Progressives saw great national undertakings through agents who appreciate the glory of public service doing God’s work because church and state are as one

“For instance, one of the leading Americans influenced by his German welfare-statist professors was Richard Ely, a founder of the American Economic Association and a leading proponent of this new “cradle to grave” political paternalism. He argued in a book on socialism written near the beginning of the twentieth century,”
“Looking into the future we can contemplate a society … in which men shall work together for a common purpose, and in which the wholesale cooperation shall take place largely through government, a government which has become less repressive and has developed its positive side.”
“We have reason to believe that we shall yet see great national undertakings with the property of the nation, and managed by the nation, through agents who appreciate the glory of true public service, and feel that it is God’s work which they are doing, because church and state are as one….”
“We may anticipate an approximation of state and society as men improve and we may hope that men outside of government will freely and voluntarily act with trained officers and experts in the service of the government for the advancement of common interests. (Socialism: An Examination of Its Strengths and Its Weaknesses, with Suggestions for Social Reform [1895], p352-354)”

“Notice the presumptions and the hubris in these progressive visions for a new America that would cast aside its individualist and limited-government traditions. Political power would be arbitrary — opportunism and expediency — based on what those in government decided was good, right, and just for all in society. What was private property today may be transformed into state property tomorrow simply because those in government decided that it was right to do so.”

“The hubris in this is seen in Richard Ely’s declaration that great tasks would be undertaken with “the property of the nation.” It is not your private property, or my private property, or anyone else’s private property. No, it belongs to the nation as a whole to be used and disposed of by the enlightened cadre of government bureaucratic experts who confidently and self- righteously view themselves as being about God’s work in a political setting in which society, church, and state are all one — under their leadership and direction. Moreover, Richard Ely wanted the rest of us to accept and follow this paternalistic planning and control voluntarily for our own good.”

Austrian Economics & Public Policy–Restoring Freedom and Prosperity, pp. 200-201, Richard Ebeling


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