The Truth About Progressivism

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservatism
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

As I sat pondering the primary reasons for the abject failure of progressivism it finally occurred to me. Progressivism, and its natural end collectivism, fail because it always results in society finding its lowest common denominator.

Progressives, socialists, leftist democrats, or any other variant of the altruistic mentality will of course disagree. Which is quite to be expected. And it is quite alright. After all each must find that which trips their trigger.

Having said the above...  some thought provoking points from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
While Franklin Delano Roosevelt narrowly missed being Time Magazine’s "Man of the Century," there is no doubt that the man who prolonged the Great Depression and helped lay the groundwork for World War II looms large in the consciousness of statist journalists and historians. Although FDR’s role in the Second World War is of utmost importance to the pundits, his main historical role seems to be the New Deal, which permanently established the welfare/warfare state in this country.

Contrary to popular belief, FDR’s New Deal was not the most significant legislative period of the 20th Century. In fact, had it not been for the reign of Progressivism more than two decades earlier, Franklin Roosevelt would simply have been a relatively obscure governor of New York, known more for being a distant cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt.

The New Deal did not rise out of a vacuum. Rather, the New Deal — and the subsequent canonization of FDR — came about as the result of the legal, bureaucratic, and intellectual framework that was laid down during the Progressive Era of the early 1900s.

Without Progressivism, the New Deal would and never could have come into existence. The vast expansion of the state apparatus that occurred during the 1930s moved along tracks already laid by politicians like Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. By the mid-1930s, the New Deal, far from being a legislative aberration, naturally followed the economic crisis that Progressivism had caused.

Just what was Progressivism, what were its causes, and what followed from the Progressive Movement? Historians refer to it as an influential social movement that began in the late 1800s and ended with the United State’s 1917 entry into World War I.


If this era is known for impressive economic accomplishments, it is also known for its journalistic excesses. Not only did William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer conspire to inflame Americans with war fever against Spain in 1898, but a group of writers called muckrakers created a false picture of life in the United States.

In fact, it seems that one of the most insidious things to come from the Progressive Era was the wedding of mainstream journalism and statism. The formerly independent journalist now became a flack for expansion of the power of the state, as the chief "beat" of news reporters became the various government agencies.


Nor was Progressivism the domain of just one political party, as both Republicans and Democrats vied with each other to see who could more thoroughly expand the state. Republicans, led by Theodore Roosevelt and Sen. Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin, pushed for high tariffs, government ownership of natural resources, antitrust legislation, and imperialistic adventures abroad.

Democrats, on the other hand, led by William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson, pushed the income tax, inflation through debasement of the money supply, and the internal protectionist device known as Jim Crow laws, which attempted to shield white workers from competition from blacks. Both parties favored expansion of voting rights to women. What is clear is that neither party had any intention of honoring the U.S. Constitution.

In fact, the Progressive Era would not have had its social and legal effect had it not been for its reworking of the Constitution through the amendment process. The 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th amendments reworked the political landscape and greatly expanded the scope of the central government, one of the main goals of progressives. The 16th Amendment was probably the worst, as it authorized Congress for the first time to levy an income tax that would not be struck down by the Supreme Court.

The 17th Amendment took power of appointment of U.S. senators from the state legislatures and and placed it in the hands of voters. This further helped make the states subservient to the national agenda of progressives.


The imposition of the income tax was a green light for unbridled growth of the central government by allowing politicians to confiscate willy-nilly the property of individuals — and especially the property of the most productive citizens. Prohibition further increased the power of the central government over the property of Americans, while the other two amendments permanently altered the delicate balance of powers that the framers of the Constitution so painstakingly laid out in 1787.


After the Fed-induced crash of 1929, President Herbert Hoover, a favorite of a large number of Progressives, decided to take a non laissez-faire approach to the economic downturn that followed the crash. Within a couple of years, Hoover had openly urged business owners to keep wages and prices artificially high, signed the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Tariff into law and oversaw the doubling of tax rates. As Rothbard noted in America’s Great Depression, all of these measures took what would have been a brief recession and turned it into the greatest economic calamity in U.S. history.

That Progressivism ultimately led to the Great Depression should be obvious. Not surprisingly, Franklin Roosevelt chose to expand the powers of the state. Not surprisingly, his actions prolonged the depression. And, not surprisingly, the Progressivist propaganda machine was able to convince the public that the solution lay not in elimination of government intervention, but rather in further expansion of government.


Just as the political classes turned liberalism upon its head with Liberalism, so have Progressivists undermined the meaning of progress. The rise of humanity from its existence of perpetual poverty to the modern standard of living has occurred precisely because people were free to dream, invent, and invest. Real progress has happened because the stifling chains of government were removed from people. It is false Progress which seeks to reimpose those shackles. {Read Full Article}

Perhaps through education, a rational understanding of history, as well as applying logic and reasoned thought we can turn the nation around.

Those who truly understand the meaning of liberty must stand firm against  the never ending onslaught of the progressive statist  movement.

Via: Memeorandum


  1. Oh God! Stop it with the totalitarian communism Ceausescu insanity already! We liberals, and I think I safely speak for all of them here, do not want that and are not proferring anything that could even remotely be like that!

    I just wrote a post ( ) about the kinds of priorities our government should now have. This isn't communism, man, this is necessity and responsibility to future generations. We can do this without harming the American way of life. It's Common Sense 2011.


  2. You are wrong.
    Progressives helped make this the greatest country in the World. It took money.
    The fact that the selfish attitude now prevails, is why this country is in the financial mess that it is.

  3. JMJ - You, as all progressives do, entirely miss the point. You have been thoroughly conditions to follow the as all sheeples have.

  4. Anon - No Anon, you are wrong. Absolutely and positively wrong.

    The gentleman from the Mises Institute has more brain powwe than JMJ and you combined.

    And the rest of the progressive sheeples as well!


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