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 the 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, purchasing, 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.