Reading The Crisis of the Old Order – The Age of Roosevelt by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Schlesinger is a wonderful writer of history, pulling details into the path of the most influential president of the 20th century.  We see the development of FDR’s ideas. “.. competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further. Co-operation must begin where competition leaves off.”

Is co-operation another word for collusion? Reform is the seduction of the untried vs the visible failures.

Who determines the point where competition is replaced by co-operation? Who determines the objectives of co-operation? Consumers and producers with their own skin in the game, or bureaucrats protected from the consequences of their ideas? Is it realistic to believe that political interests will deliver better results?

As Milton Friedman Friedman asked, “Where are these angels” who will bend the market to serve our best interests?

“I have called this new theory the struggle for the liberty of the community rather than the liberty of the individual.”

FDR was wiling to allocate funds from the NRA and other recovery agencies to states in exchange for votes. Allocation were made more for political leverage than material need. The patronage systems that progressives sought to eliminate came back in full force under the New Deal.

FDR expressed a willingness to experiment his way out of the Great Depression.  But experimentation requires recognizing failures, and the self preserving dynamics of government bureaucracies laced with political cronyism is reluctant to confess failure.

The central power of progressivism has entered the bloodstream of both parties. After 100 years it is no longer an untried solution.