The New Deal was tentative, cautious, bold enough to shake the pillars of the system but not to replace them. It created many jobs but left 9 million unemployed. It built public housing but not nearly enough. It helped large commercial farmers but not tenant farmers. Excluded from its programs were the poorest of the poor, especially blacks. As farm laborers, migrants or domestic workers, they didn't qualify for unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, Social Security or farm subsidies. Still, in today's climate of endless war and uncontrolled greed, drawing upon the heritage of the 1930s would be a huge step forward.Whether you agree with Zinn's prescription, I think his characterization of politics in general is spot on. The right-wing noise machine can't admit it, and the milquetoast Clintons and Obamas can't either, but on economic issues, today's much-vilified "liberals" would have been right-wingers in the 1930s and 1940s.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Radical historian Howard Zinn in the Nation: