The New Deal and the Great Society

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Historians on the left denounce Roosevelt for rescuing capitalism when the opportunity was at hand to nationalize banking, railroads and other institutions…

Introduction

Historians on the left denounce Roosevelt for rescuing capitalism when the

opportunity was at hand to nationalize banking, railroads and other institutions.(Conkin) Liberal

historians argue that Roosevelt restored hope and self respect to tens of millions of desperate

people, built labor unions, upgraded the national infrastructure and saved capitalism in his first

term, when he could have destroyed it and easily nationalized the banks and rail roads(Sitkoff)

Historians on the right complain that he enlarged the powers of the federal government, built

up labor unions, slowed long term growth, and weakened the business community. Historians on the

left have denounced the New Deal as a conservative phenomenon that let slip the opportunity to

radically reform capitalism.

Since the 1960’s, “new left” historians have been among the New Deal harsh critics. Barton

J. Bernstein, in a 198 essay, compiled a chronicle of missed opportunities and inadequate responses

to problems. The New Deal may have saved capitalism from itself, Bernstein charged, but it failed

to help – and in many cases actually harmed – those groups most in need of assistance. ...
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