Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform via the experts. In the 21st century, a movement that identifies as progressive is a social or political movement that aims to represent the interests of ordinary people through political change and the support of government management by experts. Basically progressives believe they can bring about a utopian government order through the leadership and management of the culture through an educated expert elite.

Progressives are driven a strong belief in the technocratic management of government. The progressive criticism of laissez-faire liberalism arose due to late-19th-century American intellectuals’ envy of the German state theories of government administration and control. The American system of elite, research-centered higher education originated from the German model. During the industrial era of the late 19th century university student went off to Germany for graduate work. This was a common practice for many American intellectuals since they believed German universities were the place to go for higher education. Most of the key figures of the progressive movement received at least part of their education in Germany. During an era when very few Americans attained a higher education, more than 9,000 Americans studied at German universities—nearly 2,000 in 1880 alone.

From their experiences in German classrooms, many progressive intellectuals gained exposure to the country’s model of civil service scholars. These scholars consisted of professors and university-trained experts to whom the German government looked for advice when crafting social, economic, and political policy.

Young and impressionable American university student bought into this model of cultural leadership. They believed that they could recreate the German model of expert management and leadership back home in America. These concepts soon became a part of the university belief that human reason could be used to perfect management and leadership of the nation's culture and economy by the experts.

Great site that teaches different facets of economic thought including progressivism.

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