February 4, 2008


You want a more 'progressive' America? Careful what you wish for (Jonah Goldberg, February 5, 2008, CS Monitor)

[President Wilson] Wilson's two terms in office provide the clearest historical window into the soul of progressivism. Wilson's racism, his ideological rigidity, and his antipathy toward the Constitution were all products of the progressive worldview. And since "progressivism" is suddenly in vogue – today's leading Democrats proudly wear the label – it's worth actually reviewing what progressivism was and what actually happened under the last full-throated progressive president. [...]

Wilson, like the bulk of progressive intellectuals in fin-de-siècle America, was deeply influenced by three strands of thought: philosophical Pragmatism, Hegelianism, and Darwinism. This heady intellectual cocktail produced a drunken arrogance and the conviction that the old rules no longer applied.

As a threshold matter, it's certainly worth noting that you can't throw a rock in the National Review offices these days without hitting someone whose immigration views are just as racist as Wilson's were, though the former at least have no power to round them up for sedition.

But as to Wilson, one of the great tragedies of his Darwinism is the way it played out in the post-War phase when he sacrificed self-determination--which would have let the wogs govern themselves--at the altar of transnationalism--where our betters would govern all of us from the League of Nations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 4, 2008 6:01 PM

Do today's Progressives have anything to do with the Wilsonian Progressives? I always thought the modern Progressives were basically LIABN (Liberals In All But Name - I just made that up!). I just figure that being a Liberal got so unpopular after the Cold War that they're calling themselves Progressives to get away from the stink. I haven't met a one of them that has any idea what the old Progressivism is about.

Posted by: Bryan at February 4, 2008 7:59 PM

The question to the League of Nations, and the United Nations, has always been unanswered:

"Which of you mice is going to bell the cat?"

Posted by: Mikey at February 4, 2008 8:37 PM

Bryan: read Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Todays "liberals" are the philosophical descendants of the Progressives, who were the American manifestation of fascism/socialism/state-worship/call-it-what-you-will. There's a lot less distance between Hillary Clinton and Benito Mussolini than most people realize.

Posted by: Mike Morley at February 4, 2008 8:46 PM

I suspect that what Wilson was really after was a transnational empire that could expel the Yankees from the Confederacy.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at February 5, 2008 12:01 AM


Except that they aren't fascist, they more closely resemble Nationalist Socialists--they're pagan, Darwinist and Marxist and wouldn't preserve anything of the Judeo-Christian heritage.

Posted by: oj at February 5, 2008 8:00 AM

Oj, your comment to Mike needs alot of explanation and I for one would be very interested in it.

Goldburg's Liberal Fascism makes the case that Nazi's have a modern day equivalent in the Leftists.

Are you planning to review the book?


Posted by: Perry at February 5, 2008 9:13 AM

I read Goldberg's book and know a little about fascism and sadly the book isn't very good. I mean, he falls into the same trap every one else does and expands "fascism" to encompass everyone from Hitler to Salazar thereby rendering the term meaningless.

I disagree with OJ, in that I think (and I know I hurt the team when I think) today's american left is not nazi-istic at all. They are purely reactionary at this point and have been reduced to portraying themselves as nothing more revolutionary than pragmatists and "better at government than the right". Hardly the stuff of sturm und drang...

Of course, the one big exception to that is the blind support for abortion, but that's more a reactionary position at this point for the vast majority than a full embrace and advocacy...

Posted by: Benny at February 5, 2008 4:42 PM

The key point is that Nazism wasn't fascist. Indeed, in its repudiation of Judeo-Christianity and other conservative social structures it was essentially anti-fascist.

Nazism was just mix of Darwinism and Socialism and Hitler would have gladly forsaken the latter for the opportunity to apply the former.


Posted by: oj at February 5, 2008 4:52 PM

Yes, but one of the main things they're reacting against is Judeo-Christianity and the valuing of human life.

Posted by: oj at February 5, 2008 6:38 PM