As we saw in the previous posting on this subject, serious efforts had been made to try and deal with the rapid spread of socialism and moral relativism in both Church and State, but very little had been effective. It seems that when dealing with the worldly, St. Paul was right about being as sly as serpents — albeit still honest and truthful — for adherents of the new things have never let truth or even common civility stand in their way.
Admittedly, proponents of the Great Reset and similar proposals haven’t (yet) stooped to personal attacks, although it hasn’t really been necessary, as virtually all of those who protest against it tend to be either a trifle tinged with hysteria, or want to return to the old ways that caused the problem in the first place . . . old ways like the New Deal and the Great Society. . .
This is more than a little ironic, for the Great Reset and similar proposals have been compared to the New Deal and promoted as an expansion of the program. Are the New Deal and the global economy based on its principles, however, consistent with the demands of human dignity, that is, with the natural law and the requirement that every person have access to the opportunity and means to participate in the common good to the fullest extent possible?
|SQUARE Deal, not NEW Deal|
Some authorities trace the origins of the New Deal (Elliot A. Rosen, “Roosevelt and the Brains Trust: An Historiographical Overview,” Political Science Quarterly 87, No. 4 (1972), 531-557), not to Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal (See Theodore Roosevelt, Social Justice and Popular Rule: Essays, Addresses, and Public Statements Relating to the Progressive Movement (1910-1916). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926) — although President Franklin Delano Roosevelt clearly wanted people to draw that conclusion — but to the proposals of Jacob Sechler Coxey, whom we’ve mentioned before. Maintaining that the New Deal was influenced or inspired by Catholic social teaching is even more problematical, although that impression, too, was deliberately given. (See Francis L. Broderick, Right Reverend New Dealer: John A. Ryan. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1963, 241-242; also Kenneth J. Heineman, A Catholic New Deal: Religion and Reform in Depression Pittsburgh. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.)
Franklin Roosevelt’s prejudice and suspicion of Jews and orthodox Catholics as fundamentally un-American were well known. (George J. Marlin, The American Catholic Voter: 200 Years of Political Impact. South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine’s Press, 2006, 192-194.) This was a potential political liability, because to secure his election in 1932 he needed “the Catholic vote” that four years earlier had so worried Herbert Clark Hoover by throwing its support to “the Happy Warrior,” Alfred Emanuel “Al” Smith. (Ibid., 183-191.)
At the same time, Roosevelt could not afford to alienate the anti-Catholic and New Christian Democrats that had voted Republican in 1928. He managed to accomplish both goals by building alliances with Catholic and Jewish leaders whom he misled or who were willing to swallow his insults for what they believed to be the greater good. (Ibid., 193-194, 206.)
Key to Roosevelt’s success in this respect were the efforts of his campaign manager, James Aloysius Farley, a staunch Catholic and a Knight of Malta. As campaign manager for Al Smith in the 1928 election, Farley had failed to persuade Americans to accept an anti-racist and progressive (in the Theodore Roosevelt sense) Catholic as a national candidate.
Farley was, however, overwhelmingly successful in selling a progressive liberal political and economic agenda to Catholics, women, and African Americans, paving the way for Franklin Roosevelt’s election. This support among key voting blocs was essential for popular acceptance of the New Deal. An intelligent and astute politician who had influence with the “Brain(s) Trust” (modeled on the New Fabian Research Bureau, which also provided the economic principles behind the New Deal), but not a philosopher or theologian, Farley appears to have been honestly unaware of the significant differences between what the popes were saying and the president’s program.
|Fr. Charles E. Coughlin|
Legend to the contrary, Msgr. John A. Ryan, Quadragesimo Anno, and Catholic social teaching did not influence the New Deal. The idea that they did comes from the fact that during the campaign Roosevelt gave a speech in Detroit, a “Catholic city,” probably influenced or contributed to by Farley, and that he actively courted the support of Fr. Charles Edward Coughlin, about whom Farley expressed serious reservations. This earned Farley Coughlin’s enmity and the vituperation of Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (James A. Farley, Jim Farley’s Story: The Roosevelt Years. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1948, 50-52, 128.)
Farley regarded FDR’s failure to defend him against Long’s attacks as a betrayal. He felt that the president used people when convenient, and ignored or discarded them when they were not. (Ibid., 178.)
This feeling became a certainty when it became obvious by 1938 that the New Deal was dead in the water. Roosevelt attempted what Farley described as a failed purge to rid his administration of the ideologically unfit, and Farley found himself excluded from Roosevelt’s inner circle. Nevertheless, he stuck with the president because he believed it to be his duty to the Democratic Party and to the country. (Ibid., 120-150.)
|Msgr. John A. Ryan|
Coughlin was much more of a challenge for Roosevelt’s ingenuity than Farley. The radio priest’s economic and monetary theories were too obviously heavily influenced by socialism and anti-Semitism (Coughlin’s economic advisor was Gertrude Margaret Coogan (1898-1986), whose writings, especially Money Creators (1935), are a mainstay of conspiracy theorists.), while his arguments relied on ad hominem attacks and “straw man” logical fallacies. See, e.g., Rev. Chas. E. Coughlin, A Series of Lectures on Social Justice. Royal Oak, Michigan: The Radio League of the Little Flower, 1935.)
Ryan, the academic, took a distant back seat to Coughlin and his working class appeal, and Farley’s political expertise. Farley made no mention of Ryan in either of his books, although Ryan had at one time pestered Farley to give a government job to Maurice Ryan, his younger brother. (Broderick, Right Reverend New Dealer, op. cit., 212)
One of Ryan’s biographers inadvertently portrayed Ryan as a wannabe power broker who was constantly slighted by FDR except when the president needed someone to wave the Catholic flag, especially after Coughlin turned against him. (Ibid., 241.) Although — contrary to canon law — he publicly endorsed Roosevelt (Ibid., 222.), Ryan’s only official reward was a ten-month appointment to the three-person Industrial Appeals Board of the National Recovery Administration in 1934. (Ibid., 217; Heineman, A Catholic New Deal, op. cit., 102.)
Possibly inspired by his idol Ignatius Loyola Donnelly, Ryan had hungered for political power since at least the days of the Wilson administration. He had slavishly followed that president’s lead in everything. He even condemned the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, although many of the revolutionaries espoused socialist views indistinguishable from Ryan’s own:
There were some Catholic clerics who could detect the accents of God in the pronouncements of officials in the Wilson Administration and who quickly reflected the opinions of the President. Reverend John A. Ryan was typical of this group. He sharply denounced the Easter Rising and expressed the view that everyone who aided the Sinn Féiners should feel the heavy hand of the British Government. It is interesting to note that during World War II Dr. Ryan went to an extreme in his support of the Roosevelt Administration. (Charles Callan Tansill, America and the Fight for Irish Freedom, 1866-1922. New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1957, 204n.)
But all was not rosy, however, as we will see in the next posting on this subject.#30#