In response to Reason’s blog post, “Progressive History 101 (Minus All that Uncomfortable Racism, Sexism, and Support for Eugenics)” I bring you a couple of quotes from UCLA Professor Joyce Appleby:
” … the critics of liberalism have been working at cross-purposes. Social histories have opened up new fields of knowledge which have forced a broadening of categories, but they have not created a historical synthesis to illuminate the meaning of the American experience. Those who have examined liberalism as a historical discourse have undermined confidence in more than liberalism, for their deconstructive weapons have been trained upon the whole conception of bodies of knowledge.
“This encounter between scholarly research and philosophical skepticism in the writings of American history is but our national version of a crisis in Western thought. ”
“The original passion of liberal reformers was outrage: outrage at institutions that interfered with free inquiry; outrage about the tyranny that groups exercised over individuals; outrage with the human debasement in the aristocratic assumption of innate superiority. Between its animating spirit and its deliquescent complacency liberalism held the ground for a powerful, if contradictory, commitment to equality and freedom.”
Of the beginnings of American republicanism she writes: ” … Not having a sense that a historical event cannot be understood independent of when it happened, they collected historical instances as a naturalist collects fossils – as empirical data to be worked into general laws. The most that they would concede to human variety was the diversity of the physical world where different conditions prevailed but nevertheless were understandable within a unified structure of knowledge.”
For the record, in the evolution of the United States political differences have been a part of our national story. Each political party is a branch of another, Progressivism is simply break from conventional Republicanism as that political philosophy is a break from the original Liberalism the nation was founded upon. Libertarianism is adoption of European ideas as are the previous three. Each of these has committed its own brand of atrocity, made bad judgments across the board, and are continually evolving. The constant branding of Progressives with this bizarre notion that the group accepts eugenics as sort of okay or something is the most regressive way of thinking I’ve ever encountered. It would be akin to us assuming that to the United States’ participation in the release of Jews being slaughtered during World War II Libertarian’s response would be: ‘Meh – we should stay out of it.’ I’m reasonably sure that wouldn’t be entirely true.
To Reason magazine I offer the KKK to Republicans and the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party to Libertarians – and, if I see one more blog post or comparison of modern Progressives to racists, sexists, and eugenics I think I’ll go ballistic.