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 those perceived to be privileged and unprivileged, arguing that measures were needed to address these problems. [3]

The meaning of progressivism has varied over time and differs depending on perspective. Early-20th century progressivism was tied to eugenics and the temperance movement, both of which were promoted in the name of public health and as initiatives toward that goal. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] 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 to the philosophy

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Theodore Roosevelt

In the United States, progressivism began as an intellectual rebellion against the political philosophy of Constitutionalism [19] as expressed by John Locke and the founders of the American Republic, whereby the authority of government depends on observing limitations on its just powers. [20] What began as a social movement in the 1890s, grew into a popular political movement referred to as the Progressive era; in the 1912 United States presidential election, all three U.S. presidential candidates claimed to be progressives. While the term progressivism represent a range of diverse political pressure groups, not always united, 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. [21] 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". [22]

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. [23] 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. [24]

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. [25] There have been social democrats who have called for the social-democratic movement to move past Third Way. [26] Prominent progressive conservative elements in the British Conservative Party have criticized neoliberalism. [27]

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 as 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. [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Classical liberalism is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism that 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 urbanization and to the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America.

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Social liberalism, also known as left liberalism in Germany, new liberalism in the United Kingdom, modern liberalism in the United States, and progressive liberalism in Spanish speaking countries is a political philosophy and variety of liberalism that endorses a social market economy within an individualist 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.

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Centre-right politics Politics that lean to the right of the spectrum, but closer to centre than others

Centre-right politics or center-right politics, also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the right of the political spectrum, but are closer to the centre than others. From the 1780s to the 1880s, there was a shift in the Western world of social class structure and the economy, moving away from the nobility and mercantilism, toward the upper class and capitalism. This general economic shift toward capitalism affected centre-right movements, such as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, which responded by becoming supportive of capitalism.

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 or fiscalprogressivism is a political and economic 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 is a political and social philosophy which characteristically prioritizes American traditions, republicanism, and limited federal governmental power in relation to the states, referred to more simply as limited government and states' rights. It typically supports Judeo-Christian values, moral universalism, American exceptionalism, and individualism. It is generally pro-capitalist and pro-business while opposing trade unions. It often advocates for a strong national defense, gun rights, free trade, and a defense of Western culture from perceived threats posed by communism, socialism, and moral relativism.

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Liberalism in the United States is a political and moral philosophy based on concepts of unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the separation of church and state, the right to due process and equality under the law are widely accepted as a common foundation of liberalism. It differs from liberalism worldwide because the United States has never had a resident hereditary aristocracy and avoided much of the class warfare that characterized Europe. According to Ian Adams, "all US 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" and the proper role of government.

Political ideologies in the United States

Political ideologies in the United States include various ideologies and ideological demographics in the United States. Citizens in the United States generally classify themselves as adherent to positions along the left–right political spectrum as either liberal, progressive, moderate, or conservative. Modern American liberalism aims at the preservation and extension of human, social and civil rights as well as the government guaranteed provision of positive rights. It combines social progressivism and to some extent ordoliberalism and is highly similar to European social liberalism. American conservatism commonly refers to a combination of economic liberalism and social conservatism. It aims at protecting the concepts of small government and individual liberty while promoting traditional values on some social issues.

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 individual rights, democracy, secularism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and a market economy. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism.

Centre-left politics or center-left politics, also referred to as moderate-left politics, are political views that lean to the left-wing on the left–right political spectrum, but closer to the centre than other left-wing politics. Those on the centre-left believe in working within the established systems to improve social justice. The centre-left promotes a degree of social equality that it believes is achievable through promoting equal opportunity. The centre-left emphasizes that the achievement of equality requires personal responsibility in areas in control by the individual person through their abilities and talents as well as social responsibility in areas outside control by the person in their abilities or talents.

References

Citations

  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. "Prohibition: A Case Study of Progressive Reform". Library of Congress . Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  5. 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)
  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. Freeden, Michael (2005). Liberal Languages: Ideological Imaginations and Twentieth-Century Progressive Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 144–165. ISBN   978-0691116778.
  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. Waluchow, Wil (17 August 2018). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  20. Watson, Bradley (2020). Progressivism : the strange history of a radical idea. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. p. 11. ISBN   978-0268106973.
  21. "The Progressive Era (1890–1920)". The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. Archived 20 January 2020 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 31 September 2014.
  22. Jonathan Lurie. William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. p. 196.
  23. Nugent, Walter (2010). Progressivism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 33. ISBN   9780195311068.
  24. Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson: Progressivism, Internationalism, War, and Peace. p. 309.
  25. Jane Lewis, Rebecca Surender. Welfare State Change: Towards a Third Way?. Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 3–4, 16.
  26. After the Third Way: The Future of Social Democracy in Europe. I. B. Taurus, 2012. p. 47.
  27. Hugh Bochel. The Conservative Party and Social Policy. The Policy Press, 2011. p. 108.
  28. Henning Meyer, Jonathan Rutherford. The Future of European Social Democracy: Building the Good Society. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. p. 108.

Sources