The New Deal – Reflections on Italy, Germany, and the United States

Every generation has a choice – that of adopting the previous generation’s ways and customs, or to cast some or all of these away in forging a new path. Most choose the former, inheriting the structural inertia of generations past, while occasionally, a people decide the time is right to try something new. In the aftermath of WWI and the subsequent poverty, hyperinflation, or eventual depression ultimately experienced in the 1930s, Italy, Germany, and the United States each broke from prior traditions of free market liberal democracy to that of a more authoritarian, centralized command economy that, to varying degrees of success on the verge of WWII, had brought each of the nations out of the depths of the Great Depression. Today we examine these three New Deals.

— Timeline —

-1922- Benito Mussolini leads 30,000 Fascist blackshirts on the March on Rome, after which he is appointed Prime Minister by King Victor Emmanuel III
-1925- Italy begins the ‘Battle of the Grain’
-1926- Italy begins the ‘Battle of the Lira’
-1928- Italy begins the ‘Battle of the Land’, which by 1933 successfully drains and reclaims the Pontine marshes, which had lain fallow for over 2,000 years
-1928- Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected governor of New York
-1929-39- Italian economy grows by 16%
-1932- although relatively unaffected by the Great Depression, Italian unemployment rises to 1.2 million (about 3%)
-1933- The Industrial Reconstruction Institute (IRI) formed, giving Italy the largest state-owned industrial sector in Europe (excluding the USSR)
-1933- FDR inaugurated, begins ‘First 100 Days’ of intensive legislative activity
-1933- Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) begins paying American farmers to destroy produce and livestock
-1933- Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) employs young American men to perform unskilled work in rural areas
-1933- Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) begins modernization of poor river valley and construction of hydroelectric dams
-1933- Adolf Hitler appointed chancellor of Germany
-1933- NSDAP share of the vote reaches 43.9%, making it the largest party in Germany
-1933- construction begins on the Reichsautobahn, finishing roughly 2,500 miles of expressway in Germany by 1941
-1933-1936- German employment in construction rises from 666,000 to over 2,000,000
-1934- German Charter of Labour passed, banning worker strikes
-1934- The United States passes the Communication Act, restricting radio licenses to 6 months, prompting a German PhD student to remark: “State control is a reality in America today”
-1935- National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) / Wagner Act sets up National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to supervise American labor-management relations
-1935- Work Progress Administration (WPA) provides work for several million in construction work, completing over 651,000 miles of roads, 125,000 buildings, and 8,000 parks by 1942
-1935- Italy invades Ethiopia, League of Nations roundly condemns it
-1936- military spending in Germany rose to 10% of GNP, in violation of the Versailles Treaty
-1936- Italy and Germany jointly aid Franco’s Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War
-1937-38- The United States experiences a recession, bringing unemployment from 14.3% to 19%
-1939- German arms production accounts for 60% of government spending
-1939- Germany invades Poland, France and Britain declare war on Germany, beginning World War II
-1940- FDR institutes the first peacetime draft in the United States, unemployment drops to under 10%

— references —

– The Doctrine of Fascism, Mussolini (1932)
– The New Dealers’ War, Fleming (2002)
– Depression, War, and Cold War, Higgs (2006)
– Three New Deals, Schivelbusch (2006)
– New Deal –
– The Great Depression –
– The Great Depression 3 – New Deal, New York –
– Inside the Third Reich, Myth of the 20th Century –
– Germany: The Rise of Adolf Hitler, Delong –
– Great Depression Statistics,
– Federal Net Outlays as Percent of Gross Domestic Product, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis,


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