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Unformatted text preview: Did the New Deal save liberal democracy in the United States? Paul Conkin once wrote that the story of the New Deal is a sad story, the ever recurring story of what might have been 1 . Yet whilst his views are synonymous with many on the New Left, others see the New Deal broadly as a success, having pulled the USA out of the Great Depression and provided the country with reforms still evident today. So what effect did Roosevelt and his New Deal policies have on liberal democracy? The question depends entirely on ones definition of liberal democracy. Nowadays, the term liberal is used pejoratively in the United States, to the point where those people of what the British might call a liberal disposition choose instead to label themselves as progressives, as Hillary Clinton was forced to do for example in last weeks Democratic leadership debate. However, the liberal democracy sought by FDR was based more upon the ideas associated with T.H.Green and nowadays Isaiah Berlin and the concept of modern liberalism, even if the publication of Berlins famous Two Concepts of Liberty was still twenty years away. While maintaining suspicion of the state, and abiding within the constraints of the US Constitution, FDR clearly believed that the state had a duty to provide for its citizens the conditions necessary for liberty to be enjoyed; the thoughts are merely an expansion of those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who two centuries previously had argued that although we may be enslaved by the pursuit of our own self-interest, it is our duty to balance our personal liberty with our obligations to others. In that respect, FDRs New Deal policies, particularly those enacted within his first 100 days, clearly did enhance liberal democracy, by increasing the economic well-being of the American nation. Historians, political scientists and economists have all tended to view FDRs New Deal policies as a three part strategy; relief, recovery and reform. Within weeks of coming to office, numerous pieces of legislation were proposed by Roosevelt and passed by Congress with the aim of slowing and eventually halting the economys deterioration, the so called relief phase. The formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in March 1933 provided work for jobless males between 18 & 25 in areas such as reforestation and road construction, while the Civil Works Administration provided temporary jobs working on other national infrastructure. The Federal Emergency Relief Act (May 1933) gave immediate help to those that needed it in the form of cash payments. The Emergency 1933) gave immediate help to those that needed it in the form of cash payments....
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course PPE PPE taught by Professor None during the Summer '08 term at Oxford University.
- Summer '08