Reading notes for 14 Feb 2002, New Deal

Rodgers, 409-484:

Rodgers claims it is a mistake to search for meaning in the New Deal only by looking at statute books. The New Dealerís had their own style, reminiscent of pre-war progressives. In fact, according to Rodgers, the New Deal was an extension of progressivism.

Are the similarities of New Deal projects to earlier progressive projects a factor of:

  • Continued grass roots movements for social change?
  • The forceful effects of crisis intervention, and the need for rapid responses from the government-which, gave new life to old ideas?
  • A disjointed movement of many and varied projects supporting economic growth and recovery-often competing and contrary with each other?
  • Finally, another era of drastic acceleration of government involvement, providing for a social safety net for protection against corporate interests and economic cycles, involving no coherent path or plan, but varied languages?

Rodgerís seems to waver back and forth on New Deal uniqueness from cross Atlantic influences and the inseparableness of projects in England, Germany, and Sweden to similar projects in America. Which is it?

Rodgerís makes a case for New Dealersí having to hide European inspiration for various projects due to American patriotic fervor, especially when the influences originated in the Soviet Union. Was this combination of American jingoism and Red Scare paranoia, in the end, helpful or hurtful to the New Dealerís agenda of policies and projects?

Throughout the reading, Rodgers makes references to Southern Democratic support for certain projects, especially those involving support for farmers.

  • Why was Southern support important to Roosevelt? Was this need a help or a hindrance, or perhaps a non-factor, in New Deal projects?

After Europe, a leader in progressive policies, once again engaged in war the importance of American native progressivism grew necessary. Did American linkage of Europeís progressivism to their collective failure to maintain peace derail American progressivism, as Rodgerís seems to suggest?

Rooseveltís First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1933

Rooseveltís rhetoric supports social values over corporate, or personal, selfish pursuit of profit. In addition, Roosevelt attempts to de-link happiness with material wealth, linking happiness instead with achievement and creative effort.

  • Was it important for Roosevelt to begin his address with such Spartan imagery?

Continuing, Roosevelt admits recovery will require much more than a mere change in ethics. The real restoration will come only from "action, and action now."

  • Was Rooseveltís declaration for action laying the foundation for increased government legislation and direct involvement in the economy?
  • Was Rooseveltís implication of an increase in Executive powers to support national planning and supervision a "shot across the bow" for Congress, or motivating words for the public? Given Congressional reticence on many New Deal policies, did this portion of the speech make sense?

Roosevelt makes it quite clear, national economic interests took precedence over foreign affairs, to include international trade relations.

  • Is this isolationist position similar to what many European countries were doing at the same time?
  • Was Rooseveltís warning of his possible need for war powers a swing to the right, towards conservative nationalism? Again, is this any different than what other suffering European nations were doing?

Rooseveltís Second Inaugural Address, 20 January 1936

Once again, Roosevelt devotes much of the first portion of the speech to American morality: de-linkage of morality and the pursuit of wealth. However, unlike his first inaugural address, Roosevelt makes no play towards an increase in Executive powers. He does though; advocate the increase in government activity and responsibility for the economy.

Rooseveltís case for governmental growth in size and in responsibility is for those living the lowest standard.

  • Is the change in rhetoric an indication of a growing personal political saviness, or a swing to the left for Roosevelt?
  • Was any of Rooseveltís rhetoric similar to policies advocated by social democrats in Europe?