Business Cycles in the Progressive Era and New Deal
Chapter 1: Introduction: the moral economy versus the market economy
For over a century in the US opponents of the market economy have attacked it for the excessively immoral behaviour its stress on individualism has allegedly generated. In this book we shall be concerned with the anti-market ideas of the Progressive movement that emerged in the US in the first three decades of the twentieth century and culminated with the New Deal of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. The Progressive movement and the New Deal were composed of a diverse set of social interest groups, liberal and elitist and democratic or corporatist. The overarching ideology of the Progressive movement, the glue that held its diverse elements together, we shall argue in this book, was that its members aimed at replacing or at least supplementing the market economy with a moral economy of their own design. In that moral economy, government stewardship and planning became viewed as a necessary component of the economic system in order to ensure a better life for all. The Progressive movement arose in response to a number of economic and political forces that came to the fore in the US at the beginning of the twentieth century, such as the growth of large corporations and labour unions, the development of new technology and the increase in the intensity and pervasiveness of business cycles. Our focus will be on business cycles and how they evoked calls for the government to protect its citizens from the market economy that caused them.