Thursday, November 24, 2011

Progressivist Government Controls Citizens

In his quest for power, Woodrow Wilson explained progressivism: as President, Wilson wanted to control both society and individuals. Progressivism was the political theory which justified this attempt to take away freedom on a massive scale. Wilson was a 'social Darwinist' and saw the government as the ultimate expression of development. Instead of human societies striving to create ever more liberty for citizens, Wilson believed that true progress was power being taken away from individuals and being consolidated in the hands of the government. Historian Jonah Goldberg explains:
From this perspective, the ever-expanding power of the state was entirely natural. Wilson, along with the vast majority of progressive intellectuals, believed that the increase in state power was akin to an inevitable evolutionary process. Government "experimentation," the watchword of pragmatic liberals from Dewey and Wilson to FDR, was the social analogue to evolutionary adaptation. Constitutional democracy, as the founders understood it, was a momentary phase in this progression. Now it was time for the state to ascend to the next plateau. "Government," Wilson wrote approvingly in The State, "does now whatever experience permits or the times demand." Wilson was the first president to speak disparagingly of the Constitution.
For the progressivist movement, then, the goal was not freedom; the goal was a single, central government amassing ever more power to itself and controls the details of both civic and personal life. They refused to place any limit on the authority of the regime. If government power was the goal, for Wilson and the progressivists, then 'rights' were the enemies:
Wilson reinforced such attitudes by attacking the very idea of natural and individual rights. If the original, authentic state was a dictatorial family, Wilson argued in the spirit of Darwin, what historical basis was there to believe in individual rights? "No doubt," he wrote, taking dead aim at the Declaration of Independence, "a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere vague sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as a fundamental principle." If a law couldn't be executed, it wasn't a real law, according to Wilson, and "abstract rights" were vexingly difficult to execute.
Wilson, taking office in 1913, was willing to discard both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence - and with them, the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens to make choices in their own lives. Why? The idea of the Democrat Party and the progressivists was that the government had the specialized knowledge of experts, and so the government should make important decisions, not the people.