riddler78 saidThe idea of smaller government is a relatively new one (whether or not it actually gets put into practice by its political advocates is another issue altogether).
See that's just it: the idea of a smaller government is NOT a new idea. Remember the roots of the progressive movement, how they were responses to institutionalized child labor, endless work weeks, strike busting (with local and state government support), and the robber barons of the 19th and early 20th centuries? Guess who was for smaller government then?
The smaller government movement that libertarians claim to be a new phenomenon is older than the New Deal.
Sorry, look at the facts. Corporatism and autocracies hold more in common with supposed liberalism than libertarianism for the simple fact that liberalism depends on and encourages the centralization of power in order to work. Guess who depended on governments back then in order to hold and grow power?
The phenomenon you describe were truly progressive in the actual definition of the word than how it is today. Advocates in small government - at least the libertarians and economic "conservatives" requires rule of law and equality of property rights for all - rich and poor which was not the case back then. Though, now that you bring it up, the ruling ideas of the day were dominated by utopian views that starred governments working in lockstep with or taking over industry (see Edward Bellamy).
That being said, it is interesting that you feel compelled to look at times before the New Deal to advocate progressivism as a "new" idea. The reality as far as true economic progress goes is that less government intervention is directly tied to greater economic growth - and that's a fairly new idea.