[Marxism] Fwd: Cowie, J.: The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics. (eBook and Hardcover)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 28 07:49:55 MST 2016

Cowie is the author of "Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for 
Cheap Labor" and "Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the 
Working Class" so I expect this book to be a must-read as well:


 From the Introduction:

 From the perspective of liberal historians, perhaps the
most dominant view in the field, the post–World War II decades
constituted the new mainstream of the nation’s politics:
the final product of a long struggle for American reform.
Postwar liberals might differ on whether FDR had led
the “third American Revolution” or a “halfway revolution,”
but there was a sense that a version of the industrial democracy,
called for since the nineteenth century, had finally arrived.
The new “liberal consensus” recognized that state
involvement in social and economic policy was now a
proven benefit in redistributing wealth, propping up consumption,
and bolstering the foundation for the future expansion
of the liberal project. Its permanence at the time
seemed obvious to many. As the literary critic Lionel Trilling
famously and prematurely noted in 1950, “In the United
States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but
even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact
that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary
ideas in general circulation.”5

A sharply different view emerged from the turmoil and
heightened political expectations of the New Left of the
1960s. For scholars influenced by the new social movements,
New Deal liberalism was simply a form of “corporate
liberalism” that sought not to transform society but
merely to prop up capitalism in its time of need and, more
importantly, to contain and control a deeper, more popular,
and more radical threat to the system. Despite the changes
the New Deal did bring, as the argument is developed by
one of its leading proponents, Barton J. Bernstein, the New
Deal “failed to solve the problem of depression, it failed to
raise the impoverished, it failed to redistribute income, it
failed to extend equality and generally countenanced racial
discrimination and segregation.” Rather than a transformative
moment, Bernstein argues that New Deal policy “was
profoundly conservative and continuous with the 1920s.”6

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