Richard Ebeling emails:
I participated in the December 15, 2015 “Libertarian Angle,” webinar sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, with the Foundation’s president, Jacob G. Hornberger, on the topic: “The Disaster of Progressivism.”
Modern American liberals often choose to call themselves “Progressives” and their political agenda, “Progressivism.” But what does this mean and what is its origin? It all began, as with many things on “the left,” with Karl Marx who claimed to have discovered the “laws” of historical development that moved society from less to more advanced and perfected human existence, and then with the German economists and political philosophers of the second half of the nineteenth century (the “German Historical School”) who insisted that society is constantly changing and each stage of historical development requires different social rules, laws and economic relationships enforced by the State.
Several generations of young American scholars studied in Germany with these advocates of political “opportunism” and “expediency” (as they hailed their views of government policy) and returned to the U.S. and founded the “Progressive Movement” in the early years of the twentieth century.
Their American guru was Woodrow Wilson who insisted that the U.S. Constitution needed to be a “living document” reflecting “modern times,” which for him and those who thought like him meant the concentration of political power in Federal hands to transform society into an effective and efficient interventionist-welfare state.
This is why, today, people like Barack Obama insist that their desired policies are on the “right side of history.” Since their implicit (Marxian-like) assumption is that history moves society away from the greed and selfishness of self-interested profit to a higher plain of communal sharing and sacrifice for the “common good” defined and implemented by an political elite arrogantly presuming to know how society should be organized for a “better” and more “socially just” world to come.