Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Progressive Liberalism: Sources and Themes

Dewey, Croly, and Rauschenbusch sought to transform classical liberalism's emphasis on individualism.

(via The American Conservative entire piece linked below).

There is legitimate debate over whether “progressive liberalism” constitutes a radical departure from, and even betrayal of, the basic commitments of “classical liberalism,” or whether it represents the next logical step in liberalism’s development. Both positions have merit.

Many of the original architects of “progressive liberalism” begin with an explicit rejection of several of the main constitutive beliefs that undergird “classical liberalism.” Foremost among those arguments is a critique of classical liberalism’s “anthropological individualism,” that is, the beliefs expressed by the proto-liberal Hobbes and liberalism’s architect John Locke that humans are understood to be by nature autonomous wholes, driven fundamentally by self-interest and instrumental reason. By extension, architects of “progressive liberalism” reject classical liberalism’s insistence that these basic features constitute the unchanging nature of human beings; rather, figures like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Georg W.F. Hegel and Karl Marx argue that man’s nature is not “fixed” in this way, but rather evolves and develops in historical time. Man’s nature is more “fluid” than proposed by classical liberals, a belief that lies at the heart of progressive liberalism’s greater optimism in the project of creating a universally equal and just regime—even, in the words of several authors under consideration today, ushering in the “Kingdom of God.”

Read complete article here