of slaves and masters–the progressive soul (part four)   Leave a comment

A Roman Catholic chaplain ministering to Union...
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Much maligned by the Progressives of the time– and, incidentally, today– The “gilded age” of capitalism AND the United States was like the last 20 years or so-a period of rapid economic and material growth.  It also saw the emergence of leftist thought via German Enlightenment philosophers like Marx, Kant, and Hegel.  It was countermanded by the rise of Progressive Psychologists, the birth of social gospelers, radical social theory, and Progressive educators via Dewey.  Finally, playing it’s part in the great drama was the social backlash against newly emancipated slaves, Western European immigrants and immigrant Eastern European Jews .  The Progressive of the period–much like his counterpart throughout eras of historical flux—felt that twinge in his soul that signaled a rising threat to his status quo.  The Progressive had managed to rise to the top of the financial and social food chain via his millennia old tactics of extortion, threats, and purchase of the elite (primarily amongst the clerical establishment and royalty).  The progressives of the early twentieth century understood those tactics would not and could not work in a society which had discovered the ethics of individualism and had proclaimed that sovereign property rights were necessary for retaining  liberty.

The Progressive understood that it would backfire if he directly attacked the system that was increasing standards of living throughout the social strata. He further knew that declaring capitalism immoral while  it was increasing  life spans and eliminating illnesses would sound a bit illogical.  Figuring out that an economics that was introducing time (and thus life) saving divisions of labor which peacefully absorbed dozens of new ethnic groups might be an alluring alternative to the centuries of tyranny and stagnation—the Progressive saw a means to his ends.  He decided to “explain” the change swirling around the masses he despised;  if he could own the dialogue and control the definitions he would control the debate and steer the course of history.

The Progressive bore an intellectual lust affair with “idealistic”  new social theories which were slumming their way across the Pond from Europe.  Socialism, Fascism, and Communism-as well as various other strains of the same collectivist premises-made him giddy.  Finally, peace and prosperity for the entrenched elite!  The unwashed masses, he figured, could be easily managed with vague generalities about inequities, social justice, and that most beautiful and effective of  bromides “the common good”.  With his misguided helpers amongst the ever expanding “compassionate” religious groups like the social gospellers, prohibitionists, and the moralizers at places like Hull House, he launched a full-on attack campaign.  The newly created and growing middle class was labeled “anti immigrant” (despite most actually being  immigrants). The expanding lower classes, squeezed out temporarily by new technologies and an emerging higher educational system , were whipped into an envious class frenzy. “the fat cats”–“the rich”—”the poor”– “the Jews”—“bankers”–“Catholics”—all were set against all in his jihad to discredit the emerging man-affirming, life-giving, time-saving system he’d come to see as his mortal enemy.

Having set up his “straw man” (consumer capitalism) he needed a human shield.  Enter, the emerging newly freed African Americans.   Bearing hostility and  resentment that these malcontents would now be yet another impediment to his social and intellectual station-yet knowing as he did that sympathies were with African Americans amongst the emerging middle class due to the ravages of the Civil War and Reconstruction-he chose to destroy from within.  Lower income blacks bore righteous  anger due to economic and physical enslavement?  Fine, he would then declare that the new system was just as enslaving because it tied prosperity to manual and mental labor (knowing full well that any group enduring and yet surviving the travesty of slavery would take justifiable offense to further enslavement by whites).  He solicited help from guilt riddled white ministers and socially minded groups and convinced them that men would only be free and equal if there was equality and stability  in income.

With the intent of destroying capitalism and its pre-requisites of self-esteem, personal responsibility, and mutual respect, progressive groups  proceeded to infiltrate and co-opt well meaning social reformers who were primarily staffed and run by classic liberal Christians.  They began to create doubt amongst the electorate.  They then proceeded  to expose the logical fallacy  of Republicans preaching individualism and limited government while they supported and encouraged infringement of free speech and promoting religious intolerance.  Later, influenced by Marxist thought, they declared that the “old order” had been overturned and enlightenment would only come by embracing economic collectivism.  “We’re all in this together” the progressive declared, while he built a financial firewall for himself by directly embedding he and his ilk  within the political class.    Finally they sealed the deal in the creation of the much needed human shield.  The Progressives declared the collective responsibility of America’s culture (and thus every individual into perpetuity) for slavery and racism and fermented white guilt amongst the social reformers who had become important allies.  The progressive ignored government sanctioned and enforced segregation (which he actively promoted in the name of Americanism and stability), and he fermented the notion of deep seated existential guilt amongst religious whites by playing on their belief in the wholly religious concept of original sin.  Capitalism’s version of that ridiculous doctrine blossomed in the minds of much of America.  White’s were guilty of racism because they were white-The rich were guilty for the plight of the poor because they were rich.  Immigrants were guilty of taking American jobs because they were immigrants.  Capitalists were guilty of exploitation because there were differing classes.  Capitalism was guilty of the greatest sin because it was Capitalism.  The die was cast for the noble Progressive.  Change was coming.

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Posted April 12, 2010 by cchashadenough

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