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Masaccio: The Sorry State of Progressives on Economic Issues | naked capitalism
The progressives and their labor class supporters had some successes, but many of them were stolen by the Supreme Court [...] As legislative victories turned to dust, economic progressives became more aggressive. Leftist intellectuals and labor leaders turned to Socialism and Marxism as alternatives to bloody capitalism. Workers continued to strike and there was violence in the streets [...] The few public figures who espoused Socialism were subject to bad-faith prosecutions and jailed, among them Eugene Debs, jailed on specious charges on the watch of the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, and his horrid Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. This was an early example of Democrats running from the shadows of non-capitalist economic theory [...]

The economic elites suffered short term defeat in the 30s and 40s, but unfortunately, their views were not eradicated. The Republicans took over Congress in the wake of the war, and launched an assault on the Democratic party and its labor allies as infiltrated with communists and socialists. The attack on labor resulted in the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, weakening the ability of unions to organize and setting the stage for further weakening of the union movement and the ability of the working class to protect itself. Majorities of both parties joined approving the bill and in overriding President Truman's veto.

It probably wasn't necessary to attack the Democrats, because they were purging themselves [...]

It turns out that the Socialists and other leftists never really had much influence on the economic policies of FDR. The actual policies were drafted by reformist Democrats, who believed that tight economic substantive regulation would solve the problems created by rampant capitalism. They and FDR effectively co-opted the activists seeking genuine change, people like the millions of supporters of the Townsend Plan who had to accept FDR's Social Security, a much weaker version of that proposal. It was easy for the Democratic party to dump the few real leftists and start their inexorable movement away from leftist economic issues and towards the American Celebration of Capitalism.

by das monde on Wed Nov 5th, 2014 at 01:21:19 AM EST

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