The "reforms" of the New Deal are widely attributed, whether with praise or blame, to Franklin Roosevelt. In a recent article in REASON (February 1975), Jerome Tuccille exposed the intellectual leanings—collectivist—of the Brain Trust members who surrounded FDR as advisors and advocated many of the New Deal programs. There are, however, two dimensions missing from Mr. Tuccille's article: the large number of New Deal innovations which still touch the lives of nearly every person in this country, and the immense part played by Big Finance, Big Industry and Big Agriculture in making the New Deal possible in the first place.
The New Deal made no headway in curing the major problem of 1930-1940—unemployment—but it left behind a mountain of bureaucratic interferences which has never been materially abated. The Social Security Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, The Tennessee Valley Authority, the Federal Housing Administration, the Commodity Credit Corporation and a vast complex of agricultural programs related to the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1938—and there are many others—are still with us. One should not adopt a cheerful notion that the New Deal just blew away one day: a large part of one of its "three R's"—"reform"—is very much a part of our life.
As for another of the R's—"recovery"—we come face to face here with a complex of matters which takes us well beyond the New Dealers. In the summer of 1967 I delivered two lectures dealing with the origins of the New Deal in the decade or dozen years before the FDR era began. It amounted to over two hours of chapter and verse on the massive evidence behind the thesis that most of what was placed at the doorstep of FDR's social workers, visionaries and "pointy-headed perfessers" deserved to be lodged instead at various points along the way from the end of World War I to 1932. I want to deal with part of that subject here.
I used to wonder whether anyone had listened to the speeches of Herbert Hoover in the 1928 presidential campaign, and in case anyone did, why they did not care to remember them, especially Republicans after Hoover was defeated by Roosevelt in 1932. Mr. Hoover after this latter date became America's outstanding oral enemy of central planning, but next to his successor was our leading practitioner of planning. In 1928, as before and after, it was very obvious that he had no intention of taking the government out of business; government had proceeded prodigiously in just the opposite direction in 1917-1919, and steadily encroached thereafter. (Mr. Hoover was Secretary of Commerce under both his predecessors in the White House.)
Hoover believed that the "proper promotion" of business was to be one of the government's chief cares. He made it plain that a major government cause should be the maintenance of a high tariff while promoting foreign trade (a cute pair of contradictions), the encouragement and protection of trade associations in industry and cooperatives in agriculture. He further declared that it was the government's responsibility to construct those public works which private enterprise preferred not to finance—does anyone remember Hoover (Boulder) Dam?—and to undertake extended scientific and technological research on behalf of business. Furthermore, government was to assist business toward standardization and other operating economies, and even foster directly, through favors or open subsidies, such specific businesses as radio, aviation and shipping.
A year after his election the effects of the business collapse which had begun in the fall of his first year in office began to be felt, and we find Mr. Hoover advancing additional forms of national planning. He proposed: 1) to steady the price level by persuading employers to avoid cuts in wages; 2) to bolster prices of agricultural products through a complex of government price supports administered by the Federal Farm Board; 3) to keep up general business volume by persuading corporations to go ahead with capital expenditures already contemplated; 4) to help construction and building businesses by avoiding cuts in public construction projects; 5) to reduce distress-selling by maintaining easy conditions in the money market through the ministrations of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, another invention of his regime (it is interesting to see widespread recent discussion in favor of reviving the RFC).
The extent of this governmental program of aids and subsidies to railroads, real estate, banks, public works and many, many other enterprises was most substantial. Twitted Stuart Chase in 1932, "If there is a banker or a businessman decrying the heresies of that two billions of dollars of collectivism known as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, I have not heard his voice." It has thus amused me over the years to hear conservatives and their cousins indict Roosevelt for inventing the massive federal bureaucracy inflicted upon us via the New Deal.
One of the most stinging attacks on Hoover was written in 1931 (published in 1932, in the second half of the Hoover administration) by James M. Beck, former Solicitor General of the United States, and a Republican. In Our Wonderland of Bureaucracy, Beck blasted the Hoover government for "wandering further afield in crazy experiments in State Socialism." (Chase estimated that the U.S. was already past the 50 percent mark in the drift to socialism early in 1932; one often wonders what our agitated white-haired patriots are talking about when they shudder about the coming of socialism). Other related critiques of advanced and seemingly intolerable bureaucratic impositions at that moment (1932) were Charles Warren's Congress as Santa Claus and Sterling F. Edmunds' The Federal Octopus; Albert Jay Nock's September, 1932 American Mercury article, "If We Must Have a Revolution," also deserves a glance in this connection.
Before going on to the "recovery" aspect of the New Deal and the part played by Big Industry and Big Agriculture in the launching of both the National Recovery Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, let us take a look at a very important part of the first of the "3 R's," the make-work and public works "relief" programs. Harry Hopkins did not originate the idea of deliberately invented work as an unemployment blotter, whatever notoriety he was to accrue to himself as director of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). (Incidentally, the WPA was not disbanded until 1943, well after the U.S. was into World War II, the real lifeboat which rescued the country from the Depression.) There had been all kinds of talk long before 1933 about "public works" as a solution to what appeared to be hard-core unemployment. In the third week of March of that year the London Times published a series of spirited essays by J.M. Keynes (commented upon favorably in Business Week, March 22, 1933, p. 26). Although it was these essays, in which Keynes urged a vast public works program "as a means of combatting depression," which drew later attention, he had been preceded by many others.
One of the most lucid sponsorships of such activity was that of Dean Wallace B. Donham of the Business Administration Graduate School of Harvard University, in the Harvard Business Review of April 1931. In his "Can American Business Meet the Present Emergency?" he declared,
As a long time program I believe that the government should have at all times a great variety of such public and semi-public projects advanced to the stage where they can be started whenever an unemployment emergency occurs. As a matter of permanent planning, the government should at all times, through employment agencies cooperatively maintained by the federal and state governments, have an effectively accurate knowledge of the incidence and volume of unemployment. Whenever this index shows more than the normal amount of unemployment, public works should be started to take up the slack.
Mr. Hoover had surely "started to take up the slack" in this way well before Mr. Roosevelt appeared on the scene. Hoover Dam was just one of hundreds of projects already well under way by March 1933. They were inherited by FDR, and expanded and extended as provided under the second part of the National Industrial Recovery Act, though under Hoover they had been administered by the RFC. In essence the public works programs amounted to a disguised form of public investment in capital-goods industries related to building and construction in particular. Probably this aspect of the matter became even more pronounced under Roosevelt than Hoover. With the evolution of the Public Works Administration (PWA), we see an operation which was far more concerned with bailing out the building and construction industry than with sopping up unemployment. Unlike the WPA, the PWA did not have to hire unemployed people, its projects were pre-planned and submitted for approval (to PWA moguls such as Harold Ickes), and the scope of these operations was nationwide. It was said at one time that there was a PWA project in every American county except one. But its ancestry is solidly located within the Hoover era.
THE ROOTS OF "NATIONAL RECOVERY"
Let us proceed to the NRA. By mid-1932, there were at least 7,000 trade associations in this country, most of them busily at work undermining free competition. They were responsible for promoting fierce retaliation against intra-industry price cutting. What these trade associations preferred were "price understandings." They encouraged the pooling of cost-accounting practices, industrial processes, and patents and trade secrets in a given enterprise, while providing various other forms of aid and comfort to one another.
Agreements on restriction of output were assiduously pursued. Such "gentlemen's agreements" prevailed even in agriculture for sugar and rubber, and also in copper and petroleum production. Allocation of production or marketing schedules was another aspect of this approach. And during most of the 1920's, four very sick enterprises in the U.S.—building, coal, oil and agriculture—had been steadily bellowing and lowing for government regulation of production and competition. Building spokesmen had frankly and vigorously espoused federal subsidies to bolster the mortgage structure; Roosevelt's Federal Housing Administration had deep roots.
These trade associations had been under construction all during the 1920's. They had been pushed unceasingly by Hoover's Commerce Department since the Harding days, and they were the basic foundation of Roosevelt's NRA.
Fundamental to the business recovery which was expected to take place under the NRA was the organization of businesses according to kind, to operate within a special "code" governing and regulating its members and detailing how they were to behave toward one another and to the economic world at large. The administrative cadre in each of these was known as a "code authority," and in the cases of three-fifths of America's major industries, all the members of the code authority were selected from the trade association or institute representing its member firms. In many of these, the code authority was identical with the governing board of the trade association.
One of the most incisive descriptions of the NRA codes and their trade association foundations is that of Carl F. Taeusch, "Business Ethics and the NRA Codes," in the January 1934 Harvard Business Review:
Practically every code begins by defining the membership of the group, indicating the trade group which is to be held responsible for administering the code, and virtually makes membership compulsory by making all persons engaged in the business subject to the code provisions. This is a direct reversion to the principle and organization methods of the medieval guilds, and closely observes the same underlying features of the professional codes. The significant fact about these code definitions is that they organize business by industries, with vertical relationships.…This again reverts to the medieval guild purpose of controlling a commodity from the raw material stage to its final disposal by sale to the consumer.
Perhaps the most important part of the NRA codes is, therefore, not so much the listing of unfair practices but rather the description of the administrative methods to be employed for their control.…The administration of these codes is placed largely in the hands of representatives of existing trade associations. Provision is also made for including in the membership of such governing boards one or more representatives of the Government, but without voting power. (Emphasis in the original.)
All this is of uncommon importance and interest. It is obvious that the trade associations for which Hoover labored so assiduously in the 1920's were the foundation stone of the NRA and Mr. Roosevelt's hoped-for economic revival; now they had become compulsory, instead of voluntary. Otherwise the scenario was the same, and obviously recognizable to all veteran members of these once-voluntary bodies in the days of Mr. Hoover.
The membership of parties from the Government in these economic bodies was significant, although not alarming to Europeans, among whom the term "mixed economy" had currency well before the New Deal, and who were inclined well before this to look upon subdivisions of the state as legitimate members of business corporations. (Otto Nathan of Princeton once published in the American Economic Review a good analysis of the similarity between the NRA codes and the cartelized German businesses, both before, and after the arrival of, Hitler's National Socialism.) One could understand, therefore, what Roosevelt was talking about in his fireside chat of May 7, 1933, when he explained:
It is wholly wrong to call the measures that we have taken government control of farming, control of industry, and control of transportation. It is rather a partnership between government and farming and industry and transportation, a partnership in planning and a partnership to see that the plans are carried out.
It is of more than casual significance to observe that over 400 of the largest trade associations were at work preparing codes and over 100 had already been submitted before the NIRA was even a bill under preparation by administration lawyers. Over 500 were in the hands of the latter within a month, before Congress even had the bill.
These codes were filtered through six deputy administrators, all of them businessmen. These six men were in turn dependent for advice on an Industrial Advisory Board, all seven of these being businessmen and corporation executives of vast reputation, including Alfred P. Sloan, president of General Motors, Walter C. Teagle, chairman of the board of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Teagle had been leader of the spread-the-work movement under Hoover), Gerard Swope, president of General Electric, and Louis Kirstein, vice president of William Filene's Sons, the big Boston AMC department store.
Two headlines in Business Week in June 1933 were indicative: "Associations Beat the Gun" referred to the activities of the leaders of some 35 trade associations closeting with "key officials" of the New Deal, and "Further Action by Many Industries Eager for Government Control" pointed to two score of major trade associations working feverishly on NRA codes in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Industrial Conference Board, the Congress of Industries, the National Association of Commercial Organization Secretaries and the American Trade Association Executives. The major firms made a point of mentioning that they had enlisted. Early in 1933 Bayer's advertising included the advisory, "And remember, Aspirin is a member of NRA," which prompted William Saroyan to wonder whether NRA was a member of aspirin.
One of the most succinct catalogues of the booby traps built into the NRA was that of Henry Hazlitt in the December 1933 American Mercury:
It is obvious that under the present NRA programme the American consumer is to become the victim of a series of trades and industries which, in the name of 'fair competition,' will be in effect monopolies, consisting of units that agree not to make too serious an effort to undersell each other; restricting production, fixing prices—doing everything, in fact, that monopolies are formed to do.…it [the NRA] creates a series of cartels under the aegis of government that will soon have the consumer completely at their mercy.
But, after all, this was the logical consequence of the halcyon days of the trade associations in the Hoover era, when it was proclaimed that "The age of competition is over; we have now entered the age of cooperation."
Still another contemporary critic was John T. Flynn, who spared no names in his Harper's Magazine article in September 1934, "Whose Child is the NRA?" Said Flynn, "The NRA plan represented almost entirely the influence and ideology of big business men. The share of the Brain Trust in its paternity was microscopic, the share of the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests was predominant." Flynn went on to state in no evasive or hesitant terms that all the price-fixing, control of production, enumerated trade practices and hours and wages limitations written into this regulatory octopus originated with non-New Dealers, and that it had the full stamp of approval of the Industrial Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce, all big business to a man.
In the same way that ten to fifteen years of regulatory tendencies in business and industry preceded the New Deal's NRA, like activity and propaganda preceded its agricultural adventure. Contrary to modern fairy tales, New Dealers did not invent the scarcity programs and related efforts of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration to raise agricultural prices; they took the responsibility for them.
Not only was there a predecessor in the Hoover era in the shape of the Federal Farm Board buying up crops to maintain a desired price level for farm products. There was also a steady flow of literature for years before 1933 discussing the need for limitation of output, and comprehensive interference in the shape of agricultural price controls in order to achieve independence from international prices. Enough laws pertaining to agriculture were passed between 1921 and 1931 to make up the equivalent of a printed book of 354 pages, and a large number of them were lobbied through Congress by the political farmers of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
From the time of the first big collapse of agricultural prices between 1920 and 1922 (my father was wiped out by that one and returned to the woods as a timber cutter) down to the early months of 1933, there was growing concern for "national self-sufficiency" in agriculture (Keynes's article on the subject in the summer 1933 issue of the Yale Review was at the tail end of a lengthy discussion). We find Dean Donham of Harvard expressing a strong view on this as well as make-work. In an address at the prestigious Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania on March 23, 1933 he called out: "Our first task is to restore the farmer's buying power by isolating the farmer from international price levels and by regulating home-consumed crops." Allied to this as well as to domestic manufactures was a "Buy American" political drive, which sometimes had serio-comic consequences. On one occasion the U.S. Army announced that it was cooperating with this program and in the New York Times for November 29, 1933 told the world it was going to "bar alien foods" from the Army mess, including in this proscription even bananas.
The American Farm Bureau Federation was heavily responsible for the basic law creating the Triple A, according to its president, Edward A. O'Neal. In a radio address on March 30, 1933, he revealed the following:
At the conference called by Secretary Wallace on March 10, attended by 34 farm leaders representing practically every national farm organization in the United States, views were frankly exchanged in an effort to work out an effective program. A committee was appointed, made up entirely of farm leaders, and within two hours it came back with a definite program, which, after discussion, was agreed upon by the group. This statement of principles was presented first to Assistant Secretary Tugwell, and then to Secretary Wallace, both of whom approved it. They told us they would henceforth call this program "their baby," thus assuming full responsibility. On the next day this program was presented to President Roosevelt by a committee led by Secretary Wallace, of which I was a member. The Department of Agriculture promptly drafted a bill which carried out these principles and submitted it to the President for approval. We farm leaders were called in by Secretary Wallace and Assistant Secretary Tugwell to go over the bill, and we gave it our approval. President Roosevelt then promptly forwarded the bill to Congress with a brief message urging its early enactment.
(Mr. O'Neal identified Henry Wallace and Rexford Guy Tugwell, the new bosses of the Agriculture Department in the New Deal, but did not mention Mordecai Ezekiel, Wallace's right hand man along with Tugwell, and a holdover from a previous Republican administration.)
In this way the Agricultural Adjustment Act replaced Mr. Hoover's Federal Farm Board and a policy of interference with agriculture was continued. But, as in all other areas of activity with a continuity from Hoover to Roosevelt, it was vastly expanded, with immensely greater funding. In addition to the AAA, legislation was passed creating the Farm Credit Administration. The latter consolidated 34 special credit agencies dating, through various administrations, all the way back to 1916, and provided a new one for refinancing farm mortgages.
NEW DEAL AGRICULTURE
There has been much effort ex post facto to read the history of agriculture under the New Deal backward. Part of this has concerned Mr. Wallace and his peccadillos, most of which had nothing to do with the farm program. Henry A. Wallace was probably the most popular appointee of FDR, and one of the few with a close relation to what he was supposed to be doing. He was a 44-year-old Iowa dirt farmer and, curiously, vegetarian (Iowa prided itself on the size, number and succulence of its hogs). His father, Henry C., had been Secretary of Agriculture under Calvin Coolidge in 1922, and his grandfather had established Wallace's Farmer, an influential farm magazine. (HAW incidentally was the perfector of a valuable variety of hybrid seed corn.) Farmers considered that the job was in the hands of one of their own.
When it came to the programs Wallace was fronting and trying to make work, however, farmer behavior was a mixture of opportunism and evasion. It was obvious that the AAA was administered on a county-by-county basis and that meant, in almost every case, by a committee of big farmers. They were the ones who voted periodically whether the programs would be continued—and of course agreed, as the checks kept coming in. The process reminded one humorous critic of the story in Plutarch of Pericles asking the recipients of public handouts in Greece whether they thought he was being too extravagant: "They cried out loudly and told him to draw freely from the public funds and spare naught whatsoever." But in this case it was the recipients under the AAA who had themselves made the original provisions for the raid on the public larder.
One should not neglect the hundreds of thousands of free enterprise individualists among the farmers who were indecent in their haste to sign crop or animal reduction contracts with the AAA. Many boosted their figures on claimed past production in order to maximize the size of the check they would get for such reduction, forgetting that the USDA had detailed statistics county by county on the total of hogs, corn, etc. produced in the past. In many counties the totals claimed by farmers in these reduction programs exceeded known past production.
The behavior of the farmers on other programs is also instructive. Wallace announced at the start an immediate goal of withdrawing 40 to 100 million acres of crop land from agricultural production. As it turned out, the total far exceeded that. (This amount was even withdrawn from production in the short years of the J.F. Kennedy administration, without a peep of protest.) Intimately connected to this was the planned elimination of 11.7 million acres devoted to cotton as per the crop year of 1933. This plan was announced at a time when the new crop was already planted and growing, and part of it had to be plowed under. There is no estimate as to the number of nervous breakdowns this produced among mules who had been carefully trained to walk between rows and now had to be retrained to walk through a row in order to bury the growing plants. But Mr. Wallace announced in July, 1933 that 10 million acres had been pledged for abandonment, which would have reduced the crop by about 3½ million bales.
Expecting circumvention of this planned sabotage by more intensive cultivation of remaining acreage, the cotton producers agreed in further negotiations not to increase their commercial fertilizer per acre of planted land. They also agreed not to devote the idled land to the production of some other "nationally produced agricultural commodity." They adhered to this stipulation and to the restraint on additional commercial fertilizer. What they did, however, was increase the application of natural fertilizer instead. The result was that production on the drastically reduced acreage went up from 174 to 209 pounds per acre, and the 1933 crop as a consequence finished out at 13,177,000 bales, about equal to that of 1932. When coupled with the big increase in cotton production in India and Africa, the world position of American cotton was worse than before. But Mr. Wallace was not to blame: he was simply trying to make operational what the Big Agriculture people had put in his hands in March 1933 as their ideal program.
Of course, it had been pointed out that just because you can get dogs to chase a football, that does not mean you can make a football team out of them. People, who are much more complex and ornery than dogs, make the success of grand plans even more problematic. The noncooperators among the farmers guaranteed even more roadblocks in the way of the price-raising-by-planned-scarcity stratagems of Big Agriculture. (One farmer critic of the scheme, commenting in 1934, the year that the famous Dionne quintuplets were born, remarked that it was lucky that they had been born in Canada; in the United States, perhaps three of them would have been plowed under.)
That this program became a minor adjunct of national calamity by 1934—as a consequence of the catastrophic drought that year and the natural and drastic crop reduction which resulted—is a side issue. The fact remains that the AAA was a solution dreamed up by the leadership of Big Agriculture. There is an interesting interlock to be noticed between the AAA and the NRA, incidentally. About 30 percent of industry came under the controls of AAA as well as Big Industry's NRA because of the nature of the business involved: the processing of agricultural products, especially food, tobacco, and textiles, whether as manufacturers, processors, or purveyors, in fact.
BANKERS AND GOLD
In still another policy area where it is conventional to castigate New Dealers and make them out as the sole villains—the suspension of gold payments—an examination of the climate of opinion is called for. This was not Roosevelt's exclusive idea, nor was it pushed by his academic advisors. But the views of another power group are worth looking at in this connection. An "Interim Report" by a committee of businessmen and one banker, Frank A. Vanderlip, long the president of National City Bank of New York, was circulated privately for several weeks before Roosevelt's inauguration in March 1933. Among the signers of this memorandum were General Robert F. Wood and Lessing Rosenwald of Sears Roebuck, J.H. Rand of Remington Rand, Vincent Bendix, the appliance mogul, and several other nationally known business and industrial figures. The data it contained had been gathered by the National Industrial Conference Board, one of the most conservative think tanks in the land. Its main specification was the following: "Congress with the least possible delay should grant powers to the President permitting him to suspend specie payments and embargo gold exports." This was given a tremendous huzza by Business Week (March 15, 1933, p. 9).
(While on the subject of money and finance, it should be noted that despite all the lavish promises of financial decentralization which were part of New Deal declarations, there really was nothing to fear in most circles of Big Finance. This despite the securities, banking and other "reforms," most of which appear to have been hallooed by much of the establishment on Wall Street and among the big banking fraternity. Contrary to the brave talk of the "reformers," financial concentration steadily piled up between 1933 and 1941. For instance: 1) New York Clearing House bank deposits increased 94 percent in those eight years, from $7 billion to $13.8 billion; 2) the five largest insurance companies increased their assets nearly 400 percent, surpassing the combined assets of all the rest of the nation's insurance companies put together; 3) a single Wall Street investment banking firm managed 80 percent of all the nation's first-grade registered bond issues. And this represents the mere tip of the story. One may conclude that the pledge to disentangle the New York City banks, the insurance companies, major railroads, the super-public utilities and the giant industrial corporations was so much perfumed eyewash.)
Further, while on the subject of gold, money and the New Deal, it might be instructive to many who did not live through the period of bank suspensions and the paralysis of the money system early in 1933 to note what actually happened. Many gurus flit about the land today predicting a monetary armageddon while urging the necessity for squirreling away gold and oatmeal in order to survive. The assumption is that those who do not have these materials will either break out in red-eyed rioting rage and burn down the countryside, or sit quietly on curbstones and die. The early months of 1933 are the only laboratory we have to observe what people actually did under such stress, and there is virtually no one studying it. The fact is that an enormous volume of business was transacted without any banks or money at all. Furthermore, many businesses invented their own money systems, a wide variety of private scrip and coupon systems which functioned quite well in the emergency. And of course there was an incredible volume of simple barter; Business Week (March 15, 1933, p. 16) pictured one man swapping a saw in a grocery store for strawberry preserves and some onions. This writer is of the opinion that the reservoir of simple common sense is far from exhausted, and that one may reasonably expect that people would behave not very much differently from their predecessors in 1933.
LESSONS OF HISTORY
In summary, it is important to recognize that the New Deal is not a historical curiosity. A very large part of it is still here, and very deeply entrenched. (Some major aspects were enumerated at the outset but there are many others which might be called to mind, including the Federal Communications Commission, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Farm Security Administration, the National Labor Relations Board—all New Deal creations, and very much alive.) Rarely does one encounter any political force in the land which is interested in terminating any of these programs and institutions. Furthermore, even the portions of the New Deal which have been phased out or concluded, such as the make-work and unemployment relief agencies (FERA, CWA and WPA), the federal prop-up of the construction and building industries (PWA), the youth support and unemployment blotters (NYA and CCC), and the super-backup plan of federal monetary support for ailing big businesses (RFC), are really only in a state of dormancy, and might be dusted off and put back into operation in far less time than the complacent might think. In the last 18 months every one of these has been given sympathetic airing in some sector of American public opinion, though with rococo tailoring and cosmetic disguise to suit our presumably more sophisticated (though perhaps just more sophistical) times. (The Pepsi Generation has been probably more vulnerable to deception at the hands of our sap factories than have previous ones.)
The remaining point which this commentary has made, and to which a major part of the space has been devoted, concerns the intellectual and ideological origins of the "recovery" aspect of the New Deal impulse. Stressed, instead of conventional fulminating about the arcane and slithery machinations of alien and socialist subversives, has been the substantial part played by Big Finance, Big Industry and Big Agriculture in posing the solutions to the economic catastrophe of the Depression of the 1920's. This undoubtedly collides with the simple-minded legendry which is part of the amusement and bemusement of the youth in what passes for "history" in the schools today, but it might prove salutary to anyone unhappy with the situation, and lead to some worthwhile investigations beyond what has been presented here.
James J. Martin received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. A leading revisionist historian, his books include the classic Men Against the State, American Liberalism and World Politics, and Revisionist Viewpoints. He is currently at work on a book dealing with U.S.-Soviet relations during World War II.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Business & the New Deal".