Indeed, modern liberals do often defend Social Security in those terms. But in fact, FDR knew the American political system well enough to rely on other than altruistic impulses to preserve Social Security past the New Deal. The fact that it's based on the myth of individual accounts -- the myth that Social Security is only returning to me what I put in -- is what has made this part of the 20th century's liberal project almost completely unassailable politically. As FDR intended, Social Security endures because it draws as much on self-interested individualism as on self-forgetting community-mindedness.
The engineering excesses of the Great Society and the popular reaction against them meant that the 1960s were the beginning of the first serious challenge to the Progressive model for America -- a challenge that the New Deal hadn't precipitated earlier because it had carefully accommodated itself to the Founders' political system. Certainly the New Left took aim at the Great Society's distant, inhumane, patronizing, bureaucratic social engineering; but for our purposes, this marked as well the beginning of the modern conservative response to Progressivism, which has subsequently enjoyed some success, occupying the presidency, both houses of Congress, and perhaps soon the Supreme Court.
The American anti-war movement during the First World War must be remembered as much for its successes as its failures. History recalls the opposition to the American entry into the war as a stemming from the work of a few radicals and social activists. The civil libertarian principles of Roger Baldwin and his National Civil Liberties Bureau live on the in the work of the ACLU. Jane Addams’ pacifist stance and push for social reform helped pave the way for contemporary social workers. Eugene V. Debs’ now famous Canton, Ohio speech is held as a masterpiece of American civil disobedience. But this narrative of history, this cataloging of great leaders of the anti-war movement, ignores the everyday heroics of ordinary people in resisting American militarism. The working-class movement that opposed the war during the most repressive and dangerous times articulated a vision to not just stop the war, but to fundamentally restructure American society. The radical anti-militarist movement of 1917 to 1919, especially in Seattle, is arguably the closest the U.S. has come to mass, left wing revolution in the 20th century. In a time when the nation finds itself struggling find an end to the Global War on Terror and a growing military-industrial complex, it may be time to once again recall that old headline from a socialist daily – “You workers must end war, or war will end you.”
In addition to the AFL abandonment of the anti-war movement, many of the national pacifist organizations collapsed with the U.S. declaration of war. Historian Robert Marchand explains that “as the nation became absorbed in the process of mobilizing for war, they [peace activists and social workers] often found that the circumstances of national emergency offered opportunities for unprecedented advances in many of their social programs.” The establishment peace activists who had pushed for neutrality just a few years earlier, now found themselves unwilling to lose their prestige and position. Many of the most outspoken and successful anti-war advocates were quickly co-opted into the war drive. Lillian Wald, Florence Kelley, Grace Abbott and several other national anti-war figures were placed on committees of the Council of National Defense. The loss of such prominent pacifist figures devastated the established peace organizations like the American Union Against Militarism. Having lost many of their most influential members, the AUAM turned from trying to prevent the war to simply minimizing its effects. Yet, under the leadership of Roger Baldwin, the AUAM also seemed more willing to reach out to radicals and pursue a much more militant anti-war program. The rise of the newly radicalized AUAM in April - May 1917, also coincided with the formation of revolutionary and radical anti-militarist organizations of the war.
Like the volume to which he has contributed, Tom West's remarks reflect a pessimism about the decisively debilitating effect of Progressivism on American politics. The essayists are insufficiently self-aware -- about their own contributions and those of their distinguished teachers. That is, they are not sufficiently aware that they themselves are part of an increasingly vibrant and aggressive movement to recover the Founders' constitutionalism -- a movement that could only have been dreamt of when I entered graduate school in the early '70s.
My own view is this: Although the first two of the three mentioned causes (material circumstances and politicians' self-interest) certainly played a part, the most important cause was a change in the prevailing understanding of justice among leading American intellectuals and, to a lesser extent, in the American people. Today's liberalism and the policies that it has generated arose from a conscious repudiation of the principles of the American founding.
Third, still other scholars believe that the ideas of the American founding itself are responsible for current developments. Among conservatives, Robert Bork's adopts the gloomy view that the Founders' devotion to the principles of liberty and equality led inexorably to the excesses of today's welfare state and cultural decay. Allan Bloom's best-selling presents a more sophisticated version of Bork's argument. Liberals like Gordon Wood agree, but they think that the change in question is good, not bad. Wood writes that although the Founders themselves did not understand the implications of the ideas of the Revolution, those ideas eventually "made possible…all our current egalitarian thinking."
Today, those who speak of the formative influences that made America what it is today tend to endorse one of three main explanations. Some emphasize material factors such as the closing of the frontier, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the modern corporation, and accidental emergencies such as wars or the Great Depression, which in turn led to the rise of the modern administrative state.
3. Present the “” teacher-created presentation included in this packet. The presentation is automatic with narration. Give students the opportunity to ask questions after viewing the presentation. Lead students in a discussion about global affairs before the American Revolution. Ask: What major events were taking place in Europe 50 to100 years prior to the American Revolution? How did these events have an impact on the American colonies? (1 class period)
For the next twenty years, Great Britain passed a series of acts that created tension and unrest in the British colonies. Some of the acts included in this lesson are the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, the Declaratory Act, the Townshend Act, the Tea Act and the Intolerable Acts. The overall goal of these acts was to raise revenue to pay off war debts and finance future imperial pursuits. Colonists fiercely opposed these measures not because they had no allegiance to Great Britain but because they were usually not involved in the decisions Britain made on their behalf. The rally cry became “no taxation without representation”. Colonists took to the streets throughout America staging boycotts, writing news articles and sermons, and even rioting to protest the new laws imposed on them. What seems inevitable in hindsight was not the foremost intention of most colonists. War was realized as Britain refused to share the political and economical power they were sure they could maintain over the colonies.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, a large majority of Americans shared a set of beliefs concerning the purpose of government, its structure, and its most important public policies. Constitutional amendments were passed abolishing slavery and giving the national government the authority to protect the basic civil rights of everyone. Here was a legal foundation on which the promise of the American Revolution could be realized in the South, beyond its already existing implementation in the Northern and Western states.
The American Revolution was not fought based on the happenings of a single event or events occurring only in the colonies. There were a series of events over a century that led to the battle between Great Britain and Her colonies. The fight between Great Britain and the colonies began as a result of a series of wars that mostly took place in Europe, over European power struggles. The colonies named these wars King William’s War, Queen Anne’s War, and King George’s War after the English monarchs in power at the time of each war. As Europe fought, the colonies controlled by the countries at war fought in response. Power changed hands many times throughout these wars, with England gaining more and more power in Europe and in America. The finale of these wars was fought on American soil over territory between France and Great Britain. The French and Indian War left Great Britain strapped for cash. When time came to develop the Ohio Valley which was won at the conclusion of the French and Indian War, Great Britain was pressed to raise the revenue needed to finance these new expeditions. This point in history is what most people consider to be the beginning of the problems between Great Britain and the colonies ( Wise Bauer, 2004, 120-135).