14 August 2012

History & Worldviews

A lot of discussion has gone on here about the various ideologies which impact the way a person approaches the study of history. I've been very open about my worldview - I'm not ashamed of it nor do I feel the need to pretend I don't have one as so many others do. I have confidence it my *presuppositions. Others in the blogoshpere either don't have that same confidence or they're ashamed of their worldview, or think they can continue the rather transparent sham that they don't have a worldview which impacts their approach. I'm glad I don't find myself in any of those positions.

With that in mind, I'd recommend readers consider the Hillsdale College lecture on Progressive ideology: “The Progressive Rejection of the Founding” It's free and is part 9 of a 10 part course: Constitution 101. From the lecture's overview:

Progressivism is the belief that America needs to move or “progress” beyond the principles of the American Founding. Organized politically more than a hundred years ago, Progressivism insists upon flexibility in political forms unbound by fixed and universal principles [i.e., **moral relativism]. Progressives hold that human nature is malleable and that society is perfectible [180 from what the Founders believed]. Affirming the inexorable, positive march of history, Progressives see the need for unelected experts who would supervise a vast administration of government.

Progressivism is rooted in the philosophy of European thinkers, most notably the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel. Progressivism takes its name from a faith in “historical progress.” According to the leading lights of Progressivism, including Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Dewey, human nature has evolved beyond the limitations that the Founders identified. Far from fearing man’s capacity for evil, Progressives held that properly enlightened human beings could be entrusted with power and not abuse it.
. . . The Constitution’s arrangement of government, based upon the separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism, only impeded effective government, according to Progressives. The limited government of the Founding is rejected in favor of a “living Constitution.”

This ideology is diametrically opposed to what the Founders believed and implemented in founding the United States - as imperfect as that founding was, it is far superior to anything Progressivism has ever produced. The notion that the Constitution "only impeded effective government" is precisely what Barack Obama believes and why he rejects our Founding principles and why he promised to "fundamentally transform" the United States. (How's that working out?) 

"It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, it says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted." ~ Barack Obama

It is also why so many well known academic historians endorsed him, as well as a number of history bloggers. (How's that working out?)

And since so many academic historians (and history bloggers) embrace this dangerous ideology, it's important to understand it so one can understand why these people write and believe what they do. If one understands where they're coming from, it's quite easy to know where they're going - and where they want to take others.

And the very same people who attack historians and writers on the right who ostensibly have a political agenda, have one themselves - only theirs is rooted in history's failures, their opponents in it's success. If you doubt that they're not all reading from the same Progressive script, just read their blogs and writings. Groupthink on steroids. It's stunningly predictable.

The problem a lot of these folks have is that they tend to live in an academic bubble. When you live in a bubble, you make the mistake of thinking everybody thinks the same way you and your associates do - or can be easily convinced to think that way. These people tend to be insulated from reality. This should be quite obvious as they never seem to be able to grasp the fact that their faculty lounge philosophies and worldviews are colossal and demonstrable failures. 

The lecture will be conducted by Ronald J. Pestritto who is the Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution, Associate Professor of Politics, and Dean of the Graduate School of Statesmanship at Hillsdale College. He holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate University.

You can view materials and watch the lecture here.

If you just want to watch the video, you can do so below.

*This does not mean I can't learn a new perspective on a particular subject or be swayed toward certain conclusions when presented with objective facts. It does mean that I have a particular worldview which has been shaped by my own study and experiences and that I am confident of the rightness of that worldview; particularly since I was once on the other (dark) side. In other words, been there, done that.

My mind is open, but I do try to keep the filter clean.

**This makes sense as the majority of these folks embrace the same philosophy - moral relativism - in other areas as well, e.g. social issues. 


Bob B said...

Great post. Loved reading it.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob - Thanks. If you have time, do listen to the lecture - great overview of the topic.

13thBama said...


What do you think the percentage is for progressives = socialist?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - not really sure. I suppose I view Progressivism as the underlying philosophy and socialism (in the U.S.) as the mechanical means to implement. Of course they are very much intertwined as are all systems of tyranny - fascism, communism, etc. The end result is always the same - a loss of liberty.