Friday, January 25, 2008


Progressive-liberalism originated in the 1890s and saw its heyday in the nineteen teens. Ninety years have passed, yet the premises of the progressive-liberal movement, which was Republican as much as Democratic (Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, and Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, were Progressives) remain the same. When Progressivism was founded, it was regarded as "new". But after ninety years, progressivism and its followers have to be said to be following an old idea. In the coming months, I intend to show that progressive-liberalism, and today's liberalism, which has remained largely the same, was an ideology appropriate to the modernist era. Modernism differentiates from post-modernism with respect to organizational structure, scale, flexibility, unity of public opinion, technology, aesthetic, diversity and a host of other characteristics. Progressive-liberalism is an ideology that was appropriate to large-scale government characteristic of the modern era. It reached its limits in part because progressivism never solved the corruption that faced the post-Civil War political machines and in part because its organizational form is inappropriate to today's problems, for instance the need for economic competitiveness and education able to meet more competitive demands.

The post-progressive era is characterized by the need for greater flexibility,the need for heightened innovation in many fields such as health care and transportation, better education, and smaller organizations. The problems it faces such as cultural atomization, interest group pressure, the need to cope with interest group pressure at the national level, the need to develop a competitive economy, and the need for accelerated innovation, suggest the need for new emphasis on governmental forms. The new governmental forms include the importance of localism, the ability to experiment, the need for additional flexibility in responding to change and greater scope for the private sector. Flexibility, for example, involves the importance of being able to respond to military opponents who derive their power from "fourth generation" military strategy and terrorism. In turn, government must become decentralized, must learn to experiment and must learn to learn.

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