Terry Scambray offers a review of a recent book, Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea, by Bradley C.S. Watson (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020). It’s interesting how much of a role Darwinism played in the thinking of those who wanted everybody to evolve faster:
Hofstadter in his 1944 book, Social Darwinism in American Thought, wrote that Darwin’s theory was unique in that it affected not only science but all endeavors. In fact, Darwin was not unique in either category because Newton, not to mention Copernicus and Einstein, had been used in the same way. Regardless, Hofstadter softened Darwin, making his a “conservative” force, supporting the laissez-faire status quo. Others classified Darwin as a change agent, a precursor to social planning. These intermural quarrels aside, Watson demonstrates that progressivism “aimed a dagger at the heart of the Constitution.” …
Revisionists agree that the 1912 election of President Wilson injected the cult of progress directly into the American political bloodstream. Charles Kesler, laying the groundwork for later scholars, wrote that Wilson’s comprehensive vision of progressivism was one of Darwinian movement rather than Newtonian fixity. Kesler sees liberalism as the common ancestor of progressivism in that it opts for change, seemingly oblivious of irony, tragedy and common sense which is say, history.Terry Scambray, “The Strange History of Progressivism” at American Thinker
If anyone doubts that evolution occurs, they can watch how journalists evolved in recent decades from free speech defenders to self-righteous censors. But, of course, it’s really devolution, as in Darwin Devolves.