Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"New" v. "Old" Progressivism

There's really no difference in the praxis.

But there IS a difference in propaganda, or 'clarification' if you will.

"In contrast to the original Progressivism, the new Progressivism does not give clear expression to Progressivism's awkward combination of egalitarianism and elitism. On the contrary, the new Progressivism strives to conceal Progressivism's paradox--the new Progressivism's academic wing has even developed a variety of theoretical and rhetorical approaches that conceal the paradox. Whereas the dependence on elites can be reconciled with self-government, this concealment has disquieting antidemocratic and illiberal implications."

That is to say, "transparency" is dead, dead, dead.

Just in case you haven't already guessed that.

What is that 'paradox'?

On the one hand, it sought to democratize American politics, reforming American political institutions to make them more responsive to the will of the people. On the other hand, Progressives favored the creation of an administrative elite that would exercise substantial state power but without traditional forms of political accountability

To be fair about it, neither the Tommy Thompson Elitism (baseball stadiums for some, paid for by all, with more and more State employees to boot) or the GWB elitism (epitomized by the bailout of GM/Chrysler) escapes criticism.

And both were removed, but actual, triggers for the TEA Parties.

Of course, the paradox(es) remain.

...A populist suspicion of the elitist orientation of the new Constitution had motivated opposition by a number of the Anti-federalists, and was largely manifested in an anti-Federalist, anti-Whig, and eventually anti-Republican opposition party (Jeffersonianism, Jacksonianism, and the populism that motivated the candidacy of William Jennings Bryan). In the 1960s, the Democratic Party - increasingly a party of establishment Washington and educated elites - threw off their traditional blue-collar (and largely Catholic) electoral base in favor of a new coalition of anti-war activists, the college-educated, and feminists. The result was a political vacuum in which the "populist" wing of the Democratic party was without representation - until Nixon developed a strategy to bring them into the Republican fold. While old habits died hard - many still continued to vote Democratic - by the time of the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, many overcame old habits and thus became "Reagan Democrats." The transformation of Republicans as the party of the Northeast and financial elites to that of Joe the Plumber was complete.

But this accretion of populists into the Republican fold was never altogether comfortable: Republicans - the heirs of the old Federalist and Whig parties - had been, and remain, mistrustful of the unwashed masses. The masses were historically the great threat to the sanctity of PROPERTY, the very manifestation of the "diverse faculties of men" that Madison argued was in need of protection in the new Constitutional order. Republicans successfully adopted the old populist strain of American politics by turning its ire toward the pointy-headed professoriate and their dreams of a utopian political order, all the while pretending that the economic policies of Reaganism were friendly to the common man. Even as jobs were being shipped overseas under the new orthodoxy of Free Markets, Reagan cleared brush, George Herbert Walker ate pork rinds, and the Texan yahoo George Walker Bush (Andover, Yale, Harvard MBA) said "nucylar."

HT: Deneen

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