As Seen in Ngrams
As Seen in Ngrams
During the 1880-1940 period, political discourse moved dramatically toward ideas that bring on the governmentalization of social affairs. This page uses ngrams to show the rising use of terms that reflect and are suited to governmentalization.
An ngram figure does not tell you how people used the ngram you searched on – that is, the n-word-long string of words you searched on. The figure simply plots the percentage of ngrams that are the one that you searched on.
But the plot often suggests a story:
The Y axis is the percentage of 3-grams that are “the Great War”. We see that when World War II came people stopped calling World War I “the Great War.”
You can learn about the Google Ngram Viewer here. The ngram population searched on is from millions of books. By adding *10 to the ngram you multiply the frequency by ten, easing visual comparison with another ngram of higher frequency. By adding _NOUN you confine the results to the term as a noun, for example “values” used as a noun. Results are case sensitive (so “god” and “God” generate quite different results).
The ngram figures shown here are generated using the “English” book corpus (the default setting); I note when I switched to the American English corpus. I use 3 year smoothing (the default setting).
In the United States and Canada, there was a statist movement within Protestant circles that came to be called the social gospel movement. Wikipedia on social gospel is here. But the movement was well under way before that term gained frequency in books.
I use the term statist to mean: too inclined toward ideas that tend toward the governmenalization of social affairs.
Many leading professors of a statist bent in the United States were at least loosely associated with the social gospel movement.
Speaking of professors
The rise of the professoriate, and the professional associations still central to academic pyramids, must be incorporated into any understanding of the great transformation after 1880.
The professors brought in their progressive research programs – often in both senses of the term “progressive.”
Liberalism, old and new
After the Liberal Party in Britain changed and many statists started calling themselves liberals, people came to notice and to speak of the new and the old liberalism.
Realize that it would take a few years for the innovations in the usage of “liberalism” to generate “new liberalism” and “old liberalism” in published books. A statist tide started to come in around 1880, soon engulfing the younger generations, and having, by 1920, pretty well devastated liberalism as a living cultural force among people age 40 or younger, and especially intellectuals.
It is rare that an individual changes his or her ideological outlook after age 40, so the changes wrought by 1920 would write the story of the ensuing decades, barring major new developments.
Some language reflecting institutional changes
Some terms that really begin only in our social democratic age
Is it not astonishing that “equal opportunity” and “equality of opportunity” had almost no currency prior to 1890?
Again, is it not astonishing that “democratic ideals” had no currency prior to 1890?
The preceding four figures suggest a link between social democratic ideology and leftist notions of equality and social justice. I think that Hayek is right that the link lies in band-man instincts and mentalities, now green-lighted by democratic and socialistic ideologies.
I juxtapose “bundle of rights” with “bundle of clothes” just to show that it is not as though the word “bundle” was new in the 1870s.
Likewise, here is “property rights,” as opposed to “right of property” (e.g., the rightness in expecting others not to mess with it).
Some expressions that became more common
The word democracy itself has undergone great change since 1880. It had signified simply rule by the demos, the population, the ordinary citizens, particularly by voting. It has come to be imbued, especially for the left, with extensive, often fanciful, facets and used as a catchword for the good.