Skip to main content

In this diary I covered the origins of the neoliberal movement. Now I want to move on to the complex story of how it achieved a position of dominance in economic and political policy. It is the ethos of the new deal in the US and related forms of social democracy in Europe that has been supplanted by neoliberalism. It is my view that there were two long term trends that contributed to this outcome. One was the very systematic efforts of the neoliberal elite to gain power and influence. The other was an unraveling of the coalitions that had built a structure of social democratic policy. In this diary I want to explore the unraveling. To do that we must go back to the creation of the new deal and the unstable politics that were necessary to accomplish it.

There are two books that I am drawing on for this analysis. I would like to introduce them to you and strongly recommend them to anyone with a serious in US political history.

Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time  

This work by Ira Karznelson is a very comprehensive history of the new deal.

Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Clas

Jefferson Cowie provides a very engaging history of blue collar America during a period of change and confusion. There is in depth political history and analysis combined with an effort to capture the emotional realities of working class culture.

FDR and the Democrats were brought to power by the wave of national despair and desperation in the pit of the great depression. The Hoover administration had been fundamentally incapable of responding to the crisis. The new deal coalition was not only a big tent, but it was one that contained what was often a three ring circus. The primary common denominator was that they were not Republicans. The Republican had been the dominant political party in the US for most of the 70 years since the civil war. The Democratic base was a disjointed mixture of big northern city political machines drawing on the post civil war immigrant population, the organized labor movement fighting an up hill battle for legal recognition and the white oligarchs of the solid south.

The 73rd congress which took office in 1933 had a strong Democratic majority in both houses, 59 to 36 in the Senate and 313 to 117 in the House. However 30 of the Democratic senators and 137 of the Democratic representatives came from southern and border states. This political arithmetic played a critical role in the crafting of new deal legislation.

The term solid south derives from the monolithic control of the Democratic Party in the region. Republicans were an almost non-existent species. In southern states winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to election. During the long period of Republican domination southern congressional delegations were uniformly Democratic and southern democrats composed a majority of congressional democrats. Southern congressmen and senators were absolutely committed to the preservation of the Jim Crow system of racial segregation. When legislation seemed likely to impact that issue they were prepared to operate as a unified bloc. Without their votes, the new dealers lacked a congressional majority.    

One of the early pieces of new deal legislation was the Agricultural Adjustment Act. It's stated purpose was to provide support for highly deflated agricultural prices. It established the basis for the farm program that has been with us ever since by paying farmers to take land out of production thus reducing crop supplies and raising prices. The main beneficiaries of this program were the large land owners in the south. One result of the decreased production was to drive agricultural wage workers and share croppers off of the land.

The new deal adopted various measures for short term economic relief in an effort to put a lid on the economic crisis. It then turned to longer term measures intended to create economic security. The social security act was a historically important step in creating what has become known as the social safety net. In addition to the social insurance program known as Social Security it also established various programs of public assistance that were not tied to employment based insurance. The southern delegations took this legislation hostage until they were able to extract major concessions in exchange for their votes. The south before WW II was still a predominantly agrarian region. Most of the nation's industrial enterprises were located in the northeast and on the west coast. The southern oligarchs were committed to the preservation of a low wage compliant workforce along with preserving racial segregation. They saw government benefits as a serious threat to this system. The compromise was to exclude agricultural workers and domestic servants from the benefits of the act. This impacted the vast majority of racial minorities in the south and the southwest, blacks and Latinos, along with with the poorest white workers.

The same pattern was repeated with the National Labor Relations Act, generally referred to as the Wagner Act. This legislation established legal rights of unions to organize workers and negotiate collective bargaining agreements. Passed in 1935, it made it possible for unions to become established in the major corporations of the industrial sector and their presence resulted in improved wages, benefits and safer working conditions. For those who were its beneficiaries it represented a real step forward. However, once again the south would not tolerate interference in its control of the regional workforce. The same compromise that was used to pass the Social Security Act was used in the Wagner Act. Agricultural and domestic labor was excluded from its provisions. Once again racial minorities were effectively excluded from the benefits of legislation. Organized labor was willing to go along with this because the concentrated environment of industrial production offered the most promising opportunities for successful union organizing.

The great accomplishments that we now think of as the new deal legacy all happened in the first term of FDR's administration. After that the shadow of war began to loom across the globe. Well before the US actually entered the war. European rearmament was stimulating US industrial production. With the US participation in the war, much of domestic politics was put on hold for the duration. The government became bipartisan, wage and price controls were instituted and unions agreed to a moratorium on strikes. At the end of the war FDR was dead and Truman was an unprepared occupant of the oval office. Unions began making aggressive campaigns to increase wages that had been frozen during the war. During the war the south had finally entered the industrial revolution with the spread of defense industries. The workforce and the economy were no longer almost exclusively agrarian. The southern congressional delegations suddenly decided that the Wagner Act that they had voted for no longer looked like such a good idea since its provisions were increasingly likely to impact the region. As a bloc they made common cause with Republicans in 1946 to pass the Taft-Hartley Act which effectively froze the labor movement in its tracks. Their participation provided a majority large enough to override Truman's veto. At the 1948 Democratic convention there was a walkout by several southern delegations and the formation of the Dixiecrat party with Strom Thurmond running against Truman.  The long unwinding of the new deal had begun.

The depression and a world war had created many upheavals in traditional American society. The late 40s and the 50s saw a concerted effort by the traditional establishment to shove the lid back on. Women who had experienced new horizons as active duty members of the military and as workers in various aspects in the defense effort were suddenly being shoved back into the kitchen and urged to behave like ladies. The McCarthyite witch hunts used the fear of the international communist menace to fuel a purge of anybody suspected of radical thoughts. Unions and their leadership were a priority target. For a while as white Americans moved to the suburbs and went on a binge of consumerism, it looked as though the campaign was going to succeed. Then along came the 60s.

The movements of the 60s were about many things. In terms of racial minorities and women it was about people who had been shoved to the sidelines demanding the right to participate as full productive citizens. The civil rights movement did manage to drive a stake through Jim Crow's heart. The new left movement had visions of what they called participatory democracy. It all got mixed up with the seriously bankrupt policy of the war in Vietnam. Things came to a head at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. There was open warfare between the various groups under the new left and leadership of organized labor as a key group in the party establishment. The war continued over the next four years with Nixon making a big push to woo if not the active support of labor leadership, at least their neutrality. He was successful in his aims. When McGovern won the 1972 nomination labor refused to endorse and support his campaign and officially sat out the election. At that point the new deal coalition could be pronounced deceased.

I am not trying to trash FDR and the new deal. It got the country through a time of serious crisis and managed to enacted fundamental reforms in several important areas. One could make a plausible argument that it wasn't politically possible to accomplish more than they did. However, that does not change the fact that its scope and impact went just so far. Important groups were left out from its efforts to create a more equitable society. One result was that the unionized industrial workers became branded as the American working class. They were by no means a majority of the people working for a living. The new deal accomplished great things for that group. Many of them were essentially transferred to the middle class in terms of income levels. Yet many other people were left out of the protections and security.

In the early 70s there were numerous conflicts between the groups seeking greater access to political and economic participation and the branded Working Class trying to hold onto their relatively privileged position. The resulting gap provided one of the doors for the rising neoliberals.    


Originally posted to Richard Lyon on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Chat, History for Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Good work. I 've read (11+ / 0-)

    "Staying Alive "  Excellent book  I 'll have to check out the other book

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 04:21:12 PM PST

  •  have you looked at (8+ / 0-)

    Rosenberg's American Economic Development since 1945
    Growth, Decline and Rejuvenation

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 04:23:12 PM PST

  •  A missing element is the birth of Realism (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, k9disc, akze29, unfangus, Rogneid, schumann

    FDR was a Wilsonian internationalist at first, but what emerged from WW2 was Realism -- this idea of American military power as an instrument of ideology, and ideology as a goal for the world. "Containment" of the Soviet Union, support of Formosa, and the Marshall Plan were all elements born of this Realist proposition that all elements of foreign policy were subservient to a projection of power, and the power's ultimate goal was the protection of an ideology that contained the entire economic interest of the United States.

    I mention this because it was the crack that the neo-liberals were able to exploit in their "Scoop Jackson" founding and in their disabling of Democratic votes from 1960 - present. Watch Lieberman or Schumer change colors when military matters come up.

    The Wilsonian internationalist died in 1935. After that, it was just a question of whether anyone would give credence to any vision of American interest but the Realist. Jimmy Carter proposed one. I still believe in it. He was quasi-Realist, but he argued that the ideology the US served with its power was universal human rights and that this ideology alone would create security and increased trade.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 06:31:03 PM PST

    •  I was not dealing with foreign policy. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, The Geogre, JVolvo, shaharazade, Rogneid

      This was not intended as a complete history of the entire period.

      •  Indeed, but it was a domestic crack (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, unfangus, paz3, shaharazade

        I.e. the development of the Realist school effectively neutralized the internationalist theory, and as it was tied explicitly to capitalism, it became a cozy approach for the GOP. When, in the 1960's, the Democratic Party split, it split over Civil Rights and Vietnam. In other words, this foreign policy gospel ended up tying the Democratic party to a hawkish stance and created the fissure that neo-liberalism exploited.

        The foreign policy  - - faith - -  became a domestic political wedge that enabled the neo-liberals to fracture the New Deal coalition. The line from Dean Rusk to Robert MacNamara leads to a national Party that remains committed to military adventures to keep the factories going, even when there are no U.S. factories anymore, while the rank and file call for peace.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 06:58:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Foreign Policy Impact On Domestic Policy? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade, The Geogre, lotlizard

          I appreciate this additional history. It's hard to argue that after WWII the US was relatively unaffected by foreign matters, see Cold War, The.

          Being born at the end of 1941, I was one of those kids who had to participate in "drop drills," dive-under-the-desk in case of a nuclear attack, in the early 1950s as the Cold War progressed. Hard to avoid the suspicion that this bit of foreign relations affected both voters and politicians of that era.

          You meet them halfway with love, peace, and persuasion ~ And expect them to rise for the occasion...

          by paz3 on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:15:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Too late to rec comment (24-hour period expired), (0+ / 0-)

      … but your analysis here is outstanding.

      This in an excellent, highly informative diary where in addition many of the comments are already high level.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 12:28:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  good diary on an important subject. looking (5+ / 0-)

    forward to more :)

    tip'd & rec'd.

  •  I read the last one and this as well. Good show! (8+ / 0-)

    Nice series... can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

    I'm really starting to wonder if the rug was not purposefully pulled out from under the economy in the mid-70s. I'd like to know more about the transition after Nixon went to China and liberalized trade.

    Seems to me there could have been a great deal of flux as the big pillars of our modern corporate economy were set into place. Like a mini-inversion of perestroika & glasnost - except that the consequences may not have been unintended.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 06:36:31 PM PST

  •  So racism and sexism cracked the coalition, and (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, The Jester, hoplite9, JVolvo, unfangus

    Nixon pried at it with gusto as Ds were distracted by internecine was over Vietnam (in '72 too, since McG's defense and f/p was successfully characterized as the 'hippy Left's disarmament policy'.)

    And then Thugs continued to pry with more racism and sexism until St.Raygun, when it just became racism, abortion, gays and taxes.  Which has remained, except abortion seems to be becoming just plain old troglodyte  sexism again.

    But really, imo so much of what opened the door to the neoThugs (cause that's really what they were and are, even Clinton sometimes, God bless him) was just the Original American Sin screwing us again.

    •  There is no question that the neoliberals (8+ / 0-)

      had a systematic agenda to promote, but major things happened in the 60s and 70s that they did not control but provided them with openings.

      •  True, but wasn't it just a matter of time before (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        those or similar circumstances occurred giving them that opening?  IOW, the erosion of the NewDeal constituency (as you see it), was inevitable?  And frankly, its amaing it lasted as long as it did.

        And btw that's how I view it, an erosion.  Much of the New Deal constituency survives today, albeit smaller and some misguided.  IOW, the neolibs 'win' mostly bc 1) N/D constituency went from solid majority to bare to plurality, and 2) core parts of it have been propagandized to think that the neolibs are really NewDealers (see, St.Raygun going form opponent to staunch 'defender' of social security & medicare, even as his policies consumed their foundations).

        Ur mileage of course may differ.

        •  The civil rights movement was (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NearlyNormal, YucatanMan

          likely inevitable. That certainly meant that the national Democrats had to choose between southern whites on the one hand and liberals and minority groups on the other.

          I am not so sure that problems with organized labor had to be as bad as they were, but the seed had been sown long before. The world never stands still.

          •  Labor was, um, interesting in the '60s, what with (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            mob penetration and combating same (Bobby, remember? while Nixon might as well have been the Don of Dons), and the conflict bt union members and their children (and their friends) bc of Vietnam, drugs and the counter-culture.

            I think you're corret as to some of the cause of the receeding of the strength of N/D constituency but I also think a big part - imo the major part - was just circumstances and all of it hitting at once in the the 'everything blows up together' that was the 60s.  Also, there's something to be said for the N/D constituency being something of a victim of its own success.

        •  Neolibs don't win (0+ / 0-)

          They've steadily lost races in the last decade and their numbers in Congress have dwindled to just a few. Their only power comes from aligning themselves with Republicans.

          Their trickle down economic theories have been a complete failure. The only thing that keeps them going  is large infusions of corporate cash.

          If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 07:16:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Like Nixon, neolibs try to exploit racism & sexism (0+ / 0-)

        Through their revisionist history of the Dem Party.

        Same old tricks in new packaging.  Like cultists, Neolibs always try to come across as benevolent and helpful seeking to fix non-existent problems with vague reassurances and promises.

        But their real goal is to divide and conquer the Dem party in order to deliver it to their corporate funders.  By any means necessary, including manipulation of groups using racism and sexism.

        If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

        by Betty Pinson on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 08:37:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Identity and the Moderan Neoliberal (25+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary a while back about Oprah, and how she plays int into the Neoliberal construct.

    The main point is that identity has no value to the modern Neoliberal other than as a tool for hiding the ball about the economic policies.

    This is true regardless of party.

    Want to claim you are a Liberal or a Progressive, but horrible on economic issues?

    Say you are for gay marriage.

    Want to prove you are a Conservative although you have engaged in corporate welfare?

    Say you are against gay marriage.

    The private sector has gotten in on the act. When Goldman Sachs wanted to demonstrate it isn't as bad as people think what did it do? Support gay inclusiveness.

    The rights for the various identities are indeed important in their on right. But they say nothing about economic policies. yet, now th ey are used as smoke screens

    Clinton is a woman. President is Black. Both the people who don't like either, and those who like them, use gender and race as a tool to avoid conversations about economics.

    As you know, one of the things I like about a site like Black Agenda Report is how brutally Leftist it is, and willing to say that the President is wrong and why. It does so on policies about which people have claimed he's a great Liberal. The reality is that the policies aren't. But people, who like him, hide behind the association of identity with economic values.

    There was a time when that may have mattered. Indeed, hyou are pointing out the genesis of those believes. That time has long pasted. Now its just a smoke screen that avoids economic discussions. How can one, for example, in one sentence discuss the President's race, and then,if asked, avoid discussions about the impact of say his decision to consider cutting SS on people of color, given the history of what happened with FDR?

    I don't know, but its done. Indeed, one can look at the graphs (back in the day Paul Rosenberg put one up) showing the historic impact of many of the differences in economic treatment. Yet, those sorts of things are closed over in the SUX v ROX exchanges that are all identity, very little economics.

    I am saying all of this to say that Neoliberals realize this. They use it. To have a frank discussion about their policies, through this cloud of manipulation, is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

    I am pessimistic until people can look beyond identity on all sides because the Neoliberal will continue to use it on all side to say "See I am with you" when in fact, economically they aren't.

    •  The breakdown of the new deal coalition (13+ / 0-)

      happened before the neoliberals had a lot of strings to pull. One of the things that I am trying to deal with in this diary is that the new deal was supposedly addressing economic issues. However, it was unable to deal with those other identity issues. It's legacy foundered on the unresolved conflicts that reared their heads in the 60s and 70s. I don't that any society can focus on just economic issues OR personal identity and produce a balanced sustainable order.

      •  My position is that there isn't a balancing at all (10+ / 0-)

        Its just pure identity.

        If there were a balancing, it would imply a complexity that I am not seeing played out.

        I agree with the historic record. I am not saying the Neolberals invented these issues. I am saying they are skilled at manipulating them on a level that they don't even have to offer up anything for it anymore

        When the White voters used to vote race before, it was , right or wrong, because they were being paid off by the pols

        That's what the machines were all about. Now, what exactly are they getting?

        •  No there isn't any effort to achieve a balance (7+ / 0-)

          at present. I plan to present o good bit of the material from Mirowski about the devious ways in which all this is exploited. I guess that what I'm trying to say is the the new deal for different reasons failed to achieve much of a balance.

          •  How does knocking the New Deal (0+ / 0-)

            Make the neolib con game look good? The two can't be compared. One was a legitimate economic and public policy initiative that accomplished great improvements.  The other is a rhetorical game of  three card monte. It's based on fad policy, not any well thought out plan.

            If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

            by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 07:23:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The point of this diary (0+ / 0-)

              is that the new deal was not perfection. It's failure to include racial minorities in the benefits of its programs laid the path to later problems. Neoliberalism has been dominant for over 40 years that is more than just a fad.

              •  Sorry, but you're wrong on that (0+ / 0-)

                Programs like SS, Medicare and Medicaid did not exclude minorities.  To the contrary, most of the work LBJ did through his "Great Society" programs was focused on equality and opportunity for minorities.

                These are the kinds of little myths that neoliberals like to slip into their discourse as a means of demonizing legitimate, good ideas and promoting corporate-friendly policies instead.   It's insidious and dishonest, and a hallmark of neoliberal failure.

                If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

                by Betty Pinson on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 07:27:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Read the diary. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Chitown Kev

                  Social Security did effectively exclude minorities when it was established. The Wagner Act did effectively exclude minorities when it was established. These are not neoliberal myths.

                  •  You're slicing and dicing, somewhat dishonestly (0+ / 0-)

                    If you're trying to have an honest discussion about the history and evolution of New Deal policies,  the fact that you completely ignore the evolution of those programs into programs like LBJ's - the very programs that focused on equality for minorities - reveals a huge gap in your reasoning.

                    Equality - economic and otherwise - has been coded into the Dem Party's DNA for decades.   It has driven smart public policy for nearly a century now and has proven time and again to be a quality driver of the US's healthy economy.

                    OTOH, trickle down economics have proven the opposite. Repackaging Reaganomics in neoliberal clothing won't change anything.  That's why neolibs are always forced to resort to subterfuge and dishonesty to sell their failed policies.

                    If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

                    by Betty Pinson on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 07:55:24 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You are evading historical reality. n/t (0+ / 0-)
                      •  You're pushing neolib supply-side economics (0+ / 0-)

                        and you're having to be very dishonest to try to make it look even remotely realistic.

                        Study a little history yourself - including the parts where Reaganomics have been screwing up our economy since the early 80's.

                        Dem economic policies have the evidence on their side.  They've been proven to work, time and again, even for Wall Street.  

                        I was recruited into the DLC back in the early 90's, so I know the spin they use.  I lasted less than a year, their BS became too much to bear.  They have no new ideas, only recycled GOP policies.

                        If cutting Social Security & Medicare benefits for low income seniors is what Democrats do after they win a budget standoff, I'd hate to see what they do after they lose one.

                        by Betty Pinson on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 08:13:20 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

    •  If there were a Post of the Day Award here on DK.. (6+ / 0-)

      I'd recommend this one. This is a topic that needs much more airing. If we don't learn to think critically, we probably won't survive.

      Both parties have utilized Identity Politics to mask their economic philosophies. The Left has Gay Rights, Immigration Reform, and even Civil Rights, to this end, but so have the Republicans in their use of conservative Christianity and the Right to Life movement. I'd recommend Thomas Franks' "What's the Matter with Kansas?" (2004) as a primer on this topic.

    •  Personalization of problems is a tool they use, fo (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, YucatanMan


      They point at "corruption" - making it about personal foibles instead of focusing on corporate sponsorship and giant consequent sloshes of corporate money around election time.

      Everything winds up cult of personality and the system remains above reproach. It's laughable - like Bill Murray of Groundhog's Day.

      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 10:40:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Again, too late to rec, but excellent comment. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 12:31:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very Excellent, Richard (9+ / 0-)

    This explains a lot.

    I'm very interested in what you have to say about the 1980's when I lived in the USA and there was clearly a fracture between the working class and the middles class.

    Certainly in that period Neoliberalism was in the ascent in policy circles and middle class people drank deep from that well until the Dotcom Bubble bust leaving them broke and angry.

  •  I joined Students for a Democratic Society (13+ / 0-) 1965. I didn't understand it at the time, but the demands that we were making then were  in the tradition of the left side of the New Deal coalition. We were carrying on what many of our parents had taught us, but had remained publicly quiet about during the dark days of McCarthyism.

    The coming of the civil rights movement had reawakened the spirit of revolt and helped to end the Red Scare.

    Neither of my parents were communists, but they supported the idea of a strong social welfare state, saw no good in the Vietnam war, liked unions, and were friends with a communist couple in our neighborhood. They were sympathetic to what I was doing on campus.

    Eventually SDS ran off the rails and imploded. The rank and file labor revolts of the same period ran up against recession and repression and also came to a disappointing halt

    In many ways the 1960's-1970's student revolt and the working class rebellions were really last gasp of the surviving 1930's radicalism. We thought we were the future, but we were really the end of an era.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 07:30:58 PM PST

  •  Thanks for an outstanding diary, Richard! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, Choco8, YucatanMan

    Laying bare the foundation of neoliberalism (and showing its prehistory, as it were) is a hugely important project, and I commend you.

    For one thing, it makes clear how much these periodizations of capitalism can often obscure the deeper threads and connections between the different eras of state/capital formation.

    At any rate, I'm looking forward to more diaries in this series. Bravo!

    If you see a sacred cow, milk it for all it's worth. -Swami Beyondananda

    by The Free Agent on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 07:45:02 PM PST

  •  I had forgotten about Labor sitting out (6+ / 0-)

    the 1972 election and I thank you for bringing that back into my picture.  Senator McGovern was from South Dakota like myself and it really irked me that he even lost his home state.  McGovern was a hero who put it one the line for his country and did many many great things and now I remember that Labor was one of the Ides of March that struck him with the dagger to the back.  

    •  'dagger in the back' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Dagger in the back is too harsh a description for Meany's treatment of McGovern.

      Remember that McGovern never had significant union backing (labor unions don't count for much in South Dakota politics) because McGovern never supported Labor's top goal of the post-war period -- repeal of Taft-Hartley Act. Meany also had a grudge against McGovern because McGovern had  support Democratic Party rules reform that reduced the influence of unions in the national convention.

      So the two had tangled openly and McGovern never had any good reason to expect Labor to work hard for him. Tricky Dick Nixon exploited this to good effect, especially by courting the Teamsters and some of the other individual unions.

      •  Tricky Dick (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, schumann, YucatanMan

        Remember too that Tricky Dick was not anti-labor in the way that all today's Republican leaders are.

        He pushed through Alaska North Slope oil development with labor support in Congress: Today, Teamsters, USW, and other unions have good-paying jobs in Alaska because of the deals Nixon cut back in the late 1960s.

        Similarly, labor supported Nixon's  Merchant Marine Act of 1972, which guaranteed labor a piece of the new ship construction (and vessel operation) spurred by the law. So Nixon actually delivered something very substantial to the maritime unions (which have leaned Republican ever since).

        Famous Nixon sleazeball Chuck Colson was in charge of currying labor support, and did a good job for his boss, especially with the Teamster (arranging for the pardon of Jimmy Hoffa, etc). This was before the post-Watergate campaign finance reforms, so money flowed freely and secretly.

  •  Personally speaking I would think (0+ / 0-)

    you'd have a better argument for the 1968 convention with 1972 to really 1992 being the fallout. Though as you note the fault lines within the democratic party really existed since the inception of the New Deal with people of multiple and various political ideology voting for 'anyone else but a republican' for several decades.

    I must confess that I am intrigued to see what couple years bring as one could argue the some of the same conditions exist today within both the GOP and the democratic parties. Who knows? Maybe what follows will actually be the push for a much needed constitutional update.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 08:12:50 PM PST

  •  Excellent, informative piece (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, shaharazade

    I'm learning a lot. Thanks.

  •  The question is, how to revive the new Deal (3+ / 0-)

    first the new deal appealed to everyone across the spectrum. the folks who were poor got a paycheck. the middle class saw improvement in their towns from the programs efforts and the businessman got money for selling goods food and supplies to the camps of the CCC. Bringing them back, and permanently would allow us to 'suck up' the people who have lost thier jobs or are otherwise unable to work.  now this is not a silver bullet, as the original new deal proved. it will taking spending on the level of what was spent in WW2.  in the multiple trillions, to fix this country, and get employment close to full. yes there will be inflation, but thats balances by millions of folks with increased buying power, that an increase in minimum wage would bring. the more people earning a paycheck, the less needed for unemployment and the more we can knock off the debt.

  •  Very Informative.Thank you. And for NYC politics (0+ / 0-)

    (years 1960-1975) I would recommend an excellent informative book:  

    The Cost of Good Intentions: New York City and the Liberal Experiment

    Morris presents a history of New York City government from 1960-1975, spanning the mayoral terms of Robert Wagner, John Lindsay, Abraham Beame, and (very briefly) Ed Koch. The book focuses most heavily on John Lindsay's tenure and the ever increasing spending and requisite reliance on short term financing that eventually led to financial collapse in 1975. Morris is critical of Lindsay's spending policies but he balances his criticism with a chapter of data from other cities to show that NYC was not unique among major cities in greatly expanding its budget for salaries, pensions, and social spending. Morris also credits Lindsay for greatly increasing the productivity and effectiveness of city government (during his final term) even if he never did get spending under control.

    * Move Sooner ~ Not Faster *

    by ArthurPoet on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 02:12:31 AM PST

  •  Funny (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, side pocket

    I came of age on the Southern Plains and to what maturity I possess on the west coast. Class of 1960, Texas A&M. Thank you for helping me understand from whence I came. Being there wasn't enough.

    I eagerly await more enlightenment.

  •  the New Deal coalition broke on civil rights (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon, TexasTwister, lotlizard

    Southern Democrats were populists: they welcomed the New Deal's federally funded infrastructure projects and agricultural assistance programs.  But while the New Deal supported small and large farmers with commodity price supports, rural electrification, free money for machinery, fertilizer, and pesticides, and so on, it also excluded (mostly black and brown) agricultural workers from direct assistance.  Whites got money - and money that helped them make more money - but blacks didn't.

    There was always identity and economic conflict between "been here since the Revolution" rural populists, immigrant-heavy urban blue collar populations, and the conventionally "leftist" intellectual elite, but when the national Democratic Party officially endorsed civil rights and threw the power of the federal government behind it, that was the last straw.  The Dixiecrats left for the Republican Party that had always been against federal power for the plutocrats' reasons, while union workers in the northern cities (most of whom had only recently won "whiteness" for themselves) were afraid of competition from empowered blacks, especially in the context of the Great Migration.  Thus the Democratic Party lost a good chunk of its traditional supporters.

    The problem is that having abandoned class politics for almost two generations - since we thought we'd "won" with the New Deal and the postwar boom - we're right back where we started a century ago with the rise of the labor movement.  And not only do we have to re-fight old battles, we have to do so in the context of a political environment that is now almost totally defined by identity politics - race, sex and gender, language, culture and history, religion, subculture and lifestyle, etc. - territory that the right has always dominated with "us/them" framing which the Left has itself embraced.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 10:36:47 AM PST

  •  Excellent, and don't forget to mention... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... future Supreme Court Justice (and then corporate lickspittle) Lewis Powell Jr., who in 1971 wrote Memo to Conservatives, a call the rich, rallying them to rise and throw off the shackles of the New Deal and retake their rightful aristocratic position within a New Gilded Age.

    Nine years later, the wealthy had their first big victory with the election of Ronald Reagan. Since then, unfortunately, almost all politicians, regardless of party, have embraced neoliberalism and its trickle-down race to the bottom.

  •  Intereesting analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The thing that seems to be missing is that the corporate assault on the Wagner Act was almost immediate.  In a prime example of past is prologue, the passage of the Wisconsin and Colorado Labor Peace Acts in 1939 (I believe) and 1943 marked the shift from national action to action at the state level to gut the major provisions of the Wagner Act.   Each of these pieces of legislation were also precursors to the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.  Most importantly, they were the test cases for a new push towards the "right to work" movement of the late 1940's and early 1950's which continues to plague organized labor today.  Both pieces of legislation were made possible by an electoral shift in the states that allowed Republicans to gain the legislative power necessary to put their plans into action.

    •  Taft-Hartley didn't come out of thin air. (0+ / 0-)

      There had always been corporate warfare against unions. The new deal had a fairly narrow window of opportunity. What made it possible to pass T-H on a national level was the shift of the southern bloc to an alliance with the Republicans. That of course is now the most militantly anti-union region of the country.

    •  A precocious li'l kid, I read the Reader's Digests (0+ / 0-)

      … my dad kept on top of the water closet in the bathroom.

      I was too young to realize that if something was in print, very often there were people behind that something with ulterior motives, somebody willing to go to a whole lot of trouble to get you to believe what they wanted you to believe. (Sorry about indulging in a bit of Buffy Speak here).

      Anyway, while in the bathroom I read a Reader's Digest article about the UAW vs. Kohler bathroom fixture strike — basically amounting to propaganda for so-called Right-to-Work laws.

      Being what is nowadays recognized as an Aspie, I ended up "playing back verbatim" what I had read to my dad, getting into an argument with him. (He was very pro-labor.)

      Only years later, when I was in college, did the question I should have asked occur to me: "Hey, Dad, you're a Democrat, so why do you even subscribe to a right-wing rag like the Reader's Digest?"

      (Answer: gift subscription from one of his sisters who converted from traditional Asian religion to Roman Catholicism and would later fall prey to right-wing hucksters.)

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 01:10:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bottom line: Reader's Digest was already promoting (0+ / 0-)

        … Right-to-Work laws to millions of Americans all through the 1950s, right alongside Norman Rockwell imagery of America and the Good Housekeeping seal.

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 01:18:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site