Southern and Western politicians deployed federal state capitalism to do an end run around unsympathetic Yankee capitalists, not to advance toward socialism or social democracy

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Is the country more divided than ever before? The answer is no, Michael Lind explains:

The social and economic divides among white Northerners and white Southerners, Blacks and whites, Catholics and Protestants and Jews were much more intense in 1920 than they are today in 2020. What has happened is that the formerly unified, mostly Northern mainline Protestant American establishment has—perhaps temporarily—broken down, allowing the actual diversity of interests and opinions in the United States to be expressed rather than suppressed. If the emerging woke national establishment has its way, however, that diversity of viewpoints and values will soon be suppressed once again, in favor of an intolerant and exclusive doctrine that greatly resembles the old-time Social Gospel from which it is derived.

With the exceptions of Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson, every American president between 1861 and 1933 was a Republican mainline Protestant from the North or Midwest. The Republican Party, still the Lincoln coalition of Northern industrialists and Yankee Protestants, dominated Congress in the same era. Industry and finance were in the hands of a small number of Northeastern financiers, many of them old-stock Northeastern Protestants like J.P. Morgan. While there were some important Jewish financiers, Jews along with Catholics were kept out of many snobbish Wall Street firms until well after World War II.

The New Deal revolution of the 1930s is badly misunderstood, both politically and culturally, when it is treated as a left-wing rebellion against right-wing capitalism. Fundamentally it represented the partial overthrow of Yankee Protestant hegemony in American society by a coalition of outsiders, chiefly provincial Southern and Western whites and European-American immigrants in the North, many of them Catholic.

The Democratic Party that dominated the United States between the 1930s and the 1980s had a few Yankee progressive members, but it was essentially the old Jacksonian alliance of white Southerners and non-British “white ethnics” in the North. If Harry Truman is understood correctly as a cultural Southerner from Missouri, then with one exception every Democratic president between Roosevelt and Obama was a white Southerner—Truman, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton. The one exception was John F. Kennedy, from the other wing of the Jacksonian anti-Yankee alliance of Southerners and Irish Americans. Meanwhile, the Solid South combined with the seniority system ensured that Southerners, many of them segregationists, dominated Congress and the Senate throughout the New Deal era.

Most New Deal Democratic politicians were not anti-capitalist or opposed to industry. They often represented socially conservative local business elites who resented the fact that Northern bankers often would only finance infrastructure projects in the South and West that locked those regions into their assigned roles as resource colonies for factories in the Midwest and Northeast.

To break this neocolonial pattern of Northeastern economic domination, New Deal Democrats used federal state capitalism to industrialize and modernize the Southern and Western periphery, by means of rural electrification cooperatives, the Tennessee Valley Authority and other hydropower projects, defense production plants assigned to the South and West during World War II, and the interstate highway system (a favorite project of FDR which was only enacted under Eisenhower). In short, Southern and Western politicians and their Northern white ethnic allies who dominated the federal government in the New Deal era deployed federal state capitalism to do an end run around unsympathetic Yankee capitalists, not to advance toward socialism or social democracy.


  1. Harry Jones says:

    I’m left with the impression that Adam Smith style free enterprise was not a contender.

    If the Yankee financial establishment won’t serve your interests, why not make an alternative establishment? Yeah, it’s a lot of work. But they had already had plenty of time. The Civil War was many decades in the past.

    Perhaps it’s the culture of the South that was a lost cause.

  2. VXXC says:


    Bit Pollyannaish excerpt, and Mr. Lind down the article ignores not only what happened the last 50 years but what is happening now. I have to wonder if he read his own article.

    From the article by Lind.

    1] I wonder if he read his own words?
    2] “What has happened is that the formerly unified, mostly Northern mainline Protestant American establishment has—perhaps temporarily—broken down, allowing the actual diversity of interests and opinions in the United States to be expressed rather than suppressed. ”

    Oh, is that all.

    Well, nothing to worry about.
    Except that no body is running things.

    The old WASPs [I'm a 'white ethnic' BTW] knew how to run things…the ‘ethnic successors’ of the WASPs know only how to run things into the ground. As far as expressing diversity of interests, they express diversity of interests in the Balkans too.

    3] The Old Social Gospel was grounded in pushing pro-social behaviors, the new woke gospel …more accurately Sharia BTW…is grounded in anti-social behaviors, self destructive behaviors.

    4] Diamond Jim Fisk and the other social climbing thieves would have been kept out of polite society, we have them running the treasury.

    5] As Mr. Lind points out the new Woke class wishes to humiliate and degrade it’s opponents: I don’t recall the old ruling class doing so. Being patronizing and allowing them to be treated as 2d class citizens or allowing segregation – yes.
    Open insults and humiliation of the commons? No.
    Stalin would have had all these people shot acting this way.

    Bake the Cake or we’ll ruin you /= the new WASPS.
    These people are the STASI on the high end and BLM, AntiFa and street gangsters for the middle and low.

    It is the height of incompetence to use power to humiliate and degrade, but that is what we have.

    6] The old WASPs washed no ones feet.

    You’re not looking at America in the 1930s.
    You’re looking at either Spain or Germany in the 1930s. At present it more resembles Spain, but if someone on the Right and let me be blunt the White grabs the Brass Ring of Power that Trump fumbled…you are no longer looking at Spain.

    What isn’t going to happen is these psychotic train wrecks remain in power long. They lack the grit evil to be evil tyrants, they’re more the Karen gone completely insane mode. You have to have grit, you have to have men to hold what they inherited, a stolen election by Asperger’s Faceborg and the likes of Kamala Harris and DeBlasio. You have to have men of Iron to do that, not Boys of Soy.

    All that happened is the people who have been ruining us since the 1960s are finishing up on their ruin. Something else will replace and overthrow them…all we can say is something else will be stronger than them. Rather a low bar…

  3. Bruce Purcell says:

    “The Federal machine has been expanded to truly gigantic size. There are about one hundred thousand more men on the Federal payroll, as employees, than before In their selection the merit system has been disregarded and partisan influence prevailed. Many millions now live on Federal funds supplied by the Roosevelt administration, millions more have obtained cash from the Treasury. For all practical purposes the Administration has had a campaign fund of ten billions of [1930 US] dollars. Roosevelt has a monopoly of radio and the overwhelming support of most newspapers.”

    Frank Kent, Without Gloves collection of columns from the thirties.

    We’ve had a Democratic ruling party amounting to a one-party state since the early 1930′s.

  4. Harry Jones says:

    I dunno from WASPS. I’m not young, but I’m not old enough to remember when they ran the show.

    I do know that any elite class will grow as large as we let it and do whatever and as much as they can get away with. Don’t blame them for it. It’s just human nature, Human nature abhors a power vacuum.

    Topple the elite, and another will take its place, just as arrogant. Push back steadily and effectively against whatever elite you have, and you can manage.

  5. Ezra says:

    Jewish and Italian gangsters too became prominent during the period.

  6. Altitude Zero says:

    Lind isn’t seeing nothing, but this is way, way oversimplified, and processed through his own odd ideological lense.

  7. VXXC says:

    Lind is seeing something and telling us all, perhaps himself it is something else.

    The idea that the Left is ‘The Puritans’ or The WASPs is part of the dissident right, part not all. This concept does not bear scrutiny based upon the facts today, or of our lifetimes. The WASPS are long gone, certainly the idea that they rule somewhere is fantasy. The WASPS lost power in the 1960s, England’s House of Lords has more power, and actually still sort of exists. The WASPS do not.

    Lind dissembles, he may even believe his own theory, but it is nonsense.

  8. Sam J. says:

    Total fantasy. He doesn’t mention the Jews at all. He mentions J.P. Morgan but doesn’t mention J.P. Morgan was mostly an agent for the Rothschilds.

    It like explaining nails being driven into boards without explaining that hammers were doing the driving. MAGIC! Look at those nails driving themselves into boards!

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