Progressivism

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Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform. [1] Based on the idea of progress in which advancements in science, technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition, progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility from uncivilized conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society. [2] Figures of the Enlightenment believed that progress had universal application to all societies and that these ideas would spread across the world from Europe. [2]

Contents

The contemporary common political conception of progressivism emerged from the vast social changes brought about by industrialization in the Western world in the late-19th century. Progressives take the view that progress is being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor; minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism with monopolistic corporations; and the intense and often violent conflict between capitalists and workers, arguing that measures were needed to address these problems. [3]

The meanings of progressivism have varied over time and from different perspectives. Early-20th century progressivism was tied to eugenics [4] [5] [6] and the temperance movement, [7] [8] both of which were promoted in the name of public health and as initiatives toward that goal. Contemporary progressives promote public policies that they believe will lead to positive social change. In the 21st century, a movement that identifies as progressive is "a social or political movement that aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions". [9]

History

From the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution

Immanuel Kant Kant gemaelde 3.jpg
Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant identified progress as being a movement away from barbarism towards civilization. 18th-century philosopher and political scientist Marquis de Condorcet predicted that political progress would involve the disappearance of slavery, the rise of literacy, the lessening of sex inequality, prison reforms which at the time were harsh and the decline of poverty. [10]

Modernity or modernization was a key form of the idea of progress as promoted by classical liberals in the 19th and 20th centuries who called for the rapid modernization of the economy and society to remove the traditional hindrances to free markets and free movements of people. [11]

John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill by London Stereoscopic Company, c1870.jpg
John Stuart Mill

In the late 19th century, a political view rose in popularity in the Western world that progress was being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor, minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism with out-of-control monopolistic corporations, intense and often violent conflict between capitalists and workers, with a need for measures to address these problems. [12] Progressivism has influenced various political movements. Social liberalism was influenced by British liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill's conception of people being "progressive beings". [13] British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli developed progressive conservatism under one-nation Toryism. [14] [15]

In France, the space between social revolution and the socially-conservative laissez-faire centre-right was filled with the emergence of radicalism which thought that social progress required anti-clericalism, humanism and republicanism. Especially anti-clericalism was the dominant influence on the centre-left in many French- and Romance-speaking countries until the mid 20th-century. In Imperial Germany, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck enacted various progressive social welfare measures out of paternalistic conservative motivations to distance workers from the socialist movement of the time and as humane ways to assist in maintaining the Industrial Revolution. [16]

In 1891, the Roman Catholic Church encyclical Rerum novarum issued by Pope Leo XIII condemned the exploitation of labour and urged support for labour unions and government regulation of businesses in the interests of social justice while upholding the right to property and criticizing socialism. [17] A Protestant progressive outlook called the Social Gospel emerged in North America that focused on challenging economic exploitation and poverty and by the mid-1890s was common in many Protestant theological seminaries in the United States. [18]

Contemporary mainstream political conception

Theodore Roosevelt President Roosevelt - Pach Bros.jpg
Theodore Roosevelt

In the United States, progressivism began as a social movement in the 1890s and grew into a political movement in what was known as the Progressive Era. While the term American progressives represent a range of diverse political pressure groups (not always united), some American progressives rejected social Darwinism, believing that the problems society faced such as class warfare, greed, poverty, racism and violence could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment and an efficient workplace. Progressives lived mainly in the cities, were college educated and believed that government could be a tool for change. [19] President Theodore Roosevelt of the Republican Party and later the Progressive Party declared that he "always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand". [20]

Woodrow Wilson Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919.jpg
Woodrow Wilson

President Woodrow Wilson was also a member of the American progressive movement within the Democratic Party. Progressive stances have evolved over time. Imperialism was a controversial issue within progressivism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in the United States, where some progressives supported American imperialism while others opposed it. [21] In response to World War I, President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points established the concept of national self-determination and criticized imperialist competition and colonial injustices. These views were supported by anti-imperialists in areas of the world that were resisting imperial rule. [22]

During the period of acceptance of economic Keynesianism (1930s–1970s), there was widespread acceptance in many nations of a large role for state intervention in the economy. With the rise of neoliberalism and challenges to state interventionist policies in the 1970s and 1980s, centre-left progressive movements responded by adopting the Third Way that emphasized a major role for the market economy. [23] There have been social democrats who have called for the social-democratic movement to move past Third Way. [24] Prominent progressive conservative elements in the British Conservative Party have criticized neoliberalism. [25]

In the 21st century, progressives continue to favour public policy that reduces or ameliorates the harmful effects of economic inequality as well as systemic discrimination such as institutional racism; to advocate for environmentally conscious policies as well as for social safety nets and workers' rights; and to oppose the negative externalities inflicted on the environment and society by monopolies or corporate influence on the democratic process. The unifying theme is to call attention to the negative impacts of current institutions or ways of doing things and to advocate for social progress, i.e. for positive change as defined by any of several standards such expansion of democracy, increased egalitarianism in the form of economic and social equality as well as improved well being of a population. Proponents of social democracy have identified themselves as promoting the progressive cause. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, organic society, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as religion, parliamentary government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more traditional elements—reactionaries—oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".

Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Closely related to economic liberalism, it developed in the early 19th century, building on ideas from the previous century as a response to urbanisation and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America.

Liberal may refer to:

Right-wing politics holds the view that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or the competition in market economies. The term right-wing can generally refer to "the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system".

Neoliberalism Political philosophy that supports economic liberalization

Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism. It is generally associated with policies of economic liberalization including privatization, deregulation, globalization, free trade, austerity, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society; however, the defining features of neoliberalism, in both thought and practice, have been the subject of substantial scholarly debate. Neoliberalism constituted a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which had lasted from 1945 to 1980.

Laissez-faire is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are absent of any form of economic interventionism such as regulation and subsidies. As a system of thought, laissez-faire rests on the axioms that the individual is the basic unit in society and has a natural right to freedom; that the physical order of nature is a harmonious and self-regulating system; and that corporations are creatures of the state and therefore the citizens must watch them closely due to their propensity to disrupt the Smithian spontaneous order.

Social liberalism, also known as left liberalism in Germany, modern liberalism in the United States and new liberalism in the United Kingdom, is a political ideology and a variety of liberalism that endorses a regulated market economy and the expansion of civil and political rights. Under social liberalism, the common good is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual.

Liberal conservatism is a political ideology combining conservative policies with liberal stances, especially on economic, social and ethical issues, representing a brand of political conservatism strongly influenced by liberalism.

Progressivism in the United States is a political philosophy and reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century. Middle class and reformist in nature, it arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization such as the growth of large corporations, pollution and rampant corruption in American politics.

Economic progressivism is a political philosophy incorporating the socioeconomic principles of social democrats and political progressives. These views are often rooted in the concept of social justice and have the goal of improving the human condition through government regulation, social protections and the maintenance of public goods. It is not to be confused with the more general idea of progress in relation to economic growth.

Conservatism in the United States Origin, history and development of conservatism in the United States

Conservatism in the United States is a political and social philosophy characterized by respect for American traditions, republicanism, support for Christian values, moral universalism, pro-business, anti-labor union, anti-communism, pro-individualism, advocacy of American exceptionalism, and a defense of Western culture from the perceived threats posed by socialism, communism, and moral relativism.

Conservative liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining liberal values and policies with conservative stances, or simply representing the right wing of the liberal movement. It is a more positive and less radical variant of classical liberalism.

Modern liberalism in the United States Dominant version of liberalism in the United States

Modern liberalism in the United States is the dominant version of liberalism in the United States. It combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy. According to Ian Adams, all American parties are "liberal and always have been. They reportedly espouse classical liberalism, that is a form of democratized Whig constitutionalism plus the free market. The point of difference comes with the influence of social liberalism".

Right-libertarianism type of libertarianism supporting capitalist property rights and private natural resources

Right-libertarianism, also known as libertarian capitalism or right-wing libertarianism, is a political philosophy and type of libertarianism that supports capitalist property rights and defends market distribution of natural resources and private property. The term "right-libertarianism" is used to distinguish this class of views on the nature of property and capital from left-libertarianism, a type of libertarianism that combines self-ownership with an egalitarian approach to natural resources. In contrast to socialist libertarianism, right-libertarianism supports free-market capitalism. Like most forms of libertarianism, it supports civil liberties, especially natural law, negative rights and a major reversal of the modern welfare state.

Liberalism in the United States is a political philosophy centered on what liberals see as the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems and the separation of church and state, right to due process and equality under the law are widely accepted as a common foundation across the spectrum of liberal thought. It differs from liberalism elsewhere in the world because the United States has never had a resident hereditary aristocracy and as such avoided much of the class warfare that swept Europe. According to Ian Adams, "[a]ll American parties are liberal and always have been. Essentially, they espouse classical liberalism—that is, a form of democratized Whig constitutionalism, plus the free market. The point of difference comes with the influence of social liberalism".

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support free markets, free trade, limited government, individual rights, capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism.

Economic liberalism Capitalism that prioritizes individuals as consumers over collective institutions or NGOs

Economic liberalism is a political and economic philosophy based on strong support for a market economy and private property in the means of production. Although economic liberals can also be supportive of government regulation to a certain degree, they tend to oppose government intervention in the free market when it inhibits free trade and open competition. Economic liberalism has been described as representing the economic expression of liberalism.

Paternalistic conservatism is a strand in conservatism which reflects the belief that societies exist and develop organically and that members within them have obligations towards each other. There is particular emphasis on the paternalistic obligation of those who are privileged and wealthy to the poorer parts of society. Consistent with principles such as duty, hierarchy and organicism, it can be seen an outgrowth of traditionalist conservatism. Paternal conservatives support neither the individual nor the state in principle, but are instead prepared to support either or recommend a balance between the two depending on what is most practical.

<i>Illiberal Reformers</i> book by Thomas C. Leonard

Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era is a book written by Thomas C. Leonard and published by the Princeton University press which reevaluates several leading figures of the progressive era of American economics, and points out that many of the so-called "progressives" of the late 19th and early 20th century who created policies such as minimum wage and maximum-hours laws, workmen’s compensation, progressive income taxes and many others had beliefs rooted in Darwinism, racial science, and eugenics, revealing a dark underside to the economic reformers often considered by history to be the altruists in the story of American economic progression.

References

  1. "Progressivism in English". Oxford English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 21 March 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  2. 1 2 Harold Mah. Enlightenment Phantasies: Cultural Identity in France and Germany, 1750–1914. Cornell University. (2003). p. 157.
  3. Nugent, Walter (2010). Progressivism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN   9780195311068.
  4. Leonard, Thomas (2005). "Retrospectives: Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era" (PDF). Journal of Economic Perspectives. 19 (4): 207–224. doi:10.1257/089533005775196642. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. Freeden, Michael (2005). Liberal Languages: Ideological Imaginations and Twentieth-Century Progressive Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 144–165. ISBN   978-0691116778.
  6. Roll-Hansen, Nils (1989). "Geneticists and the Eugenics Movement in Scandinavia". The British Journal for the History of Science . 22 (3): 335–346. doi:10.1017/S0007087400026194. JSTOR   4026900. PMID   11621984.
  7. "Prohibition: A Case Study of Progressive Reform". Library of Congress . Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  8. James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900–1920 (1970)
  9. "Progressivism". The Cambridge English Dictionary. 24 June 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  10. Nisbet, Robert (1980). History of the Idea of Progress. New York: Basic Books. ch 5
  11. Joyce Appleby; Lynn Hunt & Margaret Jacob (1995). Telling the Truth about History. p. 78. ISBN   9780393078916.
  12. Nugent, Walter (2010). Progressivism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN   9780195311068.
  13. Alan Ryan. The Making of Modern Liberalism. p. 25.
  14. Patrick Dunleavy, Paul Joseph Kelly, Michael Moran. British Political Science: Fifty Years of Political Studies. Oxford, England, UK; Malden, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000. pp. 107–08.
  15. Robert Blake. Disraeli. Second Edition. London, England, UK: Eyre & Spottiswoode (Publishers) Ltd, 1967. p. 524.
  16. Union Contributions to Labor Welfare Policy and Practice: Past, Present, and Future. Routledge, 16, 2013. p. 172.
  17. Faith Jaycox. The Progressive Era. New York, New York: Infobase Publishing, 2005. p. 85.
  18. Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865–1915 (1940).
  19. he Progressive Era (1890–1920), The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project (retrieved 31 September 2014).
  20. Jonathan Lurie. William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. p. 196.
  21. Nugent, Walter (2010). Progressivism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 33. ISBN   9780195311068.
  22. Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson: Progressivism, Internationalism, War, and Peace. p. 309.
  23. Jane Lewis, Rebecca Surender. Welfare State Change: Towards a Third Way?. Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 3–4, 16.
  24. After the Third Way: The Future of Social Democracy in Europe. I. B. Taurus, 2012. p. 47.
  25. Hugh Bochel. The Conservative Party and Social Policy. The Policy Press, 2011. p. 108.
  26. Henning Meyer, Jonathan Rutherford. The Future of European Social Democracy: Building the Good Society. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. p. 108.
Bibliography