The Revolutionary Vanguard 3: The Roosevelt Revolution

I have already discussed here and here a bit of the connections between the French Revolution of 1789 and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.   When I left off I was discussing the Progressive Era which gave birth to the modern age of Democratic Party politics, and the Republican Party as well, though to a lesser extent.

It is important to note that it was in this era that the Republican Party was increasingly marginalized as the party of moneyed capitalism and consigned to almost permanent minority status after having dominated national politics from immigrantthe end of the Civil War.  Riding on their rock solid grip on the Southern electorate, Democrats expanded their voter base by appealing to the large numbers of working class European ethnic immigrants who were pressing into the labor market. Of course this appeal to European ethnics did nothing to dissuade the Democrats from their wholesale support for and endorsement of White supremacy throughout the nation, but especially in the southern states.

The progressive movement offered these emerging groups political power in the face of  the seemingly overwhelming economic clout of industrial capitalism.  Class consciousness  combined with naked race politics provided a powerful glue for the southern and northern branches of the Democratic Party.  World War I destroyed the classically liberal political consensus of both Europe and the United States.

The world wide Depression of the nineteen thirties provided a pretext for the next stage of revolutionary advance of progressive politics:  The Roosevelt Revolution.

It is well known that the 30’s saw the advancement of various forms of government intervention in the economy and society around the world.  Fascism, Communism, and varying degrees of state Capitalism seemed to be the wave of the future.  These systems were different than earlier conceptions of government involvement in that they were much more comprehensive in scope and reached far deeper into the lives of everyday citizens (thus the term totalitarianism).  Mobilization for the Great War set the precedent, but peacetime involvement of government in such an extensive way was new.

Roosevelt presided over an alphabet soup of government expansion which was designed to raise the country from the economic turmoil of the Great Depression.  There was, at the time, ample evidence for his interventionism, particularly by looking at the USSR and Nazi Germany both of which experienced tremendous economic growth through the 30’s through massive government involvement in the economy.  More importantly however, the notion that government should be led by highly educated bureaucrats became ingrained in the public consciousness.

Ordinary people, under the exigencies of economic depression and then war, became accustomed to having a great deal of their liberties curtailed.  Under the Roosevelt Revolution, wages, capital flows, employment levels, contracts, FDR_labor2purchasing, manufacturing, and any number of other previously private issues suddenly became the purview of the federal government.  Government was involved in everything from rural electrification to telling farmers what crops to grow.  We have become so very used to large scale government involvement in so many areas of life that it is difficult for us to imagine life without it.

While the Roosevelt Revolution led to many programs that few today would want to repeal (like Social Security) the legacy of overweening government led by self designated “experts” is one we could likely do without.

Since the Roosevelt era, Americans have lived under a government bureaucracy that was developed for war.  Things which would previously have been taken for granted, openly carrying a firearm for instance, have become cause for alarm. It is impossible for any entrepreneur to start a business without having to run the gamut of government regulation.

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6 Responses to The Revolutionary Vanguard 3: The Roosevelt Revolution

  1. mainenowandthen says:

    Regarding your statement, “Since the Roosevelt era, Americans have lived under a government bureaucracy that was developed for war”; I cannot help but wonder if the failure of FDR’s policies to lift America from under the cloud of the Depression, despite massive government intervention, may have contributed to the development of a bureaucracy geared for war prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    Following the end of WWII, government military spending was severely reduced to the point where the United States was at a tremendous disadvantage when faced with the Korean conflict. Does that indicate a break in general policies?

    Certainly, since Korea, The United States has made an attempt to maintain a sufficient defensive posture through military strength, although once again a “hollow military” (that I was part of), and was epitomized by the incompetent and bungling Jimmy Carter, once again surfaced in the decade following Viet Nam and was not alleviated until the election of Ronald Regan.

    FDR came as close to being an American dictator as this nation has ever seen and had he remained healthy we might have slipped even deeper into the black hole of statism than we now find ourselves. At least we can thank FDR for inspiring the two-term limitations placed on the Presidency.

    Stalin, Hitler and the like fed off economic chaos and we initially accepted for the patina of order that they appeared to represent. See any link to our present problems there?

    Please continue the thoughtful and informative writing.

    • Regarding your statement, “Since the Roosevelt era, Americans have lived under a government bureaucracy that was developed for war”; I cannot help but wonder if the failure of FDR’s policies to lift America from under the cloud of the Depression, despite massive government intervention, may have contributed to the development of a bureaucracy geared for war prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor?

      Following the end of WWII, government military spending was severely reduced to the point where the United States was at a tremendous disadvantage when faced with the Korean conflict. Does that indicate a break in general policies?

      When I say a government geared towards war, I mean a that our government bureaucracy is more expansive and invasive that governments have ever been traditionally unless we’re at war. Governments always expand in wartime, but then usually retract; ours continues to grow and expand… in our case under the guise of waging “War on Poverty” and “War on Drugs” as well as actual fighting wars.

  2. Roosevelt is used shamelessly by ‘progressives’ (who are actually regressives) as a propaganda tool.

    I gotta be honest–my love of Hillary Clinton gets knocked down a notch every time Roosevelt enters the discussion. Two biggies: I went to Washington DC with my son on a school trip last year, and our first stop was the Roosevelt Memorial. Having been out of the country for some time, when I got off the bus I thought, “When the hay did THIS thing pop up here?!” It is huge–a park with 4 sections to memorialize his 4 terms. Later I found it was dedicated in the late 90’s–the Clintons must have made it happen. Second thing, I noticed TIME magazine’s cover story of FDR a few months ago and snarfed the copy of it from my mom’s (I canceled my subscription a year ago after a nauseating number of O-propaganda covers and a total lack of in depth reporting). Last essay–by Bill Clinton, fawning over the splediferousness of FDR. Total propaganda.

    Roosevelt engaged in confiscation of private property (gold). And he ordered destruction of private property (grains, oranges and pigs) in a Keynesian attempt to manipulate prices–all this while people were starving! Some humanitarian. He was a very poor economist, and when very poor economists become leaders, they flock to Keynesianism because it feeds their sense of self-importance. They think THEY can solve problems when it is really only their job to clear out the muck and let people solve their OWN problems.

  3. johninca says:

    Yeah, yeah. I think BC’s point is that Roosevelt marked the beginning of Fabian socialism in this country– but I’ll stand corrected if that interpretation is wrong.

    One has to understand the country’s mood during the depression. Even the radio priest Fr Coughlin (who in today’s terms would be considered to the right of Pat Buchanan) was pro-Roosevelt until 1935. “Roosevelt or ruin!” he used to say. There was overwhelming sentiment that Americans deserved a “new deal.” You can’t argue ideology when people are hungry.

    • You can’t argue ideology when people are hungry.

      That is something ideologues and dictators rely on. When people are fearful and hungry, they abandon their rational thought and cling to whomever promises them security.

  4. johninca says:

    To understand this period, I recommend the trilogy by the late Professor Antony Sutton of the Hoover Institution: Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, Wall Street and FDR, and Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution.

    I don’t agree with everything he writes, but Sutton shows that a certain interlocking group of Wall Street capitalists and financiers were involved with the ascent of the communists, Nazis, and of FDR.

    Some of these Wall Street potentates were also involved in creating the political networks more or less openly working towards a New World Order– the CFR, Bilderbergers, Trilateralists, and so on.

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