25. Political Experimentation: The Four-Year Plans


I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality….  

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

And the day is at hand when it shall be realized on this consecrated soil, — a New Freedom, — a Liberty widened and deepened to match the broadened life of man in modern America

Woodrow Wilson, 1912

I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932

I hope for cooperation from farmers, from labor, and from business. Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from our Government a fair deal.

Harry Truman, 1949

. . . So that, although the United States is an old country — at least its Government is old as governments now go today — nevertheless I thought we were moving into a new period, and the new frontier phrase expressed that hope.

John F. Kennedy, 1961

Building the Great Society will require a major effort on the part of every Federal agency in two directions: — First, formulating imaginative new ideas and programs; and — Second, carrying out hard-hitting, tough-minded reforms in existing programs.

Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

The fundamental shifts, changes, and direction of Ameri­can government in the twentieth century have not been generally clearly outlined in historical ac­counts. The shift of the office of President from primary concern with execution of the laws to leg­islative innovation, the yielding up of legislative initiative by Con­gress, the subtle intellectual impetus to shift the American re­spect for the Constitution to adula­tion of the decisions (or at least acceptance of them) of the Su­preme Court, the change of gov­ernment from protector of rights to granter of privileges, have not been much emphasized by those charged with keeping the record straight. Superficial continuities have been allowed to obscure fundamental changes.

Of course, historians have noted the appearance of the Square Deal, New Nationalism, New Freedom, New Deal(s), Fair Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society. These names have often been used as convenient pegs from which to hang the assorted infor­mation and developments associated with presidential administra­tions. But the phenomenon itself —and what it may signify that a line of Presidents should get up a program, name it, attempt to embody it in legislation, and have it associated with them — has not been much attended to. There is in these things a new form of presidential activity, something that had not occurred in the nine­teenth century. As a form, its ap­pearance symbolizes the taking over of leadership in the Federal government by Presidents; but much more than this is involved.

No one, to my knowledge, has pointed to the analogy between the Square Deal, New Freedom, New Deal (s), Fair Deal, New Frontier, and Great Society on the one hand and the five-year plans of the Soviet Union on the other. Yet, there is an analogy that warrants examination, and the reference to the American programs as four- (or eight-) year plans is used to call attention to it. Such an ex­amination will be useful in reveal­ing the character of much that has been happening in America.

Different in All Details

There are many differences of detail between the Soviet five-year plans and the American four- (or eight-) year plans. The five-year plans are not coterminous with some electoral period. They are not identified with the whole ad­ministration of some Soviet pre­mier. The leaders of the Soviet Union are openly committed to the achievement of socialism, those of the United States are not. Moreover, the Communists avow the revolutionary character of their way to socialism, arid Americans have adopted no such way. The five-year plans are broad and comprehensive blueprints for social and economic reconstruc­tion. Joseph Stalin said of the first five-year plan, begun in 1928:

The fundamental task of the Five-Year Plan was, in converting the U.S.S.R. into an industrial country, fully to eliminate the capitalist ele­ments, to widen the front of Social­ist forms of economy, and to create the economic base for the abolition of classes in the U.S.S.R., for the construction of Socialist society….

The fundamental task of the Five-Year Plan was to transfer small and scattered agriculture to the lines of large-scale collective farming, so as to ensure the economic base for So­cialism in the rural districts and thus to eliminate the possibility of the restoration of capitalism in the U.S.S.R.1

By comparison with such bold­ness, the American four-year plans appear timid and pale. Moreover, the American four-year plans be­gan before the Russian ones, though the point is of no impor­tance as to any fundamental sim­ilarities. There are many other dif­ferences, but let them all be summed up by this observation: In detail, the Soviet plans differ in every respect from American ones.

The Same in Essence

But analogy deals with essences, not with differences of detail. There is an essential difference be­tween the Soviet way to socialism and the American one. It has been alluded to above. The Russian Communists have pursued a direct revolutionary approach to social­ism. American meliorists have pursued an indirect evolutionary approach to socialism. Commu­nists have proceeded by destroy­ing the old order as completely as they could and erecting a new one in its stead. Meliorists have attempted to operate within the framework of the old order, to keep as much of its superficies and forms as possible, and to turn the received instruments of power to the task of gradual social and economic reconstruction. The five-year plans are Soviet programs in the revolutionary road to social­ism; the four-year plans are American programs in the gradu­alist route to socialism. They are both instruments of national plan­ning by central authority; they employ a quite different assort­ment of paraphernalia; they dif­fer as to methods; they have the same goal in view.

The four-year plans are really devices for using the Presidency for social reconstruction. The kind of planning which will move a country toward the goal of social­ism must be centrally directed. Policy making, legislating, and ex­ecution must be coordinated. Con­gress can pass laws, but it cannot execute them. Moreover, left to their own devices the members of Congress are not apt to thrust the country in any consistent di­rection. Power is dispersed among the many members. They repre­sent a great diversity of interests throughout the country. Legisla­tion that originates in Congress is usually subjected to numerous compromises before it is enacted, compromises that turn it to ends not originally conceived or that vitiate its impact. The very divi­sion of Congress into two houses makes it virtually impossible for any leadership that arises in one of the houses to have any influence or control over the other. The Presidency is the only office estab­lished by the Constitution that could provide such central direc­tion. The four-year plans are means for giving Presidents ap­parent electoral authorization for taking over in legislative innova­tion.

Presidents did not concoct such programs in the nineteenth cen­tury. They usually were satisfied to restrict their endeavors to the more modest activities of admin­istering the laws. Presidents did sometimes emerge as strong lead­ers, but this leadership was either exercised in war and foreign af­fairs, where the President has great constitutional authority, or in the form of a restraining hand upon Congress. Excepting for Lincoln, the man who stood out as the most vigorous leader in the nineteenth century was Andrew Jackson. He summed up his policy in this way: “The Federal Con­stitution must be obeyed, state rights preserved, our national debt must be paid, direct taxes and loans avoided, and the Federal Union preserved. These are the objects I have in view, and re­gardless of all consequences, will carry them into effect.”2 Presidents did, of course, sometimes press for some innovation and some par­ticular line of legislation in the nineteenth century, but none of them advanced any four-year plans.

Theodore Roosevelt

The twentieth century was hardly under way, however, before a man came to power who would give shape and form to the new method. The four-year plan does not appear to have come by way of any advance calculation. Theo­dore Roosevelt forged its outlines during nearly eight years in the Presidency. But Roosevelt did not come to the Presidency, initially, on his own. Lore has it that “Boss” Tom Platt got him nominated to the Vice-Presidency in 1900 to get him out of New York.3 President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, however, and Roosevelt suc­ceeded to the Presidency. The phrase, “square deal,” was used by Roosevelt in the campaign of 1904 to describe his actions in the coal strike of 1902. He wanted both labor and capital to get a square deal, he said.4 The phrase caught on and has since been used by his­torians as a vague label for Roose­velt‘s administration.

The phrase, “square deal,” did not fall into a historical vacuum, nor was it uttered by a nonentity. The stage had been set by the development of ideas for the phrase to connote and evoke a par­ticular vision. If the view had been accepted that Americans were gen­erally getting a square deal, the phrase could hardly have meant anything more than that in a particular instance the President had sought to see that justice was done. Once it was done in this case, there would have been no occasion for the phrase to have any con­tinued vitality. But it was uttered at a time when a great clamor was arising against conditions as they were, and the cry was for changes that would bring about social justice.

Time for a “Square Deal”

The Progressive Movement was underway. Back of it lay more than a quarter-century of writing and agitation by social theorists, reformers, utopians, and social re-constructers. These ideas and vi­sions were moving from the pe­riphery of American society, where they had been uttered by men and women outside the pale of respectability, toward the center where they would be taken up by more respectable and restrained spokesmen.

Muckrakers, novelists, social analysts, professed socialists, and others were presenting a most un­pleasant picture of America. Things were not as they should be, they said. Great concentra­tions of wealth threatened the Republic with rule by a plutocracy. The influence of John D. Rockefeller, Marcus A. Hanna, and J. P. Morgan, among others, resulted in the use of political power to strange ends. At any rate, eco­nomic “power” was outmatching and overawing political power, so the story went. A beef trust gouged consumers with high prices and fed them unclean meat. City governments were corrupt, the cities themselves gorged with immigrants from a swelling tide living in slums, and alcohol addic­tion and prostitution growing apace.

Behind all this criticism of ex­ternals lay a call for fundamental social reconstruction. Social gos­pelers were preaching the coming of the Kingdom, progressive edu­cationists working for the trans­formation of the school, and as­sorted intellectuals delineating the transmuted shape of things to come. Talk of a square deal in this intellectual setting evoked vi­sions of a crusade to remake America; the seeds of reform con­tained in a simple phrase fell upon fertile ground.

A Man of Action

The phrase picked up meaning and gained currency, too, from the vitality and zeal of the man who uttered it. Theodore Roose­velt was a man of action. Before coming to the Presidency, he had engaged in a great variety of ac­tivities. By turn, he was state legislator, member of the Civil Service Commission, head of a police board, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, governor of New York, rancher, historian, bio­grapher, Rough Rider, and hunts­man. As President, he was soon in the thick of all manner of affairs, domestic and foreign: ar­bitrating a labor dispute, trust-busting, settling international dis­putes, intervening in Caribbean countries, and conserving natural resources. Roosevelt‘s conception of the role of the Presidency was a lofty and extensive one. “He believed that, acting in the public interest, he could do whatever was not expressly prohibited by the Constitution or the laws.”5 His views of the duties of the office were comprehensive:

The President did not confine him­self to political matters. He saw nothing incongruous in using his great prestige to urge the reform of English spelling, or to pillory the “nature fakers” who wrote stories humanizing animals. He delivered exhortations on the necessity for women in the upper classes to bear more children and for everyone to live strenuously according to his creed of “Muscular Christianity.”6

Along with being a man of ac­tion he was also a superb pub­licist. He had that quality known as charisma, an attractiveness and charm which helped him to surround his actions with an aura of rightness—even righteousness, for he was a moralist. The place of his administration in history needed a unique phrase to identify it. That it was the Square Deal may have been an accident, but the times and the man united in such a way as to make it virtually necessary.

. .. and a Reformer

Theodore Roosevelt was a re­former, a meliorist. He was the first man to occupy the Presidency who could be so identified. Some historians question how deeply he was committed to reform, or, at any rate, to social transformation. Perhaps he was only an oppor­tunist, they say, and in this they are echoing the sentiments of some of his contemporaries. He has even been called a conserva­tive.7 This latter claim stems, in part, from the fact that he steered a course between calling for re­form and making complimentary remarks about businessmen.8 Whatever the motives may have been behind his straddling of the fence on occasion, they served the practical political object of mak­ing reform respectable by dissoci­ating it from out-and-out radical­ism.

At any rate, Theodore Roose­velt was a reformer. Of that, there should be no doubt. He had been a reformer, of sorts, as governor of New York. He had no sooner succeeded to the Presidency be­fore this vein began to be exposed at that level. Roosevelt pressed to extend the powers of the Inter­state Commerce Commission, had his attorney general begin a rig­orous enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and in general be­gan to adopt a reformist tone. After his election to the Presiden­cy in 1904, when he could hold the office in his own right, he became more strident in his reformism. As one historian says:

. . . His message to Congress in December, 1904, was significantly without most of the equivocations of the past. Over half the document was given over to proposals for new economic and social legislation.9

He called for the Federal gov­ernment to pass an employer’s lia­bility act for its employees and those of contractors employed by the government. There were re­quests for such things as requiring the use of safety devices on railroads, regulation of hours of labor of railroad workers, giving the Interstate Commerce Commis­sion power to establish rail rates, establishing a Bureau of Corpora­tions to license interstate busi­ness, the instituting of numerous reforms in the District of Colum­bia, and so forth. Some of these were made into law, and other reforms were instigated during his second administration.

By 1908, most of the ingredients of the four-year plan had been exemplified by Roosevelt. It re­mained now only for them to be used by others and made into a regular way of doing things. In 1912, the four-year plan as a cam­paign device was taken up by two candidates: Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. They called their plans the New Nationalism and the New Freedom. Significant­ly, these were alternative plans to the revolutionary proposals of the Socialist party, led by Eugene Debs. The Socialists had been gaining a following rapidly in re­cent elections. The four-year plan began its career of draining away the appeal from those who called themselves socialists.

Main Features of the Plans

Before recounting the story of the four-year plans, however, it will be useful to describe their main features. First of all, it is worth noting that they were taken up by the Democrats and have, since the time of Theodore Roose­velt, been exclusively employed by that party. There was a consider­able contingent of reformers in the Republican party between the Civil War and World War I. In the early twentieth century, there was a lively meliorist wing of the party, called the Progressives. But Theodore Roosevelt drew many of these away in 1912 when he ran on the Bull Moose ticket. Since that time, meliorists have never dominated the Republican party, if they ever did. By contrast, the Democratic party had stuck fairly close to its Jefferson-Jackson her­itage in the nineteenth century. It began its turn toward meliorism with the campaign of William Jen­nings Bryan in 1896. Woodrow Wilson arid Franklin D. Roosevelt fixed it on this path in the twen­tieth century. Much of the impulse for the gradualist movement to­ward socialism has come from the Democratic party, and the partic­ular infusions of energy toward this end have come from a suc­cession of four-year plans.

Several features of the four-year plan can be described by showing its relation to the politi­cal party. A political party may be the lengthened shadow of a man, of Thomas Jefferson or of Abraham Lincoln, for instance. At its inception, a political party may even be the political instrument of an individual, as the Jeffer­sonian Republican party was for its founder. But political parties quickly have become institutions themselves in our history. They are organizations, having contin­uing existence (beyond the life or time of those who founded them) , are devices for winning elections at various levels, have a wide­spread membership which partici­pates in the choice of candidates, and are labels with which a suc­cession of politicians can identify and be identified. In an important sense, political parties are imper­sonal and nonideological. A great variety of individuals find politi­cal shelter within their folds. Is­sues come and go, but parties con­tinue as they shift from this posi­tion to that.

Bid for Presidential Power

By contrast, a four-year plan is not the lengthened shadow of a man; it is the shadow cast by a particular man who has come to the Presidency. It is the personal instrument of a President. Politi­cal parties may be said to be dem­ocratic, or at least federal, in char­acter. Their widespread member­ship plays a part in determining their stand on issues. Platforms are drawn by committees. A Sen­ator or Representative may, so far as his district goes, have as much to say about what the party stands for as does the President.

With four-year plans, it is not so. They are centristic and auto­cratic. They are devices which can be and have been used to bridge the gap, politically, of the separa­tion of powers. Through a four-year plan, a President can identi­fy the whole governmental pro­gram with himself. He can make the other branches of the govern­ment more or less adjuncts to his administration. To the extent that a President can bring off the coup that is implicit in the four-year plan, he can centralize power and use the whole government as if it were an extension of himself. That concentrated power which is nec­essary to governmentally directed social transformation is made available by the four-year plan.

Four-year plans appear, also, to have subsumed much of the role which third parties played in the meliorist movement at its outset. No new major political party has emerged in America since 1860. It would have been logical for a socialist party, by whatever name, to have come to majority status in the United States in the twen­tieth century, in view of the course of developments, as the Labour party did in England. The origi­nal impetus to socialism came from third parties in America in the late nineteenth and early twen­tieth centuries, from the Green­back-Labor party, Populist party, and Bull Moose (or Progressive) party. But since the 1920′s, third parties have either been ephemer­al or have had little appeal.

Two things happened. Such so­cialism as appealed to any consid­erable portion of the electorate was advanced by one or both of the major parties. And the im­pulse for a new surge toward so­cialization was embodied in the four-year plans. Third parties with a penchant for socialism had their issues taken away from them as soon as the issues attained popularity and were much more at­tractively packaged by the regular organizations and presidential can­didates for them.

Appeals to Americanism

The names given to the four-year plans are interesting and revealing in themselves. Rhetori­cally, they evoke American values and even American experience. Three of them — Square Deal, New Deal, and Fair Deal — call up an image of sporting behavior and appear to derive from card-play­ing terminology. Perhaps the ref­erences to games of chance are unintended — though the pragmat­ic stance is that all human action is a kind of chance taking, and the proponents of these programs are often called pragmatists. But the appeals to fair play are surely intentional. Americans are much addicted to sports and, in that con­nection, are committed to the vir­tue of fair play. (It was the Beards, Charles and Mary, I think, who observed that the one thing Americans would not tolerate in the twentieth century was crooked officials in their athletic contests.)

The New Freedom called up one of the basic values for Americans, for they have understood that one of the distinctive features of the American system has been the ex­tent of freedom it provided. The New Frontier evoked memories of an earlier American experience. The only phrase that appears not to have any American context is the Great Society. Perhaps the utopian vision is now sufficiently a part of the mental baggage of Americans that it is politically feasible to appeal to it directly.

At any rate, those terms which do rely on American values for their appeal place them in a new framework. The call was for a new freedom, a new deal, and a new frontier, for a square deal and a fair deal. The phrases take established values and use them as the basis for the building of a new order. The battle cries of so­cialist rhetoric — class struggle, vanguard of the elite, the rise of the masses, the dictatorship of the proletariat — are foreign and re­pulsive to the American ear. By contrast, the rhetoric of the four-year plans is familiar, nonradical in sound, and brings to mind pleas­ing associations. The territory in­to which Fabian methods take us is strange, but the markers along the way are familiar.

Programs for Translating Ideas into Political Action

Finally, the four-year plans are means for translating meliorist ideology into political action. They are devices for linking ideas (or visions) to power. The connection is made by a single man, the Presi­dent of the United States. His personal historian has said of John F. Kennedy that “he was in­tensely committed to a vision of America and the world, and com­mitted with equal intensity to the use of reason and power to achieve that vision.” He desired “to bring the world of power and the world of ideas together in alliance….”10 If so, his outlook and aims were perfectly suited to the role of be­ing President by the requirements of the four-year plan.

Another way of saying the above is that the four-year plans have been the creations of intellectuals under the sway of ideol­ogies. This accounts for the in­creasing role played by intellectu­als in twentieth century govern­mental undertakings. A President may be both an intellectual and a man of action. Theodore Roosevelt was, and just as he may be cred­ited with founding the four-year plan so may he be described as the prototype for the kind of man it ideally requires. Theodore Roose­velt was probably more the man of action than the intellectual, though he had ideas enough, while Wood­row Wilson was more the intellec­tual than the man of action. Both of them, however, combined both traits in sufficient degree to trans­late ideology into action with only a minimum of help from special­ists so far as the formulation of programs was concerned. Their successors in the line of four-year planning were not so adequately equipped. The tendency from Franklin D. Roosevelt on has been for Presidents to gather about them a corps of intellectuals — a brain trust — to provide the ideas and render them into programs.11

Men Behind Presidents

There were premonitions of things to come, however, in the planning of the first Roosevelt and Wilson. One writer holds that Brooks Adams was the formula­tor of the basic ideas which Roose­velt advanced. “Had Roosevelt fol­lowed his counsels,” he says, “(as he sometimes did, for Roosevelt instinctively agreed with Adams on some issues even though he prudently rejected Adam’s [sic] suggestions when the times called for compromise), he might have become an even greater and per­haps more sinister figure.”12 There has been considerable debate among historians as to the extent of the influence of Herbert Croly’s Promise of American Life upon Roosevelt’s New Nationalism idea.13 Be that as it may, Roose­velt was undoubtedly influenced by the intellectual currents of his day. His programs were his, how­ever, not those of some coterie of intellectuals.

Wilson was, if anything, more the intellectual than Roosevelt. Despite, or perhaps because of, this, he appears to have relied more extensively upon intellectuals than did Roosevelt. The man closest to Wilson was Colonel Ed­ward M. House. He was most in­fluential upon Wilson. One writer says, “Nearly all accounts agree that Colonel House dominated the decisions on appointments. Wilson frankly didn’t want to be both­ered.”14 Colonel House’s creden­tials as an intellectual may not be particularly impressive, but they are sufficient to show that he was under the sway of a vision that was the fruit of ideas.

Before he rose to the eminence of presidential adviser, he wrote and caused to be published a utopian novel, Philip Dru, Ad­ministrator. It is about a man who establishes a dictatorship in America and brings about sweep­ing reforms. Among these reforms were a graduated income tax, com­pulsory incorporation act, flexible currency system, an old age pen­sion and labor insurance, a coop­erative marketing system, Federal employment bureau, and so forth.

As one account of this utopian novel observes: “This fantasy could be laughed off as the curious dream of Colonel House were it not that so many of these reforms strikingly resemble what the Wil­son, and later the New Deal, ad­ministrations either accomplished or proposed.”15 The ideas are not original, but this advocate of them had the ear of a President. Louis D. Brandeis was another intellectual who had a great deal of influence on Wilson.16 There were others, such as George L. Record, George Creel, and Bernard Baruch.

The Brain Trust of F. D. R.

But the practice of assembling a host of intellectuals around the President to provide the ideas and programs to translate four-year plans into action was really established by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Harry Hopkins played Colonel House to Roosevelt, and Felix Frankfurter was his Brandeis. But below these in the hierarchy of influence came a horde of others: Averell Harriman, Francis Biddle, George Peek, Henry Wallace, Samuel Rosenman, Harry Dexter White, Robert E. Sherwood, and so on. Of those who came, a historian has said that “the common bond which held them together . . . was that they were at home in the world of ideas. They were accustomed to analysis and dialectic. . . . They were . . . generalists, capable of bringing logic to bear on any social problem.”17 In short, they were intellectuals with visions of a transformed America and ideas about how to bring it about.

Each administration since has had its complement of intellectuals serving as ghost writers, special assistants, economic advisers, board members, and members of the middling rank of division heads within established departments. The assembling of intellectuals in Washington reached a new peak during the Kennedy Administration, when the President bade fair to take a goodly portion of the prestigious men from some major universities. Among the more famous gathered were Theodore Sorensen, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Walt W. Rostow, David Bell, and Walter Heller.18 Truman, Eisenhower, and Johnson were less at home with university men, but they, too, had or have their intellectuals.

These intellectuals are the American equivalent, in socialist terminology, of the “vanguard of the elite.” They have moved into the centers of power by providing the ideas and programs of meliorism. They bring ideology into the political market place, help to make it attractive, and thrust political action in the direction implicit in their assumptions. The fateful connection between utopian visions, the new reality, the new creativity, and meliorist economics on the one hand and political action on the other is made by the intellectuals in the four-year plans.

This connection needs to be demonstrated, however, by an examination of the four-year plans. Such an examination will show both the connection between ideology and action and that there is a direction to these plans, that each one of them moves the United States farther and farther along the road to socialism. An account of the development will follow next.

The next, and concluding, article of this series will pertain to “The Pen and the Sword.”

Ideas on Liberty
Majority Rule

There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore more needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word “interest” as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,” in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in the popular sense, as referring to immediate augmentation of property and wealth nothing can be more false. In the latter sense it would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil & enslave the minority of individuals; and in a federal community to make a similar sacrifice of the minority of the component States. In face it is only re-establishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right. . . .
                                                James Madison, from a letter of October 5, 1786, to James Monroe.


1 Richard Powers, ed., Readings in European Civilization since 1500 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961), pp. 632-­33.

2 Quoted in Samuel E. Morison and Henry S. Commager, The Growth of the American Republic, I (New York: Oxford University Press, 1942, 3rd ed.), p. 472.

 3 George E. Mowry, The Era of Theo­dore Roosevelt — 1900-1912 (New York: Harper, 1958), pp. 108-09.

4 Ibid., p. 139.

5 Dumas Malone and Basil Rauch, Empire for Liberty, II (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960), p. 217.

6 Ibid., p. 218.

7 See, for example, Daniel Aaron, Men of Good Hope (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951), pp. 246-52.

8 There is also a tendency among “liberal” historians to classify meliorist politicians generally as conservatives, presumably because they do not press for violent revolution. Also, these his­torians have created, or perpetuated, a myth that if reforms had not been made, a revolution would have occurred.

9 Mowry, op. cit., p. 197.

10 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thou­sand Days (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), pp. 108-09.

11 The prototype for the “brain trust” may have been provided by An­drew Jackson who had an assortment of budding intellectuals in his “Kitchen Cabinet.” There was an important dif­ference, however, for his advisers were liberals of the nineteenth century va­riety who did not go in much for gov­ernment intervention.

12 Aaron, op. cit., p. 252.

13 For contrasting assessments, see Eric F. Goldman, Rendezvous with Destiny (New York: Vintage Books, 1956), p. 159, and Charles Forcey, The Cross­roads of Liberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 127-30.

14 Horace Coon, Triumph of the Egg­heads (New York: Random House, 1955), p. 87.

15 Ibid., p. 86.

16 See ibid., pp. 14-15, 90; Charles A. Madison, Leaders and Liberals in the Twentieth Century (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1961), pp. 200-01.

17 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming of the New Deal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958), p. 18.

18 Lester Tanzer, ed., The Kennedy Circle (Washington: Luce, 1961), passim.


October 1966

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December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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