Progressivism Historiography Essay

2094 Words Nov 8th, 2013 9 Pages
Awesome Student
Mrs. Aars
CIS American History
15 March, 2013
My Take on the Progressives The common thought about progressivism before the 1950s were that it was a movement by the common people to curb the excessive power of powerful people such as urban bosses, corporate moguls, and corrupt officials. However, when George Mowry wrote his Progressivism: Middle Class Disillusionment, he challenged the common idea that the progressives were middle class citizens and instead considered them to be a privileged elite group of businessmen and professionals. Mowry believed that this group was trying to recover their fading influence from the capitalist institutions that has been replacing them. When Gabriel Kolko published his Triumph of
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His approach is effective because he uses many quotes from many sources to back up his arguments.

Like Mowry, Kolko rejected the common thought that the Progressives were just a group of common people aiming to curb the excessive power of powerful people; rather, he saw them as corporate leaders and using the government to protect themselves from competition. “The Progressive Era was really an area of conservatism. Moreover, the triumph of conservatism… was the result not of any impersonal, mechanistic necessity but of the conscious needs and decisions of specific men and institutions” (Kolko 20). Progressivism started out as political rationalization of businesses and industrial conditions which would cause many people to assume that it was for general welfare of the community, but it was regulated by the business leaders of regulated industry and they did what was desirable to them. The big idea of the Progressive Era to Kolko was business control over politics rather than political regulation of the economy. “Such domination was direct and indirect, but significant only insofar as it provided means for achieving a greater end—political capitalism” (Kolko 21). The goals of the Progressives were political capitalism, stability, and predictability; political capitalism was needed to attain rationalization of the economy and also to set up the conditions for predictability and stability. Stability was to eliminate competition and fluctuations in

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