Was the Republican party the Progressive party in Reconstruction America?Posted on March 9th, 2016 No comments
Actually, the GOP in the 1860’s and 70’s was NOT Progressive. If you trace back the philosophical underpinnings of Progressivism, you hit Wilson, of course, but going even further back a real linchpin of the Progressive movement was Calhoun’s defense of slavery in 1837, where he argued that slavery was a positive good.
“I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good-a positive good. . . . I hold then, that there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other.”
This notion that prosperity can only be the product of taking something from someone else is writ large in Marx’s Communist Manifesto (1848), Lenin’s writings, and in the political ideals of Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson, and up through the modern Democrats.
Hand in hand with this argument and another linchpin of Progressivism is summarized in Calhoun’s and Fitzhugh’s rejection of Natural Law, which is required if you are to make any argument about the positive goodness of slavery.
This is echoed when Obama, before running for POTUS, laments that the Constitution doesn’t say what the government can do on your behalf, but instead restricts government action. This belief emphasizes the importance of the government in granting rights and welfare, rather than believing those rights to be self-evident and inherent to our nature.
I believe that the following principles are fundamental to Progressive thought:
- Wealth can only be redistributed. Prosperity must come at the cost of someone else.
- Men and women do not have inherent natural rights. If a man is free, it is not because he is born free, but because a government or state has declared him to be free.
On the other hand, these ideals are polar opposite of the ideals of Conservatism, and what classically used to be called Liberalism (before the term was stolen by the Progressives.) The Conservative Ideals are:
- Through honest trade, wealth can be created. Prosperity can be attained for all parties involved through the ideals of Capitalism and the Law of Comparative Advantage.
- Men and women possess certain inalienable (i.e. cannot be granted or taken away) rights such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Leave a reply