Recent American Stupidity
James F. Welles, Ph.D.
East Marion New York, USA
The New Deal: In the early 1930’s, Americans did not perceive giant business organizations as “Governing bodies” but as eminently successful rugged individuals. Another part of American fiction was that the nominal government in Washington had some kind of power to control events and the knowledge to do so beneficently.1 Actually, a private organization determined the daily life of the average citizen–when to get up in the morning, what to eat, what to wear, what working conditions would be and how leisure time would be spent.1 FDR changed all that.2 The government now goes beyond just governing. However ineffective it may be, the bureaucracy attempts to control us and virtually every aspect of our daily lives.
The other big change in thinking–i.e., a paradigm shift3–which occurred during the 1930’s was that the “People” were mixed into the Government=Business equation. All the regulations which had been cultivated by the business community to harness government to the promotion and development of corporations4 were converted into mechanisms of government regulation over the industrial complex.5 The change occurred for the best of reasons—it had to. The business community had been granted the license to run itself and the country into the ground and then had proceeded to do precisely that.
Had necessity not been quite so compelling at the time, Americans would have been more reluctant than they were to convert from worshiping big business to worshiping big government. Rituals and jargon all favored the status morbus. The only problem was pragmatic—the system did not work. Of course, nothing the befuddled New Dealers did for eight years worked very effectively either until World War II bailed the country out of the Depression.
In a general and abstract sense, the New Deal amounted to an admission that the old beliefs in capitalism and the mechanisms by which business controlled politics worked to everyone’s worst interest. The new, emerging schema was based on belief in legislation6 designed to help people by limiting business. Unfortunately, the pragmatic result of FDR’s effort to surpass Wilson’s progressive warfare state was not government by law but by organization. Although the underlying principles upon which government is based may be theoretically sound, human organizations take on selfserving lives of their own. Hence, the efforts to realize our ideals by legislating control resulted in strangling business with fascistic regulations,7 but the president’s efforts were appreciated by some: in 1934, an expression of admiration for his “Successful battle against economic distress” was received2 from none other than financial analyst Adolf Hitler.8
How to cite this article:
James F. Welles. Recent American Stupidity. International Journal of Psychological Research and Reviews, 2018, 1:9. DOI: 10.28933/ijprr-2018-12-1409
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