The New Deal is plainly an attempt to achieve a working socialism and avert a social collapse in America; it is extraordinarily parallel to the successive ‘policies’ and ‘Plans’ of the Russian experiment. Americans shirk the word ‘socialism’, but what else can one call it? H. G. Wells


Dark days in America's 1930's depression. Men this side of the sign are assured of a five-cent meal - the rest must wait for generous passersby

Dark days in America’s 1930’s depression. Men this side of the sign are assured of a five-cent meal – the rest must wait for generous passersby

There are what are called creation myths. Most of these emanate from so-called primitive societies and contain their explanation of how the world came into creation. As all mythology has certain things in common it stands to reason the political mythology should also have its creation myth and one of the greatest of these is that FDR’s New Deal not only alleviated and them ended the depression but that it also gave us a sound financial basis on which to continue. If Roth’s book is not a gospel of this myth it is certainly at least an epistle.

A shanty built of refuse near the Sunnyside slack pile, Herrin, Illinois Many residences in southern Illinois coal towns were built with money borrowed from building and loan associations. During the depression building and loan associations almost all went into receivership. Their mortgages were sold for whatever they would bring, and the purchasers demolished houses by the hundreds in order to salvage the scrap lumber. The result is a serious overcrowding and high rents in all the coal towns. A number of people can find no houses to rent, and are living in tents and shanties on the fringes of the town

A shanty built of refuse near the Sunnyside slack pile, Herrin, Illinois Many residences in southern Illinois coal towns were built with money borrowed from building and loan associations. During the depression building and loan associations almost all went into receivership. Their mortgages were sold for whatever they would bring, and the purchasers demolished houses by the hundreds in order to salvage the scrap lumber. The result is a serious overcrowding and high rents in all the coal towns. A number of people can find no houses to rent, and are living in tents and shanties on the fringes of the town

As for the ongoing myth, perpetuated by the government with the aid of ignorance, that our recent financial troubles have been on par with the depression we have included pictures with this post – many of them taken by government photographers throughout the 1930’s – showing the conditions during the New Deal. The actual depression was only ended by of revitalized industry – preparing for and executing WWII – and our postwar prosperity was due in large part to the continuation of a military industrial basis. From the New Deal through the Great Society through the current day real economic freedom – including the freedom to fail as well as the freedom to succeed – has never been tried and the net result is the hybrid economy that we have of capitalized socialism that – like Mr. Battocks – is neither the one thing nor the other.

Abandoned stores and movie house. Zeigler, Illinois

Abandoned stores and movie house. Zeigler, Illinois

The Great Depression : a diary  Benjamin Roth ; edited by James Ledbetter and Daniel B. Roth  New York : PublicAffairs, c 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxiv, 256 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

"No man in the United States had the trouble I had since 1931. No man. Don't talk to me. I'm deaf. I lost my farm in 1931. I went to work in an acid factory. I got acid spilt on me; burnt my nose and made me blind. Then I get those awful headaches. I've been to lots of doctors, but that doesn't help me. They come on at sundown. No man in the United States had the trouble I had since 1931." (This last repeated many times through his talking.) "No man. It must be getting on to 6 o'clock now. My head's beginning to pain."

“No man in the United States had the trouble I had since 1931. No man. Don’t talk to me. I’m deaf. I lost my farm in 1931. I went to work in an acid factory. I got acid spilt on me; burnt my nose and made me blind. Then I get those awful headaches. I’ve been to lots of doctors, but that doesn’t help me. They come on at sundown. No man in the United States had the trouble I had since 1931.” (This last repeated many times through his talking.) “No man. It must be getting on to 6 o’clock now. My head’s beginning to pain.”

Benjamin Roth was born in New York City in 1894 and moved shortly thereafter to Youngstown, Ohio. He received a law degree and moved back to Youngstown after serving as an Army officer during World War I. When the stock market crashed in 1929, he had been practicing law for approximately ten years, largely representing local businesses. After nearly two years, he began to grasp the magnitude of what had happened to American economic life, and he began writing down his impressions in a diary that he maintained intermittently until he died.

Roadside camp near Bakersfield, California. "Come to California." The wordly posessions of refugees from Texas dust, drought and depression

Roadside camp near Bakersfield, California. “Come to California.” The wordly posessions of refugees from Texas dust, drought and depression

Roth struggles both to understand and to educate himself about what was going on around him. He is skeptical of big government, yet ultimately won over by FDR’s New Deal. This collection of his diary entries reveals another side of the Great Depression — one lived through by ordinary, middle-class folks, who on a daily basis grappled with a swiftly changing economy coupled with anxiety about the unknown future.

Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway. Depression refugees from Iowa. Left Iowa in 1932 because of father's ill health. Father an auto mechanic laborer, painter by trade, tubercular. Family has been on relief in Arizona but refused entry on relief roles in Iowa to which state they wish to return. Nine children including a sick four-month-old baby. No money at all. About to sell their belongings and trailer for money to buy food. "We don't want to go where we'll be a nuisance to anybody"

Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway. Depression refugees from Iowa. Left Iowa in 1932 because of father’s ill health. Father an auto mechanic laborer, painter by trade, tubercular. Family has been on relief in Arizona but refused entry on relief roles in Iowa to which state they wish to return. Nine children including a sick four-month-old baby. No money at all. About to sell their belongings and trailer for money to buy food. “We don’t want to go where we’ll be a nuisance to anybody”

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