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The Socialism and Fascism of the New Deal


In the ongoing debate over Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, there are important things that pro-New Dealers would prefer not be mentioned, such as the similarities between Roosevelt’s philosophy and programs and those of Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler.

For more than 125 years, the American people had lived under an economic system in which people kept everything they earned and decided for themselves what to do with it. Economic activity was, by and large, free of government regulation. Charity was voluntary, even with respect to taking care of parents.

That’s what was known as freedom, free markets, and free enterprise. Notwithstanding what statists say about the supposed horrors of the Industrial Revolution, this unique and unusual economic system brought about the most prosperous — and most charitable — nation in history.

By the early 20th century, however, there were exceptions creeping into the system. These included the enactment of the 16th Amendment and the Federal Reserve System in 1913 and the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.The New Deal, however, succeeded in permanently establishing an entirely new economic system in America, one we commonly refer to today as the welfare state and the regulated economy.

Roosevelt’s system was based on using the force of government to take money from people in order to give it to other people. That’s what Social Security was all about. It was also based on the power of government to control and regulate the economic activities of the people. That’s what the SEC was all about.

To make Americans feel good about what was happening, Roosevelt did his best to convince them that they weren’t really abandoning the economic system of their ancestors but instead actually saving it. In actuality the New Deal was rooted in the same philosophy and ideas on which Mussolini’s fascist system in Italy and Stalin’s and Hitler’s socialist systems in the Soviet Union and Germany were based. One of the best books to read along this line is Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany’s 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Shivelbush.

Consider Social Security, the crown jewel of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Guess whose bust is proudly displayed on the website of the U.S. Social Security Administration. Otto von Bismarck’s! He was the Iron Chancellor of Germany and introduced Social Security to Germany. He got the idea of Social Security from German socialists. Not surprisingly, Social Security was also an important program in Hitler’s program of National Socialism.

Consider Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act. It required American businesses and industries to form cartels, which would set prices that had to be followed by everyone in the cartel. The NIRA was similar to the fascistic programs that Mussolini was establishing in Italy. Mussolini believed in leaving property under private ownership but placing it under government control. That’s what Roosevelt believed in also.

Barack Obama plans to establish a huge public-works program, in which the federal government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on highways and other infrastructure. His plan is based on a similar plan that Roosevelt employed as part of his New Deal. Roosevelt’s plan was similar to that of Hitler, who was doing the same thing in Germany. That’s what the construction of the Autobahn was all about.

The economic crisis facing Americans today leaves them with a choice: whether to continue embracing the socialistic and fascistic philosophy and programs that have guided our nation since the time of the New Deal or to restore the principles of individual freedom, free markets, and free enterprise on which our nation was based. Let’s hope Americans make the right decision because the stakes, obviously, are very high.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.