Chapter

Roosevelt's America: The Flickering Beacon

David Ellwood

in The Shock of America

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780198228790
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741739 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198228790.003.0007

Series: Oxford History of Modern Europe

Roosevelt's America: The Flickering Beacon

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Increasingly Roosevelt's 1930s America looked like European capitalism's last best hope. But what were the true lessons of its successes and obvious failures? ‘Middle’ opinion in Britain — personified by Keynes — took them seriously; the French Popular Front attempted to embrace them in lieu of the socialist revolution; everywhere the personal charisma and unbeatable optimism of the President served as an inspiration even as democractic politicians despaired that he would ever rescue them from the threat of war. But America was changing; an internationalist élite was girding itself to embrace the rendez-vous with history it saw in the Old World's collapse, developing its economic-determinist analysis of the roots of Europe's troubles, and presenting its view of a technologically driven, consumerist future with enormous panache at the New York World's Fair of 1939–40. But of all America's institutions, only Hollywood and the great foundations embraced the cause of European democracy openly, with the result that they became a mecca for the hundreds of intellectual and artistic exiles who fled to the US as war came.

Keywords: Roosevelt; New Deal; middle way; Keynes; Popular Front; intellectual exiles; New York World's Fair; isolationism

Chapter.  16764 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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