This essay explores the progressive beliefs other than human hierarchy that inclined Progressive Era economic reform toward eugenics. It argues the following: that the progressives believed in a powerful, centralized state, conceiving of government as the best means for promoting the social good and rejecting the individualism of (classical) liberalism; that the progressives venerated social efficiency; that the progressives believed in the epistemic and moral authority of science, a belief that comprised their view that biology could explain and control human inheritance and that the still nascent sciences of society could explain and control the causes of economic ills; that the progressives believed that intellectuals should guide social and economic progress, a belief erected upon two subsidiary faiths, a faith in the disinterestedness and incorruptibility of the experts who would run the technocracy they envisioned, and a faith that expertise could not only serve the social good, but also identify it; and that, while antimonopoly, the progressives believed that increasing industrial consolidation was inevitable, and desirable, consistent with their faith in planning, organization, and command.
Thomas C. Leonard; American Economic Reform in the Progressive Era: Its Foundational Beliefs and Their Relation to Eugenics. History of Political Economy 1 March 2009; 41 (1): 109–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182702-2008-040
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