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Ron Radosh

You may not have heard of Leon Keyserling — he was one of the bright young men who rushed to our nation’s Capitol to work for FDR after he was elected president, and who helped to fashion a great deal of the New Deal legislation. As his obituary in The New York Times pointed out:

As an aide of Senator [Robert F.] Wagner, a Democrat, [NY] Mr. Keyserling helped draft such measures as the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, the Social Security Act of 1935 and the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act.

Later, as his Wikipedia entry shows, he went on to work for President Harry S. Truman and continued to advise him on major domestic programs.

His most recent biographer, Donald K. Pickens, argues that Keyserling was what he calls a representative of “integrative liberalism,” which he defines as a phrase that best explains the realistic and pragmatic quest for a “deeper national community” that would unite all Americans around economic growth and a government commitment to programs to help the needy and regulate business. Hence, it would be a “country in which no one is left out.” According to FDR’s other aide, Rexford Tugwell, it meant a series of programs which they helped build for the New Deal that was accomplished “without resort to revolution or abandonment of the Constitution.”

His previous biographer, W. Robert Brazelton, argues that Keyserling believed in economic growth as the prerequisite for progress, but that he understood that some sectors of the economy were weaker than others, as were some groups in society, and hence that meant the federal government had to institute policies to maintain full employment. In other words, like other mainstream liberals, he believed the economy needed government programs to keep it in keel, and that it was the job of government, not the free market, to create full employment.

You might wonder, at this point, why I am even writing about him. The answer comes from a review that appeared recently in The Times Literary Supplement (London) of July 12, 2013, by David Hawkes, a review that unfortunately is not available online.  Hawkes offers the first review of a recent book by a left-wing historian named Landon Storrs titled The Second Red Scare and the Unmaking of the New Deal Left.

Storrs presents a typical left-wing narrative of the 1930s. As she develops her story, Professor Storrs argues that the Red Scare of the 1950s forced out of government an entire group of reformers who believed in social-democracy, and who were dismissed and marginalized by McCarthyite zealots who quashed dissent in the name of fighting subversion, as those fighting to oust them failed to distinguish between mainstream socialists and Communists. As the publisher’s summary states:

Storrs demonstrates how the Second Red Scare undermined the reform potential of the New Deal and crippled the American welfare state.

In her book, Storrs tells us that Keyserling and his wife Mary were “prime targets of the anticommunist right.” Both “publicly dismissed their experience” with the loyalty investigations of the 1950s, she writes, “as fleeting manifestations of Red Scare hysteria.” Nevertheless, when Leon Keyserling advised Truman, Storrs acknowledges that the couple “took leading roles on behalf of policies that were at the top of conservatives’ most hated list, including price control, high wages, strong protection of union rights, and the European Recovery Plan.” The essence of what they supported were policies that favored “directing more of productivity’s gains to wages rather than profits.”

Later the Keyserlings would dissemble, arguing that they had always been political centrists though they were actually on the left of the Democratic Party. Later they would serve Lyndon B. Johnson and his Great Society endeavors, and are remembered by many, Storrs writes, “as loyal Johnson Democrats who favored Cold War military spending, backed U.S. policy in Vietnam, and argued that poverty could be eliminated through economic growth rather than redistribution” of wealth.

It is at this point that historian Storrs uncovered the hidden truth about Leon and Mary Keyserling, a truth that undermines her own thesis, and comes as a revelation that many might have missed, if not for the Hawkes review: Both were not only secret Communist sympathizers and members of various Party front groups, but Leon Keyserling actually advocated violent revolution while he was in the New Deal writing reform legislation!

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Top Rated Comments   
Diane West's new book "American Betrayal" is a fasinating read about the communist infiltration. I couldn't put it down even though it broke my heart thinking of what could have been.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (12)
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Communists are a disgusting bunch. Ideas like continuing an economic depression so THEIR aims and desires are fulfilled at the expense of hungry children is the Democrat/communist way. Maybe this is what Obama is trying to do. Prevent things like the Keystone Pipeline that could lower gasoline prices. Instead, he wants prices to sky rocket. Maybe his hoping for some sort of revolution. This article may be the key to uncovering what I believe is Obama's hidden agenda.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The EU re-conception of WW2 as a European Civil War is entirely correct. National Socialist ran German; Communists ran Russia; Communists (secretly) ran the United States. These governments differed only in who and how many had to murdered to create the Socialist Workers' Paradise.

The future belongs to the complete and total rejection of socialism and its intellectual offspring (which are still quite popular).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So the Keyserlings were ahead of their time. They tried to march through the institutions at a time when someone would complain about it. Now they would be hailed and probably offered a cabinet post. And from Columbia U., who would have thunk it?

CPUSA were Marxists and Bolsheviks, not socialists.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stealth? FDR loved the Communists and based most of his actions on Communist ideology and economics. FDR sent huge amounts of material to Stalin allowing him to overrun Eastern Europe and make the world a very dangerous place for decades. He certainly had to have known how many Communist agents were in the Federal Government because the DC spymasters were complaining to the home office that there were so many it was impossible to keep them unnoticed. Then there is the fact that FDR was more cordial with Stalin than Churchill, more admiring of Mao than Chiang Kai Shek.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Diane West's new book "American Betrayal" is a fasinating read about the communist infiltration. I couldn't put it down even though it broke my heart thinking of what could have been.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You might want to read Radosh's self-described "takedown" of the book. http://pjmedia.com/ronradosh/2013/08/07/why-i-wrote-a-take-down-of-diana-wests-awful-book/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A large part of what is in her book was found in what was called the Venona project. This was an intercept of cables to and from Moscow starting around 1939 but not decoded and unclassified until much later. This confirmed a network of Soviet spies up to and possibly including Harry Hopkins, FDRs most trusted advisor. I'm only about a third of the way through the book right now but it has been giving me many sleepless nights reading. McCarthy was right!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No surprises here - The New Deal was chock-full of out-and-out communists, fellow travelers, "extreme-left-leaning" liberals and other useful idiots. They were drawn like moths to a flame when FDR embraced Keynesian economic theory and began the borrow-and-spend programs that continue to bedevil us. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a great leader but knew next to nothing about economics and didn't care very much about it. He was willing to take the advice of all of those bright young Ivy Leaguers who were anxious to expand both government power and their own power inside of government. We are still feeling the effects today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" Keyserling wrote in 1934 that “the country is recovering too rapidly. A few more years of depression would have promoted violence, and without violence fundamental reform is unlikely.”"

Gee, and we aren't recovering at all these days due to (intentionally?) bad policies by someone tutored by a marxist and is helping to inflame racial passions and has stated he wants fundamental transformation.

But to even raise an eyebrow at his policies is racist and entirely dismissable.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The full story of New Deal communism is yet to be told. Who would have thought of Ernest Hemingway and his third wife Martha Gellhorn of sympathy for the Communist line on Spain and further conflicts? A picture of conflict that was in tune with the CP line on Spain and China for instance? See http://clarespark.com/2012/07/09/hbo-does-gellhorn-in-red/. That line? From Spain on it was "the People" versus "Fascism." The concrete history of variegated social movements of either Left or Right were off the charts.
1 year ago
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