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Book Review: American Progressivism

October 5, 2009

American Progressivism, ed by Ronald J. Pestritto and William J. Atto.

This book was one of four recommended by Glenn Beck.  It is worth the read.

Pestritto and Atto are university professors who put this book together as a reader for their courses studying the Progressive Era.  We are seeing more modern liberals calling themselves progressives so it is well worth understanding what that means.  Is this just another effort by the left in this country to confuse the debate by changing terms? (Swine flu = H1N1 comes readily to mind these days.)

The bulk of the book is about progressives from the writings of progressives.  Very, very helpful, I think to go back to this original source material.  The book’s introduction and the introduction to each of the articles are also quite useful in setting the stage.  But the bulk of the book is the progressives in their own words.

The writings are divided into eight topical sections and some authors appear in more than one.  We all know about Teddy Roosevelt the Trust Buster and the Rough Rider but here we see TR the Progressive–and I don’t like this side of him nearly as well.  Why is education in this country all messed up?  Read John Dewey’s educational creed: Dewey is almost revered in schools of education today.  Growing up in Wisconsin, I’d heard a lot about Robert LaFollette–all of it positive.  Here I read in his own words what his beliefs were.

So is a modern liberal a progressive?  Could be.  Progressivism–if I can generalize in a few words–is a form of socialism with a uniquely American belief in progress for the betterment of mankind.  TR says he’s not a socialist.  Oddly, most of the progressive agenda was passed a long time ago and virtually no one today would argue with such things as child labor laws or the initiative and referendum.

But in my view, most of these modern liberals are downright statists of the democratic socialist or Marxist variety.  Yeah, they’re just trying to look better by changing the terms of the debate.  Read this and find out the truth for yourself.

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