Progressivism is a term that refers to a broad school of international social and political philosophies. Politically speaking, "progressivisms" can be described as being socially liberal. The term "progressive" entered the lexicon of liberal thinking in late 19th century America, in reference to a more general response to the vast changes wrought by industrialization: an alternative to both the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues and to the various more or less radical streams of socialism and anarchism which opposed them. Political parties, such as the Progressive Party, organized at the start of the 20th century, and progressivism made great strides under American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = | title =Progressivism | format = | work = | publisher =The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05. | accessdate =2006-11-18]

U.S. progressivism historically advocates the advancement of labor rights and social justice. The progressives were early proponents of anti-trust laws, regulation of large corporations and monopolies, as well as government-funded environmentalism and the creation of National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.

Tenets of early progressivism

Worldwide impact


;Canada: Western Canada at the turn of the 20th century began to receive an influx of political ideas. From the United States came progressivism. The Progressive Party of Canada was founded in 1920 by Thomas Crerar, a former Minister of Agriculture in the Unionist government of Robert Borden. Crerar quit the Borden cabinet in 1919 because Minister of Finance Thomas White introduced a budget that did not pay sufficient attention to farmers' issues. Crerar became the first leader of the Progressive Party, and led it to win 65 seats in the 1921 general election, placing second, ahead of the well-established Conservative Party. The Progressives also had a close alignment with the provincial United Farmers parties in several provinces. However, the Progressives were not able to hold their caucus together well, and progressive-leaning MPs and voters soon deserted the Progressives for the Liberals and the economically socialist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (later the New Democratic Party).

Dating back to 1854, Canada's oldest political party was the Conservative Party. However following that party's disasterous showing in the 1935 election, held during the depths of the Great Depression, the party was leaderless and lacked new ideas. The party drafted Manitoba Premier John Bracken, a long-time leader of that province's progressive "United Farmers" party, who agreed to become leader of the Conservatives on condition that the party add "Progressive" to its name. The party adopted the name "Progressive Conservative," which it kept until its dissolution in 2003. Despite the name change most progressives contintued to support other parties, although the PCs also contained a progressive wing for the rest of its history. Most of these people were opposed to the PCs merger with the more socially conservative Canadian Alliance in 2003.

;United States :

Progressive political parties were created in the United States on three different occasions. The first of these - the Progressive Party, founded in 1912 by President Theodore Roosevelt - was the most successful third party in modern American history. The other two were the Progressive Party founded in 1924 and the Progressive Party founded in 1948, which were less successful.


;Ukraine :
thumb|_Nataliya Vitrenko's 2004 election poster.] The Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine ("Prohresivna Sotsjalistychna Partiya Ukrayiny/Progressivnaya Sotsialističeskaja Partiya Ukrajiny", Прогресивна соціалістична партія України) is a political party in Ukraine, created by Nataliya Vitrenko a flamboyant former member of Socialist Party of Ukraine in 1995. Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine is a left-wing party that supports integration with Russia and Belarus as an alternative to the EU. PSPU traditionally campaigns on an anti-NATO, anti-IMF and pro-Russian platform. During the 1998 parliamentary elections the party won 4 % of the vote, and its candidate for the 1999 presidential elections, Nataliya Vitrenko, came 4th, with 10.97% of the vote in the first round.

At the legislative elections, 30 March 2002, the party established the Nataliya Vitrenko Bloc alliance, including the "Partija Osvitjan Ukrajiny". It won 3.22% of the votes, little short of passing the 4% threshold needed to enter the Verkhovna Rada. PSPU was a vocal opponent of President Leonid Kuchma but supported Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian prime minister since 2002, during the 2004 elections. After the Orange Revolution of 2004, the party joined the opposition to new president Viktor Yushchenko in a coalition with the "Derzhava" (State) party led by former Ukrainian prosecutor Gennady Vasilyev.In the March 2006 parliamentary elections, the party again failed to gain any seats in Parliament, participating as People's Opposition Bloc of Natalia Vitrenko. At the 2007 parliamentary elections the party failed once more to enter the parliament.


While the term "progressive" is not as popular in most parts of Asia as it is in North America and Europe, there are political parties and organizations that advocate for many of the tenets of progressivism, such as the Progressive Writers' Movement.;China : In the People's Republic of China (PRC), individuals are elected to government via a series of indirect elections in which one people's congress appoints the members of the next higher congress, and in which only the lowest people's congresses are subject to direct popular vote. This means that although independent members can theoretically, and occasionally in practice, get elected to the lowest level of people's congresses, it is impossible for them to organize to elect members to the next higher people's congress without the approval of the ruling party, or to even exercise oversight over executive positions at the lowest level in the hierarchy. This lack of effective power also discourages outsiders from contesting the people's congress elections even at the lowest level. As well, control is often maintained over the civilian population through regulation of information, propaganda and censorship (see Propaganda in the People's Republic of China). These aspects of China's government run counter to many of the fundamental tenets of progressivism, and thus there is no major contemporary progressive party in power there. [Boum, Aomar (1999). [ Journal of Political Ecology: Case Studies in History and Society] . Retrieved April 18, 2006.] In 1998, Chinese activists formed the Chinese Democracy Party which advocated for progressive government reforms. Since then, founding members of the party, such as Zha Jianguo, have been rounded up and imprisoned by the Chinese government for allegedly "subverting the state". [Zha, Jianying "Enemy of the State", "The New Yorker" (April 23, 2007)]

;India :In India there are a large number of political parties which exist on either a state-wide or national basis. The United Progressive Alliance, as the current ruling political alliance in India, comprises leftist political parties which lean towards socialism and/or communism. Thus, the definition of "progressivism" may be interpreted differently in India, as communism was not a branch of thought that played any major role in the original western progressive movement. Furthermore, on a social level the leftist parties in India do not espouse policies that would be considered progressive in the West, though policies in regards to caste system, worker's rights, and women's rights are far more progressive than the non-progressive Indian parties which often appeal to Hindu fundamentalism based in a sense of a thousand year injustice against Hindus by outsiders. The alliance is externally supported (supporters are not part of the government) by the four main leftist parties; Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party and All India Forward Bloc. In order to coordinate the cooperation, a UPA-Left Coordination Committee has been formed. The Indian National Congress is currently the chief member of the United Progressive Alliance coalition.


;Australia :In the past few years in Australia, the term "progressive" has been used to refer to what used to be called "The Third Way". The term is popular in Australia, and is often used in place of "social liberal". The term "liberalism" has become associated with free markets, small government, and personal freedom; in other words "classical liberalism". Progressivism, however, means in part advocating big government that does not involve central planning. [ [ Gary Sauer-Thompson weblog 3-17-07] ]

;New Zealand :The current Prime Minister of New Zealand - Helen Clark, leader of the Labour Party - announced in 2005 that she had come to a complex arrangement that led to a formal coalition consisting of the Labour Party and Jim Anderton, the New Zealand Progressive Party's MP. A further arrangement has been made with the Green Party, which has given a commitment not to vote against the government on confidence and supply.

Jim Anderton formed the Progressive Party after splitting from the Alliance Party. The Progressive Party states a particular focus on the creation of jobs, and has said that it is committed to achieving full employment. They seek to raise the legal age of alcohol consumption to 20. They are pro-environment, and list free education and free healthcare as other policy objectives. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = | title =Policies | format = | work = | publisher =New Zealand Progressive Party | accessdate =2006-11-16]

The Progressive Green Party was formed in 1995 but has now disbanded.

Relation to other political ideologies


The term "progressive" is today often used in place of "liberal". Although the two are related in some ways, they are separate and distinct political ideologies. According to John Halpin, senior advisor on the staff of the Center for American Progress, "Progressivism is an orientation towards politics, It's not a long-standing ideology like liberalism, but an historically-grounded concept... that accepts the world as dynamic." Progressives see progressivism as an attitude towards the world of politics that is broader than conservatism vs. liberalism, and as an attempt to break free from what they consider to be a false and divisive dichotomy. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = | title ="What Is Progressivism?" | format = | work = | publisher =Andrew Garib | accessdate =2006-11-16] [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = | title ="Progressive versus Liberal" | format = | work = | publisher | accessdate =2006-11-16]

Cultural Liberalism is ultimately founded on a concept of natural rights and civil liberties, and the belief that the major purpose of the government is to protect those rights. Liberals are often called "left-wing", as opposed to "right-wing" conservatives. The progressive school, as a unique branch of contemporary political thought, tends to advocate certain center-left or left-wing views that may conflict with mainstream liberal views, despite the fact that modern liberalism and progressivism may still both support many of the same policies (such as the concept of war as a general last resort).

American progressives tend to support interventionist economics: they advocate income redistribution, and they oppose the growing influence of corporations. Conversely, European and Australian progressives tend to be more pro-business, and will often have policies that are soft on taxation of large corporations. Progressives are in agreement on an international scale with left-liberalism in that they support organized labor and trade unions, they usually wish to introduce a living wage, and they often support the creation of a universal health care system. Yet progressives tend to be more concerned with environmentalism than mainstream liberals, and are often more skeptical of the government, positioning themselves as whistleblowers and advocates of governmental reform. Finally, liberals are more likely to support the Democratic Party in America and the Labour party in Europe and Australia, while progressives tend to feel disillusioned with any two-party system, and vote more often for third-party candidates Fact|date=September 2008


Libertarians do not advocate social change "per se" but rather support a hands-off approach to government, advocating that people form voluntary associations with other, like-minded people to influence the direction of society.


Conservatives, by default, advocate established traditions and social stability. They are skeptical of notions of "progress" and social change -- in any direction -- believing that it is best to retain social relations that have been proven stable by past experience.

Conservative economist Bruce Bartlett believes that today's conservatives have forgotten that big business is often the enemy of free markets. He argues that big business seeks special privileges from the state to protect their market, create new demands for their product, or make the taxpayers subsidize their operating costs. Therefore, the trust-busting and anti-monopoly policies of progressivism serve to help the marketplace. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = | title =Bravo Bruce Bartlett | format = | work = | publisher =Lew Rockwell 2007. | accessdate =2007-03-22]

Author Gary Sauer-Thompson argues that contemporary progressives see a flexible, open market economy supported by strong public services as the best means to achieving social justice. In common with the liberal tradition, modern progressivism aspires to a society that is also open – economically, intellectually and culturally – in which individuals and their families can progress on the basis of their aspirations and hard work, and are not held back by family background or circumstance. [cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = | title =Progressivism + Liberalism | format = | work = | publisher =Gary Sauer-Thompson 3-19-07. | accessdate =2007-03-21]


Socialism (in the strict or radical sense) aims to establish a fundamentally different society from the one that currently exists in most countries. While there are different schools of socialism, which often tend to have differing views of the ideal socialist society, some general examples of socialist concepts are: The desire to abolish capitalism, to place the means of production under the collective ownership of the people, and to achieve a very high degree of economic and political equality. Socialists argue that capitalism exploits the working class, and they desire for workers to play a vital role in moving society from capitalism to socialism (either by rising up in a revolution or general strike, or by voting "en masse" for socialist political parties).

In contrast, by definition progressivism aims to achieve gradual social change, and most progressives are outright opposed to any form of violent revolution. When the progressive movement split on economic principles, some progressives moved towards the socialist camp, advocating a planned economy. Other progressives moved towards the regulated mixed economy camp, with both public and private ownership of companies. Between these two extremes is social democracy, a branch of socialism that became increasingly moderate and moved towards the political center. Regulated-capitalism progressives and socialist progressives still tend to support similar progressive social policies, outside of economic principles. Socialist Party USA is an example of an organization with both democratic socialist and social democratic wings.

However, the relationship between progressivism and socialism as described here has often been a tense one. An example of this tension can be seen in the conflict between the Progressive Party of Theodore Roosevelt and the Socialist Party of Eugene V. Debs in the United States.

Partial list of progressive advocates

*Jane Addams
*Rocky Anderson
*Susan B. Anthony
*Ray Stannard Baker
*William E. Borah
*Louis Brandeis
*Alan Brinkley
*Sherrod Brown
*Peter Camejo
*Noam Chomsky
*Calvin Coolidge
*John Dewey
*Paul Douglas
*Theodore Dreiser
*Barbara Ehrenreich
*Charles William Eliot
*Russ Feingold
*Thomas Frank
*Al Franken
*Amy Goodman
*David Goodman
*Stephen Jay Gould
*Mike Gravel
*Tom Hayden
*Edward S. Herman
*Martin Luther King, Jr.
*Alfie Kohn
*Dennis Kucinich
*Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
*William Langer
*Robert McChesney
*George McGovern
*David McReynolds
*Wayne Morse
*Ralph Nader
*George Norris
*John B. Oakes
*Barack Hussein Obama
*Floyd B. Olson
*Greg Palast
*Christian Parenti
*Michael Parenti
*John Pilger
*Walter Rauschenbusch
*Eleanor Roosevelt
*Franklin Delano Roosevelt
*Theodore Roosevelt
*Bernie Sanders
*Margaret Sanger
*Upton Sinclair
*Norman Solomon
*Elizabeth Cady Stanton
*Lincoln Steffens
*William H. Taft
*Ida M. Tarbell
*Glen H. Taylor
*Harry S. Truman
*Thorstein Veblen
*Henry A. Wallace
*James Ward
*Booker T. Washington
*Ida B. Wells
*Paul Wellstone
*Burton K. Wheeler
*Woodrow Wilson
*Frank P. Zeidler

See also

*Progressive education
*New Left



*Tindall, George and Shi, David E.. "America: A Narrative History". W W Norton & Co Inc (Np); Full Sixth edition, 2003. ISBN 0-393-92426-2
*Lakoff, George. "Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate". Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-931498-71-7
*Kelleher, William J.. "Progressive Logic: Framing A Unified Field Theory of Values For Progressives". The Empathic Science Institute, 2005. ISBN 0-9773717-1-9
*Link, Arthur S. and McCormick, Richard L.. "Progressivism (American History Series)". Harlan Davidson, 1983. ISBN 0-88295-814-3
*Kloppenberg, James T.. "Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920". Oxford University Press, USA, 1988. ISBN 0-19-505304-4

External links

* [ A list of popular Progressive websites] - From
* [ American Progressivism and Reform] - online article from Encarta
* [ Air America Radio] - Liberal radio network
* [ American Prospect] - Progressive magazine and non-profit think-tank
* [ Breaking News & Commentary for the Progressive Community]
* [ Campaign for America's Future] A progressive non-profit thinktank
* [ Center for American Progress] - A progressive think tank in Washington, DC
* [ Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action] - Progressive non-profit policy and advocacy institute
* [ New Progressive Coalition] - Wiring progressive politics, for investors, entrepreneurs, and organizations
* [ Rockridge Institute] - Think-tank dedicated to better presenting progressive ideas
* [ Roosevelt Institution] Progressive student think tank
* [ "What Is Progressive?"] , [ "AlterNet"] opinion piece, July 25th 2005
* [ IMC, the Independent Media Center]
* [ University of Montevallo Progressive Alliance] - Progressive Students
* [ Third Coast Press] - Progressive Chicago media outlet
* [ The Progressives' Creed] - How to measure progress.

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