Progressivism and a Neo-Victorina Era


Michael Barone has an interesting piece called Is America Entering a New Victorian Era? over at Real Clear Politics.

Today, several widely unanticipated trends — certainly unanticipated by me — suggest that America is in some significant respects entering a new Victorian Era. Some may regard that as regrettable, others as welcome, still others as a mixture of good news and bad news. But it’s certainly news, especially to the aging baby boomers who expected the Age of Aquarius to continue indefinitely.

Read the whole thing. His piece got me thinking about the connection between the Victorian Era and what became American Progressivism around the turn of the twentieth century. A significant aspect of the goals of many early Progressives was control over the lives of others. Prohibition comes to mind.

A hundred years ago, the big bugaboo was booze. Now, it may be campus sex. Of course, drinking to excess and promiscuous sex are dangerous activities. Religion,  common sense, and our moral betters all warn against them. Where our moral betters fail us and themselves is by failing to realize that they are morally powerless to control anyone’s behavior but their own. Failing that, they try to use coercive power. For Progressives, that’s the power of the state.

Prohibition. The War on Drugs. Yes Means Yes. Perhaps a cycle is repeating.

Quote of the Day


οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὸ μὲν ὀργισθῆναι παντὸς καὶ ῥᾴδιον, καὶ τὸ δοῦναι ἀργύριον καὶ δαπανῆσαι· τὸ δ᾽ ᾧ καὶ ὅσον καὶ ὅτε καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα καὶ ὥς, οὐκέτι παντὸς οὐδὲ ῥᾴδιον Any one can get angry—that is easy—or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy.

—Aristotle