With respect to the key philosophic works of progressivism relating to the natural law tradition, I have drawn the reader’s attention to some of them in this essay, and some of these have been made available as a resource on this website.
As a practical matter, this call led progressives to advocate both constitutional reform and an aggressive legislative and regulatory agenda. In keeping with the purpose of this web resource, my brief essay has focused on the more philosophic aspects of progressivism, because that is where progressivism’s encounter with the natural law tradition is most direct. On the more concrete side, readers are encouraged to study both the progressives’ critique of the constitutional separation of powers and the alternative solution that they proposed: the separation of politics and administration. By this latter formulation, progressives like Wilson and Goodnow meant that the national political institutions (Congress, the presidency, etc.) ought to be democratized and unified, bringing them into much closer contact with public opinion and facilitating their expression of the general public will. At the same time, since progressives believed that the most contentious political questions had been resolved by historical development (the Civil War had been decisive in this regard), the real work of government was not in politics, but in administration, that is, in figuring out the specific means of achieving what the people generally agreed they all wanted. It is in this way that progressivism became influential not only upon the development of our traditional political institutions, but also on the rise of the federal bureaucracy and the very significant role played by federal agencies in setting and enforcing national policy today.
Progressive vs traditional education essay quotes
It is also the case that so much could be said about progressivism’s massive influence on our party and electoral systems, and especially on the structure of state and local politics, where progressivist mechanisms such as the ballot initiative, the referendum, the recall, the short ballot, and the professionalization of local government with city managers and commissions have become a traditional part of our political life as Americans. But these, too, lie outside the scope of this essay and must remain matters to be independently pursued by the reader.