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Reich writes: "A progressive backlash against concentrated wealth and power occurred a century ago in America."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)



America's First Progressive Revolution

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

03 February 13

 

xactly a century ago, on February 3, 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, authorizing a federal income tax. Congress turned it into a graduated tax, based on "capacity to pay."

It was among the signal victories of the progressive movement - the first constitutional amendment in 40 years (the first 10 had been included in the Bill of Rights, the 11th and 12th in 1789 and 1804, and three others in consequence of the Civil War), reflecting a great political transformation in America.

The 1880s and 1890s had been the Gilded Age, the time of robber barons, when a small number controlled almost all the nation's wealth as well as our democracy, when poverty had risen to record levels, and when it looked as though the country was destined to become a moneyed aristocracy.

But almost without warning, progressives reversed the tide. Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901, pledging to break up the giant trusts and end the reign of the "malefactors of great wealth." Laws were enacted protecting the public from impure foods and drugs, and from corrupt legislators.

By 1909 Democrats and progressive Republicans had swept many state elections, subsequently establishing the 40-hour work week and other reforms that would later be the foundation stones for the New Deal. Woodrow Wilson won the 1912 presidential election.

A progressive backlash against concentrated wealth and power occurred a century ago in America. In the 1880s and 1890s such a movement seemed improbable if not impossible. Only idealists and dreamers thought the nation had the political will to reform itself, let alone enact a constitutional amendment of such importance - analogous, today, to an amendment reversing "Citizens United v. FEC" and limiting the flow of big money into politics.

But it did happen. And it will happen again.

 

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+167 # Maxwell 2013-02-03 14:56
"A progressive backlash against concentrated wealth and power occurred a century ago in America...it did happen. And it will happen again."

I sure hope so, Mr. Reich.
 
 
+7 # Depressionborn 2013-02-03 18:52
It may have been `120 years ago, not 100. The 1983 Coxes" army and all that. Some believe we are at the end of a 120 year Kress cycle. (Occupy movement the modern embodiment of the 1893 revolt.)

It may have led to war.
 
 
+3 # Depressionborn 2013-02-04 14:39
sorry 1893, not 1983. My bad
 
 
+6 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-02-04 15:28
The Plutocrats believe the "Right to Pursue Happiness" is a God given right that should only available to the wealthy. I've often thought much later in my youth, "most recently, why do the Republicans unceasingly fight Social Security, Medicare, etc.?" Programs paid for in part by the employee and in part by the employer. Lots of corporate employers simply do not care to make payments for the worker's welfare, well being. Workers who benefit from these programs then become more healthy, happy. The healthy happy workers seem to make the employers unhappy, miserable. Employers, "If I did not have to make payments to Social Security, etc. see how much more money I would have and the happier I would be." In the animal world, "someone or something must suffer so that another can live." I really do believe that lots of multi-national corporate executives have a hatred for their fellow man. It is a deep down hatred. but, they know it is there.
 
 
+5 # PGreen 2013-02-04 17:59
I speculate that the antipathy of plutocrats is due in part to the notion that they must surpass others-- be recognized as better than most others-- and view those who oppose them as enemies. It is somewhat recognizable in the ethic of "American Exceptionalism, " which may be different version of a similar attitude. "God is on our side," perhaps. Some plutocrats and their praetorians will single out welfare receivers, perversely seeing them as opposing the system which brands them as special-- and likely feel something akin to hatred. It reminds me of how the diseased used to be shunned in earlier societies. But most are probably not so emotionally involved. It is not so much that the public is hated, though stubborn parts of it may be experienced as such, but that it is ultimately regarded with little feeling at all. (Look at how we only count American causalities in the wars we initiate-- are we encouraged, in like manner to our leaders, to only value Americans?)
 
 
+124 # humanmancalvin 2013-02-03 15:14
Well stated & we must remember this come 2014 when the house has the opportunity to turn Blue thus enabling President Obama to advance a more Progressive agenda.
 
 
+14 # RLF 2013-02-04 06:51
You're foolish to think Obama wants a more progressive agenda. He has shown time and again that he is firmly on the side of big money. His new appointments show his continued adherance to his moneyed masters. (bad...I know it...but I'm tired)
 
 
+3 # dkonstruction 2013-02-05 12:06
Quoting RLF:
You're foolish to think Obama wants a more progressive agenda. He has shown time and again that he is firmly on the side of big money. His new appointments show his continued adherance to his moneyed masters. (bad...I know it...but I'm tired)


Just as Obama, on his own, will not push for a more progressive agenda, Teddy Roosevelt did not come to support breaking up the trusts initially out of the goodness of his heart. Like all substantive progressive change in this country the legislation that came out of the Progressive Era was due to mass movement organizing from below, something Reich fails to even mention.

For a wonderful recent book on the movement(s) that led to the Progressive Era legislation see: "The Rich Don't Always Win" by Sam Pizzigati.

The Gilded Age saw the same kind of concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few plutocrats as we see today but due to there being mass movements demanding change and putting fear into the hearts and minds of the advanced wing of capital they were forced to make concessions that made a significant difference and dramatically closed the income gap and led over time to much higher wages and standard of living for ordinary americans.
 
 
+6 # Sweet Pea 2013-02-04 08:04
Quoting humanmancalvin:
Well stated & we must remember this come 2014 when the house has the opportunity to turn Blue thus enabling President Obama to advance a more Progressive agenda.

How true! Yes, we must fight to keep all government Dems. Here in Michigan, too many Dems were disappointed with Obama's progress during his first two years. So in the election for governor of Michigan, too many of us did not work hard to elect Dems. Now, we have Republican Governor Rick Snyder who tried to turn us into a "Right to Work" (and starve) state.
 
 
-142 # moafu@yahoo.com 2013-02-03 15:15
RIGHT !! First they created debt by requiring the government of thepeople of the United States to borrow money in order to operate - hence the Federal Reserve Bank! THEN they created the IRS and graduated income tax to collect and pay for the debt. BOTH actions were against the principles on which this nation is founded. YOU CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT !! MADNESS !!
 
 
+108 # brux 2013-02-03 16:02
> YOU CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT !! MADNESS !!


Really, what do you think I did when I borrowed money to create a business to make money and prosper and hire people? You are totally wrong, and you should try educating yourself by reading Reich's book, and maybe Stiglitz's last book and some others instead of relying on 1st grade economics.
 
 
+28 # genierae 2013-02-03 18:14
Well said, brux.
 
 
+3 # Doubter 2013-02-03 18:18
I think/hope he meant you can't borrow your way out of debt if you borrow money for the purpose of paying off your debt while you are being charged interest, to pay for which you are also borrowing and paying interest on - as the nation is doing.
All this can lead to is eternal growing debt slavery. (to the owners of the 'Federal'Reserv e?)
 
 
+9 # bmiluski 2013-02-04 12:26
President Obama wanted to borrow money to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure thus providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of people. But the neo-cons twisted and spun until people like #Doubter started spewing their propaganda.
 
 
+4 # Doubter 2013-02-03 18:28
Even as an infant I was taught that you borrow money TO INVEST in something that yields a higher return on your investment; but never to pay off debt. That IS madness!
 
 
+7 # conniejo 2013-02-04 14:02
How about borrowing money at an interest rate of, say, 2.9% for a second mortgage in order to consolidate debt from three different credit cards charging 18%. It certainly can make sense to borrow money to pay off debt. It just depends on the circumstances.
 
 
+5 # Depressionborn 2013-02-03 18:45
Yes your right about your borrowing.

The problem comes when you cannot pay on the principle, and then need to borrow to pay interest. Soon after that no one will loan to you. What then?
 
 
+1 # Reyn 2013-02-06 11:10
Quoting Depressionborn:

The problem comes when you cannot pay on the principle, and then need to borrow to pay interest. Soon after that no one will loan to you. What then?


Do you remember a decade or so ago when Brazil simply decided to default on all of its debt, period. I watched the press howl - largest economy in South America, never be able to borrow again, ruined, etc. Within 9 months the SAME banks that were lending to them before were lending to them again AT THE SAME INTEREST. Japan had trouble and got downgraded, people howled, end of Japan, etc. Japan can still borrow at a LOWER interest rate than they were paying then. When money is lent, it is printed in most cases - it doesn't exist before - the danger is inflation, but as scarcity becomes more and more limited, inflation as a danger is tamed. Right now only food and fuel are dangers on that front in my opinion.

It is a LOT more simple and conversely more complex than you are making it out to be. Money is a market like other things, and it is not real to start with -- because economics is simply a construct, not an enforced reality.

Reyn
 
 
+1 # kitster 2013-02-03 19:10
his is not sophisticated enough to be first grade economics. his is failed hayek/friedmani sm.
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2013-02-03 22:29
Quoting kitster:
his is not sophisticated enough to be first grade economics. his is failed hayek/friedmanism.

A bit like your English you mean?
 
 
+7 # DevinMacGregor 2013-02-04 01:31
That is what is so funny about arguments such as his. The Private Sector borrows and spends all time to even run deficits during one quarter or the next.

If banks restrict borrowing then businesses cannot get the money they need to buy materials and labor for the goods/services they sell. You do not sit around and save your paper route money to build that factory to make your hover boards in. You go to a bank and borrow it.
 
 
+3 # MylesJ 2013-02-04 13:27
Because not everybody is born to a wealthy family. Credit is one of the great equalizer's. In fact, some modern economists think that access to credit is a human right. Micro-loans are turning the world's poor into capitalists.
 
 
+1 # Rationalist 2013-02-04 20:11
You're selling the First Grade short!
 
 
+3 # dkonstruction 2013-02-05 12:09
Quoting brux:
> YOU CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT !! MADNESS !!


Really, what do you think I did when I borrowed money to create a business to make money and prosper and hire people? You are totally wrong, and you should try educating yourself by reading Reich's book, and maybe Stiglitz's last book and some others instead of relying on 1st grade economics.


well said, indeed.
 
 
+1 # brux 2013-02-08 04:58
thx
 
 
+12 # bruf 2013-02-03 16:30
Paradoxically, most of the ratification process took place during the administration of William Howard Taft, a man not known for his radical policies!
 
 
+2 # Smokey 2013-02-03 18:14
[quote name="bruf"]"Pa radoxically, most of the ratification process took place during the administration of William Howard Taft, a man not known for his radical policies!"


And remember to celebrate Abe Lincoln's birthday! Long ago, there were radicals among the Republicans. The movie "Lincoln" tells the story. (Can you imagine Republicans leading the fight to outlaw slavery? It happened in 1865. Amazing!)

Taft wasn't radical, but, in some moments, he leaned towards the liberals. Although Teddy Roosevelt thought that Taft was a political "wimp." The story of Taft and Roosevelt and the 1912 election is amazing.

Comparing the politics of 1912 to the politics of 2012 is, sometimes, a bit sad.
 
 
+72 # Art947 2013-02-03 17:01
I don't know if you can borrow your way out of debt, however, you certainly can borrow your way to wealth and prosperity! America was built on borrowed money. The great public works projects were built with borrowed capital. Did the Federal Government just print money to finance the construction of the Hoover Dam? the Tennessee Valley projects? Do the states have the money to build their bridges, roads, etc. without borrowing money?

What member of the "monied class" doesn't have part of his wealth invested in government bonds? Are these people de-investing their money in these "securities"? Remember as well, that the investments that we are all making in Social Security is actually being used to purchase government bonds .

I am also reminded that those of us who own homes, have probably borrowed money to build our nest egg.

Put everyone back to work (with borrowed money or not) and watch the economy grow! Trickle down belongs in the toilet for ever more!
 
 
+17 # Smokey 2013-02-03 18:05
[quote name="Art947"] "I don't know if you can borrow your way out of debt, however, you certainly can borrow your way to wealth and prosperity! America was built on borrowed money."

This is how capitalism works. In fact, the notion of "borrowing capital" - to move money from here to there - helps to define and explain capitalism in every economy since the Stone Age.

Only in the simplest situations do entrepreneurs expect to make major progress without outside investment. Sooner or later, the successful corporation has to borrow money.

Joe the Plumber may be able to function, at some level, without borrowing money. However, when Mr. Plumber decides to expand his operation, or buy a house, he'll probably ask for some kind of loan. (Afterwards, Joe may boast that he "did everything on his own.")

Government issues bonds. In America, it's a safe investment. Very popular with the rich, in most seasons. Even if the nation goes to hell, the rich will demand payment.
 
 
+4 # harbormon 2013-02-04 11:41
Absolutely correct, Art!!! Our nation has borrowed both prior to and after its inception,and will continue to do so as long as we are a progressive nation moving forward.

We borrowed to fight the Revolutionary War, and issued Treasury Bonds or increased taxes to repay it and have done the same thing for every war there after--that is until until Iraq I & II!

The Deficit/Debt issue is a red herring put out by the Republicans in 1992 and every year thereafter. It's misdirection and prevarication for political gain and is the only seasoned talking point they have left to hang their very small hat on. It disheartens me to hear the Democrats taking the bait, reacting and by doing so, giving credence to the "fishy smell" of herring.
 
 
+27 # doneasley 2013-02-03 17:31
Quoting moafu@yahoo.com:
... YOU CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT !! MADNESS !!


Seems Dick (Deficits don't matter!)Cheney thought so as he and Bush ran up massive debt featuring 2 wars, while they used the tax code to funnel unprecedented amounts of cash to the wealthiest Americans.
 
 
+13 # Smokey 2013-02-03 17:53
[quote name="moafu@yah oo.! "MADNESS."

Yeah, it's MADNESS to believe that - in some way - the Progressive revolution was against "the principles on which this nation is founded." So, at this point - your final point - we actually agree.

Here's the truth: When the Constitution was first established, the Founding Fathers anticipated the need for future changes in the Constitution. So they developed the means for amendment, and, very quickly, the first ten amendments appeared. ("The Bill of Rights.")

Americans recognize the need for the Supreme Court to review laws, regulations, etc., to determine if they're acceptable under the Constitution. (Advocates for all sorts of causes - including gun ownership, abortion rights, limited taxation, opposition to the draft, etc. - have gone before the Supreme Court to plead their cases.)

This is how our American government works. If it didn't work in this way, we would still be stuck with slavery and women would be unable to vote. (Slavery and patriarchy were acceptable when the Constitution was first assembled. At a later date, they were rejected by lawful means.)

Key points: The Constitution makes provisions for political change in accordance with the principles established by the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in effect, helps to supervise the process.

It's MADNESS to believe that Americans are unable to change the Constitution.
 
 
-15 # Depressionborn 2013-02-03 18:26
Of course you can't. At least not for long regardless of how big your army. But don't tell the "redFcheckers". It will only upset them.

We are spending money we don't have and borrowing money we can't pay back. Not for mush longer I think.

The Piper will be paid.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2013-02-05 12:09
Quoting moafu@yahoo.com:
RIGHT !! First they created debt by requiring the government of thepeople of the United States to borrow money in order to operate - hence the Federal Reserve Bank! THEN they created the IRS and graduated income tax to collect and pay for the debt. BOTH actions were against the principles on which this nation is founded. YOU CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT !! MADNESS !!


The country was founded on debt. If we didn't borrow money to finance the revolution there would be no USA. The purpose of borrowing is not to "borrow your way out of debt." This represents a fundamental misunderstandin g of the nature and purpose of gov't debt. Perhaps you should go back a bit further in US history including reading Alexander Hamilton.
 
 
0 # dkonstruction 2013-02-05 12:11
Quoting moafu@yahoo.com:
RIGHT !! First they created debt by requiring the government of thepeople of the United States to borrow money in order to operate - hence the Federal Reserve Bank! THEN they created the IRS and graduated income tax to collect and pay for the debt. BOTH actions were against the principles on which this nation is founded. YOU CANNOT BORROW YOUR WAY OUT OF DEBT !! MADNESS !!


And, is not refinancing debt at a lower interest rate "borrowing your way out of debt"? this alone should tell you that debt, in and of itself, is not a problem. It depends on the nature of the debt, what the borrowed funds will be used for (as in Brux's example below of borrowing money to start a business and make money) and what the repayment terms are. But, most important, gov't debt does not in any way shape or form equate to the debt of individuals or households.
 
 
+38 # Barbara K 2013-02-03 15:36
Geez, it is already started, I hope we know how to stop it this time. We can start with getting their backers out of congress. Using our local Credit Unions and smalltown banks to stop feeding the beast. We need more ways to stop them.
 
 
+37 # Inspired Citizen 2013-02-03 15:59
It will happen again if enough people get involved. People are busy, but some just need to become motivated to give up a little TV and plug into the movement to amend.

Sign the petition to play a part in this historic effort to overturn Citizens United.

https://movetoamend.org/
 
 
+33 # brux 2013-02-03 16:00
I hope so too ... where do we sign up, and how do we make sure that whatever force we create or end up with will not be corrupted like the last time ... considering technology and drones and whatnot, this may be the last time all human beings have a chance to save freedom for all and avoid being a slave planet owned by a few ... dare I say MORLOCKS ... remember H.G. Wells?
 
 
+12 # lobdillj 2013-02-03 16:07
Why didn't you tell us how it is going to happen? Look at the communication methods then vs now.

Today people don't pay any attention to endless war, torture, the Wall Street rapists, etc. ad infinitum. So how's it going to happen?
 
 
+10 # Smokey 2013-02-03 18:26
[quote name="lobdillj" ]"Why didn't you tell us how it is going to happen? Look at the communication methods then vs now.

Today people don't pay any attention to endless war, torture, the Wall Street rapists, etc. ad infinitum. So how's it going to happen?"

I don't have any easy answers to your questions... However, I do know that there have moments in the past when the situation was difficult. People were busy with all sorts of things. Yet, despite the problems with communication, etc., the progressives were able to organize and to win some victories.

Think about the political scene in 1912-1913.... Guys like Hearst were promoting "yellow journalism." Thugs were breaking up strikes. The Ku Klu Klan was sponsoring lynchings. Women couldn't vote. The imperialists were grabbing Puerto Rico and the Phillipines. Torture was reported.

In some way, the progressives got their act together. Learn from their experience.

FOOTNOTE: "Diversity" isn't new. There were more immigrants in America - measured as a percentage of the population - in 1910 than there were in 2010.
 
 
+22 # LegacyCost 2013-02-03 16:11
Those "malefactors of great wealth" will continue to force the people of the United Sates to reassert their sovereignty over and over again.
Lets hope we still can do it by peaceful means!
 
 
+15 # WestWinds 2013-02-03 18:10
The best insurance is to educate the children and teach them to educate their children. I'm not talking about reading, writing and arithmetic; these are skill sets not education. Real education is critical thinking, so the kids will know what they are dealing with and can cull the good leaders from the nefarious ones.
 
 
-27 # lorenbliss 2013-02-03 16:29
Sadly, Mr. Reich's claim -- "it will happen again" -- panders to the imbecility of hope, the moronic Polly Anna optimism of those who, by ignorance or delusion, deny the apocalyptic reality underlying the permanent death of the American Dream. A progressive resistance to capitalism will not arise again because the world's resources are decreasing too rapidly to allow such reality-based optimism. That's why the Dream is dead beyond resurrection; without the material wealth of the Dream, the progressive vision is meaningless.

Even if this were not so, the Ruling Class will never allow another progressive era. The Ruling Class is hoarding the world's wealth to protect its self against the looming triple apocalypse -- terminal climate change inflicted by fossil fuels, the exhaustion of those same fuels and, as a result, the extinction-clas s disaster of total technological collapse. And this time, unlike any other epoch in human history, the Ruling Class has the technological superiority to impose zero-tolerance enforcement of its will.

The combination of all these factors means our powerlessness and ever-worsening poverty is forever – that is, until our species is extinct. Thus the damning validity of Chris Hedges' claim our only sane alternative is to embrace the opiates of spirituality and religion, never mind they too are mostly delusional.
 
 
+6 # WestWinds 2013-02-03 18:12
I think you are forgetting something that we Americans have been born with; it's in our DNA: our pioneering spirit. We can be a pretty plucky bunch when we get together and decide to do something. After all, 340 million of us all pushing for the same things can be a pretty convincing argument.
 
 
+5 # RLF 2013-02-04 06:58
Your talking past tense...they are mostly an ill-educated, brain dead bunch of sports fans these days. Things aren't bad enough yet...but they are getting there quickly.
 
 
+2 # lorenbliss 2013-02-04 13:25
To clarify, I was an activist all my adult life, going to jail, sacrificing a promising journalism career on the altar of change.

That's why, two months away from my 73rd birthday, I am economically no more than a common bum – damned to the slave-pen powerlessness of dependence on welfare for the remainder of my life, condemned to die if not literally in the street then surely and inescapably in the proverbial gutter of shame and degradation that is the welfare-recipie nt's lot.

In today's United States activism is not just pointless; it is often also socioeconomic suicide.

It is rendered so by the obscene reality of Moron Nation. The U.S. population has been dumbed down to a nadir of prideful ignorance and moral imbecility that has no peer in human history – a collective idiocy so grave, Ayn Rand with her variants on the “Mein Kampf” theme now elevates it to perverse heroism – infinite greed as ultimate virtue.

As Occupy proved, the resultant combination of anti-intellectu ality and selfishness forever prohibits solidarity. It reduces activism to egotistical shouting. Hence – beyond the likelihood of wrecking one's economic prospects – activism changes nothing.

Nevertheless I persist in small acts of defiance. Why? So I feel less useless as I sink into the pre-extinction darkness.

Here in Moron Nation, it is idiotic to expect anything better – a bitter truth no deluge of negative numbers can refute.
 
 
+11 # 6thextinction 2013-02-03 18:42
We have way more fossil fuels, thanks to tar sands and fracking, than we can ever burn without frying the planet first, so there will NOT be "total technological collapse" from lack of fuel. Our demise will come from the catastrophic impact of the use of all those fuels and the heat-trapping C02 released into the atmosphere, The result? Drought, rising ocean levels, temperatures, intensity of storms, hurricanes, loss of farmland, crops, forests, extinctions, etc. Our overpopulation will hasten and increase the suffering.

Can we prevent this? Yes, if we start the corrections NOW, governments and groups and individuals--ea ch and all. Will we? That's the 64 trillion dollar question.
 
 
0 # RLF 2013-02-04 06:59
We should invade Canada! It won't be a desert.
 
 
+6 # Smokey 2013-02-03 18:48
[quote name="lorenblis s"]. "A progressive resistance to capitalism will not arise again because the world's resources are decreasing too rapidly to allow such reality-based optimism."

COMMENT: Uh, well, actually you got some of the facts right and the conclusion wrong.... The world's natural resources are decreasing. Some folks are becoming wealthy - in part, because they can manipulate the crisis to serve their corporate agenda - but lots of Americans and Europeans are slipping into new financial difficulties.

Economics drives politics. In the midst of shortages, expect bread riots and a lot more. Revolution will arrive. The Arab Spring and the European resistance to austerity budgets provide an early glimpse of the future. (It's possible that there's still some strength left in the Occupy movement.)


"Thus the damning validity of Chris Hedges' claim our only sane alternative is to embrace the opiates of spirituality and religion, never mind they too are mostly delusional."

COMMENT: I'm not sure what Hedges has in mind. He's not very progressive in his political thinking. If he wants "opiates," he may prefer booze and dope. They're very popular.

During the days of Marx and Freud, atheists were often identified with progressive causes. Nowadays, atheists like Hedges often sound like cynics and hustlers. Have another Budweiser and some nachos, Chris. Might make you happy.
 
 
+6 # Anarchist 23 2013-02-03 20:30
lorenbliss: Wow and I thought I was a pessimist! Well I both curse the darkness and light a candle-you should never give up, never,never,nev er.
 
 
-18 # anarchteacher 2013-02-03 16:33
Once again, Reich is wrong. Discover the facts concerning the Progressive Era:

http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/1114-the-progressive-era

"The Progressive Era," by Charles A. Burris


http://www.princeton.edu/~tleonard/papers/otherbel.pdf

"American Economic Reform in the Progressive Era: Its Foundational Beliefs and Their Relation to Eugenics," by Thomas C. Leonard


http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard156.html

"World War I as Fulfillment: Power and the Intellectuals," by Murray N. Rothbard


http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard28.html

"The Progressive Era and the Family", by Murray N. Rothbard


http://www.mises.org/daily/2225

"Origins of the Welfare State in America, by Murray N. Rothbard


http://www.princeton.edu/~tleonard/papers/gospel4.pdf

"Religion and Evolution in Progressive Era Political Economy: Adversaries or Allies? by Thomas C. Leonard


http://lewrockwell.com/burris/burris21.1.html

"Who Rules America: Power Elite Analysis and American History," by Charles A. Burris
 
 
+10 # Smokey 2013-02-03 19:05
[quote name="anarchtea cher"]Once again, Reich is wrong. Discover the facts concerning the Progressive Era:

"American Economic Reform in the Progressive Era: Its Foundational Beliefs and Their Relation to Eugenics," by Thomas C. Leonard


http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard156.html

"World War I as Fulfillment: Power and the Intellectuals," by Murray N. Rothbard


Hmmmmm.... It's sort of like saying, "People voted for Obama in 2012 because they wanted more abortions, more drone attacks, and more torture conducted by CIA operatives in Cuba and Iraq."

Uh, well, it's true that Obama supports abortion rights and its true that he supports drone attacks and some nasty CIA operations. However, these things don't explain and define "progressive politics" in today's America.

America during the late 1800s and into the early 1900s had a variety of progressive movements, alliances, networks, causes, etc. Lots and lots of disagreement about leadership and tactics and goals. (It's surprising, for example, to discover that Mother Jones was NOT very interested in "votes for women." John Muir, the conservationist , made some racist comments about Indians. etc., etc.)

Don't let people define "progressive politics" in ways that you reject. Think for yourself.
 
 
+18 # Regina 2013-02-03 16:41
"By 1909, progressive Republicans..." If they had stayed that way, what a different America we would have had in this century!
 
 
+1 # RLF 2013-02-04 07:05
Only the names would be changed. The inevitable slide down hill has to end some times and then you have to walk back up...which is hard work.
 
 
+33 # born1929 2013-02-03 16:54
The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor .......
Voltaire
 
 
0 # RLF 2013-02-04 07:07
So we need to get as many third world imigrants into the country desgning software, nursing, doctoring, engineering...t he only way to have imigration reform is if they can only be legal if the join a union!
 
 
+38 # genierae 2013-02-03 17:11
"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men." John Adams

"idealists and dreamers"? Count me in.
 
 
+8 # kitster 2013-02-03 17:17
"tis a consummation devoutly to be wished."

BUT...the government's only jobs program is constant conflict throughout the world and the resulting treasure spent on men and materiel to beat the drums of war.

BUT..."the malefactors of great wealth" are the actual government itself.

BUT...the vast majority of amerikans enjoy a standard of living undreamt of by their forebears. and our lassez faire attitude to governance has come to this.

BUT...the public education system of the country is under constant attack and even denounced by the people most benefitted by it.

BUT...progressives are disparate and confined to only one political party and have the ear of only a few in our "shadow" government in washington.

BUT...well, I could on and on. I just don't see it happening in my lifetime...unle ss the empire finally falls under its own odorous weight.
 
 
+11 # WestWinds 2013-02-03 18:19
I think that throughout 2013, we are going to see the beginnings of rebellion against what has been the status quo; our Gilded Cage Era. We need to get the government off of corporate funded campaign financing and corporate contributions. Remember, corporations are not people; they are just the manifestation of a certain thought process that can be replaced by a better thought process. The only thing we really need is a fundamental ground shift in the way We the People think. Once we have that, they won't stand a chance.
 
 
+5 # Anarchist 23 2013-02-03 20:33
'...unless the empire finally falls under its own odorous weight.'

that could happen; it has happened and it think buy the logical progression of things, it is beginning to happen. there are cracks in the manufactured complacency and agreement. As Churchill once said 'Not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning'
 
 
0 # harbormon 2013-02-04 11:50
Well written, Kitster albeit a sad indictment of our two party system and the current state of the social economic and political structure of our nation.
 
 
+3 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-02-03 17:30
Any one who doesn't want to share and get along with the rest of the 99% might as well pack their bags for some fantasy land in the sky b/c 'it' is happening!!! Thanks for the reminder, Robert Reich...
 
 
+3 # Beverly 2013-02-03 18:36
Wull..... I think I'm in LOVE with Robert Reich!!!! He's spelled out the history, and given us HOPE again!!!
Beverly Smith
 
 
+5 # wrknight 2013-02-03 19:51
It was the voters that made it happen back then and it will be the voters that make it happen in the future. If it happens.

Wake up America!
 
 
+10 # ganymede 2013-02-03 20:20
The bottom line is that we don't have any choice. Thanks to Reich, Krugman and other enlightened leaders and teachers we will get out of this mess and move forward. There is no alternative, we've reached the end of this particular road of lies, greed, bad propaganda, warmongering and brainwashing. Rightwing thinking has offered us nothing in the past and is collapsing right before our eyes. Either these people go down or life will end on our planet Earth.
 
 
+2 # Bev 2013-02-03 21:04
Communications being what they were, each state was required to vote on the 16th ammendmentand it was slow.The robber barons and monied interests including our legislators in Washington grew impatient to finance World War I and the massive profits it would bring them. After only Alabama signed on, they lied and said the ammendment had passed. To this day, if you have the money to take the IRS to court, as some have done, you can win by challenging them to produce the law.
 
 
0 # Reyn 2013-02-06 11:17
*sigh*

That's not true you know. It's a myth. Courts have WITHOUT EXCEPTION found that the 16th amendment is both real and binding and levied the required taxes, together with fees and in some cases jail time from tax protesters.

http://tax.findlaw.com/federal-taxes/top-tax-myths-debunked.html

Now, breathe deeply and LIVE. This is a better world to be in if you don't waste your life and time with crap like the dribble you just tried to pass off as real.

Kind thoughts,

Reyn
 
 
+1 # Allen 23 2013-02-03 22:11
Sigh. Not wanting to use Mr. Reich as a punching bag but he simply has it wrong.

It was the leftists and radicals that brought about the hint of a revolution, of course there never was one here in the US, not some imagined group of "progressives."

These revolutionaries understood that politics is driven less by ideas than by interests and that those interests are based on economic class. Radical republicans (Civil War variety), revolutionary democrats, social democrats (including even a sizable chunk of the British Labor Party and the German SDs of today), socialists, utopian socialists, agrarian socialists, communists, anarchists, anarco-syndical ists, and nihilists all agreed on the centrality of social classes even before they divide on what to do about them.

The "Progressives" that Reich obliquely refers to explicitly rejected the centrality of social classes. In fact they were united with "Conservatives" in their agreement on the fundamental norms of society and on their long-term objectives- most importantly in the defense of private property and the projection of "national interest."
 
 
+8 # forthepeople 2013-02-03 22:35
All true, Mr. Reich, but you fail to mention the price in blood, human sacrifice and life that was paid by those representatives of the people to bring us to the point where any change was possible. This was a tide of human commitment to change and improve the system under whose boot the people paid the prices of autocracy and feed the bloated the bellies of the country's ruling class. This ruling class conducted class warfare in the most baldfaced manner imaginable, employing armies of gunmen and assassins, some called Pinkerton's, some sheriffs and police, some the U.S. Army sent to enforce the power of stolen Private Property over the needs and will of the people. For every human advance over the gluttons of autocracy and personal enrichment, people, not the leadership of the Republican and Democratic Parties, have paid the price of change and progress. It has been said before, and I believe it is true, that FDR, rather than being reviled by the imposers of Private Property and wealth, should be enshrined as their Patron Saint for having protected and advanced the cause of wealth and Private Property. Just as Social Security fails in making most people socially secure, the language of real social change is co-opted to preserve our society of inequality. Do emerge from your protected monastic existence and join forces with those who struggle with the Devils that have control of the levers of power that benight our beautiful land.
 
 
+6 # Shorey13 2013-02-03 23:38
Reich is only partially right. Yes, Teddy Roosevelt, his cousin FDR, Woodrow Wilson and others met here in San Francisco a couple of years after the Earthquake, and spelled out a Progressive agenda, including the 8-hour work day, 40-hour week, a minimum wage and suggestions for a safety net. But, they were largely ridiculed and accused of being idealistic dreamers. What is true is that when the Great Depression came along, FRD had already in hand that agenda, which he proceeded to implement. Absent the Depression, which disempowered many of the economic elite, none of these things would have happened.

The lesson is that Progressives' current obligation is to create a new agenda, based on current realities, then pray for another World-wide Bankruptcy, so that Elizabeth Warren can step in and make the changes Reich and Krugman and Hedges and others are proposing,. Without an economic disaster, we have no chance of dislodging the economic elite who are now in charge.
 
 
+4 # harbormon 2013-02-04 11:57
Haven't we been experiencing that economic disaster for the last six years ... unfortunately this time around our ostensibly progressive [elected] leadership are fighting for table scraps when they should be fighting for the right to determine the menu and who gets to eat...
 
 
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2013-02-06 07:55
Quoting harbormon:
Haven't we been experiencing that economic disaster for the last six years ... unfortunately this time around our ostensibly progressive [elected] leadership are fighting for table scraps when they should be fighting for the right to determine the menu and who gets to eat...


I wish I had the ability to convey such deep insight with so few words. I wish this comment by habormon generated more insight
 
 
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2013-02-06 07:58
I wish I could have Harbormon's ability to state the deep insight above with such few words or that it generated more feedback.
 
 
+5 # Diareo Knabo 2013-02-04 01:50
This country MUST evolve to move away from this arcaic form of capitalism. No, I am not one of these so-called 'commies' who is postulating for a State run centralised economic system (Soviet style) either. Both systems are dismal failures! Read up on Richard Wolff! I recommend reading two of his books: Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism. (2012) and: When Capitalism Hits the Fan (2009) Essentially what he is trying to advocate is an economy based upon local control and equal leadership of the collective business. Yes KARL MARX! (There! I just may be censored for stating two 'dirty words'! lol)!

Seriously, he defines the original socialistic ideals, far removed from what the former CCCP (Soviet Union), present day Cuba, Vietnam, and what China are going through. Interesting that during the eighties, many self expoused 'republicans' were practising MARXIST ideals (by starting collectives where everyone in effect would be the boss and NO greedy selfish callous disconcerting CEOs to contend with! (...And no, I don't work for Mr. Wolff, only heard some of his speeches)!
 
 
+5 # NAVYVET 2013-02-04 10:24
As a historian of dissent, activist, and daughter of a LaFollette Progressive, I know that we are overdue for an uprising against ownership by the few. However, whole cultures can be trapped by combinations of perverted religion, propaganda promoting imperialism & bigotry, poor education, and a privateer oligarchy that keeps people enslaved to low-paying jobs and too exhausted, sick & and worried to think. The Renaissance, with its Divine Right of Kings, demolished the gains in liberty and justice made during the later Middle Ages. We don't need kings for tyrants when we have politicians with more power than any king ever had. Add the neglect of global climate peril & pollution, which could end life (if nukes don't do it first) and recent "laws" which wipe out gains won during recent eras of enlightenment, make supporting reform illegal, and jail dissenters. We are very close to "1984" and we MUST face that as a possibility. If we don't, we are as guilty of living in LaLa Land as a climate-denier. I have grandchildren and I don't want them scrabbling to survive in a world of misery. We desperately need a new political party based on Occupy and other contemporary nonviolent dissent. The Greens won't do. They have a more sordid history than some RSN readers realize. It needs to be inclusive, willing to compromise among ourselves. new yet open to old ideas that have been trashed,. That's how to win the people and ensure the future!
 
 
+4 # Cynthia 2013-02-04 10:26
We need a Coalition Party, one comprised of all third parties who come together as a voting block with the Coalition candidates. We have our own primary, each party putting forth their candidates, and as a Coalition we agree to vote for whomever gets the most votes even if it's not someone within our registered party. In this way, we can change the course of our history and the direction of our government. As long as you vote for the two-party/one-p arty war and corporation party, We, the People, will always lose.
 
 
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2013-02-06 08:18
Quoting Cynthia:
We need a Coalition Party, one comprised of all third parties who come together as a voting block with the Coalition candidates. We have our own primary, each party putting forth their candidates, and as a Coalition we agree to vote for whomever gets the most votes even if it's not someone within our registered party. In this way, we can change the course of our history and the direction of our government. As long as you vote for the two-party/one-party war and corporation party, We, the People, will always lose.


I suddenly figured out why 3rd party's didn't do well in 2012. I thought the problem was Libertarian stubbornness in refusing to join the 3rd party extended debate.

I now realize it is because the Justice Party was part of that debate and the Libertarians didn't want to give them any publicity, even to the extent of publicly refusing to debate them.

The Greens could have been aware but weren't. The fizzling of the Vietnam teach-in movement put the 1% in charge of the knowledge war.

Not really off the subject, the creditors slipped expunging one's record, in 7 years, that made people start off buying a few stupid things on credit then paying them off to establish credit, then getting hooked of borrowing.
 
 
0 # RICHARDKANEpa 2013-02-05 09:55
There is a balancing act, when progressives started losing they dropped capitol punishment and gun control as litmus issues. Now in the last election those opposing gay rights and ingratiation got so overwhelmed that many gave up fighting very hard. So now gun control has been added to the progressive litmus test.
 
 
0 # 2lilluc 2013-02-07 06:49
Thank you as ever Mr. Reich!
What a timely and auspicious article!
If they could do it back then, why can't we do it now? Have we become too lethargic, thinking; someone will fix it.
Well, I don't think "someone" will fly in like Superman and make evreything right again. I hope we get to it soon, before it becomes even more urgent.
-How did the progressives come together back then and how did the "backlash" begin? How did they mobilize people? Did they mobilize a lot of citizens, not just politicians? I'd better start reading...
 

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