The New America

by Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland
[Macmillan, $2.50]
SQUARE the distance from London to Constantinople, spread over the whole of the resulting area an industrial pall as black as that which has covered South Wales and Durham at their worst since the war, and you have the economic picture of the United States at midyear 1932 which Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland tries to.convey to his fellow Englishmen. The enumeration in an early chapter of the measures passed with a view to RRRR (Relief, Recovery, Reform, and Reconstruction) reminds one of Homer’s cataloguing of the ships. The description which follows is prefaced by two somewhat detailed chapters on the NIRA, which the author considers the spearhead of the attack, and he concludes with the rhetorical question: ‘Is it a success?’ The agricultural and unemployment situations, the financial policies, the money measures, and others with the same intent receive appropriate treatment, and then there is an appraisal, as one would expect.
The book as a whole raises a question which is far from rhetorical — the very realistic one of whether capitalism can stay at home and wallow itself white in the muddy waters of the Jordan, or whether it will eventually have to go over into Damascus and try out the reputedly cleaner streams of Abana and Pharpar. The author addresses Englishmen, but in so doing manages to tell Americans a good deal that they ought to know.
This crisis, the severest on record, differs from others in that the great open spaces of retreat, where fragments from former explosions might fall and lie innocuous, are gone; both now and in the future we ourselves will have to gather them up lest they encumber the ground permanently, A highly professionalized and continuous group of officials in the upper strata of the Civil Service would have been a godsend to the United States in the hour of disaster. We are a creditor nation with a debtor complex pulling in opposite directions at the same time.
Such is Sir Arthur’s pointed conclusion, and we might do worse than to give it heed.
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