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Chapter XII. The Structuring of Power—The Way Out THE SHADOW government had resulted in a twofold malignancy. Naturally, misadministration was engendered; this was seen quite early. But, secondly, the process of law­ making was impeded, and the state was hindered in com­ ing to grips with the great new social forces. Only slowly, with the beginning of the Progressive movement, did the muckrakers finally conclude that obedience to a written code was not the sine qua non of reform. This change of the impetus of reform towards the restructuring of political power and the implementation of laws based on the great social and economicrealities of the time isquite marked. "Every new invention," McClure was moved to say in 1910, "demands new laws" governing social control and defining exploitation.1 In a half dozen years the magazine had made a radically new interpretation of lawlessness. Just as the slavocracy had prevented new laws from being passed governing the control of inventions based on steam and steel, the shadow government obstructed needed legisla­ tion. As a result the United States remained "years and years" behind other countries "in the march of socializing new forces and ideas that have come into civilization."2 This "legislative lag," as Baker defined it, resulted because law was the tortoise and society the hare in the pace of evo­ lution.3 McClure's staff agreed with his sentiment that "we are, broadly speaking, behind most of the other civilized nations in the various socialized laws dealing, for example, with the compensation of working men and so on and in methods of ameliorating the conditions of the poor and 1 McClure, Speech to the Canadian Club, Nov. 26, 1910, McClure Papers. 2 Ibid,.·, McClure, Speech at Race Betterment Conference, Jan. 10, 1914, ibid. 3 See John Erwin Semonche, "Progressive Journalist: Ray Stannard Baker, 1870-1914," 100. S T R U C T U R I N G O F P O W E R of the workers."4 What was the way out when the "wealth and criminality" of the country arrayed themselves against the natural development of society as a whole and state functions in particular?5 The muckraker's solution lay in strengthening the formal government, in structurally unifying sovereignty, power, and responsibility. This was necessary, as Acton or Bagehot might have agreed, because "we cannot quarrel with a law of nature: water always flows downhill; government always seeks a strong hand."6 The McClure's group undoubtedly concurred with the conclusions of John R. Commons in A Sociological View of Sovereignty that society was an organistic unity which preceded either the state, the family, or the individual in importance.7 The principal responsibility of the state was to represent some consensus of the societal interests and toserve as a bulwark against centralizedwealth.8 The old arguments about the contract theory of the state, natural rights, and states rights had ceased to be meaning­ ful in the light of the transformation of society with the con­ comitant growth of national powers of the first magnitude in the Wall Street-criminality combine. Perhaps, under these conditions, even democracy had become an unrealiz­ able ideal.9 The process of society was Spencerian, from an "indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent hetero­ geneity," and each epoch required revolutionary adjust­ ment, particularly in government. In addition to Commons, the McClure's group was undoubtedly influenced by other nationalists in the Darwinian tradition such as Weyl, * McClure, Speech at Race Betterment Conference, Jan. 10, 1914, McClure Papers. 0 McClure, Speech at Twentieth Century Club, Jan. 30, 1904, ibid. β McClure's, xxxvi (Nov., 1910), 118. τ John R. Commons, A Sociological View of Sovereignty (New York, 1965). 3· 8 See Allan G. Crunchy, Modern Economic Thought (New York, 1947), 140; Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civiliza­ tion (3 vols., New York, 1946-59), in, 326. β Steffens, Shame, 101, 181. S T R U C T U R I N G O F P O W E R Croly, and John W. Burgess, the ex-Knox professor whose Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law gave the concept of national sovereignty "its fullest and most systematic treatment in America."10 Hofstadter sees two schools of political thought among the Progressives: a Jeffersonian attempt to return power to the people and a Hamiltonian scheme to rest it in the hands of a great leader. The muckrakers fit neither category easily. They wanted popular support for uniting power and responsibility in the executive...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400872305
MARC Record
OCLC
614006860
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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