The Progressive Movement proffered the notion that mankind was perfectible, that the right institutions would coerce men and women into becoming better human beings.
Pass the right laws, impose the proper ordinances, put recent arrivals of the United States into state-run schools, and the ideal specimen of humanity would emerge.
This idealized thinking runs contrary to the humbling truth of fallen humanity and the closed order of a fallen world.
This notion of the ascendancy of human beings into "god-men" starts with G. F. W. Hegel, whose many detractors rightly indicted him for trying to do away with good and evil, who in his prolix philosophies wanted to erode the distinctions between man and the universe, and thus bring everything into the scope of his thinking.
Hegel had apparently never read David Hume, who for all of his atheism confirmed that who we are, what we have, the beliefs that we hold, have more to do with forces, traditions, realities beyond ourselves, beyond our thinking. In short, the world does not revolve around us. Hegel spend most of his academic career attempting to convince others, including the King of Prussia, that in fact the world and our thinking define everything:
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1: 22)
This insane notion, that the world, the truth, the verities of this life depend on me, gave rise to rising government and more power to whoever has the most wealth or the greatest force. Hegel glorified the State as the final definer of man, a notion which he failed to reconcile with man as the center of his own universe.
Progressives assume that we can change the world and ourselves. The witness of the ages suggests otherwise, with the rise of totalitarian governments which not only managed what people ate, but also identified those undesirable groups which failed to fit in to the proper profile of the ideal human being.
Progressivism inevitably leads to more state power and less care of the welfare of the individual. Man cannot run away from the guilt that lies within him, either, just as he cannot claim that the world is his idea, or that his thoughts and feelings define everything for him.
Progressivism is one more example of Orwellian Double-speak. George Orwell's 1984 is based on progressive ideals, with telescreens watching out for every member of society, with historians rewriting history to protect their interests, with the rise of sense over common sense of sentiments greater than oneself.