Origins of Progressivism/New Liberalism

A place to debate non-current political and media topics.

Origins of Progressivism/New Liberalism

Unread postby Cedarstrip » Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:49 pm

I recently did some research trying to achieve a fuller understanding of the philosophy that motivates the Democratic party. It had always seemed rather irrational to me. It was clear that the Democratic leadership was well educated; at least they had attended major universities, had their graduate degrees, etc. I had read quite a bit about the Founding Fathers and understood why they promoted limited government. I didn't understand the motivation behind the drive for bigger government and weaker international standing, etc.

My first feeling of understanding came from reading "A Conflict of Visions" by Thomas Sowell. It is a rather difficult read unless you are interested in philosophy. It follows mainstream philosophy from before the American Revolution up to current times. I recommend it highly if you want an in-depth understanding. I decided to write a condensed historical look at the evolution of these ideas intermingled with the historical events that helped to shape them. The results of my effort are posted on-line and available to all. See

My work got somewhat longer than I originally expected. I found a number of surprising aspects to major events in the 20th century that I had to include. You may find it interesting.
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:45 pm

Origins of Progressivism/New Liberalism



Re: Origins of Progressivism/New Liberalism

Unread postby treadmill » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:42 pm

To me new liberalism/progressivism is a product of the 30s - 50s period. The 1930s taught many people the wrong notion that America (in its traditional state) was a bad country, the personification of this being the great depression. On the other hand, many also took home the wrong lesson that FDR's socialism/statism got us out of the depression (and was a good thing). Liberalism waned during the war years (personifying itself in the form of praising "Uncle Joe" Stalin and as ally). After the war, there were a whole crop of authors like James Jones and Norman Mailer who wrote "gritty" accounts of the war, delving into moral equivalency between America and the enemy and, in general, highlighting the general horrow of war (irregardless of the cause - and that is important). During the 1950s, you also had a whole teenaged generation who rebelled against authority and were in stark contrast to their patriotic parents. The worst part of this "50s rebellion' was thr popularization of the "beatnick' community, eventually mainstreaming it through the early '70s until it became the predominant culture of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Anti-Americanism, communism, and many other anti-social "isms" became "cool" among young people - innocent teenage rebellion morphing, due to media exaggeration and promotion, into a potent force in modern society. it didn't help that many of the best musicians and artists (who were superbly talented in their individual crafts0 were extraordinarily stupid when it came to politics. The mix of socialist politics and music was a potent force to be reackoned with. The Democratic party, always a superficial entity (they will elect any presidential candidate with charisma and a Kennedy hair helmet, for heaven's sake), made the path of progressivism to legitimacy complete when it eventually nominated Bill Clinton as presidential candidate. asauge the country's liberal promoted collective guilt over race, the country elected the current president, arguable a Marxist and certainly one of the least skilled presidents ever elected, purely based on his charisma and race. To sum it up, folks, progressivism has gradually come to dominance in the country. We are in deep do-do, gang!!
Media observer
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:05 am

Re: Origins of Progressivism/New Liberalism

Unread postby WeaponOfMassInstruction » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:47 pm


You're on the right track, I think, but you need to go back a few more decades to the turn of the 19th-to-20th century.

If you can find the December 31st, 2009 edition of National Review, I strongly urge you to purchase it. The cover article is "The Four Horsemen Of Progressivism: The Men Who Created Our World". Those four are:

Richard Ely (intellectual/religion)- profiled by Jonah Goldberg

Oliver Wendell Holmes (SCOTUS)- profiled by Bradley C. S. Watson

John Dewey (intellectual/educator)- profiled by Tiffany Jones Miller

Herbert Crowly (founder of The New Republic)- profiled by Fred Siegel

All of these men did their damage to the fabric of this country from the period of roughly 1890 to the 1920s (Dewey a bit later in the 1930s). All were influenced strongly by the autocratic governments then extant in Europe, particularly Bismark's Germany. All were convinced that the United States would be best run by a small group of intellectual elite with a virulently leftist ideology and an arrogance that befitted their self-importance. All of them would be thrilled to serve in Barack Obama's cabinet because, in him, they see a kindred spirit.
"Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views."
William F. Buckley, Jr.
User avatar
Mod Team
Posts: 3854
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2005 5:38 pm
Location: Alabama

Return to Historical Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest