Reddit Reddit reviews Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era

We found 13 Reddit comments about Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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Economic History
Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era
Princeton Univ Pr
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13 Reddit comments about Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era:

u/BarnabyCajones · 76 pointsr/slatestarcodex

I find arguments like this exasperating and a bit willful.

For me, it brings to mind the moment, during the election cycle of 2012 and the debates, of Mitt Romney making his "binders full of women" gaffe.

Even the tiniest bit of charity would suggest that what Romney said was roughly like Clinton's coal thing here. But holy hell, the nice well-educated partisans I spend time around reacted like he had acknowledge that he beat his wife regularly, had no particular compunction about it, and planned to do it again. They recirculated that statement to the heavens. They made memes and snarky Facebook posts about it, and would not shut up. I didn't hear the end of it, the binders full of women.

But you know what? On reflection, I think it was Mitt Romney's fault. And it was his fault because, regardless of how good he would be as a technocrat, he's bad at being a retail politician and leader, he's not charismatic, he's awkward, he said things in awkward ways, people aren't inclined to like him, and when he messed up, people didn't want to react charitably.

He was like a 5'2" guy being the starting center on an NBA team somehow. He shouldn't be there. Nature has strongly suggested he shouldn't be there.

And that's how I feel about Hillary Clinton. Maybe it's unfair, and maybe it's partially because of sexism, but at the end of the day, being liked and treated charitably is a major part of the job.

One consistent thing I've seen about relatively successful presidents in my lifetime (and here I'm thinking about Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Obama) is that there's a constant voicing of frustration from their partisan foes that they're made of Teflon, that stories that would drag anyone else down somehow just slide off of them. And this is repeated as though it's something inexplicable.

But it's not, not really, or I don't think so. It's just a major part of being good at the job. Being President in a democracy like ours has a very large element of popularity contest to it. That's just in the nature of the job.

Frankly, this is part of what is so interesting about Trump, if you can emotionally take a step back. He is obviously very, very, very bad at a whole range of things that go into the actual day-to-day presidential job description. I think that's clearly true as much to people who want his agenda to pass as to people who don't. By most metrics, he should not be where he is. And yet, he had that one thing; somehow all of the (often very reasonable and well-sourced) attacks just aren't sticking to him correctly. I mean, look at this article from a few days ago:

Crazy, right? This is still happening.

It brings to mind the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. statement about Franklin D. Roosevelt that he had "a second-rate intellect, but a first-class temperament."

And all of this is why I find pieces like this Vox one kind of exasperating and willful. Because I get this strong sense that they really, really, really want to live in a world where being Lisa Simpson is the right qualification for being in charge of things. And Lisa Simpson would probably make a marvelous technocrat, conscientious and knowledgeable and hard-working. I am fairly sure all those words apply to both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, and... well, let's just say fewer of them apply to Donald Trump.

But Lisa Simpson is annoying. And democracy is a popularity contest.

(And I understand that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2 percent or so, but she still managed to lose the election to Donald Trump - let's not normalize this. For any politician with even a modicum of political talent and instincts, it shouldn't have been even vaguely close)

I'm reading the book "Illiberal Reformers" right now (, about Progressive Reformers around 1890-1920, say, and one thing that is interesting about it is it really emphasizes the extent to which the people who gave rise to the social sciences in universities and the modern expert-run administrative state really, really did not like, trust, or value democracy. They considered it a popularity contest that involved catering to uneducated people's worst impulses, easily demagogued, at odds with the efficient administration of expert-run government programs that could help more people and make a strong state. In short, they noticed that democracies were popularity contests that selected against technocratic Lisa Simpson's, and so their solution was to abandon any real trust in democracy - better to neuter it and let the administrative state, full of Lisa Simpsons, do its thing. Think of the Federal Reserve as an example, say.

And I think that's a possibly coherent place to end up, intellectually, and I understand the argument. But you have to be ready to actually name democracy and its elevation of charisma as the actual problem if you want to adopt that position.

I think writers like the ones here at Vox are not ready to accept that logic for obvious emotional / moral reasons, but not because of a flaw in the logic. They still want, somehow, for being Lisa Simpson to be the qualification for success in democratic leadership, and if it isn't, then there needs to be some sort of remedy in our institutions and press that makes being Lisa Simpson somehow popular.

u/HAMMER_BT · 19 pointsr/KotakuInAction

Indeed: to answer /u/Gmtom 's question, I suppose Jonah Goldberg put it best when he said much of the success of the Progressive movement comes down to marketing the movement under the name 'Progressive'. He (Jonah) likes to compare this to the Cult from Parks and Rec that calls itself the 'The Reasonabilists', because... well, who can disagree with a name like that?

To your point, there is a book (which, to be fair I haven't yet read) on exactly that point by Princeton Prof. Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era.

Before going on, I guess the best way to answer the question of what is a "progressive" is to ask "what is the end goal to which the movement is intended to progress"?

Well, as Prof. Leonard's title alludes to, the original Progressive movement was at least superficially devoted to a Whiter, more Christian and more European West. They were obsessed with Eugenics, which one early Progressive intellectual referred to as 'bringing the principles of wildlife conservation to bear on humans'. Oddly I wrote a longish post on this earlier today.

Obviously, few Progressives today are advocating for Eugenics... although BLM seems to have resurrected the idea of 'Segregation being a benefit for the Negro'... But! That aside,by and large most of the policies (or, at least, the explicitly racist justifications) of the original Progressives have been jettisoned.

Which leaves a strange situation: today most Progressives will deny up and down that the progressive movement today has anything in common with the Progressive movement prior to, say, the 1960's. Putting aside the idea that the entire movement has been replaced (ala invasion of the body snatchers) and their ideology completely changed in the wash, what remains that connects today's Progressives with the Progressives of Woodrow Wilson,Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt and Margret Sanger? The answer is that while the justifications are different, the core of the movement remains.

A progressive is, therefore, someone devoted to the idea of Efficient Government, and by efficient I mean a government that is not constrained by individual rights (or natural rights, as the early Progressives referred to them).

I was going to expand on that, but I think I'm rapidly reaching obnoxious length here.

u/dmix · 5 pointsr/Economics

Never heard of this economist. His book summary sounds very interesting:

> In Illiberal Reformers, Thomas Leonard reexamines the economic progressives whose ideas and reform agenda underwrote the Progressive Era dismantling of laissez-faire and the creation of the regulatory welfare state, which, they believed, would humanize and rationalize industrial capitalism. But not for all. Academic social scientists such as Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. Ross, together with their reform allies in social work, charity, journalism, and law, played a pivotal role in establishing minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws, workmen's compensation, antitrust regulation, and other hallmarks of the regulatory welfare state.

> But even as they offered uplift to some, economic progressives advocated exclusion for others, and did both in the name of progress. Leonard meticulously reconstructs the influence of Darwinism, racial science, and eugenics on scholars and activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, revealing a reform community deeply ambivalent about America's poor. Illiberal Reformers shows that the intellectual champions of the regulatory welfare state proposed using it not to help those they portrayed as hereditary inferiors but to exclude them.

I'll give this show a listen....

u/Cypher_Ace · 5 pointsr/childfree

You are certainly correct that the quality of public education can vary widely, however no matter how well performing a public school may be they all suffer from the same fundamental issues. As references to this brief diatribe I will point you to (as in my other comment) the school sucks project, a book called Illiberal Reformers which details the frightening truth of the early progressive movement, and finally The Underground History of American Education which is a book by a decorated public school teacher who had a terrifying realization after a his long career. Note, that nothing I say here is an attack on any educators or teachers who might read this. I truly believe most teachers and the like get into the field for the right reasons, but the structure that they are faced with is the problem.

The problem with public school in the US, and many other countries (especially Western), is that learning/education is really only a secondary purpose. It is at all times subordinate, and therefore often undermined, to further the actual goal of creating a subordinate citizenry. The early progressives (Who as an aside were just awful, for example it was they who inspired the Nazis to eugenics. Once you go down this rabbit hole you'll never look at Woodrow Wilson the same again.) who championed the introduction of the American public school system were quite plain about where the idea for the modern public school came from. Namely, the Prussian aristocracy who inflicted it upon the populace in the 1800s for the express purpose of making them easy to rule. They made no attempt to hide this fact. The early progressives were somewhat more cautious in their language, dressing up the idea in Utopian language but their intentions are pretty clear if you go look at the academic papers and such they published at the times (which the two books I linked do).

So as to not get too long winded, let me just as a few rhetorical questions. How do you forcefully educate someone? How do you force someone to learn? How does mandating children show up at a building on pain of confinement for them or their parents further either of those goals? The Athenians are turning in their graves. The system forces children to show up at an arbitrary time, irrespective of their individual circumstances, and divides them into arbitrary groups. They are then forced to respect and defer to a person (i.e. Teacher/Adminstrators) arbitrarily. They have to seek permission to perform normal bodily functions (i.e. ask to use the restroom), trained not unlike you would a dog (not that I have anything against dogs!). They are trained to shuffle from one room to another at the sound of a bell, and to fill out meaningless paperwork and to perform meaningless tasks within an arbitrary involuntary hierarchy. It erodes at the mind and soul, creating an obedient populace that is used to dealing with a convoluted bureaucracy, and sometimes you learn something. To top it off, the curriculum is controlled via a political apparatus subject to all the corruption that accompanies politics. You can school, indoctrinate, and train people, but you can't force them to think critically and to really learn.

u/y_sengaku · 5 pointsr/newsokur

このテーゼの主導者はプリンストン大学の経済学者であるThomas Leonardで、




u/TheCitizenAct · 4 pointsr/MensRights

THIS is why we can't divorce men's rights from the wider political context. I've been saying this for years, and I'm often subjected to a tidal wave of shame and guilt-tripping - these women were all Marxists and Communists, that's where all of their thinking comes from.

Progressives - 'liberals' - have never opposed sexism, racism, homophobia or xenophobia on a principled, moral or ethical basis. It's evident to all with the reading comprehension of a five year old that their 'principled' stance stops at the border of their own political objectives. Their opposition to sexism stops at the border of female perpetrators and male victims, their opposition to racism stops at the border of non-white perpetrators and white victims, their opposition to homophobia stops at the border of communism ('Castro is a hero!'), their opposition to xenophobia stops at the border of hating western nation-states and their advocacy of women's rights stops at the border of Islam.

This is what's truly terrifying - these are the people who rule over us. The 'conservatives' (of which there aren't any any more, nor am I one by the way) are held perpetually responsible for the actions of the KKK (a group of 2,000 people in a country of 320 million; they are so irrelevant, so devoid of power, they don't even warrant a mention), a group which is never out of the 'news', however here we have an equivalent extreme ideology which pervades every facet of the intelligentsia, across NGOs, the public sector, Governmental institutions, Higher Education, etc., and no-one blinks an eyelid at the root of its extremities.

They (progressives, liberals, etc., whatever they choose to define as from one generation to the next - it's all marketing and branding) aren't always explicit, but they filter ALL truth by the identity of the perpetrator or victim - when it comes to a bourgeoisie (white heterosexual men) perpetrator they'll accentuate and repeat the 'truth' (Trump is sexist!), however when it comes to a perpetrator from the new proletariat (non-white people, women, non-heterosexual people, non-British/American people, etc.) they'll either omit it entirely, or contextualise and rationalise it.

Only one segment of society has responsibilities, the rest have grievances. I've been writing about this for years on here: progressivism ('liberals', they always re-brand themselves!) was established in the 1920's to oppose classical liberalism. It is opposed to everything Mill argued. Here's a comment I made previously:

Why are we prioritising identity ahead of individuality? We aren't feminists.

Second-wave feminism was spawned by middle-class communists; like all class warriors, they wanted to manufacture conflict between identities (except it was no longer proletariat vs. bourgeoisie; to manufacture statism they had to co-opt an identity the purveyors of individuality could never oppose: women. Thus the debate is no longer big state vs minimal state, it's women vs. men, non-white vs. white, etc.). Prejudices were officially reversed, state-sponsored and deemed socially acceptable.

Betty Friedan's propaganda, that of the tired and frustrated suburban housewife, has been proven to be a sham of the highest order; she was a communist, with the intent to divide people along arbitrary, biological lines for her own political ends (in the same manner liberals play reductionist in most debates: they don't want to talk issues, they want to talk identities).

International Men's Day? Are we slowly manufacturing a similar narrative to that of the feminists? eg, you can only pass judgement on women if you are a woman; you can only pass judgement on men if you are a man.

This is the same form of cultural relativism - advocated almost universally but not explicitly by liberal politicians and mimicked by their followers - which erodes social unity, creates virtue out of weakness and creates preferential treatment and conflict in the context of ethnicity, sexuality, gender and religion.

It's the same form of morality (cultural relativism) which would have determined interfering in the holocaust was an act of racism (it determines passing judgement on another's culture, or identity, is a form of 'ethnocentrism').

It's why we've got a segment on 'Black Heroes' (white heroes?) and 'black culture' (white culture?) on the homepage of the BBC today; it's why Trump exists. I've written so much more about it here and here

It's all relativist nonsense. Why don't we be genuinely radical and propose something that resembles, you know, ACTUAL liberalism (not Marxism) and assign rights and responsibilities to PEOPLE, not identities? That would be TRULY revolutionary; in a world where everyone has an identity, being an individual is a TRULY revolutionary act.

How about, rather than international men's day we call it international people's day? Better yet, how about we just don't have a day?

Better yet, how about on the day we refer to as 'international men's day' we do something even more radical: we talk about issues affecting humanity, a humanity which is divorced from the dehumanising categorisation it is forced to assume under the dictatorial, socially acceptable religion colloquially referred to as identity politics?

How about we talk about suicide rates of people; workplace deaths of people; rape and sexual assault of people; domestic violence against people; homelessness among people; education of people; and, most importantly, the liberty of the people?

What people forget (well, are never taught) is it was the progressives (the intelligentsia, the feminists, the academics, the Supreme Court Judges, etc.) advocating pro-white eugenics in the 1920's - it served, very directly, as the blueprint for Hitler's policies on eugenics in the 1930's and 40's. They ostracised and even sterilised those they deemed 'unfit', 'uneducated' and 'imbecilic' (the same rhetoric is evident in their hatred for Trump, and those who support him).

On what basis? Intellectual and moral superiority. They bastardised Darwinism; they determined it was possible to manufacture a biologically superior race (white people).

People also forget it was the prominent progressives like H.G. Wells, founder of the 'progressive league', who were calling for a 'liberal fascism.' There was mass, widespread support for fascism in the 1920's, and among 'progressives.'

Read the book:

u/phaethon0 · 3 pointsr/GoldandBlack

See the new book Illiberal Reformers. I haven't read it yet so this isn't an endorsement, but it's on the exact topic being discussed.

u/mike-kaz · 3 pointsr/GoldandBlack

How about the eugenics/racist origins of welfare policies such as the minimum wage? There's a lot of good material in the new book [Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era] ( Could be really provocative and enlightening!

u/mnemosyne-0002 · 1 pointr/KotakuInAction

Archives for links in comments:

u/FactsTrumpFeelings · 1 pointr/Futurology

Asks for sources and provides zero sources.

I literally googled "minimum wage and racism" and 10 pages of sources and book suggestions popped up. See minimum wage Act of 1925 in South Africa. Here is the book of a self described "progressive" that highlights it further:

Also, you are economically illiterate.

u/newName543456 · 1 pointr/PurplePillDebate

What about those accused for interactions outside of work environment?

> For example, we have minimum wage laws that prevent companies from paying people below a reasonable wage. If left to their own devices, many companies would pay people pennies. Likewise, those who were desperate enough for opportunity would agree to those meager wages, thus emboldening companies to further exploit people for their own profitability. In addition, there is a culture of silence and fear encouraged in most workplaces around disclosing wages and salaries to maintain bargaining power. Some companies will even fire you for discussing your pay with coworkers.

Actually, minimum wage laws were intended as eugenics plot to drive out "infirm" (including minorities) out of job market.

Read more in the book.

u/lee1026 · 0 pointsr/PoliticalDiscussion

>This is a ridiculous claim, because over time social issues become more liberal

No. Once upon a time less then 100 years ago, the progressive opinion was in favor of eugenics and the conseratives were against it. I doubt you can go very far in the modern democrat party demanding that blacks be sterilized.

Conservatives socially are those who disliked change; progressives want change. Some changes happen and people like it. Other changes happen and everyone jumps to roll it back. Conservatives often blocked things that made us very grateful that they blocked it. Like, say, eugenics.

>70 years ago society was quite different, (heck 20 years ago it was radically different) so it's impossible to make a comparison on social issues.

I quite disagree - Ike would fit just fine socially with today's Republicans. And more importantly, within his day, he was not one those that tried to push social norms to different things.

>They want to overhaul/privatize social security, which is pretty much the same thing. Additionally conservatives are against unions and the minimum wage, both specifically referenced by Ike.

There are certainly people in the party who wanted to remove the minimum wage and unions; but those people are in the fringes. They existed in Ike's party as well. Same for social security - the Republicans are less against it today then they had been.

u/whackshackblackjack · -1 pointsr/Assistance

Behavioral genetics, as a mainstream, scientific field, is showing that nearly all behavioral and personality traits are significantly influenced by genes See: Quillette – Heritability and why Parents (but not Parenting) Matter, written by Brian Boutwell and Razib Khan. This part just simply isn’t disputable. But given that it is true, it does entail that basically every policy is going to have either “eugenic” or “dysgenic” impacts, because for basically any policy, you can say that it’s either helping to improve the frequency of beneficial (or harmful) traits, or else doing the opposite.

So to my mind, “Eugenics” is pretty much a useless term. People use it to encompass everything from Nazi pseudoscience that had nothing to do strictly with improving human genetics per se–much less out of any humanitarian spirit–to liberal eugenics policies (See: Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement, by Nicholas Agar) that never involve any sort of coercive force.

Speaking of “liberal eugenics,” that is a modern term and in that phrase’s usage “liberal” essentially means “non–coercive” rather than “on the left–wing side of the political spectrum”, but the sort of “fascist,” coercive policies you probably have in mind were actually pioneered by the leftists of the 20th century. See: Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era, by Thomas C. Leonard. Those policies were not in any way, shape, or form unique to Nazi Germany; liberal countries like Sweden actually had more “eugenics” policies than Germany—see: Eugenics and the Third Reich, By Stephen B. Saetz, Marian Van Court, and Mark W. Henshaw. And worldwide, it was the political Left—who believed in the ultimate perfectibility of mankind, and the capacity of wise legislators to advance it through the coercive power of the State, just as innocently as they do in things like education and healthcare and welfare and gun control and so forth today—who pushed and advanced those policies.

In any case, I do support what in the modern terminology is called “liberal eugenics”: to the extent that I believe the depression I’ve experienced is in large part caused by genes, and to the extent that I feel I have a responsibility to make sure my children don’t experience it, and that I believe that could be achieved as if not more effectively through gene therapy as through social policy, I’m a believer in something that could be loosely labeled “eugenics”, sure.

As far as “white supremacy”, I’m 1/4th Lebanese Christian, and the last significant relationship I had before my wife was with a journalist from Pakistan who personally knew family members who had been blown up by U.S. drones. Razib Khan, co–author of the post I opened this comment with, is another Pakistani scientist whose discussions led me to the perspectives I hold today (I’m also friends with him on his personal Facebook account). Another of my favorite examples is JayMan [link], who happens to be of Jamaican origin, who discusses policies like maternity leave in the context of “eugenics” – namely, he makes the point that making it so that conscientious high–IQ women don’t have to decide between having children and pursuing a career means we’d get the long–term benefit of having more conscientious, smart children populating the next generation.

If supporting policies like maternity leave because I want smart women to be encouraged to have more smart children makes me a “eugenicist”, so be it. If wanting to prevent my children from inheriting my worst traits, and being open to gene therapy as the best means towards that end makes me a “eugenicist”, so be it. If agreeing with a Pakistani and a Jamaican whose writings I consider even more interesting and influential than my own makes me a “white supremacist”, so be it. But absolutely none of this has anything to do with thinking white people are ‘better’ (by what metric? Jews have even higher IQs, East Asians are even less prone to violence, ...) or wanting to cause any sort of harm to non–white people.