And who was the best known Progressive in the world at that time? None other than the President of the United States -- Woodrow Wilson -- the man who was most responsible for the postwar order in Europe. So Mussolini had to do little more than read his newspapers to hear at least some things about the ideas of the very influential American Progressives. And who were the Progressives? Here is one summary of them:"Originally, progressive reformers sought to regulate irresponsible corporate monopoly, safeguarding consumers and labor from the excesses of the profit motive. Furthermore, they desired to correct the evils and inequities created by rapid and uncontrolled urbanization. Progressivism ..... asserted that the social order could and must be improved..... Some historians, like Richard Hofstadter and George Mowry, have argued that the progressive movement attempted to return America to an older, more simple, agrarian lifestyle. For a few progressives, this certainly was true. But for most, a humanitarian doctrine of social progress motivated the reforming spirit"
Here is a brief summary of the "Progressive" era from a non-Leftist perspective:"The Progressive Era is a period of one big lie after another, crafted upon the false belief that modern government somehow could replace a free market, private property order and create an economy marked both by prosperity and "fairness." From "scientific" management to "enlightened" religion (called theological liberalism and, later, secularism) to Prohibition to "objective" journalism, the belief was that modern society had found the key to "onward and upward" progress."
And a scholarly summary can be found here in a book review of David W. Southern's book on the Progressive era. The following may be a useful excerpt:The Progressive movement swept America from roughly the early 1890s through the early 1920s, producing a broad popular consensus that government should be the primary agent of social change. To that end, legions of idealistic young crusaders, operating at the local, state, and federal levels, seized and wielded sweeping new powers and enacted a mountain of new legislation, including minimum wage and maximum hour laws, antitrust statutes, restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol, appropriations for hundreds of miles of roads and highways, assistance to new immigrants and the poor, women's suffrage, and electoral reform, among much else....
Yet the Progressive Era was also a time of vicious, state-sponsored racism. In fact, from the standpoint of African-American history, the Progressive Era qualifies as arguably the single worst period since Emancipation. The wholesale disfranchisement of Southern black voters occurred during these years, as did the rise and triumph of Jim Crow. Furthermore, as the Westminster College historian David W. Southern notes in his recent book, The Progressive Era and Race: Reform and Reaction, 1900-1917, the very worst of it-disfranchisement, segregation, race baiting, lynching-"went hand-in-hand with the most advanced forms of southern progressivism." Racism was the norm, not the exception, among the very crusaders romanticized by today's activist left.
At the heart of Southern's flawed but useful study is a deceptively simple question: How did reformers infused with lofty ideals embrace such abominable bigotry? His answer begins with the race-based pseudoscience that dominated educated opinion at the turn of the 20th century. "At college," Southern notes, "budding progressives not only read expos,s of capitalistic barons and attacks on laissez-faire economics by muckraking journalists, they also read racist tracts that drew on the latest anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, eugenics, and medical science."
And as this article shows, the American "Progressives" of the late 19th and early 20th century were not only Leftists but they were also war-glorifying militarists.
Wilson even foreshadowed Hitler's racism. Note this quote about his actions in 1912:"Upon taking power in Washington, Wilson and the many other Southerners he brought into his cabinet were disturbed at the way the federal government went about its own business. One legacy of post-Civil War Republican ascendancy was that Washington's large black populace had access to federal jobs, and worked with whites in largely integrated circumstances. Wilson's cabinet put an end to that, bringing Jim Crow to Washington. Wilson allowed various officials to segregate the toilets, cafeterias, and work areas of their departments".
So Wilson actually reversed more tolerant policies put in place by Republicans. Racism was very LEFTIST in Hitler's day. Leftists like to portray Wilson as a visionary. They neglect to mention that the future he envisioned was a racially segregated one.
Unlike the American Leftists of today, the Progressives were in fact thoroughly patriotic, and Croly -- arguably the leading light of Progressivism -- was certainly explicitly nationalist. And one of Croly's disciples was both vastly influential and a remarkably exact model for Mussolini's imperialistic nationalism. The disciple concerned? Yet another American President: Theodore Roosevelt.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it must be noted that it is only in very recent times that the two major American political parties have become clearly delineated as Leftist and Rightist and so the Progressives were an influence that could and did operate within both major parties of that time. And before his break with the Republicans it was the progressive wing of the Republican party that TR was identified with.
And the following description of American Progressivism in the early 20th century could just as well have been a description of Fascism:"Progressive policies embodied an underlying philosophy repugnant to Jeffersonianism. As Ekirch describes this philosophy, "Society in the future would have to be based more and more on an explicit subordination of the individual to a collectivist, or nationalized, political and social order. This change, generally explained as one of progress and reform, was of course also highly important in building up nationalistic sentiment. At the same time, the rising authority and prestige of the state served to weaken the vestiges of internationalism and cosmopolitanism and to intensify the growing imperialistic rivalries." In their statist cause the progressives, who were now appropriating the name "liberal," enlisted Social Darwinism, economic determinism, and relativism.
So 20th century Fascism was in fact an American invention, or more precisely an invention of the American Left. Like many American ideas to this day, however, it proved immensely popular in Europe and it was only in Europe that it was put fully into practice. As it does today, American conservatism kept the American Left in some check in the first half of the 20th century so it was only in Europe that their ideas could come into full bloom.
So where did the Progressives get their ideas? Did they invent their ideas out of the blue? Of course not. Right up until World War I it was popular and even fashionable for American intellectuals to study in Germany -- where the thought of Hegel was very influential. And many of the Progressives were included in that movement.
Because they are so embarrassing to the Left of today, there are always attempts to deny that the American Progressives of a century ago were Leftists.
Well the new label may sound good, but they better hope people don't do any homework or that their political opposition is ineffective in exposing who they really are.