Skip to comments.How progressivism reverses socialism, and how progressivism drew in innocent supporters
Posted on 05/19/2021 6:13:56 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
In the course of reading the works of progressivism, it's not uncommon for these elitists to portray how better they are compared to everyone else.
That includes the progressives' elitism against socialists.
Taft's running mate in 1912, Nicholas Murray Butler wrote quite the scathing anti-socialist work in 1907 called "True and False Democracy" in which he wrote the following: (source)
The socialist propaganda, never more seriously or more ably carried on than now, is an earnest and sincere attempt to escape from conditions that are burdensome and unhappy. Despite its most imperfect interpretation of the economic significance of history and its ringing the changes on a misleading theory of class consciousness, this propaganda makes an appeal to our favorable judgment because its proclaimed motive is to help the mass of mankind. No just man can quarrel with its aim, but few readers of history or students of human nature can approve its programme. What is it that socialism aims to accomplish by restricting liberty in order to promote economic equality? It seeks to accomplish what it conceives to be a juster economic and political condition. At bottom and without special reference to immediate concrete proposals, socialism would substitute for individual initiative collective and corporate responsibility in matters relating to property and production, in the hope thereby of correcting and overcoming the evils which attach to an individualism run wild. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the corporate or collective responsibility which it would substitute for individual initiative is only such corporate or collective responsibility as a group of these very same individuals could exercise. Therefore, socialism is primarily an attempt to overcome man's individual imperfections by adding them together, in the hope that they will cancel each other. This is not only bad mathematics, but worse psychology. In pursuing a formula, socialism fails to take account of the facts.
Wow. Kind of almost makes you want to be a progressive now doesn't it? No. Not really. Just because he nails the socialists - unfortunately, that's not good enough. He spends plenty of time in this book(which I didn't quote) explaining why we need to murder free markets and put government in control of everything as well. What you end up with is this. When you see two bad people fighting, sometimes just letting them go until one kills the other is the only viable option. But in reality, we have to give Americans 100 years ago the benefit of the doubt for siding with the progressives.
This was written in 1907 at a time when Americans didn't really know the deceitful goals of progressivism but knew enough of the dangers of socialism. That is why its easy to understand how well meaning people could find themselves roped into becoming ardent supporters of statism(progressivism) under the guise of putting a stop to statism(socialism). Looking at that statement it seems completely nonsensical, yet it's exactly what happened. Sometimes, I fear that very same thing is happening again today - embracing statism to stop statism.
In any case, Butler ran with Taft in 1912 and was the Vice President on the ticket on election day. Think of that. A republican wrote this stuff. Not that that's exactly some big time surprise, the GOP was the hardcore progressive party at the turn of the century and it was the GOP who gave America it's first progressive president.
However, as to the honesty of progressives in 1912 did they run on a platform of "elect us and we'll erect the best aristocracy you'll ever see!"(see the next book quote) No, they did not. They lied, as all progressives do. They tell the truth in their books - they tell the truth to each other - you can find honesty with progressives if you dig for it. But outside of doors, all progressives are liars. He continued:
True democracy will carry on an insistent search for these wisest and best, and will elevate them to posts of leadership and command. Under the operation of the law of liberty, it will provide itself with real leaders, not limited by rank, or birth, or wealth, or circumstance, but opening the way for each individual to rise to the place of honor and influence by the expression of his own best and highest self. It will exactly reverse the communistic formula, “From each according to his abilities, To each according to his needs," and will uphold the principle, “From each according to his needs, To each according to his abilities.” It will take care to provide such a ladder of education and opportunity that the humblest may rise to the very top if he is capable and worthy. The most precious thing in the world is the individual human mind and soul, with its capacity for growth and service. To bind it fast to a formula, to hold it in check to serve the selfish ends of mediocrity, to deny it utterance and expression, political, economic, and moral, is to make democracy impossible as a permanent social and governmental form.
The United States is in sore need to-day of an aristocracy of intellect and service. Because such an aristocracy does not exist in the popular consciousness, we are bending the knee in worship to the golden calf of money. The form of monarchy and its pomp offer a valuable foil to the worship of money for its own sake. A democracy must provide itself with a foil of its own, and none is better or more effective than an aristocracy of intellect and service recruited from every part of our democratic life. We must put behind us the fundamental fallacy that equality is demanded by justice. The contrary is the case. Justice demands inequality as a condition of liberty and as a means of rewarding each according to his merits and deserts.
We have the progressives "aristocracy" of "intellect and service"(the elites) today 120 years later. The so called best and brightest rule over us daily and disregard all of our political wishes. Note how he causally uses that word "command". There are hundreds of abc soup agencies and bureaucracies representing this "aristocracy of intellect and service" in "command" of your life. In this sense, Butler was quite Wilsonian in his outlook. That's what Woodrow Wilson also believed in, and wrote about the need for governmental agencies on a constant basis. Wilson's right hand man Edward House wrote the book Philip Dru: Administrator - and what is the book about? Administrators! An "aristocracy of intellect and service" in "command" of your every minute - the dream of progressives everywhere. It all comes full circle with these horrible people.
This book gives us a good and concise insight as to why progressives spawn a deep state in lieu of outright nationalization of private property. And if they're not going to put government in "command" of the means of production, what use do they have for puny socialism? No wonder they constantly talk bad about it. They want aristocracy, they want experts, they want you serving them as your commanders. Confiscation of property is outmoded in their view and in reality, progressives are indeed correct (in their own sinister way) that if they put enough rules in place, if they just create enough regulations, if they just establish enough "command" then they have achieved ownership without ownership. What they don't need is their name on the title. They've successfully circumvented that obstacle.
Hillsdale College's Constitution 201 series describes progressivism as "bureacratic despotism" and it's a great summary of the difference between progressivism and socialism.
It is where we are.
All of the LEFT’s “ism”s have the same goal: tyranny.
Implementation details are important.
If we can’t even explain it then we can’t fight against it.
Reverses? How about revises?
If Reagan’s classic words in summary weren’t sufficient, nothing will change (in fact, it’s gotten worse).
“I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
I view those 9 words as an IQ test and I loathe anyone who fails that simple test.
In fairness to Butler, people didn't have a clear idea of where and how far his "aristocracy" of "intellect and service" would go. Was it just more responsible corporate and government leaders (in contrast to the "robber barons" and machine politicians) and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, or did it involve still greater elite control of society and the economy?
That is why its easy to understand how well meaning people could find themselves roped into becoming ardent supporters of statism (progressivism) under the guise of putting a stop to statism (socialism).
True. People kept the French Revolution in mind, and wanted to use reform and government action to prevent something like that from happening again.
Looking at that statement it seems completely nonsensical, yet it's exactly what happened. Sometimes, I fear that very same thing is happening again today - embracing statism to stop statism.
That is because socialism (in spite of the enthusiasm of Millennials and college kids) isn't likely to happen. What you're seeing is elites embracing statism. It's not seen as a middle of the road alternative anymore. It is seen as the left, because what people once thought of as socialism, the rule of the industrial workers, isn't in the cards.
Interesting article:The Rise of Corporate-State Tyranny.
It seems those who are the worst once in power are those who want it he most and get it.
There is no better economic system than Economic Freedom, backed by Private Property and stable money.
Everything else tried has failed, often horrifically.
Indeed evidence of if you don’t fight it you embrace it fence sitting is a dangerous thing.
I’ve not seen where socialists have given up on the dream of government control over the means of production. Confiscation, expropriation of property, total control. I think that’s still a thing for them.
"In fairness to Butler"
Nah. Butler was an insider. College professors always are and have been since the progressive era. He isn't calling for anything that any other progressive in the professor's lounge called for. The only progressives who really deserve fairness are those who don't get to be in the insider meetings. The average voter, a protester who randomly joins a rally but isn't in with the organizer clique or union boss inner circle. As some would say, a member of the great unwashed.
Aristocracy was an ideal thousands of years old. To think that none of them had at any one time read some Aristotle or Plato or any other who wrote about such or similar things doesn't pass the test.
"Was it just more responsible corporate and government leaders (in contrast to the "robber barons" and machine politicians) and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, or did it involve still greater elite control of society and the economy?"
I can't fathom how you separated the FDA from the scheme of greater elite control of society, or if I misread that I apologize. Are you really of the opinion that it's some paragon of benevolent deep state activity? In a sane world the FDA would've required a constitutional amendment. Out here in reality, progressives use the Constitution as toilet paper. The ends justify the means. ANY means.
"People kept the French Revolution in mind, and wanted to use reform and government action to prevent something like that from happening again."
I'm not aware of many progressives who focused so intently on the French Revolution. Not sure where this comes from.
Most of the progressives I've read had a heavy focus on the Civil War,(it was only 40-odd years out for them) and specifically how Reconstruction could be truely reconstructive. To be fair, I have probably had my head in Herbert Croly's book for far too long. But luckily, that audiobook will be complete in just a few months here and I can move on.
In Promise of American Life, Croly has whole chapters on how government and bureaucracy and experts can be used to remould and "reconstruct" society in ways totally perverted from Reconstruction following the Civil War. All of that stuff was temporary. Progressives intended to do things expressly for the purpose of expanding government without end and without limits. In Promise there are three full chapters about Reconstruction(nothing to do with the Civil War) and the word shows up in the Gutenberg transcript 28 times.
"What you're seeing is elites embracing statism. It's not seen as a middle of the road alternative anymore."
I wish that were true. The embrace is happening among regular people, and in particular there is a zeal to weaponize government agencies for use against Big Tech companies. In theory that makes some sense if all things would be equal, but Facebook sees being regulated and turned into a utility as the path toward immortality. In reality, they are correct it is the path toward immortality. That's not the only example of embracing statism but it's just by far the easiest to point out and easiest to recognize. This is the middle embracing statism. It's extremely alarming.
There is Woodrow Wilson's essay on "Edmund Burke and the French Revolution" and Theodore Roosevelt's book on Gouverneur Morris, our minister in France during the Terror.
Theodore Roosevelt certainly thought a lot about the French Revolution:
It would be well if our people would study the history of a sister republic. All the woes of France for a century and a quarter have been due to the folly of her people in splitting into the two camps of unreasonable conservatism and unreasonable radicalism. Had pre-Revolutionary France listened to men like Turgot, and backed them up, all would have gone well. But the beneficiaries of privilege, the Bourbon reactionaries, the shortsighted ultra-conservatives, turned down Turgot; and then found that instead of him they had obtained Robespierre. They gained twenty years' freedom from all restraint and reform, at the cost of the whirlwind of the red terror; and in their turn the unbridled extremists of the terror induced a blind reaction; and so, with convulsion and oscillation from one extreme to another, with alternations of violent radicalism and violent Bourbonism, the French people went through misery toward a shattered goal. May we profit by the experiences of our brother republicans across the water, and go forward steadily, avoiding all wild extremes; and may our ultra-conservatives remember that the rule of the Bourbons brought on the Revolution, and may our would-be revolutionaries remember that no Bourbon was ever such a dangerous enemy of the people and of freedom as the professed friend of both, Robespierre. -- Theodore Roosevelt, "The Right of People to Rule," an address originally delivered at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on March 20, 1912
Roosevelt thought a lot about the French Revolution, even in everyday conversation:
I remember one occasion when he had asked me to meet a group of men from California to talk about Bret Harte and Kipling. Bret Harte and Kipling were, however, never mentioned. He said suddenly, turning with the air of ferocious earnestness which he sometimes assumed to one of these gentlemen, who was recommending to him a San Francisco friend, ‘No, sir! Your man is a French Revolutionist.’
The three Californians were evidently shocked. They were men of cultivation and influence. As a friend of Mr. Roosevelt’s, I thought it was my duty to see that he did not offend them, so I tried the ‘phrase.’
‘You mean,’ I said, ‘Mr. Roosevelt, that he is of the type of Camille DesMoulins, not of the type of Marat or Robespierre.’
I knew the name would catch him. ‘Certainly,’ he said. And he dashed into a sketch of Camille Desmoulins, bringing in a quotation from Hilaire Belloc’s Danton, which pleased everybody.
After they had gone, he roared with laughter. ‘Your phrase,’ he said, ‘saved that situation for me and drew me off the track. I am not sure at all that their man isn’t a mixture of Marat and Robespierre.’ But he bore no malice, and chuckled several times afterwards at the effect of the interpolation. -- "Theodore Roosevelt in Retrospect," Maurice Francis Eagan, The Atlantic, May 1919.
The other great historical preoccupation of Roosevelt and his contemporaries, like Brooks Adams, was the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of Caesarism. Roosevelt saw his activities as a way of preventing something like that as well.
Butler was an insider. College professors always are and have been since the progressive era.
In the early 20th century there was a tension between universities and corporations. Just how that translated into politics varied. Some professors and university presidents wanted to remake society. Others turned their back on the modern market system and retreated from political engagements. Still others put their energies into moralizing uplift. Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Princeton believed that they were educating "the best men," and wanted "the best men" to have more say in how the country was run. What that meant for politics and government wasn't always clear. It must have meant more government than we had at the time, but how far that would go, and whether we'd consider what was advocated to be illegitimate is not that easy to say.
"Roosevelt saw his activities as a way of preventing something like that as well."
Yeah, a real legend in his own mind. With just his outsized use of executive orders alone what he ended up setting up was that very thing. Obama's as well as Biden's first few months here with the end-run of executive orders are a very faithful and painful continuation of TR's ruinous activity. He was proud of it too, in the full arrogance of progressivism that we've come to expect:
I did not usurp power, but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power. In other words, I acted for the public welfare, I acted for the common well-being of all our people, whenever and in whatever manner was necessary, unless prevented by direct constitutional or legislative prohibition.
"Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Princeton believed that they were educating "the best men," and wanted "the best men" to have more say in how the country was run."
They still do. Universities are not a place where people learn. Universities are a place where social evolutionaries(spelling intentional) are specially trained operatives and their real specialty is infiltration and if necessary, overthrow.
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