The Progressives were by and large successful in their goals. As their purposes and aims were mostly moderate, middle of the road reforms that did not truly embrace either the socialist movement that came after the publishing of Marx’s ‘The Communist Manifesto’ nor the establishment of the capitalist ‘bigwigs’ in New York and Chicago. With the advent of the Safe Food and Drug Act of 1906, the Progressives had earned their greatest victory. Against both the tides of the socialists and the laissez-faire capitalists, the progressives sought the middle path. They argued capitalism itself was not evil, but that all good things were poisonous to a society in large measure. They were focused on making a middle class nation. The leaders of the movement were safely in the class of the bourgeoisie, but sought to bring all of society to a more civil level.
As a movement, they were declared to have wanted healthcare, education, economic security and stronger families. They argued that populations living in filth and poverty were a blight to the larger nation itself. They moved to limit work hours, reduce workplace accidents, improve civic sanitation and increase education through minimal regulation and government intervention. They wanted a minimal age to leave school, a maximum amount of hours for child labourers. The Progressives seemed to be the first to understand that the children of today were the adults of tomorrow. To educate them in safer, greener spaces would result in a healthier working population later.
Factory owners protested these acts, as they were losing their cheapest, most easily exploited demographic of workers, but as time went on, they lost ground in the fight. Across the country, the ‘City Beautiful’ movement created parks and playgrounds at the expense of industrialism. School attendance increased.
The Progressives won because they stood in the middle between nationalising all industry as the Socialists wanted and the utter exploitation of the hardline capitalists. A movement that worked for both government, industry and the common worker was one that would get the furthest and do the most good while leaving the least casualties. An ethical free market is by far the best system, as time as shown us. The socialist dream that was supposed to the the Soviet Union or even Venezuela failed while the moderate social welfare states of the Nordic countries and Europe and the Commonwealth states have the most stable societies and economies in the world.