Skip to comments.Progressivism and the origins of the tyrannical administrative state
Posted on 10/29/2011 8:37:12 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
I recently came across this article by Robert J Pestritto on the origins of the administrative state, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Some excerpts:
Relying heavily on European models of administrative power, Wilson laid out a vision for administrative discretion in 1891 that directly rejected the rule-of-law model:The functions of government are in a very real sense independent of legislation, and even constitutions, because [they are] as old as government and inherent in its very nature. The bulk and complex minuteness of our positive law, which covers almost every case that can arise in Administration, obscures for us the fact that Administration cannot wait upon legislation, but must be given leave, or take it, to proceed without specific warrant in giving effect to the characteristic life of the State
I have seen fit to quote from his article due to the fact that he quotes and footnotes from many things that are still in copyright, so I can't even see them unless I go out an buy them for myself. At the current time, that's not an option.
As Wilson memorably put it in "The Study of Administration":It is the distinction, already drawn, between administration and politics which makes the comparative method so safe in the field of administration. When we study the administrative systems of France and Germany, knowing that we are not in search of political principles, we need not care a peppercorn for the constitutional or political reasons which Frenchmen or Germans give for their practices when explaining them to us. If I see a murderous fellow sharpening a knife cleverly, I can borrow his way of sharpening the knife without borrowing his probable intention to commit murder with it; and so, if I see a monarchist dyed in the wool managing a public bureau well, I can learn his business methods without changing one of my republican spots
Wilson readily admits that he is importing foreign statist ideals from European nations.
In fact, when he later taught administration in the 1890s, he said that there was only one author other than himself who understood administration as a separate discipline: Frank Goodnow.
As the author notes, Wilson is a critical figure to focus in on with regards to the understanding of the administrative state and the true danger of progressivism. And Wilson's recommendation of Goodnow makes him a critical figure to understand as well. As quoted by the author:(and found directly in public domain writings)
In a word, man is regarded now throughout Europe, contrary to the view expressed by Rousseau, as primarily a member of society and secondarily as an individual. The rights which he possesses are, it is believed, conferred upon him, not by his Creator, but rather by the society to which he belongs. What they are is to be determined by the legislative authority in view of the needs of that society. Social expediency, rather than natural right, is thus to determine the sphere of individual freedom of action.- Frank Goodnow, The American Conception of Liberty and Government (Page 11, paragraph 3)
But rather by the society. He means, of course, government. Government is where you get your rights. Government is supreme in your life. Government is where you should turn to all that you need. Government should have the freedom to do whatever it wants, and you shouldn't be able to stop them:
The fact is, then, that there is a large part of administration which is unconnected with politics, which should therefore be relieved very largely, if not altogether, from the control of political bodies. It is unconnected with politics because it embraces fields of semi-scientific, quasi-judicial and quasi-business or commercial activity work which has little if any influence on the expression of the true state will. For the most advantageous discharge of this branch of the function of administration there should be organized a force of governmental agents absolutely free from the influence of politics. Such a force should be free from the influence of politics because of the fact that their mission is the exercise of foresight and discretion, the pursuit of truth, the gathering of information, the maintenance of a strictly impartial attitude toward the individuals with whom they have dealings, and the provision of the most efficient possible administrative organization.- Frank Goodnow, Politics and Administration (Page 85)
And isn't this very thing, administrative bodies shielded from the voters, the exact thing that we see today? The EPA isn't accountable to the people. The IRS is a rogue institution, the Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Justice - the judiciary has long since breached the protections that the constitution has in place with the intent of defending the people against the state. And on and on and on! At all levels and in nearly any agency you can name the government is out of control, the administrators are making a ruin of the republic, the civil society, and yours and your children's futures.
It's almost as if the names of "Woodrow Wilson" and "Frank Goodnow"(among many others) are names that you should be just as familiar with as names like Karl Marx. Perhaps even moreso. These are after all, American tyrants I'm posting about in their own writings. Not some far off theoretician from a distant land.
Tyranny never sleeps. It only morphs and changes it's colors.
Wilson never would have been POTUS but for Theodore Roosevelt’s ego and stupidity.
After winninng his own election in ‘04 TR announced to the press he’d not run again, not only making himself a lameduck but issuing a statement he did not really believe.
After puting Taft in the white house in ‘o8 TR wanted another turn in ‘12...he split the gop and allowed the incompetent wilson to win.
It never should have happened. If TR had served his own second term wilson likely would have remained a one term Governor of NJ. What a shame.
Justice Story's concluding paragraphs of his Commentaries on the Constitution are quoted at the beginning and end of the following essay:
"The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its components are beautiful, as well as useful; its arrangements are full of wisdom and order...."
-Justice Joseph Story
Justice Story's words pay tribute to the United States Constitution and its Framers. Shortly before the 100th year of the Constitution, in his "History of the United States of America," written in 1886, historian George Bancroft said:
"The Constitution is to the American people a possession for the ages."
He went on to say:
"In America, a new people had risen up without king, or princes, or nobles....By calm meditation and friendly councils they had prepared a constitution which, in the union of freedom with strength and order, excelled every one known before; and which secured itself against violence and revolution by providing a peaceful method for every needed reform. In the happy morning of their existence as one of the powers of the world, they had chosen Justice as their guide."
And two hundred years after the adoption of this singularly-important document, praised by Justice Story in one century and Historian Bancroft in the next and said by Sir William Gladstone to be "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given moment by the brain and purpose of man," the Constitution of 1787 - with its Bill of Rights - remains, yet another century later, a bulwark for liberty, an ageless formula for the government of a free people.
In what sense can any document prepared by human hands be said to be ageless? What are the qualities or attributes which give it permanence?
America's Constitution had its roots in the nature, experience, and habits of humankind, in the experience of the American people themselves - their beliefs, customs, and traditions, and in the practical aspects of politics and government. It was based on the experience of the ages. Its provisions were designed in recognition of principles which do not change with time and circumstance, because they are inherent in human nature.
"The foundation of every government," said John Adams, "is some principle or passion in the minds of the people." The founding generation, aware of its unique place in the ongoing human struggle for liberty, were willing to risk everything for its attainment. Roger Sherman stated that as government is "instituted for those who live under it ... it ought, therefore, to be so constituted as not to be dangerous to liberty." And the American government was structured with that primary purpose in mind - the protection of the peoples liberty.
Of their historic role, in framing a government to secure liberty, the Framers believed that the degree of wisdom and foresight brought to the task at hand might well determine whether future generations would live in liberty or tyranny. As President Washington so aptly put it, "the sacred fire of liberty" might depend "on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people" That experiment, they hoped, would serve as a beacon of liberty throughout the world.
The Framers of America's Constitution were guided by the wisdom of previous generations and the lessons of history for guidance in structuring a government to secure for untold millions in the future the unalienable rights of individuals. As Jefferson wisely observed:
"History, by apprising the people of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views."(Underlining added for emphasis)
The Constitution, it has been said, was "not formed upon abstraction," but upon practicality. Its philosophy and principles, among others, incorporated these practical aspects:
Recognition that love of liberty is inherent in the human spirit.
Recognition of Creator-endowed, unalienable, individual rights.
Recognition that meaningful liberty is possible only in the company of order and justice. In the words of Burke: "Liberty must be limited to be possessed."
Recognition that in order for a people to be free, they must be governed by fixed laws that apply alike to the governed and the government.
Recognition that the Creator has not preferred one person or group of persons as rulers over the others and that any government, in order to be just, must be from among the great body of the people and by their consent - that the people have a right to self-government.
Recognition of human weakness and the human tendency to abuse power; therefore, of the need to divide and to separate the power granted to government; to provide a system of checks and balances; and to make government accountable to people at frequent intervals.
Recognition that laws, to be valid, must have their basis and limit in natural law - that law which, as Cicero wrote, "is the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite."
Recognition of the need for structuring a government of laws, not of men, based on enduring principles and suitable not only to the age in which it is formed, but amendable to different circumstances and times, without sacrificing any of the three great concepts of Order, justice, or Liberty.
Recognition that the right to ownership of property is a right so compelling as to provide a primary reason for individuals to form a government for securing that right.
Recognition of the need for protecting the individual rights of each citizen, rich or poor, majority or minority, and of not allowing the coercive power of government to be used to do collectively that which the individual could not do without committing a crime.
Recognition of necessity for incentive and reward as impetus for achievement and growth.
Recognition of the need for a "Supreme Law of the land" a written constitution which, consistent with its idea of the sovereignty of the people, would provide its own prescribed amendment process, thereby circumventing any potential unconstitutional changes by any of the branches of government without the people's consent.
The Constitution of the United States of America structured a government for what the Founders called a "virtuous people - that is, a people who would be able, as Burke put it, to "put chains on their own appetites" and, without the coercive hand of government, to live peaceably without violating the rights of others. Such a society would need no standing armies to insure internal order, for the moral beliefs, customs, and love for liberty motivating the actions of the people and their representatives in government - the "unwritten" constitution - would be in keeping with their written constitution.
George Washington, in a Speech to the State Governors, shared his own sense of the deep roots and foundations of the new nation:
"The foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of ignorance and superstition; but at an epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period.... the treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labors of philosophers, sages, and legislators, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collective wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of government."
And Abraham Lincoln, in the mid-1800's, in celebrating the blessings of liberty, challenged Americans to transmit the "political edifice of liberty and equal rights" of their constitutional government to future generations:
"In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running ... We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth....We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them - They are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic...race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights, 'tis ours only, to transmit these...to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know...."
Because it rests on sound philosophical foundations and is rooted in enduring principles, the United States Constitution can, indeed, properly be described as "ageless," for it provides the formula for securing the blessings of liberty, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquillity, promoting the general welfare, and providing for the common defense of a free people who understand its philosophy and principles and who will, with dedication, see that its integrity and vigor are preserved.
Justice Joseph Story was quoted in the caption of this essay as attesting to the skill and fidelity of the architects of the Constitution, its solid foundations, the practical aspects of its features, and its wisdom and order. The closing words of his statement, however, were reserved for use here; for in his 1789 remarks, he recognized the "ageless" quality of the magnificent document, and at the same time, issued a grave warning for Americans of all centuries. He concluded his statement with these words:
"...and its defenses are impregnable from without. It has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may justly aspire to such a title. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE. Republics are created by virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens."
Our ageless constitution can be shared with the world and passed on to generations far distant if its formula is not altered in violation of principle through the neglect of its keepers - THE PEOPLE.
Reprinted with permission. "Our Ageless Constitution," W. David Stedman & La Vaughn G. Lewis, Editors (Asheboro, NC, W. David Stedman Associates, 1987) Part VII: ISBN 0-937047-01-5
Progressivism is basically anti-God, the ideas flow from the position that there is no God.
In order to do this, they need to deny that man is fallen, hence Marx and the idea that man is good, only a corrupt system, in this case capitalism, makes man bad. Therefore if we can build the perfect society, then man will show his ultimate goodness. Of course along the way all power must be delegated to the “state” to achieve the perfect society.
The second issue is the denial that man was created by God, hence evolution and the rejection of creationism. Darwinism, while not creationism, has morfed into this explanation of how we got here, and therefore eliminating the need for a God.
Once these ideas are “mainstream”, it is too late, our society cannot endure. We are well into this collapse, not sure we can turn it around. Satan is having his way with us, the great deceiver has fooled a bunch of folks, to all out detriment.
“And isn’t this very thing, administrative bodies shielded from the voters, the exact thing that we see today? The EPA isn’t accountable to the people. The IRS is a rogue institution, the Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Justice - the judiciary has long since breached the protections that the constitution has in place with the intent of defending the people against the state. And on and on and on! At all levels and in nearly any agency you can name the government is out of control, the administrators are making a ruin of the republic, the civil society, and yours and your children’s futures.”
Well put. We are in dangerous waters.
Far too much of the Big Stupid Animal known as Government is unaffected by elections.
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