Edwin Godkin (1831–1902) warned us of this at the beginning of the twentieth century. He was the founding publisher and editor of The Nation magazine, the publication that Katrina vanden Heuvel now uses as a regular platform for her progressive agenda.
Godkin was a classical liberal who defended the rights of the individual in favor of free trade, private property, open competition, and limited government for more than three decades in the pages of The Nation.
Looking ahead to the new century about to begin, he penned “The Decline of Liberalism” in The Nation on August 9, 1900. He wrote of the guiding principle of liberalism in its long fight against absolute government and what was now happening in the country:
Humanity was exalted above human institutions, man was held superior to the State, and universal brotherhood supplanted the ideals of national power and glory. These eighteenth-century ideas were the soil in which modern Liberalism flourished. Under their influence the demand for Constitutional Government arose. Rulers were to be the servants of the people, and were to be restrained and held in check by bills of rights and fundamental laws that defined the liberties proved by experience to be the most important and vulnerable….
To the principles and precepts of Liberalism the prodigious material progress of the age was largely due. Freed from the vexatious meddling of governments, men devoted themselves to their natural task, the bettering of their condition, with the wonderful results that surround us. But it now seems that its material comfort has blinded the eyes of the present generation to the cause that made it possible….
… In our country recent events show how much ground has been lost. The Declaration of Independence no longer arouses enthusiasm; it is an embarrassing instrument which requires to be explained away. The Constitution is said to be “outgrown”….
There is a case to be made for a true and better freedom. But it is not the one espoused by vanden Heuvel under the heading of progressivism, which is really a regressivism to a defunct Germanic paternalism that enslaves all as dependents of arrogant political elites who think they are on a mission from God to make the world over in their own preferred image.
True freedom is the type defended by Edwin Godkin and those like him under the heading of (classical) liberalism, with its moral belief in the rights of each and every person to his life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. Which sees the essence of freedom to be the autonomy of the individual person to shape and guide his own life through the peaceful and voluntary associations of market relationships. And under which government is a servant limited to protecting each person’s rights, and not the political manipulator and plunderer for the purposes of an “enlightened” politically powerful and influential few who want to play social engineering gods in the name of an alleged common good.
Austrian Economics & Public Policy–Restoring Freedom and Prosperity, pp. 203-204, Richard Ebeling