Roosevelt Myth - John T. Flynn

The Dance of the Philosophers


We must now have a look at some of the men who were the managers of that sparkling and seductive idea which danced across Roosevelt's desk as he wrestled with the grave crisis in his fortunes in 1938. Roosevelt had cried out in despair to his cabinet for help: "No one tells me what to do about it." As a matter of fact, he was not in the habit of purchasing his magic rabbits from his cabinet. Old Man Hull and Big Jim Farley, Dan Roper, Harry Woodring and the aging Swanson never dreamed of being in the rabbit business. Cummings had produced one—the Court plan—and it had bitten the master. Certainly Morgenthau was no breeder of magic rabbits, nor even Miss Perkins, nor Ickes who, after all, was just an old-fashioned Progressive who had been fighting the power trust and was for soil conservation and really belonged to the First New Deal to which he had added an illusion of revolution by his vitriolic tongue. Wallace, of course, could promote rabbits and, before he ended, squirrels. But at the moment he was more bewildered than anything else. It was always from the rapidly shifting membership of the kitchen cabinet that Roosevelt got his great ideas. And so it proved now.

Perhaps the most influential member of this group was always Rexford Guy Tugwell, though his influence was most powerful indirectly through those whose minds he influenced. He, more than any other man in this orbit, represented the true form of the Third New Deal which was now about to be born.

Tugwell came from a New York State farm, went from high school to the Wharton School of Business and then began as a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington and finally Columbia. Ray Moley, who knew him at Columbia, drafted him for Roosevelt's Brain Trust in 1932 and when Roosevelt was inaugurated Tugwell was made Assistant Secretary of Agriculture under Henry Wallace.

Perhaps no colder heart ever beat for the Common Man than Tugwell's. Unlike some of his colleagues, he was in no sense queer. He differed from most of them in that he had a first-rate mind and wrote well, in a severely cold style with a painfully cultivated formality. He perfected himself in the fine art of being contemptuous.

At college he looked at the world and found it distinctly third-class—not at all the kind he would have made. He burst into song in a poem called "The Dreamer," indicating his general intention with reference to his own tawdry country as follows:

"I am strong.

I am big and well made.

I am sick oŁ a nation's stenches.

I am sick of propertied czars.

I have dreamed my great dream of their passing.

I have gathered my tools and my charts.

My plans are finished and practical.

I shall roll up my sleeves—make America over."

And sure enough, here he was in Washington with his charts and his tools—only his tools were men, and he didn't think much of them either. As an administrator in the Agricultural Department he did not get far, due chiefly to his bad manners. Farmers who called on him were treated with scorn. But the darling targets of his contumely were congressmen and senators. He quarreled with everyone, save, of course, the President—the source of his present power. He had to be got out of Washington because of the trouble he stirred up and in due time, like many another New Dealer, he hid his scorn under a bushel while he crawled onto the payroll of one of those great enemies of the Common Man—a big Puerto Rican sugar corporation. Later he would be named Governor of Puerto Rico. Despite all this it was, nevertheless, this well-dressed, almost dandified, contumelious and disliked scholar who, as much as anyone else, indicated the lines upon which the much-bedeviled and bewildered leader of the New Deal would travel.

Before following this trail further we must reconstruct in our minds the state of political opinion on that side of controversy called the Left. Nothing has confused so perfectly the critics of Mr. Roosevelt's various New Deals as their obscurity about the meaning of a lot of words such as Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Liberal, Conservative and so on. We must clear this up for ourselves before we can see with clarity just what happened in Washington in the next two years.

It goes back a long way and begins with the Socialists. There were all sorts of schools of Socialists. But in the United States the kind that acquired such a large influence over the minds of Americans were those Democratic Socialists led by Eugene Debs, Maurice Hilquist and Norman Thomas. They were profoundly devoted to the ideal of human freedom. They believed they could, by a gradual series of alterations in the structure of our society, create a truly democratic world in which all men would enjoy not merely freedom but plenty. They believed this could never be achieved under the system of private property and profit. They did not advocate revolution, but rather a gradual acquisition by the State of all the great utilities—power, transportation, communications and the great basic industries like coal, oil, steel, etc. From this point on this partly socialized state would expand its acquisition of all other economic activities to whatever extent seemed feasible.

They dreamed of a cooperative commonwealth in which all would share suitably in the abundance created by a great productive organism owned by the people. This would end poverty, ignorance and crises. The Socialist Party once polled a million votes and even in 1932 Norman Thomas polled over 800,000 votes. But the influence of the Socialist Party cannot be measured by the number of votes it got. Its philosophy penetrated deeply into the thinking of large numbers of men who never voted a Socialist ticket and particularly into those groups loosely described as intellectuals.

The Russian revolution was essentially a Socialist revolution. Lenin preferred to call his government a Communist government though the term meant very much the same. In fact Russia became known as the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. However, Lenin and his colleagues completely discarded the idea of a democratically controlled society and instead set up what they called the Dictatorship of the Proletariat which was in fact nothing more than a dictatorship by the Communist Party, a tiny fraction of the population.

It was in fact a dictatorship by an elite—the so-called experts in the Socialist organization. And this it has remained. This dictatorship, so complete, so cruel, so savage in fact, produced a sense of defeat or at least frustration in the minds of great numbers who had nursed the old Socialist democratic dream. This shocking example of the first Socialist state dampened the tolerance with which the Socialist dream was held by many people who never embraced Socialism but were willing to give it a free voice in the discussion of public problems.

On the other hand, semi-Socialist states rose all over Europe—social democracies they were called. They were part socialist, part capitalist, part parliamentary, but with all the defects of the European parliamentary system critically exaggerated. Perhaps it would be better to say that systems which were at least three-fourths capitalist were being operated by Socialist governments, for in most of the countries of Europe for a while at least Socialist prime ministers and partly Socialist ministries were running the show.

However, the most important thing that rose out of all this was a new approach that made a tremendous appeal to many of the same intellectuals who had dallied with socialism. I say new, yet it was not really new. Men had been flirting with the idea in Germany since the days of Fichte, who might be said to be the father of the theory of a planned capitalism. The idea was that it would be sufficient to nationalize the banks, the railroads, all means of transport, the mines and a few great basic industries—perhaps not even all of them. This would leave all the factories, stores, amusements, farms, etc., in the hands of private owners. Actually such a society would be about one-fourth socialist and three-fourths privately owned or capitalist. However, in this society the State would assume the responsibility for making the whole work; it would hold itself responsible for the well-being of all the citizens, their protection from the hazards of life—poverty, sickness, age, etc. And to make the whole work continuously without occasional breakdowns, the State would set up certain great planning agencies or boards which would continuously study and observe the functioning of the economic system and make plans covering production, prices, distribution, financing, profits, wages, hours, etc. Thus we would have what was in fact a Planned Capitalism—with the State responsible for the planning and for ensuring the carrying out of its plans through great government bureaus armed with the necessary powers to enforce compliance.

This was the perfect haven for great masses of intellectuals, students, teachers, lawyers, politicians, writers, journalists and others—who had flirted timidly with Socialism and Communism, but who did not dare admit they were Communists or Socialists because that would carry with it a certain ostracism in the schools, the journals, in the professions and in business. There was indeed a good deal of tolerance for the idea of planning our capitalist system even in the most conservative circles. And a man could support publicly and with vehemence this system of the Planned Economy without incurring the odium of being too much of a radical for polite and practical society.

There was only one trouble with it. This was what Mussolini had adopted—the Planned Capitalist State. And he gave it a name—fascism. Then came Hitler and adopted the same idea. His party was called the Nazi party, which was derived from the initials of its true name, but it was dedicated to fascism. Mussolini and Hitler, of course, realized that a system like this, which undertakes to impose a vast complex of decrees upon a people while subjecting them to confiscatory taxes to support the immense activities of the State cannot be operated save by an absolute government that has the power to enforce compliance. Actually this system had spread over Europe. For nearly 70 years all the countries in Europe, with Germany in the lead, had been experimenting with the baleful idea of the security State, the State which attempts to provide its people with jobs and protection from all the hazards of life. After World War I, the dominance of this idea over the populations of every European state became complete and every state in Europe was riding, before World War II, hell-bent for bankruptcy under the impossible burden of meeting these obligations.

Whatever it was, it was the direct opposite of liberalism. It was an attempt, somewhere midway between Communism and capitalism, to organize a stable society and to do it by setting up a State equipped with massive powers over the lives and fortunes of the citizens. This may be a wise dispensation, but it is the negation of the liberal philosophy which for decades has been fighting to emancipate the people from the tyranny of all-powerful states. Yet this curiously un-American doctrine was being peddled in America as the bright flower of the liberals. Of course they did not dare call it fascism, because that had a bad name. They did not dare admit that it implied the restoration to the State of a numerous collection of those very powers which we had stripped from the State as the means of giving freedom to men. They called it the Planned Economy.

But it was and is fascism by whatever name it is known. And though it may be launched under a free republic, it will wither and die because of the feebleness of the government which tries to enforce it by helpless appeals to the people. Little by little the government must be made stronger, the rights of the citizens before the government must be reduced. Little by little, if the Planned Economy is to be made to work, the free republic must wither. These two ideas—the idea of a free republic and the idea of a Planned Economy—cannot live together.

But this meant little to Tugwell and his school. He wrote: "Planning will become a function of the federal government; either that or the planning agency will supersede the government, which is why, of course, such a scheme will be assimilated to the State."

The most vocal of the open advocates of the system of the Planned Economy was Mr. George Soule, in the columns of the New Republic. He wrote a book on the subject in 1932 and about the same time Stuart Chase began to advocate a Closed National Economy.

This word Planned Economy is a very tricky one. If you oppose it you can be asked: "Do you really mean we ought not to plan our economic system?" What objection can anyone have to planning to make an economic system work? If I am asked: "Do you believe we should plan to make the economic system work?" I would answer "Yes." But what system? A Communist system? A fascist system? Or a capitalist system? I believe in planning to make our free capitalist system work. What must be the object of my planning? It must be to keep the system privately owned and free and functioning at its highest efficiency. Obviously I cannot plan for a free capitalist system the way I would plan for a Communist system. My plans must be to make the free capitalist system function at top capacity according to its own special genius.

But the Planners have something else in mind. The first thing they would do is to destroy the freedom of the system. The next thing would be to socialize about one-fourth of it. Obviously this would not be planning to make "our" economic system work. It would be planning to substitute another one. These planners mean that inside the State a great aggregation of bureaus must be set up with some totalitarian over-all bureau to decide what will be produced and how much and who will produce it and who will be allowed to produce and where and at what price he will get his materials and at what price he will sell them and what he will pay for labor and the conditions under which labor will work and so on.

In foreign trade, the business will be handled precisely as it was in Hitler's Germany, through huge state cartels which will, if possible, unite with similar cartels from other countries in great international cartels which will regulate the international flow of goods. The central planning agency will control the banks and the flow of all investment, deciding where it will go and at what profits it will work. This is what they mean by planning and any man in his senses knows that when such plans are made for the guidance of a free people—140 million of them—who are not accustomed to being pushed around, they will refuse to comply unless the government has in its hands powers sufficiently formidable to compel them.

This means a continual accumulation of power at the center until it becomes absolute. And whether it is good or bad it represents a complete revolution. "Planned Society" is just a soft, misleading name for a society part capitalist and part socialist run by a dictatorship of the experts.

Stuart Chase, one of the few among the Planners who stated the case fearlessly and frankly, admitted that to introduce it into a society of laissez-faire would be suicidal.

"It can be introduced," he said, "only when governments take power and speculative profits away from bankers and business men . . . New industries must be set up; old industries liquidated; industrial research for substitute commodities encouraged on a large scale; millions of potentially unemployed steered to new jobs; colossal capital shrinkage adjusted in some fashion; such foreign trade as remains rigidly budgeted by central authority. National Planning and economic nationalism must go together or not at all."

Perhaps the great pioneer of planning in this country was Thorstein Veblen and it was from him that Tugwell and the others drew their inspiration. Veblen, like so many of his kind, was an unpleasant fellow. He was born in Minnesota in 1857 and went to a small western college where he got himself disliked for his incredible bad manners. From there he took his sneering mind to Johns Hopkins where he hoped to get a scholarship and where, in addition to failing in that, he involved himself in debt from a good deal of promiscuous borrowing. After a period at Yale he went back home where he lay around for several years exploiting a fake illness. Then he married a young lady of wealth and treated himself to many years of idleness. Like Marx and some other such philosophers he proceeded on the theory that the world owed him a living. At the end of this series of easy sabbaticals he decided to return to college at the age of 34. His wife, of course, eventually left him.

In time he went to the faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York. He had a brilliant though erratic mind, and his influence on young teachers with radical leanings in New York at Columbia and the New School cannot be exaggerated. In an age when it was the popular thing in college to be in revolt, Veblen supplied his followers with a steady stream of alluring and half-baked slants on the world around them. The point that stuck with them was that our democratic system of business was run by a lot of ignoramuses and that the remedy was a new structure of society in which the experts—the technicians and the professors would take over. This was government by the elite, which is precisely what Mussolini believed in.

Veblen decided that the capitalist system was doomed because it could never produce abundance. It could not do this because the business men who dominated it were systematically engaged in sabotage—that is, the conscious withdrawal of efficiency in order to create scarcity and increase prices. The technicians alone possess the technological knowledge for producing at all times all the goods and services which the population requires. Unfortunately the experts were now under the control of the bankers and the absentee owners who forced them to curtail output. Veblen insisted that the engineers should unite, since they are few in number and could easily do this.

"Given time it should not come as a surprise that the guild of the engineers are provoked to put their heads together and disallow that large absentee ownership that goes to make the vested interests and to unmake an industrial system . . .

"A general strike of the technological specialists in industry need involve no more than a minute fraction of the whole population; yet it would swiftly bring a collapse of the old order and sweep the time-worn fabric of finance and absentee sabotage into the discard for good and all."

One of the men who fell under the spell of this ribald and lawless iconoclast was Rex Tugwell and it was Tugwell, of all the men who had a chance to influence Roosevelt, who resembled Veblen most in the substance of his philosophy.

Another was Leon Henderson. Around 1932 a seedy philosopher with a patch in his pants named Howard Scott appeared upon our troubled scene sponsored by Leon Henderson. Scott was full of the Veblenian philosophy. He started a squalid little movement, until Leon Henderson and some others managed to get some business men to give him a hearing at a big banquet. Henderson got him into a cheap dinner jacket and Scott then proceeded to frighten the soul out of his hosts. He was pure Veblen. The present system was going to smash. Nothing could save it but a Soviet of the Engineers. They must take over. Then we must unite the whole continent in a single economic unit in the most severe type of economic nationalism, since the United States alone did not possess all the materials essential to a self-subsisting economy. The engineers would take it all into their laps. Money would be abolished and the unit of value would be the erg—the unit of energy. The production possibilities would be colossal.

A number of academic gentlemen set up an institute at Columbia University to study the possibility of this great Continental Economy and it was promoted by Henderson and others in what was called Technocracy, Inc. Henderson was a director. But the philosophers soon disagreed and the project blew up. On January 12, 1942, Congressman Martin Dies charged in the House that Henderson had been a Technocrat. Henderson, then clowning as the boss of OPA, indignantly denied it and offered to eat the Washington telephone book on the steps of the Capitol if Dies could prove it.

But the proof was simple. The New York Times on January 24, 1933 announced the break-up of Technocracy, Inc., as being due to the resignations of four of its eight directors, including Leon Henderson. The New York Herald Tribune reported the same story, adding that Leon Henderson defended Technocracy, notwithstanding the resignation. The trouble arose over the manner in which Scott was running things.

Not long after this adventure in continental remodeling, Leon Henderson became the economic adviser of the NRA and from that incredible explosion he moved over to become the economic adviser and research director of the Democratic National Committee.

As for Mr. Tugwell, he always maintained a close pipeline for transporting his views on affairs. These men and those like them had never thought much of that Second New Deal which in 1938 came tumbling down. Roosevelt was bewildered, asking why no one told him what to do—and these men and their confreres all the time knew precisely what to do.

However, there was still another group of philosophers, and as the sweet, discordant notes of the crumbling capitalist system, like a Shostakovich symphony made music in their ears, they were on hand with their special brand of medicine.


All during the winter and spring of 1938 a group of young instructors from Harvard and Tufts were busy on a book which they called "An Economic Program for American Democracy." This little volume made its appearance in October, 1938, just as the solemn truth about the crack-up of the Second New Deal had sunk definitely into everybody's consciousness, including Mr. Roosevelt's.

These young professors had been moving under the guidance of a person somewhat more eminent than themselves—Dr. Alvin H. Hansen, professor of Economics at Harvard, who was destined before long to become the chief economic lawgiver of the New Deal in its revised Third Edition.

The theory propounded by these gentlemen may be briefly stated thus. The expansion of the American economy came to an end in 1929. Before that it had grown for several well-known reasons. (1) There was a rapid increase in population due to free immigration. (2) The frontier was open to entry and exploitation. (3) Technological expansion went forward upon an amazing scale. But all this was at an end. Population is no longer increasing save at a small rate. The frontier is gone, having been exploited and settled. Technological advance at the old rate is no longer possible—the great era of revolutionary inventions is over. A basic change has come over the structure of the American economy.

Their theory continued: Government spending in the last five years had been proved to be a powerful force for promoting national well-being. Too many made the mistake of supposing that this was a temporary expedient to bring back a self-sustaining recovery. Certainly Mr. Roosevelt made this mistake. He had supposed he was merely priming the pump of business. Public spending, this new school insisted, could not bring the privately supported economic system back to full production because the private system was no longer capable of that. Public spending must be used not as a pump primer, but as a permanent additional or auxiliary pump. The old pump—private industry and business—could no longer produce the national income required for a full life. The government had to set up not a mere pump primer to prime the old pump, but a new pump to do its full share along with the old one to create abundance.

"The government," they concluded, "must assume full responsibility for maintaining national income at a sufficiently high level to assure full utilization of our human and material resource."

This must be done, they insisted, by public spending. "The notion that public spending can be safely resorted to as a temporary emergency device must he abandoned."

Their thesis was as follows. The people do not spend all of the income they receive on consumable goods and services. Each year they save great sums. These savings are thus withdrawn from the function of spending. They must be brought back into the stream of spending some way or the system collapses. The orthodox method of accomplishing this in the past has been through private investment. People who save and who do not wish to spend their money for food or clothes or consumable goods are willing to invest it. If they invest it they put it into what are called capital goods—goods designed to produce other goods such as houses, buildings, machinery, etc. If they do this the money is used to employ workmen, experts, technicians, etc., and this gets into the hands of people who will spend it.

To keep the capitalist system going at full tilt there must be a continuous flow of all savings into investment—into new industries and the expansion of old industries. That is a perfectly sound theory. It has been held by most of the economists who have studied business cycle theory for many years. It was the basis of the conclusion reached by many men when they predicted the depression of 1929. It was the basis of the opinion of those who appealed to Mr. Roosevelt in 1933 to adopt a program that would encourage business expansion instead of making war on business and killing investment.

These New Deal economists, however, were just learning this important principle. But they concluded that a continuous flow of savings into private investment was no longer possible. This is possible only when business men wish to borrow funds for new enterprises and expansion of old ones. But we can never hope to see this again, they said. Expansion on a sufficient scale in new enterprises and expanded old ones is hopeless because the economy has reached the end of its expansion era, as described above. The only way to avoid the inevitable collapse of the system, therefore, is for the government to step in and borrow those sums which business refuses to borrow and to spend these on all sorts of welfare, educational, social and other public enterprises.

Of course government spending had already plunged the government into debt to the tune of nearly 40 billion dollars. Continuous spending of funds borrowed by the government would mean a continuous expansion of the government debt. But to these new economic philosophers this was nothing to disturb the slumbers of the people. Government debt is not like private debt, they said. It does not have to be paid. The government can keep it afloat indefinitely by redeeming old bonds with new bonds. Moreover the interest on the government debt will not be a burden. The debt is due by the people to themselves. The people owe the debt. The people own the bonds which represent the debt. The government taxes the people to pay the interest on the bonds. It takes the taxes out of the pockets of the people and then pays it back to them in the form of interest. It is just taking it out of one pocket and putting it in the other.

The government therefore need not bother about the size of the debt. It can go on borrowing indefinitely. One of the eminent Harvard economists delivered a speech in which he assured his hearers that over the course of years the government might create a debt of a thousand billion dollars without being unduly worried. Of course a more crack-brained proposition was never promulgated in the name of higher learning. But the fact that all this was coming, not from some howling dervishes in the corn belt, but from gentlemen who took care to identify themselves as Harvard economists gave it a respectability which got for it a ready welcome in the most astonishing quarters.

About this time Mr. Tugwell and Leon Henderson engaged a couple of more orthodox economists in a discussion of the public's recovery problem. Mr. Tugwell and Mr. Henderson both admitted that the President's spending program had failed. But they insisted that it had failed because it had been on a far too modest scale. Instead of spending three billion a year, for which Roosevelt was being damned, Tugwell said he should have spent twelve billion a year.

It is not hard to understand what a happy effect this produced on the mind of Mr. Roosevelt. Always hospitable to fresh and bizarre ideas, he found himself now in a state of bitter frustration because, after what he had supposed was a spending spree, the depression was back on his doorstep. Here were men, not long-haired Populist crossroads philosophers, but honest-to-goodness Harvard and Columbia professors telling him the trouble with him was he had not spent enough. He was like a man suffering with the jimmies from consuming a quart of rum who was being exhorted by his wife to sober up and take the pledge when along came a batch of eminent physicians and assured him his whole trouble was that he should have drunk three quarts instead of one and should keep it up as a steady diet. There was probably no suggestion that fell upon Roosevelt's mind and spirit that gave him such a lift as this, that picked him up out of a spiritual slump in which he could not see his way ahead and now satisfied him that what he had been doing was fundamentally right. He had merely been too stingy, too reluctant. That lone remaining rabbit—the spending rabbit—the rabbit he had been ungrateful enough to think at times had been wild—now he saw that the whole trouble was he had been keeping too tight a rein on him, that he had not been nearly wild enough. Now he was ready for a wilder ride than ever.

It was these two groups—the Planners and the Spenders—who now really captured his mind and made him feel that, instead of having arrived at the end of his experiment, he was in truth only at the beginning. And here at hand was the most magnificent of all objects of spending—National Defense.

He had arrived now definitely at the point at which the staggering, ramshackle parliamentary governments of Europe had arrived before the First World War. Very soon a Temporary National Economic Committee, composed of representatives of the House, the Senate and the Executive department was named to make a great study of our economic system. Senator O'Mahoney was made chairman, but Leon Henderson, one of the champions of this new school, vas the actual executive director. Everybody was given a chance to air his views. But Henderson and his immediate associates steered the whole show in the direction of the new ideas. Next a National Resources Planning Board was appointed. And, true to his strange contradictory limitations, Roosevelt named as its chairman his uncle, Colonel Frederic Delano, an aging engineer who was one of the most reactionary mine owners in the whole field. But the god in the machine, the economic philosopher who was to inspire its purposes and devices was that Dr. Alvin Hansen, the chief apostle of the spenders, who was named to a place in the Federal Reserve Board from which spot he began to function as the chief economic thinker of the New Deal—the Third New Deal.

Almost all of the men who were responsible for the little book which proclaimed this theory to the world were summoned down to Washington and became economic advisers to some sector of the government. Leon Henderson became eventually head of the OPA when the war arrived, and Richard Gilbert, Hansen's principal adjutant, became its economic adviser.

Roosevelt now had a plan. The events in Europe provided him with a means of spending money in a way that would command the approval of many of his bitterest critics.

The spread of these two ideas now—the Planned Economy and the theory of Spending and Debt—ran with a thrill through all the bureaus in Washington. A pall of spiritual depression had settled over that large band of New Dealers who had been functioning so joyously up to the appearance of the economic crack-up. But now spending was resumed. Spending was to be continuous and everlasting. All around they saw the signs that the President, who had been regarded as a laggard in their great philosophical journey, was now completely converted. The money began to flow and there was the clear intention that the flow should be speeded up. Employment began to rise again. Never since the first inauguration had the new bureaucracy been so much in evidence. It sprang into a more spirited intellectual life.

In the capital one bumped suddenly and frequently into a happy and eager bureaucrat who had but recently been a tutor or professor or instructor in some college where he was eating his heart out over the futility of the professor's existence—where he presided over the destinies of two dozen youths in some small fragment of human learning, while lesser and baser men directed the destinies of the nation. Now he is in Washington and by a swift turn of the wheel of Fortune he presides over a numerous division of lesser bureaucrats, earns twice what he got as a teacher and is amazed and delighted at finding himself fabricating a policy to mold the live, of a million farmers or twice as many housewives. The sense of anonymous power sends the blood coursing through his heated brain. After a while he seems not unequal to any problem, however vast.

In certain cocktail bars or in the household salons of numerous Madame de Staals they foregather and are fascinated by what they have come to think of as the regime of the philosophers. Only two or three years ago it was the crackpots who were prancing and kicking up their heels all over the place and terrifying the men of power. But now, as in the days before the Bastile, the philosophers are whirling about in a new dance, a little crazier than the dance of the crackpots. The town is full of salons with well-stocked cellars. The little fresh-water instructor finds himself standing up near a beautifully carved colonial fireplace in Georgetown, with a caviar hors d'oeuvre in one hand and a martini cocktail in the other, discussing with Assistant Secretary So and So or Commissioner What's His Name what shall be done with the potato crop or the new situation that has arisen in China. It is ravishing. It is intoxicating.

The dead days of the dour Hoover are gone forever. The faltering and uncertain feeling of the Second New Deal are over. Roosevelt has seen the light—they knew he would all the time. The theory of the Permanent Crisis is now established. Oh, happy Crisis! Oh, blessed Catastrophe! At last we have set our foot truly upon the threshold of the real revolution—the perfect revolution, bloodless, worked out in charts and tables, attended by no massacres and no sacrifices, just a smooth, pleasant ascent up the flowery hills of government debt. But even the most wildly optimistic of the happy prophets had no vision of how tall the peaks would be.