That the American Left in the first half of the 20th century were essentially Fascists is extensively documented here. Roosevelt even referred to Mussolini as "That admirable Italian gentleman" and he tried hard to emulate Musso's "corporate state". Only the Supreme Court defeated him -- as we see below.
Do free-marketeers need their own judicial pantheon? In a recent forum at the Council on Foreign Relations, Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, argued that conservatives and libertarians ought to induct Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States into such a pantheon.
In a nutshell, Schechter is the case that saved us from a centrally planned economy. Although, Roosevelt ultimately bullied the Court into abandoning Lochner, after Schechter the New Dealers were chastened, and they never again tried anything as massive and intrusive as the NRA. Indeed, I think that you could plausibly argue that since 1935 no one in the United States has dared try anything on the scale of the NRA. Had it stood, we would have been saddled with an economy where every major sector was regulated by detailed codes that not only dealt with issues of safety or working conditions, but also things like prices, permissible production levels, the scope of consumer choice (the New Dealers thought it was bad), and the terms of agreements between government regulated cartels. Gauche as Red-baiting is in New Deal history, there is no denying that many of the New Dealers were enamored of totalitirian economic planning, and, while the NRA never came close to the state-owned monstrosities of Stalin, it would have created an economic world in the United States closer to Fascist Italy than the modern welfare state. It was ultimately less of an exercise in economic redistribution than of political domination and control of economic life.
As a myth rather than a historical or legal theory, Schechter has much to commend it. A small, religious, family business built by immigrants searching for the American dream of advancement and self-improvement gets shut down by arrogant government bureaucrats hell-bent on imposing economic idiocy on the nation. They push back, and David-like force the government Goliath to its knees. The chicken triumphs over the eagle.
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