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Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (English Edition) eBook Kindle
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Descrição do produto
"Economists like to think of their ancestors as heroic seekers of truth, each generation, as Newton suggested, standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before. Thomas Leonard demonstrates clearly that the story of economics in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America was far more complex―and more interesting. He shows how the economists of that era combined their passion for social reform with religion, eugenics, and evolution theory in ways that seem incredible today. This book is an eye-opener."―Craufurd Goodwin, James B. Duke Professor of Economics Emeritus, Duke University
"This untold story of how Progressive Era activists helped construct the extensive role of government in the economy sheds light on today's technocratic dilemmas. Which decisions need to be left to experts, the ‘social engineers,' and which require democratic participation? Thomas Leonard's book demonstrates that during the Progressive Era this question was resolved only by combining democratic reform with the exclusion of women, African Americans, immigrants, and disabled people as full members of society. It underlines the fact that the tension between ‘expert' economic administration and individual liberties remains at the heart of current political debates."―Diane Coyle, author of GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History
"Illiberal Reformers makes a substantial contribution to the much contested history of U.S. progressivism by providing fascinating new evidence of what Leonard terms its ‘dark side.' This book's rich narrative will amply reward readers interested in the discrete histories of social science, science, politics, culture, industrial relations, and general U.S. history, and offers a wealth of new material on discrimination based on gender, race, and class."―Mary O. Furner, University of California, Santa Barbara --Este texto se refere à edição hardcover.
Sobre o Autor
Detalhes do produto
- ASIN : B0131KW616
- Editora : Princeton University Press; Reprint edição (12 janeiro 2016)
- Idioma: : Inglês
- Tamanho do arquivo : 1186 KB
- Leitura de texto : Habilitado
- Configuração de fonte : Habilitado
- X-Ray : Não habilitado
- Dicas de vocabulário : Habilitado
- Número de páginas : 254 páginas
- Ranking dos mais vendidos: Nº 200,842 em Loja Kindle (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Loja Kindle)
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Originally, it was an Evangelical movement, that wanted to do good in the world. “The protest of the progressives originated not out of personal suffering but rather out of moral and intellectual discontent with the suffering (and enrichment) of others.” This ‘do-gooder’ attitude had a superiority complex at its heart, as found in most religions. Later the movement became more associated with secular preferences, yet retained its religious zeal. “The progressives’ urge to reform America sprang from an evangelical compulsion to set the world to rights, and they unabashedly described their purposes as a Christian mission to build a Kingdom of Heaven on earth. In the language of the day, they preached a social gospel.”
It was a movement that saw a problem with the individual humanism that existed in the United states, and wished to replace it with a more German efficiency. Many in the movement were inspired by Darwinian theory, and the US President, Woodrow Wilson, saw the government as a living organism “accountable to Darwin not to Newton.”
The movement promoted ‘Economics’ as a ‘scientific study’, often requiring its students to study in Germany. “Germany exposed the young Americans to the ideas of the German Historical School of political economy, with its positive view of state economic intervention, quintessentially compulsory insurance against sickness, industrial accidents, debility, and old age. Most of their German professors…were hostile to the idea of natural economic laws, which they disparaged as “English” economics, a swipe at the classically liberal tendency of political economy in Great Britain.”
“John R. Commons said that social progress required the individual to be controlled, liberated, and expanded by collective action. Columbia progressive economist Henry R. Seager …declared that the industrial economy had simply obviated the creed of individualism. Individuals, Ross maintained, were but “plastic lumps of human dough,” to be formed on the great “social kneading board.”
“Economics, Seligman told his receptive confreres, was going to be the basis of social progress, and economists were going to be the creators of the future; indeed, they would be the philosophers of American social life. A grateful public would pay deference to the economist’s expertise.”
In essence, progressives had a mechanistic view of human nature, that abhorred free will and saw people as ‘human ants’, or cogs in an economic machine. On the whole, they despised democracy, promoting an aristocratic ‘expert’ governing elite of ‘betters’ on a second-class citizenry. They had little to no regard for individual people, preferring to substitute Social Darwinian attitudes. In a separate article, ‘Mistaking Eugenics for Social Darwinism’, Leonard distinguishes the original Darwinian theories from those emanating from Herbert Spencer’s ‘Survival of the fittest’. It was the latter that led to Eugenics, a ‘set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population, typically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior and promoting those judged to be superior.’
The eventual destination of eugenics was found amongst Germany’s most infamous leader, Adolf Hitler. There, he adopted a racist ideology that saw the ‘Aryan race’ as the superior race, and led to the extermination of millions of Jews, Disabled, Gipsies and other groups deemed inferior.
The question that needs to be asked of today’s progressives is whether they still see themselves as morally superior? In adopting a creed, such as ‘hate speech’, do they view anyone who dissents as an inferior human being? Worse still, as a lesser person? If so, the racism, so evident in early progressive ideology, is still there (albeit camouflaged by adherence to the creed of ‘Critical Theory’, where the ‘whites’ have replaced the ‘blacks’ and ‘men have replaced ‘women’ as the underclass).
This book is a warning to all those who flock, without thinking, to a ‘progressive’ political ideology. Be careful that, in a wish to do good, you do not do irrevocable harm instead. For instance, look at the current deference being paid to the SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) group ‘advising’ government on its Covid-19 strategy. Are we becoming too reliant on ‘experts’ and their ‘scientific models’? Are epidemiologists the new economists? Have we lost confidence in ‘common sense’ and allowed ourselves to lose our liberties without debate?
Perhaps Leonard's greatest contribution is his inclusion of all sides of the political impact of progressive ideas. Today, progressivism is associated exclusively with the left. Leonard documents how early progressive ideas also were championed by Republican leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt. The idea that systematic policy could be created for the common good by gathering and evaluating data in a scientific manner dates to this era and was a conscious rejection of the previous view of the economy as a self-correcting mechanism best left alone. Entire new fields of academic study--economics, sociology, political science, public administration--were developed to provide a cadre of "experts" to steer government and society.
Leonard does an excellent job of tracing how the idea that society must be managed impacted thought and policy in the early twentieth century. Darwinian ideas were adapted to fit ideology, with races ranked in status. Anglo-Saxons--presumably the "most evolved" race--were to be encouraged to produce more children. "Lesser" races--including immigrants from southern Europe, as well as Asians, Africans, and Latinos--were to be kept separate, excluded from the gene pool if not from the country altogether. Policies from forced sterilization, prohibition, and discouraging women from college and employment all stemmed from the idea of protecting the preferred Anglo-Saxon race. The needs of the individual were to be subordinated to the good of society as a whole.
Leonard ends his account by noting that World War I dealt a heavy blow to early progressivists assurance that progress was inevitable and that social change could be scientifically managed. He notes the idea of eugenics has been widely discredited, particularly in the wake of the horrors of Nazi rule and the Second World War. The one element that would have added to the value of "Illiberal Reformers" would have been a brief concluding survey of how progressive ideology evolved in later decades. Today, the name "progressive" and the idea of managing economies and government for social betterment are largely associated with the left. Meanwhile, early progressive ideas of race, particularly the view of whites as a superior group facing demographic "race suicide" are now associated with the fringe right. A brief survey of how this split evolved would only have further strengthened this excellent history.