"The Dark History of Liberal Reform"

A review of a new book by Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics & American Economics in the Progressive Era. It is not about current politics, and Leonard is apparently a progressive himself. It is about an honest look at the history of the movement.
In a 1915 unsigned editorial at this magazine [The New Republic], the editors ridiculed the Bill of Rights as a joke. “They insist upon invoking abstract principles, instead of trying to determine for concrete cases whether social control should supersede individual initiative…how can we discuss that seriously?” The doctrine of natural rights will “prevent us from imposing a social ideal.”...

“The progressive goal was to improve the electorate,” Leonard writes, “not necessarily to expand it.” Jim Crow laws suppressed turnout in the South, but it fell in the North as well. New York state’s participation went from 88 percent in 1900 to 55 percent in 1920.

It’s impossible to understand early twentieth-century progressives without eugenics. Even worker-friendly reforms like the minimum wage were part of a racial hygiene agenda. The progressives believed male Anglo-Saxons were the most productive workers, but immigrants and women were willing to accept lower wages and displaced white men...
A legal minimum wage, applied to immigrants and those already working in America, ensured that only the productive workers were employed. The economically unproductive, those whose labor was worth less than the legal minimum, would be denied entry, or, if already employed, would be idled. For economic reformers who regarded inferior workers as a threat, the minimum wage provided an invaluable service. It identified inferior workers by idling them. So identified, they could be dealt with. The unemployable would be removed to institutions, or to celibate labor colonies. The inferior immigrant would be removed back to the old country or to retirement. The woman would be removed to the home, where she could meet her obligations to family and race.
If Leonard didn’t have the quotes from prominent progressives to back up his claims, this would read like right-wing paranoia: The state’s most innocuous protections reframed as malevolent and ungodly social engineering. But his citations are genuine.


To bring right-wing fears full circle, the progressive Supreme Court of 1927 (including Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis) ruled 8-1 in Buck v. Bell that forced sterilization was constitutional. Holmes wrote that, “It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.”
That sounds like an interesting book. Honest soul-searching is rare in any age. The author of the review states that it is very difficult to 'suss out' any lessons from the history, which leaves 'no good guy left standing.' I'm not sure there wasn't one -- the lone dissenter on the Supreme Court -- but it sounds like a book worth reading to see.


Ymar Sakar said...

I mentioned that eugenics was present in early days for 1830 slave barons. Then an older generation fellow commenter, Oldflyer, said that Margaret Sanger wasn't even born back then, so eugenics could not have been there.

I replied that Sanger didn't come up with the concept, she was born in an era where the concept had already taken hold in the collective consciousness.

Breeding humans via Slavery 2.0 as livestock, tends to promote certain viewpoints due to that experience. It was perhaps more scientific than feudalistic breeding and mixing of bloodlines with social status, but on the other hand, it had certain degenerative ramifications decades afterwards too.

The whole concept of no black - white pairings was due to a breeding lock, they were isolating the black "field slave" genes from the white "aristocrats of leisure and superiority". They weren't supposed to mix the "races", because one was deemed superior for citizen voting, the New Republic, and the other was deemed only fit to work for the Rulers.

Part of the abolitionist wave against slavery 2.0, not slavery 1.0, was that some people must have figured out that Slavery 2.0 would eventually encompass the entirety of humanity. White migrants, women, anybody else that "was different" from the Ruling Class, genetically or superficially. Slavery 2.0 wasn't the plight of the poor Africans bred on the American continent. It was gong to be the problem of every person, white and woman, in existence.

That tends to follow, since it was Islam itself that created the first rendition of Slavery 2.0 in the ancient world. It was never compatible with Western civilization to begin with. It was a contamination brought over via Islamic occupation and power.

Ymar Sakar said...

right-wing paranoia

Heh, right wing paranoia. That's like thinking Muslims have "good intentions" right. Germans have "good intentions" vis a vis Muslims, that's why they are allowing them in.

The Progressive movement towards evil and slavery, they had "good intentions" too, you know. Anything else is "paranoia" or right wing Islamophobia.

I think when people start loving evil and seeing it as progress, their claim to being "human" starts going away on a legitimate basis.

raven said...

Their hatred of the Bill of Rights does not seem to have diminished any over the last 101 years.

Dad29 said...

Side-note: in the early 1900's, the Wisconsin Republican Party went all-in on eugenics. That resulted in the Catholic/Democrat alliance which prevailed until the 1980's, with vestigial remains to this date. One will not be surprised to learn that a major 'eugenics' figure was a shrink (Rogers).

Ymar Sakar said...

National alliances aren't made to fight 1 state out of 50.