Chapter 1 The question of inequalities during the Progressive Era in the United States: the Golden Mean program of the economist Richard T. Ely
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During the Progressive Era, many academics aligned with the need to fight the inequalities related to the functioning of American capitalism at the time. As a leading intellectual and Christian militant, R. T. Ely was among them. Ely stood for examining the inequalities stemming from the concentration of property, particularly capital and land. He emphasized the need to change property rights with a view to ensuring equality of opportunities for all, and to improving the functioning of capitalism and democracy. Ely sought to devise the principles of a new socio-economic order promoting the general interest rather than the privileges of a few. These principles were linked to the “Golden Mean” project, namely, the will to foresee and devise desirable progressive reforms between the two extremes of socialism and laissez-faire. Although he was criticized, this chapter pays tribute to Ely’s thought, which paved the way for the reforms of the New Deal.

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