"Now, for this, Roosevelt was called a radical. He was called a socialist -- even a communist ... And we still believe, in the words of the man who called for a New Nationalism all those years ago."
- Barack Obama
I just LOVE the irony presented by Obama channeling Teddy Roosevelt and his New Nationalism...
Another Progressive pushing Nationalism? Surprised? Not. Hey, Progs! I thought "Nationalism" was a bad thing??? You know, Fascist and all that.
Theodore Roosevelt, Osawatomie, Kansas, 31 August 1910
Teddy Roosevelt's New Nationalism: Old Pietism
Obama's Neo-Nationalism: Old Progressivism
Theodore Roosevelt, Osawatomie, Kansas, 31 August 1910
Teddy Roosevelt's New Nationalism: Old Pietism
Obama's Neo-Nationalism: Old Progressivism
- Senator Barack Obama, 8 October 2007
Of course, Progressives will tell you until they are blue in the face that Nationalism - Fascism is right-wing. Well, apart from the many reasons that it is not, let's just examine this:
In 1888, Edward Bellamy published his best-selling novel, Looking Backward. In the book, the hero falls into a deep sleep in 1887 and awakens to find himself in American in the year 2000 and, dude, what an America! In the 113 years of his slumber, America has undergone a "fundamental transformation" and is now a Socialist utopia on par with the Garden of Eden ... before the sweet-talking serpent and the "bite of the apple that changed man forever." It became the third-largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. As a result, Bellamy became an instant celebrity. Without the benefit of Facebook and Twitter, “Bellamy Clubs” sprung up across the nation and, at one time, the clubs had an estimated membership of over 500,000 in a country of 50 million people.
The publication came two years after the Haymarket Riot in Chicago where anarchists and, in the vernacular of the day, "Social Revolutionists," killed 8 police officers with a thrown pipe bomb. The Chicago Herald described a scene of "wild carnage" and estimated at least fifty dead or wounded civilians lay in the streets. The riot came after peaceful -- for the most part -- rallies across the nation for an 8-hour workday were held on May 1st. As an aside, it is the Haymarket Riots that was the inspiration for May Day a/k/a 1 May Day a/k/a May Day International Workers' Day around the world.
The organiser of the 3-day May Day event in Chicago was Albert Parsons, a pioneer American Socialist, later anarchist newspaper editor, orator, and labour activist. Like the The Invisible Committee in France that several years ago called for rapid, revolutionary, and violent action to achieve sweeping and wholesale transformation and the collapse of capitalist culture in the influential book, "The Coming Insurrection," Parsons and his comrades were frustrated and demoralised by the slow pace of "progress" and limited results achieved by the Socialist Labour Party of America. In response, they founded the International Working People's Association -- an anarchist and revolutionary Socialist organisation -- whose foundational principle was that only through the application of armed force would revolutionary transformation of the American society and economy be possible.
To say that the Haymarket Riot was a watershed event for labour and changed the way Americans looked at the movement, working conditions, the stratification of society, etc., would be an understatement. At the time, however, the movement, the riot, the ensuing trial, the death sentences handed down for 7 anarchist leaders -- none of whom threw the incendiary device -- galvanised public opinion. The death sentences made heroes of the men in the labour, Socialist, and Anarchist movements around the world, but that view was not shared by most politicians, business, society, and "Middle America."
In an article titled "Anarchy’s Red Hand", The New York Times described the incident as the "bloody fruit" of "the villainous teachings of the Anarchists." The Chicago Times described the defendants as "arch counselors of riot, pillage, incendiarism and murder"; other reporters described them as "bloody brutes", "red ruffians", "dynamarchists", "bloody monsters", "cowards", "cutthroats", "thieves", "assassins", and "fiends". The journalist George Frederic Parsons wrote a piece for The Atlantic Monthly, "The Labour Question," in which he identified the fears of middle-class Americans concerning labour radicalism, and asserted that the workers had only themselves to blame for their troubles. Edward Aveling, Karl Marx's son-in-law, remarked, "If these men are ultimately hanged, it will be the Chicago Tribune that has done it."
It was into this environment -- less than a year after four of the condemned anarchists were led to the gallows wearing white hoods and robes as they sang Le Marseillaise, then the anthem of the international revolutionary movement -- that Looking Backward was released. Bellamy understood that, while many Americans agreed with some of the goals of the Socialists, anarchists, and Labour organisations relative to working conditions, civil service reform, monetary reform, etc., they did not approve of the radicalism. Further, because of the innate spirit of individualism that existed in America and was absent, in large part, elsewhere, he believed that the American people would only embrace an utopian movement based on peace, evolution rather than revolution, and the use of the American government, as presently constituted, to achieve the collective ends. He also understood that the word “Socialism” would not be politically palatable in America.
As a result, Bellamy's vision, which included nationalisation of the trusts (a common target of collectivists), was often quite similar to Marxism, but would be called “Nationalism" instead -- a term coined by Johann Gottfried Herder during the late 1770s.
"...[H]e that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole worlds about himself ... in a certain sense every human perfection is national.... [T]here is only one class in the state, the Volk, (not the rabble), and the king belongs to this class as well as the peasant".
- Johann Gottfried Herder, late 1770s
Herder's conception that the Volk was not "the rabble" was novel in this era. With Herder, the idea of "the people" as the basis for the emergence of a classless, but hierarchical national body, emerged.
From the onset of the Industrial Revolution, changes in technology, transportation, employment, lifestyle, immigration, and societal mores were rapid. The cities became magnets for rural residents and immigrants as beacons of opportunity. Agrarian life began to give way to urban living. It appeared that the development of slums and ghettos, sweatshops, child labour outrages, labour violence, political corruption, population explosions, alcoholism and addiction, pollution, industrial accidents, and cultural disturbances out-paced the ability of Federal, state, and local governments to address the issues. It was argued that "capitalism had failed" and "corporations controlled government and put profits before people."
But, what did Edward Bellamy mean by "Nationalism"? Maybe, he was just using Nationalism interchangeably with Patriotism??? How do you know what Bellamy meant by the term? You are probably reading into or subjectively interpreting what he wrote to further your own agenda ... or not. Perhaps, we know what he meant by the term "Nationalism" because he told us ... and in no uncertain words either:
"Nationalists are Socialists who, holding all that Socialists agree on, go further, and hold also that the distribution of the cooperative product among the members of the community must be not merely equitable, whatever that term may mean, but must be always and absolutely equal.”
- Edward Bellamy, Introduction to Socialism: The Fabian Essays, edited by G. Bernard Shaw (Boston: Charles E. Brown & Co., 1894), p. xvi.
- Edward Bellamy, Introduction to Socialism: The Fabian Essays, edited by G. Bernard Shaw (Boston: Charles E. Brown & Co., 1894), p. xvi.
Bellamy was not alone in his thoughts and beliefs. He was joined by a litany of Progressives -- many of whom came from the Pietism movement and the Populist Party. Most were middle and upper-class families and/or families led by religious leaders. It was a sense of "entitled do-gooderism" that propelled these men and women forward. They were vehemently disgusted by immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe and Catholics. They saw the state of the ghettos and the frayed fabric of the families living there as both a disgrace mandating immediate action and also an opportunity to impose their own particular moral code onto members of lower classes.
As MN Rothbard wrote in, "The Progressive Era and the Family," the "Progressive Era" ... "marks an era in which the entire American polity – from economics to urban planning to medicine to social work to the licencing of professions to the ideology of intellectuals – was transformed from a roughly laissez-faire system based on individual rights to one of state planning and control."
The Pietism movement was neither new nor original to the United States, but the new form that it took in the late nineteenth century does clearly distinguish its forebears in America from the 1830s and Europe from the 17th and 18th centuries. "In contrast to the old creedal Calvinist churches that stressed the importance of obeying God's law as expressed in the church creed, the new 'Pietism' was very different." Pietists believed that different church creeds and sects did not matter nor did individuals have to obey the rituals or liturgies of particular churches. To them, all that matter was that each individual be "born again." The quest was to achieve a society of "born again, new men."
Pietism was further divided between the North and South. In the South, "Salvational Pietists" believed that the "emotional experience of individual regeneration, of being born again, was enough to ensure salvation." On the other hand, "Yankee Pietists" believed that man, himself and collectively, could "achieve salvation by an act of free will." In essence, they were "Evangelical Pietists." More particularly, they also believed that it was necessary to a person's own salvation – and not just a good idea – to try his best to ensure the salvation of everyone else in society:
"To spread holiness," to create that Christian commonwealth by bringing all men to Christ, was the divinely ordered duty of the "saved." Their mandate was "to transform the world into the image of Christ."
If this is beginning to stir familiar feelings within you, do not be surprised. You may not realise it, but you have heard the strains of Evangelical Pietism constantly coming from the mouths of today's Progressives:
"It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation ... And recognizing that my fate remain tied up with their fates, that my individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for the country."
- President Barack Obama
It is also important for the reader to understand that Christianity is not an integral part of Pietism. While it may have been founded within religious movements, Pietism and its progeny did not need religious doctrine. Indeed, as time progressed, religion became a hindrance.
To the Evangelical Pietist, the definition of "sin" expanded much beyond other Christian doctrine. In fact, his definition of sin was so broad that "sin" became anything that the "entitled do-gooders" deemed. "The Irish immigrants drink too much and we do not like how they live, breed, work, pray, etc.;" thus, the consumption of alcohol became a sin. As one anti-Pietist Christian remarked:
"They saw sin where God did not."
The Evangelical Pietists did, in fact, see sin and requirements for holiness where everyone else did not. In particular, "sin was any and all forms of contact with liquor and any forms of gambling, dancing, theater, reading of novels – in short, secular enjoyment of any kind." And, since churches were no longer burning witches and apostates, the Evangelical Pietists needed a way to force their view on society. Obviously, only one entity could do this and that, of course, was the government. For Progressives that squawk about separation of church and state today, it must be ironic to know that, without extremely fundamental Christians of a kind of kooky sect with a sense of entitlement, inevitability, and supremacy and an intense hatred and distrust of peoples unlike them, Progressivsim never would have succeeded in co-opting the government as a tool to force the rest of society to heed their own fabricated-out-of-no-religious-doctrine diktats.
Now, as we know, not everyone was Christian nor did all Christians want to be Pietists, but that was fine for Pietists eventually. As Asgeir Helgason has written:
"We have denied the existence of God, but kept the Pietistic rules."
Thus, the need for Atheistic Pietism, a term first used by WH Mallock in 1879, which is the moralistic or pious approach to life minus the religious element. In contrast to its earlier forms, the religious elements and foundations are absent, but the language is the same. Instead of God, there is government. Instead of individual salvation, the focus is on the collective salvation of the entire community. Instead of being "born again in baptism," a new man is designed by the ruling classes and the government will give birth to a "born again" man: Homo Perfectus. Instead of scripture, laws, rules, and regulations are promulgated by men. Instead of church-granted indulgences, the ruling classes will consent to pay higher taxes to keep the poor in a state where they are manageable and away from gated communities and carbon credits will be purchased to excuse the Godzilla-sized carbon footprints of the Elders of the Church of the Government. Instead of charity, social justice is demanded and government becomes the deliver of "charity" through government programmes. Instead of Heaven and Hell, the approval of the community will decide which men have lived up to the ideals of Homo Perfectus. Instead of excommunication, "deniers," contrarians, and individualists are to be scorned and targeted for retribution.
“Christianity was content with a solitary hate-figure to explain evil: Satan. But modern secular faiths needed human devils, and whole categories of them. The enemy, to be plausible, had to be an entire class or race.”
- Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World From The Twenties To The Nineties, 2001
Once the Christian God is removed, then Pietism, a perversion unto itself, becomes malleable and useful for the seekers of power and those intent on imposing conformity and obedience while demanding complete submission. In this regard, Pietism is or, at least, shares the same foundational precepts as Liberation Theology, Black Liberation Theology, and Islamism, along with Socialism and Nationalism.
"As in 1969, I still regard Jesus Christ today as the chief focus of my perspective on God but not to the exclusion of other religious perspectives. God's reality is not bound by one manifestation of the divine in Jesus but can be found wherever people are being empowered to fight for freedom. Life-giving power for the poor and the oppressed is the primary criterion that we must use to judge the adequacy of our theology, not abstract concepts. As Malcolm X put it: ‘I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won't let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion'."
- James H Cone, 1997 preface to a new edition of his 1969 book, Black Theology and Black Power
"We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary...The thing that I would like to impress upon every Afro-American leader is that no kind of action in this country is ever going to bear fruit unless that action is tied in with the overall international struggle."
- Malcolm X, "By Any Means Necessary" speech, 1965
"One of the things that made the Black Muslim movement grow was its emphasis upon things African. This was the secret to the growth of the Black Muslim movement. African blood, African origin, African culture, African ties. And you'd be surprised - we discovered tha t deep within the subconscious of the black man in this country , he is still more African than he is American."
- Malcolm X, 14 February 1965
As Paul Keunning has written in "Rise and Fall of American Lutheran Pietism: The Rejection of an Activist Heritage," American Pietism was not rejected by the religious because of its doctrinal deviations and lack of confessional orthodoxy. It was rejected because of "Pietism's inherent social and political activism." Perhaps, modern-day pundits and historians may wish to reevaluate their premise that Progressivism was so rejected that Progressives became Liberals until the distaste of the former was forgotten and the latter's failure became unpalatable. The fact of the matter is, that because Pietism had become such a dirty word, Pietists became Progressives.
"Liberation Theology, like Pietism, has understood that the experience of the love of God in Christ inevitably and simultaneously in works and deed that fly directly in the face of all oppression, undue privilege, and narrow nationalism. It insists that justification and social justice can never be separated ... this truth leads inevitably to a direct and prophetic application of the gospel to the political realm."
- Paul Keunning, "Rise and Fall of American Lutheran Pietism: The Rejection of an Activist Heritage," 1988
"Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic."
- Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, "Truth and Tolerance" written by the Pope years before he was elevated to his current position. More can be read here at The Demonic Lies of Collective Salvation.
It would be very easy to dismiss the entire Pietism-Progressivism-Social Justice-Liberation Theology arc as just the elimination of the dualist approach of addressing societal problems through the government and religious institutions. I think that it would behoove the reader to consider, instead, a different theory. In my opinion, the conflagration of religion and government is more ominous than that. Like Islamists, the followers of this school of economic, societal and political thought seek to use the government to impose upon the community the beliefs of a "moralistic" minority while couching their movement in terms of their interpretation of religion. This is how an atheist Socialist or Progressive can appeal to the masses. Jesus Christ, for example, becomes a Socialist, which is absurd when Christ focused individuals and charity while Socialism is based on the collective and redistribution to same through taxation and government.
To a large degree, "Progressivism is the culmination of the Pietist Protestant political impulse, the urge to regulate every aspect of American life, economic and moral—even the most intimate and crucial aspects of family life. But it was also a curious alliance of a technocratic drive for government regulation, the supposed expression of "value-free science," and the Pietist religious impulse to save America—and the world—by state coercion. Often both Pietistic and scientific arguments would be used, sometimes by the same people, to achieve the old Pietist goals. Thus, prohibition would be argued for on religious as well as on alleged scientific or medicinal grounds. In many cases, leading progressive intellectuals at the turn of the twentieth century were former Pietists who went to college and then transferred to the political arena, their zeal for making over mankind, as a "salvation by science." And then the Social Gospel movement managed to combine political collectivism and Pietist Christianity in the same package. All of these were strongly interwoven elements in the progressive movement."
The epoch of the Early American Progressive Era was the 1912 Progressive convention. It was exactly what you would imagine if today's Progressives were sent "back to the future" and, according to the New York Times, the Progressive assemblage was "a convention of fanatics" and "It was not a convention at all. It was an assemblage of religious enthusiasts. It was such a convention as Peter the Hermit held. It was a Methodist camp following done over into political terms.” Replace Methodist with Gaian and practitioners of the Church of Statism and the Bull Moose Convention in 1912 would resemble the Daily Kos convention in Las Vegas. The assemblage was a gathering of businessmen, intellectuals, academics, technocrats, efficiency experts and social engineers, writers, economists, social scientists, and leading representatives of the new profession of social work. The Progressive leaders were middle and upper class, almost all urban, highly educated, and almost all white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of either past or present Pietist concerns. Everyone in the hall in Chicago -- Surprise!!! -- was a passionate believer in the proposition that only through government could individuals be moulded into the building blocks of a new and greater American community ... and, of course, only their leadership and rule would allow such a utopian transformation to take place.
Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life, and New Nationalism
Progressive intellectuals, such as Herbert Croly -- editor, political philosopher and a co-founder of the magazine The New Republic -- social workers, such as Jane Addams; and reformers, such as John Dewey were outspoken in their belief that the ideals espoused by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison regarded individual liberty and responsibility were outdated and inappropriate in a "modern, industrial world." As with the Pietists, Croly and others believed that the modern world required substantial intervention from the government in every aspect of human life.
Croly's blockbuster tome, The Promise of American Life, which was published a year before Teddy Roosevelt gave his "New Nationalism" speech, set out his argument for a Progressive government in 20th century America. In the book, Croly provided suggestions for the ongoing Progressive movement and to help the United States better prepare for its modern transformation.
Popular sovereignty and “constructive individualism” are two key concepts that Croly explores in The Promise of American Life. For him, popular sovereignty as the defining condition of democracy is more important than individual liberty -- an example of this in today's world would be the subordination of the freedom of religion rights possessed by a pro-life pharmacists or nurses to the "reproductive rights" of another. “'Constructive individualism' means selecting and promoting some individual rights against others and granting more power and responsibility to capable leaders for the purpose of common good. It summarizes the ideal relationship between individuality and democracy and reflects his general idea of the proposed reform and the solution to current problems. Without those two concepts, it is not possible to understand his basic reform principle: centralized responsibility and power."
"In point of fact, democracies have never been satisfied with a definition of democratic policy in terms of liberty. Not only have the particular friends of liberty usually been hostile to democracy, but democracies both in ideas and behaviour frequently have been hostile to liberty; and they have been justified in distrusting a political régime organised wholly or even chiefly for their benefit.
The fact that states organised exclusively or largely for the benefit of liberty are essentially aristocratic the hostile and suspicious attitude of democracies towards such a principle of political action.
Only a comparably small minority are capable at any one time of exercising political , economic and civil liberties in an able, efficient, and thoroughly worthy manner; and a régime wrought for the benefit of such a minority would become at best a state in which political, economic and social power would be very unevenly distributed.
The phrase popular Sovereignty is, consequently, for us Americans equivalent to the phrase “national Sovereignty.” The people are not Sovereign as individuals. They are not Sovereign in reason and morals even when united into a majority. They become Sovereign only in so far as they succeed in reaching and expressing a collective purpose…the best means a democratic people can take in order to assert its Sovereign authority with full moral effect is to seek fullness and consistency of national life. They are Sovereign in so far as they are united in spirit and in purpose; and they are united in so far as they are loyal one to another, to their joined past, and to the Promise of their future."
- Herbert Croly, "The Promise of American Life," 1909
For Croly, absolute sovereign authority could not be bestowed on merely a part of the people; the decisions of any individual or a majority lack moral and national authority.
"The destiny of a people has to be determined when the people unite as a whole. It gains moral authority because it is based on the community life. It demands sacrifices of certain tradition and current interest when they are necessary for the transformation towards a better future."
Croly did not necessarily distrust the masses per se. Instead, for him, it was the American political tradition and the current political system that hinder the masses to make independent decisions for the common good and in the common interest. He criticised the principle of equal rights in American political tradition. According to him, the idea of equal right and protection under the law hurt “individual liberty, efficiency, and distinction; its more regular failure results in entrenched inequalities." As a solution, he proposed that the state, on behalf of the national community, had to adopt a selective policy. It has to select and promote some individual rights if they “contribute to national perpetuity and integrity." For example, traditionally it was an individual's property rights, but not his political rights, that were protected in the United States.
Popular sovereignty, according to Croly, meant whatever the government did in the nation’s common interest or "general welfare." In his opinion, the Federal government could seize thousands of homes belonging to American citizens or juridical persons and pay no "just compensation," which is required under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled, is to normally be measured by "the market value of the property at the time of the taking contemporaneously paid in money," to solve a homelessness problem produced by a Hurricane Katrina. Undoubtedly, Herbert Croly would fully support the seizure by the Federal government of private pension, retirement and investment accounts to pay down the national debt, narrow the deficit, and make a serious downpayment on the $211 trillion of unfunded liabilities presented by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
As an aside, one should not carelessly disregard such an attempt by our current leaders to do exactly that. It has been done in Argentina, Portugal, Spain and is becoming one of the most-discussed alternatives for debt-strapped sovereigns to acquire the trillions that thrifty and responsible individuals have saved to use to service debt and continue the Western welfare state. "Just compensation" would require the government to give the property owners fair market value, but could the Federal government pay the compensation in the form of a 30-year Treasury, as opposed to actual cash? Might the Court allow such a evil manoeuver if the Federal government argued that the circumstances were "exigent" enough?
It was the Progressive Era and its leaders that ushered in the first attacks on private property in the United States. It is here where the ideals of the Founders came under withering attack. According to Progressives like Croly, Richard Ely, and John Dewey, it matters less how a man got rich than why another man is still poor. For example, if a set of twins were exposed to exactly the same upbringing and one went on to become an arduous worker and a saver while the other became something of a gadfly always spending the money that he earned (and more) when he was bothered enough to work, the Progressives would argue that the thrifty brother must be his "brother's keeper" and share the fruits of not only his labour, but his savings. It would be "unfair" for the poor brother not to have a minimum standard of existence. Since the responsible brother might not see it that way, the government had to step in and take from him and give to his irresponsible sibling. That it would be "unfair" to punish the responsible brother and those that play by the rules while also encouraging moral hazard wouldn't be a consideration.
Coincidentally, this is not unlike the current situation in the EU where the responsible and thrifty countries like Germany, The Netherlands, etc., are being forced to pay the debts of irresponsible member states like Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland). In fact, the frugal countries are being told that they risk tremendous depression and anarchy across the European Union if they do not bailout their more profligate siblings. In the United States and the United Kingdom, as with others, we are told that even though we have acting responsibly by saving money and paying our obligations, if we don't "share" with those that chose not to do so, then we are "hoarders," "greedy," and deserve whatever we get when the "oppressed" take to the streets.
One consequence, in the perverse calculation of the Progressives of this Era, was that the saver would "rise to the level of aristocracy of money, which disagrees with the interest of the American people as a democracy." Croly argued that in contrast:
"More power should be granted to individuals, who are currently responsible for the action of the state and the wealth should be distributed (at the expense of the property rights) to give every male citizen a minimum of economic power and responsibility. It has to select some able individuals as political, economic and intellectual leaders and give them opportunities and responsibilities they deserve in order to contribute their individual power to the common benefits of the community. A democracy…must recognise political, economic, and social discrimination, but it must also manage to withdraw its consent whenever these discriminations show any tendency excessive endurance. The essential wholeness of the community depends absolutely on the ceaseless creation of a political, economic and social aristocracy and their equally incessant replacement."
Here aristocracy and discrimination are only means to the democratic ends because not all aristocracies and discrimination are created equal:
"The American democracy attempted to manufacture a sufficient bond out of equalisation of rights; but such a bond is, as we have seen, either a rope of chains or a link of chains."
Bellamy and Croly, along with the like-minded of the day, all believed that the Republic - you will notice how they never referred to the United States as such, but spoke of it in terms of a democracy - and its emphasis on equal protection under the law and equal rights was inherently unequal because the results were unequal. Protecting the property rights of propertied aristocracy and not allowing the political, economic, social and intellectual aristocracy to take and redistribute wealth as they wished would result in a propertied class and a proletariat unequal in wealth and opportunity.
And, the propertied weren't the only that would be the intended targets of this meddling, sanctimonious, arrogant and hypocritical ruling class. In their opinion, property was a symptom of the real, underlying problem. As the self-appointed arbiters of what was fair and what was needed for a true "democracy" saw it, the Founders' original sin, so to speak, was not that they sought to protect property, but that they protected liberty, elevated individualism, and eschewed the collective to the point that it would be subordinated to the individual and his property. The Progressive Philosopher Kings and Queens were adamant in their belief that the "rugged individualism" celebrated in America as a fundamental bedrock principle and the elevation of property over political and social rights would preclude the "benevolent government" from taking care of the "community" in a manner where the common good would trump individual rights.
“I shall not disguise the fact that on the whole my own preferences are on the side of Hamilton rather than of Jefferson ... Jefferson was filled with a sincere, indiscriminate, and unlimited faith in the American people; (however, Croly viewed Jeffersonian democracy as) tantamount to extreme individualism, which was suitable only for pre-Civil War America when the ideal Americans were pioneers pursuing individual wealth."
The argument for which Promise was most hailed and is best remembered, the thesis that so enthralled his Progressive contemporaries and Liberal and Neo-Progressive heirs, is Croly’s ardent embrace of Hamiltonian Nationalism.
The "hyper-individualistic America of the 19th century" was ill-equipped, he argued, to handle the many social problems either caused or exacerbated by the economic centralisation and specialisation that defined the start of the twentieth.
As such, Croly advocated the centralising of power in the Federal Government and the rekindling of a more democratic “New Nationalism” in order to combat economic trusts and preserve the “promise of American life.” As Croly put it:
“American government demands more rather than less centralisation merely and precisely because of the growing centralisation of American activity…The conception of democracy [as antithetical to Nationalism] is the great enemy of the American national advance, and is for this reason the great enemy of the real interests of democracy."
One cannot overemphasize the role that Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and Herbert Croly's The Promise of American Life played in formulating and moulding Theodore Roosevelt's ideology during his run for President in 1912. He read both books while on a safari in Africa after he left the White House. In addition, one MUST not discount the role of Pietism in Roosevelt's ideology and actions in and out of office. He, like other Progressives, believed that he had a moral imperative based on the Gospel to use government to better society, impart his wisdom on the masses, and protect the lesser not only from the greater, but from themselves as well.
When he decided to run for another term as President in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt used Bellamy's "New Nationalism" and Croly’s themes in his campaign. Nowhere was this more evident than the famous speech he gave in Osawatomie, Kansas, in 1910: "New Nationalism."
“No book (The Promise of American Life) written in the twentieth century has exerted so direct an influence on American politics ... It helped supply Theodore Roosevelt with the theory of his New Nationalism.”
- Historian Byron Dexter, 1955
Here is Theodore Roosevelt defining "New Nationalism" in his Osawatomie speech:
"The American people are right in demanding that New Nationalism, without which we cannot hope to deal with new problems. The New Nationalism puts the national need before sectional or personal advantage. It is impatient of the utter confusion that results from local legislatures attempting to treat national issues as local issues. It is still more impatient of the impotence which springs from over division of governmental powers, the impotence which makes it possible for local selfishness or for legal cunning, hired by wealthy special interests, to bring national activities to a deadlock. This New Nationalism regards the executive power as the steward of the public welfare. It demands of the judiciary that it shall be interested primarily in human welfare rather than in property, just as it demands that the representative body shall represent all the people rather than any one class or section of the people."
- Theodore Roosevelt, "New Nationalism," Osawatomie, Kansas, 31 August 1910
What Roosevelt was asking for then wasn’t just “social justice,” but an evisceration of property rights and a sublimation of the individual to the State, or as he referred to it, the nation, and a concentration of power in the hands of the President and the Executive Branch. (Sadly, we’ve seen a lot of that over the past 100 years and the results haven’t exactly been all that great.) The influences of Bellamy and Croly are undeniable.
In the wake of President Obama's attempt to channel Teddy Roosevelt in Osawatomie, Kansas, by giving his own class-based, collective trumps individual exercise in demagoguery, "A Call For A New Nationalism," I have taken a perverse glee in reminding Progressives that Nationalism is supposedly a bad thing - or it has been ... according to Progressives ... since World War II. "It's Fascism! It's right-wing! It's xenophobic! It's racist! It's Anti-Semitic! It is the opposite of Socialism! Hitler was right-wing! Mussolini was right-wing and just like the Tea Party! Blah, blah, blah!"
"All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state. "
- Benito Mussolini
Yet, Nationalism has always meant statism. Progressives were some of Hitler and Mussolini's biggest fans. The Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt administrations adopted wholesale many of the programmes and policies that were then and are today described as "Fascism, Naziism, or corporatism."
"[The Roosevelt administration] envisages a federation of industry, labour and government after the fashion of the corporative State as it exists in Italy."
- Anne O'Hare McCormick, New York Times, 7 May 1933
“The Fascist Principles are very similar to those we have been evolving here in America."
- Robert Shaw, a leading Progressive journalist and author, North American Review in 1934
When Teddy Roosevelt gave his New Nationalism speech, he used that term as a substitute for "Socialism," but coupled with the arguments of Croly, a better label today would be "Fascism" and/or "Progressivism." It was the commonly understood meaning of the term and Edward Bellamy wasn't some obscure academic or flake. He was a well-known individual and his cousin, Francis, another Socialist, wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. Further, Herbert Croly was one of the most famous and respected intellectual by the ruling class in America. There can be NO DOUBT that Theodore Roosevelt knew exactly for what he was arguing for and what "Nationalism" meant. In fact, it can be argued that Progressivism IS Nationalism.