INDUSTRIAL PROGRESSIVES — 200 Years of Driving Society

Something went wrong, here.

Something went very, very wrong.

Somewhere between FDR and the Red Scare, America forgot what the dream was about. We bought the lie that they built this…not us. We turned against each other; fed sour milk from the teat of corporate propaganda, that the rich and powerful should lead us, and we owed them some tribute for the privilege.

Yes…there was a time, before corporatism and death-cycle consumerism, when building something meant something in this country. And we always got what we paid for.

There was a time when America understood that this nation belonged to us; steam-power and coal-fired, a place of brass and iron. Where opportunity and justice were seen as American birthrights, power existed to serve the needs of the people. When industry lit the forge of innovation…and that innovation held the solutions to our future.

But something went wrong between there and here. So, let’s look to the past. To the history of Industrial Progressives; to who we are through the art we left behind:


Section 1 — A Short History of Folk, Rock and Country Music in America
Section 2 — Heart of Steam; Who Are the Industrial Progressives?
Section 3, What are Industrial Progressives? — Our Platform and Beliefs

Section 1 — A Short History of Folk, Rock and Country Music in America

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older, and deeper in debt. Saint Peter don’t you call me, cause I can’t go…I owe my soul to the company store.”

Merle Travis wrote those lyrics in 1946. Among several other tracks on his excellent album Folk Songs of the Hills, “Sixteen Tons” went on to become an instant classic among America’s post-war working class. As well it should have. Travis’ story of a permanently indebted coal miner slaving away in the Kentucky Hills was a timeless story; so timeless, in fact, very likely it’s the only song from that entire era you actually know the lyrics to.

Go ahead. Try to think of another one.

Travis wasn’t the first or last singer to bring the woes of the working class onto America’s radio waves. Matter of fact, the “Sixteen Tons” you know is likely the later, more upbeat version covered ten years later by “Tennessee” Ernie Ford.

While this song is probably the best known of the genre in modern times, America’s “Industrial Folk Revival” carried a lot of history behind it.

“Industrial Folk” began as Celtic-accented “work music” over 200 years before, in the trainyards of Industrial Britain. Immigrants from Scotland and Ireland brought it over to America in the 1900s, and Folk took root in the Appalachians where many later settled. Often, working in pretty much the same dirty, dangerous conditions their ancestors had centuries before. John Henry and The Ballad of Casey Jones came out of this era. Listen close, and you can still hear a bit of Scottish brogue in the fiddle and banjo accompaniments common to this genre.

Over the next hundred years, Folk quietly became the bluesy soundtrack of America’s working class. From Woodie Guthrie to Tennessee Ernie Ford, all the way up to Bruce Springsteen. Later, Industrial Folk spawned Progressive Folk, which included basically every great protest song from the 1960s. Here we find Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and those hundred other hippy bands that made the 60s such an amazing time for music and political change.

There wasn’t a single genre of rock or pop that Progressive Folk didn’t touch…even Ozzy Ozbourne followed the theme. The lyrics to “Crazy Train” could have just as easily been written by Merle Travis himself 30 years before. From Black Sabbath, we get AC/DC, Metallica, White Zombie, Pantera, and probably a few decent bands later. Probably.

Even Rock’s kissin’ cousin Country Western wasn’t immune from its Grandpappy, Industrial Folk. Funny how people forget now, but music made by almost all the legends of twang-doodle was overwhelmingly Progressive. Even by modern standards. Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride…Willie freakin’ Nelson. Who makes me look like Mitch McConnell. Country, even more than rock made at the same time, was practically Baptized in the waters of Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Next to gospel, Industrial Folk (and the genres it inspired) is unquestionably the oldest form of music in America. Partly because it predates America. But mostly because folk, rock and country all tell the same timeless story. Just one. One message, one string, thumps that hard baseline from the trainyards of industrial Britain all the way through today.

The people vs. the powerful. Workers and Owners. Corporations and the wealthy.

Sixteen tons. And what do you get.

Section 2 — Hearts of Steam; Who Are the Industrial Progressives?

Odds are pretty good you’ve already met one. Just walk to your nearest shaving sink, and take a long look in the mirror.

Industrialists are everyone and no one. We’re aren’t Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals. We were around long before anyone used those words.

We’re not anarchists or communists; we belong to nobody’s club, unless we’re showing up to take it over. We’re Berniecrats and Eisenhower Republicans. We’re FDR, and Henry Ford. Howard Hughes, and MLK. We’re Johnny Cash and Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen and Rob Zombie, Ludacris and Charlie Pride.

Industrial Progressives are working people, like you and me. The men and women who built America, power its economy, drive innovation, open local businesses and craft the future for one and all.

Politically, you could call us “Socially Libertarian/Economically Progressive.” We believe in maximum personal freedom, and reshaping industry to serve the needs of the people. Not the other way around. We innovate, come up with new ideas.

We’re old-fashioned, iron-hard steampunk traditionalists…and futurists, providing real legal and technological solutions for tomorrow.

Industrial Progressives are focused reforming business, economy and government to best serve the needs of the people. To save our nation, planet and industry from destruction at the hands of greed, corruption short-sighted profiteering.

In short, we’re old-school Progressives. As in 1890s, hammer-swinging, hard-working industrial-strength Progressives.

Hearts of steam, fists of iron and minds of silicon.

Relics…with an eye to the future.

Section 3, What are Industrial Progressives? — Our Platform and Beliefs

By modern political standards, we’d be “Socially Libertarian/Economically Progressive.” Kind of the bottom, mid-left of the political compass. Our goals are to maximize both personal freedom and personal opportunity.

But that doesn’t begin to sum up who we really are.

Because first and foremost, true to the name…Industrial Progressives are throwbacks. Antiques. Remnants of a bygone time before corporations bought our government and destroyed our hopes of a future. Before billionaires came to dominate every aspect of our media and society. We’re the steampunk rebellion; we look back to look forward. Find tomorrow in the gears of yesterday. We craft the future as it should have been; not as some believe it must be.

Our platform positions, starting with the Prime Directive:

Industrial Progressives do not, under any circumstances, take money from big corporate interests. We will work to further local business, because local business is part of the community. But that’s where it ends. We don’t take money from big corporate donors, or PACs to which they contribute. Either by direct donation, or maxing out individual donations. If your company trades on Wall Street, is part of a national franchise or has branch locations outside our constituency…then piss off. We don’t need your money, and don’t want it. This is the Prime Directive, diamond etched into titanium-dipped tungsten carbide from now until forever. No Big Corporate money. Period.

Our Priorities:

  • Saving Capitalism from Itself — Capitalism does not exist in nature. It must be created, regulated and maintained to survive in a global economy. Otherwise, competition will die, innovation will cease and the whole damn system will eat itself alive. We want to regulate industry, control global corporate power, and restore America to the Small Business Economy that made it great to begin with.
  • Harnessing the Power of Industry to Serve Humanity — Capitalism is a big, stupid horse. Let it run wild, it’ll stomp your crops, destroy the farm and ultimately die of starvation. But put a harness on that same horse, direct it where you want it to go…suddenly it’s the most valuable tool on Earth. Industrial Progressives work to harness the power of industry to solve problems; we direct it, and guide its direction to deliver the results best suited not just for our survival…but its own.
  • Technological Solutions for Human Problems — Be it guns, abortion, election security or climate change…we’ve got the tech for that. Industrial Progressives are about maximizing personal freedom and opportunity, preserving rights and thinking outside the law to deliver the best solutions for everyone.
  • Freedom with Accountability — Call me old fashioned, but I like the idea of justice. Of punishment weighed against harm, and meted out evenly to all. Those who do the most harm deserve the greatest punishment, regardless of class or income. While those who harm none but themselves should be free to do so. There can be no justice when the powerful do as they please, and the powerless are left to suffer for it. Power is trust, and trust betrayed is the greatest crime of all.
  • Equality and Diversity — How many pictures from 1890 have you seen with White men and “Orientals” side by side? If none, you’ve seen one now; look to the bottom left of the graphic on this very article. While this picture was selected largely on the basis of aesthetics, the fact is that factory, rail and industry photographs of the time were some of the most diverse of that era. Industrial Progressives have a long history of setting aside racial, gender, sexual, political and identity barriers to the benefit of all. This common struggle is common to all; diversity has always been our greatest strength. And we must never forget that.

Our Positions:

  • Industrialists believe in the future of green energy and technology. Not out of ideology, but just because this is the way it always should have been. The 20th Century practice of relying on fossil fuels has destroyed our planet and local industries, has done nothing but cause war and stifle innovation into better technologies. It’s made us slave to corporate-owned politicians, who are more concerned with bombing hospitals in the Middle East than they are furthering the interests of their own citizens.
  • Industrial Progressives aren’t communists or corporatists; we believe in regulating industry so it serves the purposes we want it to serve. Namely, benefiting us. Restoring America to greatness by pursuing the ideals of a Carriage Economy; one based on small business and personal opportunity, rather than Wall Street speculation and corporate interests. Industry exists to serve the people, not the other way around.
  • We don’t want to get rid of billionaires. In fact, some of our great icons were fantastically rich. Howard Hughes, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Ben Franklin…take your pick. That said…Justice serves the Iron Rule; Do unto others as they’d do to you. We feel exactly the same degree of personal indifference toward billionaires as they do toward anyone else. We don’t care if you exist. Just don’t get in our way. Nobody ever said life was fair.
  • We believe in driving change through industry and technology. Because while our hearts might run on brass and steam, we know the problems of today can be solved by the technology of tomorrow. Progress through innovation is the Industrialist way. Tech before law, always.
  • We believe in maximum personal freedom with limited government restriction and intrusion on our personal lives. Regulation is for business, not humanity. It is our sovereign right to own what we want, buy what we want, and put whatever we want into our bodies. We are grown men and women who earn our own money, and we can damn sure decide for ourselves what to spend it on.

What We Want

  • Industrialists want a return to a true Value Economy, getting out of this unwinnable Cheap Crap Game with China by bringing value back to the things we make and buy. And we will make them here, because bringing business home is the core of who we are.
  • We want to get money out of politics, and end the cycle of corruption that dominates our government today. We demand a government that is responsive to the needs of the people, and accountability for those who fail to deliver it by fraud or malfeasance. Election fraud is almost universally committed by elected officials, and we believe it should be considered a form of treason deserving (frankly) of public execution.
  • We will work toward reversing the two-tiered justice system, holding financial criminals, scam artists, Wall Street bankers and white-collar criminals who cause mass harm to large groups of people to the most severe legal standards in America. Anyone who abuses their power and public trust; betrays the financial trust of private individuals, steals intellectual property from private innovators; corporate CEOs whose decisions knowingly harm the public; crooked politicians, lawyers, judges, cops; there will be no white collar prisons for these people. We want these people held without bail in SuperMax prisons with the rest of the monsters; locked in dungeons, never to see the light of day again.
  • We want to end the failed War on Drugs, which has so far done nothing but create organized crime and over-fund an unjust, militarized legal apparatus to enforce it. A lesson we should have learned during our first failed Prohibition.

    In fact, Industrialists believe universally that regulation succeeds where prohibition fails. Always. And yes, that includes both guns and abortion. There’s no need to ban either one, ever, because there are technological solutions to these problems. Ones which, as always, deliver maximum personal freedom, minimum government intrusion and optimal results for everyone involved.

    Through the power of technology, everyone can keep their rights while simultaneously reducing both abortion rates and gun crime.

Industrial Progressives are artifacts of antiquity. No question about it. We look back to look forward. We imagine America as it could and always should have been, coming up with innovative solutions that accomplish Progressive social goals and bring back the American Dream…for everyone.

If this is to be the land of the free, that must mean true freedom of opportunity. Freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of movement and thought. Freedom from oppression, and unnecessary sickness and death. It means we must cast off the shackles of this left-right culture war bullshit, and come up with new solutions together.

These, among many others, are the core beliefs of Industrial Progressivism.

If you want to fix what’s broken, you don’t start from the day it all went wrong. You start from the last point at which it was right. This is why Industrial Progressives look to the past to repair the future.

Back further than Republicans and Democrats. Further than political labels, identity politics or corporate-owned media telling us who we are, and what to think about each other. Let’s go back to those dirty trainyards, machines of brass an steam, to steel spikes and swinging hammers…to the shipyards and cattle farms, docks and factories. Muddy tracks and iron wheels, forges casting the world of tomorrow. And see who stood around them.

They were the workers and innovators. They were the builders and dreamers. Believers in the American dream of opportunity for all, who started from nothing and created the land we live in today.

And they didn’t do it by kowtowing to power. They didn’t do it with weak wills and kind speech. They took those hammers in their calloused hands, marched right up to the men in charge and said “No, you work for us.

And who were they?


Our cause is older than any party. Older than America even. We are relics of a bygone age, certainly. But I believe it’s time for it to return. From Casey Jones to Ernie Ford, Joan Baez to Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC to Rob Zombie…the baseline of our Progressive heart pounds like a slamming die on molten steel, forging the world we choose for ourselves.

This is what it means to be an Industrial Progressive.

To re-forge the future, from the past.

Same as it’s always been.

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