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Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism (American Intellectual Culture) Hardcover – January 20, 2005
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The 'Era of Big Government'―and the idea that the national government ought to be adequate to any task the people ask of it―did not creep up on America unaware. It was a deliberate project, grounded in a critique of the original Constitution, bolstered by a new political science, and guided by a thorough-going confidence in historical progress. With clarity, conviction, and plenty of evidence, R. J. Pestritto shows that, from his early days as a political scientist through his election to the presidency, Woodrow Wilson was consistently a central figure in the development of Progressivism and so of the Liberalism that dominated twentieth-century American public policy and political life. Though Wilson was no philosopher-king, Pestritto explains that our doctor-of-philosophy-president changed how we think about democracy and about America, in ways that ought to be reappraised but have yet to be undone. (James R. Stoner, Jr., Louisiana State University)
Ronald Pestritto's book is the deepest and most comprehensive treatment to date of Woodrow Wilson's political thought. Pestritto has produced a masterful study of the origins of Wilson's theoretical views, and he has carefully shown the connections between those views and Wilson's positions on major constitutional and institutional questions. All interested in American political thought will appreciate this important work. (James Ceaser, University of Virginia)
In his brilliant new book, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism, Ronald Pestritto painstakingly documents Wilson's debt to Hegel. (Paul Mirengoff and Scott Johnson The Daily Standard)
Pestritto offers an interesting read, with Wilson as a parallel to contemporary end of history commentary. Recommended. (CHOICE)
In a work that cuts against much of the existing scholarship on Wilson, Pestritto shows that Wilson held coherent and consistent political principles throughout his life, and that these principles put Wilson at the heart of the Progressive movement. Pestritto's case relies on an impressive and meticulous study of Wilson's own words―speeches and writings taken from every stage of Wilson's life―which makes this book all the more persuasive. (John Marini, University of Nevada, Reno)
Ronald J. Pestrito’s book is an in-depth, methodical analysis of Wilson’s political philosophy. This dense, but relatively short 7 chapter volume is opened by placing Wilson in context with historical thinking and the founding of America. In the introduction, Pestrito lays out the foundation for the book. He contrasts the fundamental difference between Wilson’s political philosophy and that of the Founders. This difference stems from the framers’ core belief in inalienable, trans-historical truth and Wilson’s belief in historicism and the adapted tenets of German philosophers, notably Hegel. (What Would the Founders Think?)
About the Author
Ronald J. Pestritto is Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution at Hillsdale College and a research fellow at the Claremont Institute.
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Perisstritto's book is a major contribution to understanding Wilson's legacy. Here, he well documents Wilson's basic Utopian premise. Being a political scholar, Wilson understood that the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence required separation of powers as a foil to tyranny. However, in the spirit of what Hayeck would later call "The Fatal Conceit", Wilson insisted that such a foil was no longer needed -- society had advanced sufficiently that efficiency in government was now the main need, and the Constitution needed to be reinterpreted for a different age.
Christian values had often effectively countered Utopian ideas -- virtually all Utopians were atheists or agnostics. However, Wilson was a notable exception. Although his reading of the Bible would differ markedly from mine (and I would dare say go beyond what the text allows), Wilson believed that his mission was God-given. [For a good discussion of Wilson, see [...].]
Wilson had the audacity to propose a complete restructuring of the U.S. Government. It was his earnest desire to replace the separate executor, legislature, and judiciary with a parliamentary government where the U.S. President drew his cabinet from the elected legislatures. An abolition of separated powers was necessary in his eyes in order for government to carry out its mission efficiently. As for the possibility of consolidated power acting to accelerate tyranny, that was no longer a fear in Wilson's mind as he presumed that educated men would never behave that way in such an enlightened spirit of the times. Wilson's naivete (to say nothing of his abject rejection of the Biblical doctrine of anthropology) is staggering. A single quote from Wilson's "The New Freedom" suffices here:
"[W]e used to say that the ideal of government was for every man to be left alone and not interfered with, except when he interfered with somebody else; and that the best government was the government that did as little governing as possible. That was the idea that obtained in Jefferson's time. But we are coming now to realize that life is so complicated that we are not dealing with the old conditions." Clarifying his New York Press Club address he later stated "America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for unrestricted individual enterprise."
Of course, Wilson did not oversee as complete a restructuring of government as he hoped, but he did superintend the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Transportation Act, the Federal Water Power Act, and other federally expansive policies, not to mention his strong, longstanding, and ultimately successful support for the creation of a Federal Income Tax (16th amendment) and the direct election of Senators (17th amendment). He was an early architect of what would now be called judicial activism as well as the use of the interstate commerce to expand federal power. In short, Wilson was the most publicly anti-constitutionalist President in history. Remarkably, it took Peristritto's text (based on the late Arthur S. Link's 69-volume publication of Wilson's papers in 1993) to bring matters so clearly to light. Accordingly, this is a must-read book for anyone interested in modern politics.
It's been almost ten years I've been working on finding my answers or as I have started to become aware, deprogramming myself. I feel blessed in that I found this publication in 2010 because reading and comprehending it helped (sort of like a flashlight) to see a whole lot better in this rabbit hole in a way that this publication will give you the knowledge to understand what is going on in Washington today and how yesterday's actions created today's crises.
This book is one of the most pleasurable but academically structured epic reads that will make your brain hungry for more.
CAUTION/WARNING: Reading this publication will present dangerous ideas of conspiracy that will require government intervention to quell your mind because of what this material proves. So, a choice is at hand, you can agree with what Cass Sunstein has got to say, or you can take personal responsibility and find out for yourself.
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"A strong strain of paternalism also shaped Wilson's worldview. He was a product of Southern gentility, admired the Ku Klux Klan, and considered segregation "not humiliating but a benefit." As president he ordered both the federal bureaucracy and the Washington transit system segregated. He hosted the premiere of the film The Birth of a Nation at the White House and lamented afterward that its portrayal of black men as violent simians "is all so terribly true." During his eight years in office he sent American troops to intervene in more countries than any previous president: Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic , Mexico, Nicaragua, and even, in the turbulent period following the Bolshevik Revolution, the Soviet Union."
Kinzer, Stephen (2013-10-01). The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War
Well, if you dig deeper than the surface, you find that Woodrow wasn't exactly a flag-waving, Constitution-reciting patriot. He was a progressive who believed that the Constitution was good for its time (not for his era), the American government should be centralized (the guardians of the state must be allowed more power to serve the will of the people), and anyone who opposed the state opposed his fellow man (the state is simply the embodiment of the will/desires of the American people).
He believed in the end of history when the modern democratic state (where people are free when the state is all-powerful) becomes the last and best hope for all mankind. Thus, he sought to make the world safe for democracy... modern democracy that is.
Pestritto's work is thorough and effective. He points to Woodrow's own words to show today's readers living in 2013 what the President of the United States 100 years ago truly believed.