Contemporary theory updating older perspectives
We are obliged "to respect those rights in others which we value in ourselves" (Jefferson).
Among my teachers were some very impressive men: Walter Berns, Allan Bloom, Harry Jaffa, Martin Diamond, Harry Neumann, and Leo Strauss.There are, of course, many different representations of Progressivism: the literature of Upton Sinclair, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the history of Charles Beard, the educational system of John Dewey.In politics and political thought, the movement is associated with political leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt and thinkers such as Herbert Croly and Charles Merriam.But I would like first to emphasize how different is the assessment of Progressivism presented in our book, The Progressive Revolution, from the understanding that prevails among most scholars.It is not much of an exaggeration to say that few scholars, especially among students of American political thought, regard the Progressive Era as having any lasting significance in American history.The remarks stem from the publication of The Progressive Revolution in Politics and Political Science (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), to which Dr. When I speak of Progressivism, I mean the movement that rose to prominence between about 18.
In a moment I will turn to the content of the Progressive conception of politics and to the contrast between that approach and the tradition, stemming from the founding, that it aimed to replace.
Among conservatives, Robert Bork's Slouching Toward Gomorrah adopts the gloomy view that the Founders' devotion to the principles of liberty and equality led inexorably to the excesses of today's welfare state and cultural decay.
Allan Bloom's best-selling The Closing of the American Mind presents a more sophisticated version of Bork's argument.
I will mention several characteristic features of that approach to government and contrast them with the new, Progressive approach.
Between about 18, the earlier orientation gradually began to be replaced by the new one.
Today, people who call themselves conservatives and liberals alike accept much of the Progressive view of the world.