Progressivism’s Unmentioned Ancestors

Modern discerning historians such as Murray N. Rothbard and Thomas C. Leonard have traced the nefarious roots of anti-capitalism and hostility to the market by present day race-obsessed progressives to their ancestral intellectual theoreticians in the academy, journalism, social work, law, and politics. These earlier progressives were unapologetically disdainful of laissez-faire capitalism, which they actively sought to replace with managed corporatism presided over by an elitist governing class of a regulatory welfare-warfare state. But there are two notorious figures which are not frequently mentioned in this dark history, that of the anti-capitalist, pro-slavery racists Thomas Carlyle and George Fitzhugh.

Both had seen how, in the name of pietistic evangelism and humanitarian abolition, the British empire had ended the slave trade and the institution of chattel slavery itself, and were appalled. They believed slavery should be re-instituted in the empire and preserved in the antebellum United States because of the inherent inferiority of blacks and the abject failure of market economics. It was Carlyle, in his scurrilous essay, “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question,” who first coined the term, “the dismal science,” as a description of economics as the ideological driving force behind the new regime of emancipation and laissez-faire. Fitzhugh was more frank. He was virulently hostile to free society, laissez-faire economy, and wage slavery, along with their philosophical Lockean underpinnings. He wanted a coercive socialist state based on slavery as it existed in the South to be instituted throughout the United States — north, south, east, and west. In his popular and widely-read books, Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society, and Cannibals All! Slaves Without Masters, he outlined the arguments which were later adopted, with slight modifications, by progressives. And this dark legacy continues today.

9:02 am on August 9, 2017

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