The Roosevelt Experiment

"The Roosevelt experiment, in a word, is a systematic effort to put capitalism into leading strings of principle. It is to be the servant, and not the master, of the American people."

Russia apart, no modern state has undertaken an experiment which even approaches in magnitude or significance the adventure upon which President Roosevelt has embarked. There have been attempts to regulate the hours and wages of particular persons in particular industries. There have been important schemes of social legislation, like the British system of unemployment insurance. War-time necessity has induced the limitation of profit for a special period, and certain vital industries have sometimes, either permanently or for a period, come under the direct ownership and control of a public authority. There has even, as in the Germany of the post-war epoch, been a partnership, though indirect, between industry and the state.

But President Roosevelt is the first statesman in a great capitalist society who has sought deliberately and systematically to use the power of the state to subordinate the primary assumptions of that society to certain vital social purposes. He is the first statesman deliberately to experiment on a wholesale scale with the limitation of the profit-making motive. He is the first statesman, again in a wholesale way, to attack not the secondary but the primary manifestations of the doctrine of laissez faire. He is the first statesman who, of his own volition, and without coercion, either direct or indirect, has placed in the hands of organized labor a weapon which, if it be used successfully, is bound to result in a vital readjustment of the relative bargaining power of Capital and Labor. He is also the first statesman who, the taxing power apart, has sought to use the political authority of the state to compel, over the whole area of economic effort, a significant readjustment of the national income.

No unbiased spectator of the adventure involved can withhold his admiration for the courage such an effort has implied. Success or failure, it bears upon its face the hallmarks of great leadership. Improvised in haste, devised under the grim pressure of crisis, imposed, as no doubt it has been imposed, in an atmosphere of panic and bewilderment, it stands out in remarkable, even significant, contrast to the economic policy of any other capitalist government in the world. Compared, for example, with the unimaginative activity of the British Government, -which rode to power on a wave of kindred enthusiasm,—it is an exhilarating spectacle. Great Britain has simply sought to lend the aid of government to the ancient technique of capitalist enterprise; it has had no sense that what is in question is the very foundations of that system. President Roosevelt has, in effect, challenged American capitalism to cooperate with him in transforming itself into a social experiment. And in doing so he has displayed, granted the conditions he confronts, a creative audacity, a sense of psychological essentials, an eye for the pivotal matters involved, which deserve well of the commonwealth he seeks to serve. Russia again apart, there has been no adventure of comparable range or intensity in modern times.


But it is one thing to plan boldly; it is another, and a very different thing, to plan successfully. Before we can judge the effort upon which Mr. Roosevelt is engaged, it is necessary to know what the implications of his adventure actually are, and the relation of these to the total social situation in which he finds himself involved. For it is dangerous to experiment with the foundations of a society unless the experiment be built upon doctrinal assumptions the conclusions of which follow with irresistible logic from the premises it is legitimate to use.

Mr. Roosevelt is not, as it were, merely in the position of an engineer who is erecting bulwarks against a temporary and unexpected flood. His experiment, no doubt, happens to coincide with the onset of economic disaster; but he is driven, by its profundity, not only to dissipate its effects, but also to lay the foundations of a new social order from which, so far as human prescience can avail, such disasters have been banished. What, therefore, is important in the estimate of his effort is not merely the objectives he has set before himself, but the spirit and temper of the setting those objectives encounter. He is attempting a revolution by consent; and it is the latter term in his equation that is fundamental to the formation of a judgment.

For the actual objectives themselves are not matters a reasonable observer can seriously dispute. The America he took over in March of 1933 was in a highly dangerous condition. It was not merely that there were some fourteen millions of unemployed, largely dependent upon a casual charity which was breaking down. It was not merely that, among the employed themselves, short time was dangerously widespread. It was not merely, either, that wages had been reduced during the depression in a fashion rivaled only by the desperate experiments of Dr. Bruening in Germany. It was not merely, again, that the whole banking structure of the United States was cracking and that, with the largest gold reserve in the history of the world, the foundations of her currency system were completely insecure. Even more urgent were two other facts.

The American people, dazed by the width and intensity of the crisis, had lost confidence in the bona fides of the system under which they lived. Its principles seemed to them dubious, and they were prepared for a challenge to its values. The remedies, moreover, which the President had to apply needed application in an era of profound technological revolution, on the one hand, and insane economic nationalism on the other. At a time, that is, when the popular test of Mr. Roosevelt’s policies would necessarily be his success in absorbing the unemployed into work, scientific discovery and organization had made possible increasing production with an ever decreasing working force, while each nation-state, confronted as it was with kindred problems of its own, was seeking by tariffs and quotas, embargoes and currency restrictions, to impede the recovery of international trade.

He was, moreover, at work in an epoch of grave political crisis. The failure of disarmament, the menace of Japanese imperialism, the arrival of Herr Hitler in power, continuous disturbance in South America, and a Southeastern Europe given over to bitter repression-all these made for an insecurity which endangered the psychological conditions of economic advance. He had to fight for the growth of American markets abroad in an atmosphere unfavorable to the very notion of commerce. He was battling for the confidence which precedes revival when the League of Nations was being struck blow after blow, and the prospect of Europe seemed more akin to that of the years immediately preceding the war than at any time since the Armistice of 1918. In Europe and the Far East, in fact, force and unreason dominated the minds of men. Traditional values were in the melting pot; and, as in all epochs where basic changes are under discussion, panic and doubt and even persecution prevented any calm estimation of the effort Mr. Roosevelt had undertaken.


Men have spoken easily of his radicalism. Yet, so far as his politics have revealed themselves, what will strike the observer is less their radicalism, currency apart, than the sober conservatism upon which they have been built.

The Securities Act has aroused passionate indignation. Yet the sober critic who analyzes its clauses with detachment will take a very different view. He will point out that it is built upon the solid experience, now extending over a generation, of British company law; that it meets the conditions first revealed by Mr. Justice Brandeis over twenty years ago; that there is no technique within its interstices not amply justified by the Senate revelations of corporation practice in recent years. The striking thing about the Securities Act is not its practically unanimous passage. The striking thing is that the United States should have had to wait until 1933 before legislative sanction was given to the most elementary precautions required by the investor under modern conditions. No serious student of the Securities Act but will be tempted to conclude that it could only be opposed by men who have something to conceal; and if he looks through the pages of the testimony before the Senate he will amply understand the indignation of opponents. It is the prohibition of obvious malpractice which always awakens the loudest clamor from its exponents.

Nor can the National Recovery Act be held to involve any striking innovations. Stripped of its resounding terminology, it merely gives effect to ideas which have been the commonplace of economic discussion these thirty years. The abolition of child labor puts an end to what has been too long an indefensible stain upon American social conditions; it terminates a form of slavery for which no defense in principle is possible. The codes—none of which is radical in essence—merely give national status to the regulation of hours and wages which, even in America, have been the object of successful experiment ever since the famous Oregon Statute of 1903 and the Adamson Law of 1917; their substance has been consecrated piecemeal not merely by so eminently conservative a body as the Supreme Court,—by which it may be taken as proved that they represent the accepted mental climate of social wellbeing,—but by the preponderant opinion of economists all over the world. In principle, they are nothing more than the British system of trade boards against sweating in industry; and the wonder is that men can still be found to inspect their well-tried habits in a mood of panic.

More important, of course, are the clauses which open the door to trade union recognition. Here one need dot doubt that the prospect emerges of a wide invasion of traditional industrial practice. American trade-unionism has neither the stability nor the profundity of its British analogue. The persistence of that individualism which still lingers on from the habits of a frontier psychology has hardly domesticated it as a normal part of American life. Yet the foreigner who remembers the conditions in the coal fields of Illinois, or the steel mills of Pittsburgh, or who realizes the social gain in human welfare which has resulted from the work of Sidney Hillman in the garment trades, will have no difficulty in understanding why Mr. Justice Holmes could insist, in Coppage v. Kansas, that liberty of contract only begins where equality of bargaining power begins; his wonder, as with the Securities Act, will rather be that giant organization of American industry has not long ago resulted in an American trade-unionism more equal in intensity to the masses which require its protection. More than that; he will not find it easy to understand how industrialists like Mr. Ford can still delude themselves with the belief, that rational economic relations can develop in a society like America if the individual contract is to be the basis upon which its structure is to be founded.

Nor is the situation different when one turns to other aspects of the field. A national policy of public works is not, it is true, one of those principles of economic policy upon which expert opinion is finally agreed; but it may be said without undue exaggeration that the consensus of expert opinion is definitely on the side of wise spending. In this aspect, the battle is transferred from the plane of principle to that of its wise application; and the subject matter of dispute then becomes less an embarkation upon this policy than a question as to whether Mr. Ickes and his colleagues can discover undeniable objects of beneficent expenditure.

So, too, in the field of credits and relief to those staggering under the burden of mortgage. Of the first it may be briefly said that it differs only from well-proved experiments in the past by reason of the extent of the commitments undertaken; it will appear commonplace and uninteresting if America emerges successfully from the present crisis. And of the second it may be said with emphasis that a government which, in a period of rigorous deflation, failed to assist its primary producers with legislation intended to secure relief from the pressure of mortgages would have invited the onset of a revolutionary temper. Only the mystic can tell whether order is heaven’s first law; but certainly the preservation of its elementary conditions is the obvious duty of a government which is concerned for the preservation of the peace.

Mr. Roosevelt’s currency experiments stand upon a different footing. His strategy here has been too inconstant for any distant observer to discern with clarity an abiding purpose there. He seems to have been for and against stabilization. He seems to share the growing disposition to doubt the final validity of the gold standard. There have been moments when his effort seemed directed to a fluctuating foreign, and a stable domestic, level of prices. At one time he seemed the temporary advocate of Professor Irving Fisher’s compensated dollar. And it may be said without unfairness that the President’s explanations of his own course have served rather to darken counsel than to enlighten us. The influences about him in this realm have been so disparate in character and so temporary in authority that the critics are entitled to complain that they have no clear view of where the President is going and that uncertainties in currency are a dangerous hindrance to the revival of trade.

It is obvious enough that Mr. Roosevelt is here feeling his way to a policy which has assumed no final shape in his mind; and it is equally obvious that until he knows what he does want there is no prospect of any serious revival in trade, and, granted the latest measures, some prospect at least that he may wreck the currencies still existing with some pretensions to stability. In this aspect, at least, Mr. Roosevelt is running a race against time, failure in which will quite certainly mean widespread economic disaster.


So regarded, the purposes which underlie the Roosevelt experiment constitute a perfectly intelligible whole. They are not entirely born, and it is important to realize that they have not been entirely born, from the disasters of the last four years, though these, no doubt, have lent them their emotional intensity. They go back, as purposes, to the Progressive movement of the first years of this century; and, seen in proper perspective, they are simply a development of that revolt and of the Wilsonian legislation (notably of the Federal Reserve Act) which represents its earlier culmination. They represent a profound wave of half-articulate protest against the character of contemporary American capitalism. They represent the profound sense that what were proclaimed as its excrescences had in fact become parts of its essential nature. They express the realization that the centralization of financial power in Wall Street had become incompatible with the public well-being, especially when Wall Street had shown itself so incapable of distinguishing between that well-being and its private interests as the Senate revelations had made obvious. They express the demand, first, that American industry and finance shall operate only under a code of behavior which makes public well-being a major factor in the policies they pursue, and, second, that the government of the United States shall, as the agent of the citizens, be powerful enough to enforce the observance of that code upon all to whom it applies.

The Roosevelt experiment, in a word, is a systematic effort to put capitalism into leading strings of principle. It is to be the servant, and not the master, of the American people. For any other relationship is held, on experience, to be incompatible with ordered social progress.

There is nothing revolutionary or even novel in all this; it is worth remembering that de Tocqueville, nearly a century ago, warned America how dangerous was its alternative. It is inevitable, sooner or later, in any society built upon universal suffrage that the people should use its political power to mitigate the consequences of unrestricted capitalism; and severe disaster, like that which has characterized the last four years, only stimulates that temper more intensely. For it cannot be too often insisted, as Mr. Keynes has so often emphasized, that capitalism, by the law of its psychological being, needs to be immensely more successful than any alternative economic arrangement if it is to retain the allegiance of a multitude which possesses political power. The disparities of its results are too irrational for any alternative attitude to be possible over any long space of time. And the changed temper was made the more inevitable by the crude optimism of its defenders in the era of Coolidge and Hoover. They had raised the expectations of the multitude to such dizzy heights that their failure to satisfy them was bound to result in a scrutiny of foundations.

We must not forget that the election of 1932 was the expression of nothing so much as a demand for this scrutiny by angry and bewildered men who had entered the Promised Land only to discover that it was a desert. In dealing with their discontent, President Roosevelt has shown high qualities of enterprise and courage; but those who doubt the wisdom of his effort ought to remember that unless he had shown those qualities the patience of the multitude would have been brought to breaking point. He is not a revolutionist pursuing some private Utopia by the light of an inner wisdom. He is the logical expression of social forces and could hardly have acted otherwise if he wished to retain the characteristic contours of American life.

The remarkable thing about his innovations is not their size, but the immediacy of their relation to the traditional liberalism of America. It is the vigor with which they have been uttered, the coherence which has, as a problem in time, projected them upon a single plane, which have led men to signalize them as the herald of a new day. Yet, even if they wholly succeed, no radical would be tempted to regard them as anything more than a necessary historic phase in the slow evolution of American capitalism. They spring, at every turn, from the obvious experience of events.


What is likely to be their fate? In the first days of office Mr. Roosevelt had behind him a united opinion such as America appears hardly to have known. Opposition seemed less silent than dead. The activity at Washington was so intense that men seemed clearly to feel that they had entered a new epoch of American history. The American people had come into its own. The unemployed were to be halved in numbers by the autumn. The price level was to be raised to that of 1926; the primary producer was to be safeguarded; the wage earner was to have a new standard of life under conditions more equitably related to the new economic possibilities. The verve and spirit of the adventure seemed, at the outset, powerful enough to breast all obstacles it might encounter.

Nor has the opposition, even nine months after the adventure was begun, ventured into the open. It has preferred to proceed by indirection rather than by frontal attack. It does not cooperate; it mutters its doubts; it hints at the hesitation of the ‘sound’ men before the possibilities of a cataclysm. Mr. Roosevelt is headed for inflation; he is pledging government credit dangerously; he is spending in a reckless fashion for which there is no justification. The Securities Act is a discouragement to the legitimate activities of the Stock Exchange. The National Recovery Act is a Bolshevik interference with the rights of property, an ‘un-American’ attack upon a tried and tested individualist system. Wall Street is confident that traditional America is being handed over to wild professors with no regard for the practical limits to government action. It suffers from an ‘emotional paralysis’ when it sees its accepted canons disregarded. It floats no new issues; it resents the attacks upon its leading men. Among the great figures of American business there has been something which can only be called a psychological sabotage. They are asked to enter a new world the principles of which seem to them a clear contradiction of their historic experience of economic function. They cannot believe in the success of the adventure. They await, a little anxiously its failure.

A ‘sound’ policy they would be prepared to support. Revival depends, they argue, on business men being assured of the ability to sell at a profit. Of this the conditions are well known. There must be drastic deflation; there must be reduced governmental expenditures so that lower taxation may encourage enterprise; wages must be cut to suit the new low level of prices; subsidies to industry, as with the tragic tenderness of Mr. Roosevelt for the farmer, must be abandoned; business must be left to deal with its employees in its own way; and there must be an assurance, as near absolute as may be, of a sound dollar. When these things come, the present uncertainties will disappear; men will recognize the familiar landmarks of approaching prosperity. Given their advent, Mr. Roosevelt may look to the business community for all the cooperation necessary to tide over the crisis.

It is familiar doctrine. It is the gospel of Coolidge and Hoover. It is also the gospel which produced the disaster out of which Mr. Roosevelt emerged as President. If his election meant anything at all, it was a repudiation of that gospel by the common people of America. Had he embraced it, with the terrible social losses its application involves, it is difficult to see how America could have passed through the last nine months without a major drift toward a revolutionary condition. He has retained the confidence of the people in the existing order because they really believed him when he said that they were to be given a ‘new deal.’ By that faith only was he able to preserve peace. Had he trodden the traditional path, he would have produced, by the costs involved, a state of rebellion among innumerable citizens who normally ask nothing better than to remain enfolded in their private lives.

He has convinced these men of his good faith. But he has not convinced the business community. They doubt his principles; they resent profoundly the intense effort he has made to compel them to abdicate from an authority which has not hitherto been seriously challenged in American history. And it is just here, it may be argued, that the crux of the Roosevelt experiment lies. Business men and financiers will not seriously be won to Mr. Roosevelt’s programme until its success is proved by the return of prosperity; and prosperity is unlikely to return unless he can win the support of the financiers and business men. This is the dilemma the administration confronts; and only as it is to be met can we measure the implications of the time.


The situation, says Mr. Lippmann, who has an exceptional access to the mind of Wall Street, demands ‘a loyal determination to attain the objects of the reforms, sincere resolution to maintain the new standards of financial practice.’ But the object of the reforms is no less a thing than to destroy the unlimited power of American capitalism to shape the contours of American life. It is to end the unbridled individualism of Mr. Ford; it is to break in pieces the industrial feudalism of the barons of coal and steel. To ‘maintain the new standards of financial practice’ is to ask the banker and the broker not merely to remake habits which, by their present sabotage, they clearly regard as legitimate; it is also to ask them to subordinate themselves to new purposes which they seem to consider incompatible with that profit-making motive which is the law of their being. What are the prospects of so formidable a demand?

Let us put this in another way. The men to whom Mr. Roosevelt is appealing have no serious doubts of the existing order. They made it and control it; they look upon their handiwork and declare it to be in general substance good. Mr. Roosevelt, in effect, asks them to abdicate from their control. He seeks to socialize the profit making motive by making its operation subordinate to a body of ethical principles from which their practice has been wholly alien. They have no conviction that these principles are wise and good. They realize that their supremacy is threatened. They feel that it is challenged not merely by men of whose expertness they are unconvinced, but for ends which have never been tried. They deeply resent the speed with which they are called upon to adjust themselves to a new mental climate. They have not only the fear which comes from experience of an insecure world; they have also the indignation which accompanies any challenge which is, as explicitly as this, a denial of their title to supremacy. To be the servants of the government instead of its masters, to live by principle instead of making it, these seem to them something like a denial of the law of their being. And when all this is added to a general skepticism of all the ends Mr. Roosevelt is seeking to serve, not less than doubt of the means by which he is seeking to attain them, it is easy to understand why the ‘loyal determination’ of which Mr. Lippmann speaks is a far harder thing to accomplish than he seems to imagine.

How hard it is there is endless evidence to prove. It is not merely shown in individual acts of resistance like that of Mr. Ford, or in the grim conflicts which have been waged against the miners who seek to take advantage of the code and assert their right to trade-unions. It is shown not merely when the mayor of a steel town can deny a cabinet minister the right of freedom of speech. It is shown not only in such episodes as Mr. Wiggin’s pension; if the Bourbon monarchs learned nothing from their exile, Mr. Wiggin seemed to have learned nothing from the Senate investigation. It is shown, above all, in what a great financial journal terms the ‘emotional paralysis’ of Wall Street—perhaps the happiest euphemism for sabotage in the history of the language. For when the success or failure of Mr. Roosevelt’s effort turns upon the reopening of the capital markets, those who refuse the risk of attempting their reopening are, in fact, securing the certainty of its failure. For if the market remains closed, Mr. Roosevelt has no alternative but inflation; and he is then confronted by two roads either of which leads inevitably to confusion and disaster.

To the outsider, therefore, it appears not unreasonable to argue that the absence of the ‘loyal’ cooperation which Mr. Lippmann so earnestly desires is not so very difficult to explain. Men who reject a new faith—for the ‘New Deal’ is a new faith—do not enter into communion with its votaries by persuasion. Historically, it has never been the habit of a class voluntarily to abdicate from power. That has always been accomplished, as in 1789 in France, or in 1917 in Russia, by violence; or, as in England in 1832, by the threat of violence the success of which was overwhelmingly probable.

The old industrial feudalism does not believe that its day is dead. It recognizes, a little sadly, the emotional success of the new religion; but it calculates, not without reason, that the new religion, to secure objective establishment, must prove itself by the miracles it can perform. It realizes that it has the key to miracles in its own hands; and it sees no reason why it should surrender the key. It has seen new faiths before—Bryan in 1896, Roosevelt in 1912. In the end they have always been defeated; and industrial feudalism has returned -as it conceives, unimpaired in strength—to the enjoyment of its empire.

It is a calculation far from devoid of substance. To maintain his hold of the popular mind Mr. Roosevelt must have a rapid success. He cannot keep Congress in a mood of subservience through 1934; and there is then a new election with all the hope a new election implies. The Supreme Court may not share the exaltation of his mood; a blow from the Supreme Court would seem a vital vindication of Congressional skepticism. Foreign opinion is largely hostile or suspicious, at least in the right circles; and, properly reported in the United States, it may create those winds of doctrine from which the old, solid Republicanism may arise purified and refreshed.

The constant flux of advisory influences at Washington is suggestive of at least the possibility that Mr. Roosevelt himself is devoid of certainty; and a high priest who doubts his own creed does not permanently convince his followers. When to these prospects is added the natural resentment of the financiers at their exclusion from a White House which, save for the intervals of Cleveland and Wilson, they have been accustomed at least since the Civil War to think of as an annex to Wall Street, it does not become difficult to understand the psychological considerations which tempt big business to assume that time is on its side.

‘It is for Wall Street to decide,’ writes Mr. Lippmann, ‘whether in principle it will accept the "New Deal" or resist it.’ Those are significant words. They assume a right in Wall Street to decide whether to wreck an experiment in which public opinion is whole-heartedly on the side of the President; on which, also, the whole future of the United States decidedly depends. Even a relatively detached observer like Mr. Lippmann can assume without discussion that Wall Street has a choice; he does not think it necessary to discuss whether Wall Street is not also under an obligation to accept the emphatic will of the American people. If that discussion does not appear necessary to Mr. Lippmann, it is reasonable to assume that it does not appear necessary in Wall Street. Once that can be said, it may be argued with conviction that Wall Street will not lightly cooperate in the surrender of its kingdom.


So, as it seems, the issue is joined. The adventure upon which Mr. Roosevelt embarked last March is not a new one in history; it was only the drama of its immediate and critical environment which gave it special emphasis and color. He sought, with a passionate suddenness, to do, as it were overnight, something akin to what the Liberal Government in England had sought to do after 1906. Like it, he had swept the country by an appeal to social justice. Like it, he seeks to discover the terms of a new social equation in which a crude and irrational economic process may be transformed into one which serves an acceptable social purpose. The aims of the Liberal Government foundered upon the antagonism of the possessing class; the latter, which refused terms to socialized liberalism, had, after the war, to confront a militant socialism impatient with their philosophy and its claims. Refusing the medicine of reform, they drifted into the position where they confronted, as its alternative, the surgery of revolution. And that is the alternative of universal history.

Is American experience to be different? Mr. Roosevelt, no doubt, has certain advantages on his side which were lacking to his English predecessors. He deals with a society far more experimental in character, far easier to shake out of its habitual ways. He has still a volume of popular support which no comparable foreign government has enjoyed. He still has the will and the courage to govern—assets which the Liberal Government of Great Britain lost far more easily than he is likely to do. He is dealing with a crisis; and a people in a crisis always responds to measures which have an imaginative sweep about them. He deals with a people ever more insistently aware that his failure is their own; more likely, accordingly, to realize the need on their part for patience in difficulty and ardor in support. He is attacking, further, a body of opponents whose own dismal failure to justify their leadership is made painfully more evident by every careful analysis of their past. He is appealing from irrationalism to principle, with the clear knowledge that, if he fails, irrationalism will again resume its empire over men’s lives.

More than that, there is also the knowledge that, if he does fail, forces march to the conflict between whom decision is no longer possible in terms of peace. The failure of Mr. Roosevelt means the end of political democracy in America, for the simple reason that it will prove itself thereby incapable of adapting to its purposes the institutions of its economic life.

These are important advantages which we gain nothing by minimizing; yet they do not provide a basis for optimism. There is too little evidence in the American scene to suggest in the predominant economic forces any anxiety to cooperate in their radical adaptation. Wall Street may fairly be likened to the British House of Lords; and of the latter it was said acutely by Lord Rosebery that it would pass only in a storm. It is important that there is absent from America a trained and neutral civil service; this makes Mr. Roosevelt’s administrative problem one of grave magnitude. It is important, also, that the separation of powers surrounds the executive control of Congress with the constant hazard of uncertainty; to control it, he must be successful, and he lacks the assurance of success. Nor is the prospect of conflict with the Supreme Court a negligible factor; psychologically not uneager to wound, a decay in the resolution of public opinion might easily endow it with the courage to strike.

Behind all is the terrible factor of time, the need for rapid accomplishment, the danger that delay in success may split the forces upon whose unity the President depends for victory. And it is a factor of importance that he deals with a world situation in which, both economically and politically, reason seems to have lost its hold over men’s minds and hearts.

What Mr. Roosevelt is doing is, in a general way, what any President must have sought to do who had achieved power on his terms; though it must be added that, in the conditions of presidential nomination, few would have sought to do it either with his courage or with his persistence. What he is doing is to find those intermediate terms between traditional America and that new American society the ultimate emergence of which is written in the inescapable facts of her economic and social life. He is seeking that commonwealth which those facts alone make rational—a commonwealth the values of which men feel able to accept as just because they are rational. If he fails, b the end, other men will take up his work, though it will be by very different methods that they will achieve his purpose. But if he succeeds, he will write a new page in the history of the world. For, having saved America by his energy, he will, as one trusts, save Europe by his supreme example.

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