Do you know what happens when you allow “scholars” like Jonah Goldberg to invent historical movements and monsters? You end up with uncited statements of obvious provenance that mask sheer lunacy behind the rhetorical scrim of conventional wisdom:
[T]he principles that inspired the American founding were always viewed as universal principles, which applied to all of mankind. Curiously, it wasn’t until the introduction of Historicist and Darwinian philosophy (which gave birth to Progressivism) that some Americans began to argue otherwise.
I wrote a dissertation about popular adaptations of evolutionary theory during the Progressive Era and have long styled myself an historicist* and I have absolutely no idea what that second sentence could possibly mean.
Does its author, Joseph Philips, mean to argue that Darwinism—which was neither the only nor even the dominant evolutionary paradigm of the Progressive Era—gave birth to “Progressivism”?
Does he mean to argue that the New History movement—inaugurated in 1912 by James Harvey Robinson’s The New History and abetted by works like Charles Beards’ An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913)—gave birth to “Progressivism” fifteen years after it’d been born?
Or does he mean nothing at all—but learned from the likes of Goldberg et al.—that the best way to prevent people from criticizing the seriousness of an assertion is to pretend its “knowledge” so common as to be above reproach?
Care to place bets as to where I fall on this one? I didn’t think so.
*Before someone objects: writing “an historicist” is too correct.