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. ...