Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Progressivism's Dark Past That We Keep Forgetting About

~The first generation of American economists were not laissez-faire capitalists, as an observer might reasonably imagine based on the current state of the field. In fact, they were anything but. “As Christians they judged laissez faire to be morally unsound,” Leonard writes, “and as economists they declared it functionally obsolete.” The British (think Adam Smith) model was unsuited for the era of railroads, labor unions, and scientific management. They much preferred the German idea of society as a single organism. Granted the premise that individuals were shaped by the nation and not the other way around, progressive economists had to decide who would run the country. These people had to be unbiased, scientific, brilliant, and out for the public good. The progressive economists decided on themselves.~

The sorts of sentiments and thoughts found above are no great surprise to anyone familiar with the period.  Still, it seems that every few years that this sort of thing is unearthed about the Progressive Era and its adherents, which means that some forgetting is going on. That eugenics is at the heart of this also not be surprising; there was definitely an atavism to the concept that held mainly people strongly - be it Theodore Roosevelt or John Maynard Keynes.  And that atavism came with a series of attitudes about the state of humanity and how certain classes fit into such (based on all manner of arational bits of snobbery) - this logic leading to sterilization campaigns and worse.  

It has long been my thought that WWII and the experiences with the blood lands created by both Hitler and Stalin gave lots of people pause about the lengths they were willing to go to forgo individual liberty in the face of the so called logic of the state.  Indeed, it isn't surprising that much of the modern attachment of the Bill of Rights to state action (both at the federal and state level) as it applied to speech, "minorities" (think the _Carolene Products_ famous footnote), etc. occurs during the 1930s onward.  

I've added this to the pile of future readings.

Found here: