Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age

Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age

by Daniel T. Rodgers

He reveals the forgotten international roots of such innovations as city planning, rural cooperatives, modernist architecture for public housing, and social insurance, among other reforms.

From small beginnings to reconstructions of the new great cities and rural life, and to the wide-ranging mechanics of social security for working people, Rodgers finds the interconnections, adaptations, exchanges, and even rivalries in the Atlantic region's social planning.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.66
  • Pages: 648
  • Publish Date: May 19th 2000 by Belknap Press
  • Isbn10: 0674002016
  • Isbn13: 9780674002012

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He asks how and why a transatlantic intellectual discourse grew up towards the end of the 19th century, and answers this question with the growth of progressivism, relating the new discourse to the social and political changes of the 1890s. In fact, transatlantic intellectual discourse had been solidly in place well before the period of Rodgers study. Anyone who has studied 19th-century intellectual life could have pointed this out to Rodgers, whose area of specialization is the 1920s. However, if your area of interest is progressive movement after the First World War, its ideas and influences, and the root causes are less important to you, Rodgers' analysis of these elements is useful and intelligent. It is also perhaps timely, as Rodgers' sees American progressives as looking to Europe for ideas and models in a period of rapid intensification of market relations...

Rodgers is an immense work about the progressive age in the United States and Europe. Rodgers follows the progress of the progressive age from approximately 1870 to the Second World War. The focus of this work is on the development and rise of social politics during this time, particularly in labor and housing reforms.

Rodgers believes that Progressivism would not have existed in its modern form without an exchange of ideas, books, students, travelers, and politicians across the Atlantic.

AND he was at the Exposition Universelle Rodgers begins his story with. My point is, failing to see people like Todd because they were rural rather than urban or businessmen rather than academics, distorts the story Rodgers is telling.

For a book that attempts to form a counterweight to the "American Exceptionalism" school of thought, Rodgers surprisingly still focuses on the uniqueness and exceptionalism of America, although usually in a negative way. Because America (as Rodgers presents it, and as most Americans likely consider themselves) is quite individualistic, many progressive reforms had trouble taking root due to their cooperative spirit and resemblance to socialism -- although at this time that word did not carry the venom it carries today. In America, World War I mobilized the country into a nearly socialized state, focusing energy on increasing efficiency for the war effort. World War 2 changed things in a more permanent way, although that is beyond the scope of Rodgers work, and he only deals with that conflict in a cursory afterword.

Second, that the New Deal was a belated burst of pent-up Progressive reforms. Rodgers, in seeking to explain the manifold contradictions within the New Deal, looked to earlier American reform attempts and their European influences. Rodgers' discussion of Social Security exemplifies my interpretation of his argument.