Northern Illinois University Press

The War against the New Deal

World War II and American Democracy

Brian Waddell

"An impressive study that should interest anyone concerned with the historical development of the modern American state."—Canadian Journal of Political Science

"A subtle and sophisticated analysis that builds on important historical work.... A well-structured and clearly written argument."—Paul Koistinen, California State University, Northridge

Waddell addresses a central paradox in American governance: the rise of a strong national security state coincided with a relatively weak federal structure. He argues that on the political home front World War II represented the victory of the warfare state over the nascent New Deal welfare state, with important consequences for American democracy. The warfare state defeated the New Deal's labor and academic supporters, thereby increasing the national capacity for global involvement while undermining domestic intervention.

Waddell traces the creation of a military-corporate alliance from its tenuous beginnings during World War I to its crowning fulfillment with World War II. This alliance blocked any wartime increase in controversial domestic programs, as corporate interests created an international activism to supplant New Deal activism. The outcome of the war against the New Deal was a militarily powerful, centralized national security state that was structurally and politically unable to confront the decisive issues of postwar America, from Civil Rights to social welfare.

The War against the New Deal describes the role economic interests played in tipping the balance in the wartime struggles over resources and power—and the results of increasing corporate influence within the federal government. It reveals how the warfare state legitimized the postwar growth of national state power and how it strengthened, without democratizing, the American government.

(2001) 246 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-272-5
cloth $43.00

Table of Contents

Introduction: War and Statebuilding
1 The Crisis of Modern U.S. Governance
2 From Depression to War
3 Building the Wartime State
4 The Politics of Wartime Mobilization
5 Reconversion Politics
6 Constructing Postwar Governance
Conclusion:The Warfare-Welfare State

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-272-5
cloth $43.00