Thomas C. Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers.

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

    Messages : 10150
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    The Dark Heart of Progressivism. A conversation with Thomas C. Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers. Empty The Dark Heart of Progressivism. A conversation with Thomas C. Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers.

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Ven 6 Sep - 17:14


    "Why do you call the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly the Progressive political economists, illiberal reformers? What exactly makes them illiberal in your book ?

    When “liberal” became a political term in America just after the Civil War, it described a person committed to individual freedom and the institutions judged necessary for its maintenance, such as a market economy and laws protecting individual rights against the state.
    The progressives disparaged 19th-century liberalism as laissez-faire and led a crusade to dismantle it, remaking American economic life with a new instrument of reform they blueprinted and built, the regulatory welfare state. The progressives were reformers, to be sure, but they were no liberals. Indeed, they disdained individual liberties—not least those enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights—as archaic impediments to their reform project of improving American society’s health, welfare, and morals. Woodrow Wilson, among many others, dismissed talk of individual rights against the state as “nonsense.”

    There is an additional sense in which in the progressives were illiberal. Before “liberal” entered the political lexicon, it described a person who was open-minded, tolerant, and free from prejudice or bigotry. As Illiberal Reformers painstakingly documents, a shockingly high percentage of the progressive economists were close-minded, intolerant, and bigoted. Indeed, they campaigned to exclude the disabled, immigrants, women, and other maligned groups from the U.S. workforce, on the grounds that the economic competition of hereditary inferiors threatened the American working man and Anglo-Saxon race integrity.

    I found that one of the most striking aspects of the book. You really indict many Progressive economists by simply quoting them. It left one reviewer for The New Republic stunned at the “dark history of liberal reform.” Considering Progressive economists’ elitism and prejudice, why do you think so many modern-day progressives look back at them as their ideological ancestors? Is it historical ignorance, or is there a kinship between the Progressives of yesterday and the progressives of today ?

    The original Progressives were not that progressive. Many promoted race science and eugenics, ignored or even justified the brutal reestablishment of white supremacy in the Jim Crow South, asserted that immigration of inferiors caused “race suicide,” advocated an imperialistic manifest destiny, and portrayed themselves as an unbiased technocratic elite who not only served the public good, but also identified it. They were, moreover, public moralists, impelled by their evangelical Protestantism to create a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

    At a glance, there is not much here for 21st-century progressives to claim kinship with. Today’s progressives emphasize racial equality and minority rights, decry U.S. imperialism, shun biological ideas in social science, and have little use for piety or proselytizing.

    On the other hand, the original Progressives got things done. They helped pass four constitutional amendments in only seven years. They founded academic economics, the modern American research university, and the think tank. They blueprinted the American regulatory welfare state, and created entirely new professions—the expert economist, the professor of social science, the scholar-activist, the social worker, and the investigatory journalist. These Progressive Era institutions and professions remain at the heart of American civic life.

    So what have today’s progressives carried over from their namesakes of a century ago? I would highlight two areas of kinship. First is the notion that free markets are intrinsically unjust and wasteful. Capitalism, for progressives, requires the visible hand of a vigorous state empowered to surveil, investigate, and regulate economic life. Second, while today’s progressives (unavoidably) have a less heroic conception of expertise in the service of the state, I would argue that they still hold to the original Progressives’ core faith, which is: if smart, well-intentioned people are put in charge, then economic and social progress will inevitably follow."

    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. »
    -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. »
    -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

      La date/heure actuelle est Mer 19 Jan - 23:21