America's Un-Marxist Revolution:
Mr. Truman Embarks on a Politically Managed Economy
After a decade and a half, an adequate political characterization of the New Deal era is still to be written. True, there have been historical analogies inspired by the flavor and verve of Roosevelt himself: Roosevelt was a temporizing Solon, whose political reforms sought to stave off the revolution of the propertyless masses; Roosevelt was a Tiberius Gracchus, a patrician who deserted his class to become the people’s tribune; Roosevelt was a Louis Napoleon, an ambitious, power-hungry demagogue, manipulating first one class and then another while straddling them all in order to assure his own personal rule. Such baroque speculations confuse rather than enlighten. Certainly, they shed little light on the way governmental action gives rise to new combinations of interests and the operation of these shifting coalitions. And that is the raw stuff of politics.
If the nature of the Roosevelt revolution confounds the strait-jacketed theorists, how much more of a mystery is Harry S. Truman—whose personality does not lend itself to the historical metaphors which always flowered around FDR. How does one classify an American president who, without the rhetoric of the prescribed political sonorities, tells the people of the United States: “We have rejected the discredited theory that the fortunes of the nation should be in the hands of a privileged few. We have abandoned the ‘trickle-down’ concept of national prosperity . . . Wealth should be created for the benefit of all. The recent election shows that the people of the United States are in favor of this kind of society and want to go on improving it.”
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