The Crimson Bookshelf
THE MENACE OF RECOVERY, by William MacDonald. The MacMillan, New York. 1934, 373 pp. $2.50.
NOW that Roosevelt and the New deal have been before the public for an appreciable time and the first hysterical rush of enthusiasm ha subsided, there can be no more enlightening pastime than reviewing what has happened and recalling the first intentions and seeing what causes finally have come to what results. Mr. MacDonald, Professor and editorial writer, has presented in "The Menace of Recovery" a "history and criticism" of the Roosevelt recovery program.
Attack on Methods and Alms
The book is a frank attack on both the methods and the aims of the New dealers. Mr. MacDonald, of course, is not against recovery, but he is opposed to the founding of an un-American "collectivist" system of government, one that seems to point either to fascism or communism. He inclines to discount most of the good results of the New Deal either as "artificial" or on the grounds that they were inevitable or (as he rather convincingly points out in several instances) had already been put in operation by President Hoover. While he at no point attacks President Roosevelt and in fact often refers warmly to his sincerity and ability to resurrect public hope, the many quotations from the President's campaign speeches constitute perhaps the most violent damnation that the book contains. It makes fascinating reading to peruse such excerpts as Mr. Roosevelt's pledge for "an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures," a saving of 'not less than 25 per cent in the cost of Federal government," and "a sound currency to be preserved at all hazards."
In the light of current Republican attacks it is to be remembered that Roosevelt himself declared that what the American people want "more than anything else" is work and security. There were also promises that: (1) No government official by word or deed would attempt to influence the prices of stocks or bonds. (2) That he believed in "the sacredness of private property and in individualism. (3) That "without becoming a prying bureaucracy" the government would check corrupt financial practices. (4) Special advantages favors, or privileges were to be eliminated by the government.
Assumption of New Deal
Two observations of particular interest are that in the new deal the underlying assumption is that social wisdom is the monopoly of the Federal Government and that neither states municipalities or individuals can be expected to act wisely if left to themselves. The second is that by the operation of the securities Act, capital has been made unprofitable thus paving the way for the acquisition of all capitalistic enterprise by the government.
Mr. MacDonald has included all the familiar criticisms of his own. His book will be a solace to all discontinued Republicans it is too much history however, to be entirely facile reading and it seems to be too critical to pass as exposition. "The Meuace of Recovery" will strengthen the conviction of those who oppose the New Deal. but it will make few converts among those already aligned with President Roosevelt.