May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Progressivism: A Living Oxymoron, Liberty Through the Oppression of the State

In my Marxist days, I believed the best, if not the only, way to get the poor and sick taken care of was to have the government in charge of it. To get that done money had to be taken from rich folks to pay for taking care of the sick, and the poor were poor through no fault of their own, it was rich people’s fault. I was often poor, even homeless a couple times. Thing was, I found work, sometimes two jobs, and worked my way out of it. That I was poor was because of my own decisions. I returned to the Church and Christianity, and noted that faith tradition puts on each of us to help and heal the sick and help the poor, and with God’s guidance, do well for ourselves, usually by being in service to others. It’s not government’s responsibility; it’s mine and yours, personally.

If we’re the moral and ethical creatures we claim to be, then we take action on that, not get the political class to shake down producers in the name of the less fortunate. How did it come to be so many in a democracy give up personal responsibility for self and service and pass this ethical imperative to the State? That shift results in racism and oppression, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian bigotry, and yet nearly half our population mistakenly believes it’s Liberty that leads to those horrible things.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were a bunch of social scientists that came out of European economic thinking, mostly German, which stated economics should be, at its base, ethical. The leading thinker who was most influential in moving this notion forward was Richard Ely. His influence, (who knew?) served as the foundation of the New Deal, which in turn became the foundation for turning the US into a socialist state. All this was the “Progressive” Movement. Ely said, “To the demands of ethics, it is felt, should the entire economic life be made subservient.” He talked about this being the “ethical ideal” of social ethics. The “ethical ideal” he said “animates the new political economy”. It’s “the most perfect development of all human faculties in each individual, which can be attained.” From this he contended the government would foster, create and increase in people more love, knowledge, compassion and whatever else he and his fellow progressives decided would make better human beings.

This takes away individual freedom, which he pronounced a “negative freedom”, and needs to be replaced by “true liberty” which prompts us to become the most we can be by being forced to be in the service of others. Jesus taught us that service is the highest expression of our humanity, and those that willingly serve were “the greatest among you”. Ely and his fellow progressives did not, and progressives now (aka Democrats and other Leftists) do not believe people capable of that, so must be compelled by the State to “serve” others. A result of that is Progressives think taking care of others is best done by becoming a member of the political class, not going out and actually personally caring for others.

When mere people are left to their own devices, there’s a cycle of lots of help and service, down to less, up to more. Things run in cycles. Things get better, things get worse and so it continues; Natural Law. Progressives contend this isn’t a good thing, and by them controlling everyone, making them be of “service”, then that natural law can be stopped, and only then can things get “progressively” better in a linear manner.
People need, of course, to be trained on how to become servants of the State, often referred to as “the masses” (hate that term, but it makes Leftists, Dems and progressives easily identifiable) before they are granted the right to be contributors to the social good. One group especially needing extra guidance was and is our Black brothers and sisters. Some races needed extra guidance, and rejected the idea of the Founding Fathers that all men are created equal. Ely again: “For a long time in this country we were inclined to regard men as substantially equal, and to suppose that all could live under the same economic and political institutions. It now becomes plain that this is a theory which works disaster, and is, indeed, cruel to those who are in the lower stages, resulting in their exploitation and degradation.”  Of course non-whites need not apply for personal Liberty. White people must educate them how to be free.

The colonial occupation or the imperialism of the late 18th and early 20th century American foreign policy was a result of this notion than lesser races needed help from those more enlightened. Albert Beveridge, a progressive leader of the early 20th century, on the idea America should withdraw from the Philippines: “Self-government is a method of liberty — the highest, simplest, best — but it is acquired only after centuries of study and struggle and experiment and instruction and all the elements of the progress of man. Self-government is no base and common thing to be bestowed on the merely audacious. It is the degree which crowns the graduate of liberty, not the name of liberty’s infant class, who have not yet mastered the alphabet of freedom. Savage blood, Oriental blood, Malay blood, Spanish example — are these the elements of self-government?”

Back in the US, Progressives were against the 15th amendment which denied government, state, local or federal, to deny the right of citizens to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. Another Progressive leader at the time, John R Commons, on the notion that everyone should have a right to vote: “…after many thousand years of savagery and two centuries of slavery, was suddenly let loose into the liberty of citizenship and the electoral suffrage. The world never before had seen such a triumph of dogmatism and partisanship. It was dogmatism, because a theory of abstract equality and inalienable rights of man took the place of education and the slow evolution of moral character.” 

These “progressives” actually advocated putting African Americans in labor camps and while their parents were “laboring” put their children in “progressive" schools to learn how to be free. As Blacks became more educated they could be released from the labor camps, after passing a “literacy test”. Does that sound familiar? That idea was used by Democrats in the South well into the 20th century to oppress the Black vote. Here’s the justification for labor camps, written by another “progressive” leader of the time, Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “…Given: in the same country, Race A, progressed in social evolution, say, to Status 10; and Race B, progressed in social evolution, say, to Status 4. . . . Given: that Race B, in its present condition, does not develop fast enough to suit Race A. Question: How can Race A best and most quickly promote the development of Race B?”

Fredrick Douglas protested this, saying it was re-enslaving Blacks. Gilman’s response that it isn’t enslavement: “It is no dishonor but an honorable employment from the first, and the rapid means of advancement. . . . All should belong to it — all, that is, below the grade of efficiency which needs no care. For the children — this is the vital base of the matter — a system of education, the best we have, should guarantee the fullest development possible to each; from the carefully appointed nursery and kindergarten up to the trade school fitting the boy or girl for life; or, if special capacity be shown, for higher education.”

Setting Blacks in camps is segregation, promoted and practiced by Democrats well into the 20th century; segregated schools, restaurants, bathrooms, drinking fountains. Literacy tests. The idea Blacks were inferior, that not all men are created equal, is a Leftist, Progressive, idea, promoted and practiced by the Democrat Party. This idea lasted even into the 1960’s when a majority of Democrats voted against the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Bills. More on the Racism and violence of the Democrat Party here.

All the programs that have bankrupted this country morally, culturally, religiously, and economically can be laid at the feet of “Progressives”, Leftists, Socialists, and the Democrat Party. W.W. Willoughby, another shining light of this philosophy of oppression of the State being true freedom, on the attributes of the State: “…that which first impresses one . . . is its possession of omnipotent rulership over all matters that arise between itself and the individuals of which it is composed.”

“Omnipotent Rulership”. The Left, Democrats…they decide, not you, how you behave, what decisions you make in your life, who you care about, how you care about them, how your serve your fellow man or not, how much of your income you get to keep.

This is a summary of and my thoughts on an article by Tiffany Jones Miller, "Progressivism, Race, and the Training Wheels of Freedom"

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