FDR had a clear vision about how capitalism was seriously threatened by a small group of wildly wealthy elite he referred to as “economic royalists.” FDR grew up in the homes and the schools in the opulent country clubs of this crowd he referred to as economic royalist, so it was abundantly clear that FDR understood every nuance about their pedigree.
There was no guess work that went into his warning that if the economic royalists, the oligarchs, were not adequately controlled, then our system of capitalism would mutate into an economic system no less humane, no less destructive and malevolent than fascism. No less of a pathetic failure than Stalin-esque Communism. FDR was genuinely fearful of the powerfully destructive capacity of an unchecked oligarch elite.
What he feared is relatively easy to understand: Healthy capitalism requires that money, whether it comes from government or whether it comes from the private sector, has got to move from the bottom up. If that money that is supposed to fuel the capitalist machine moves to the top without a specific mechanism or infrastructure to move it first to the middle of the economic ladder and also to the very bottom of that economic class ladder, then that money stagnates; it becomes useless to the machine of capitalism because it can’t fuel the machine.
The money doesn’t fuel the system so people at the middle of that economic ladder can buy homes. So home sales don’t generate more money to fuel the machine.
People at the bottom of that economic ladder don’t buy new televisions or new cars, so that money is not available to fuel the machine.
The wealth remains at the top – the top of that machine we call capitalism gags itself on too much wealth. That heavy top-loaded machine begins to atrophy at the middle and the bottom. And here is what FDR’s advisors told him, and maybe this is what scared the hell out of FDR: When that machine that started out as pure, clean, unequivocal capitalism begins to sputter and stall, when it chokes itself at the very top because it has gagged itself with too much at the top; when it is too big at the top and atrophied at the bottom, the system begins to morph into something that has a single purpose of preserving, protecting, and guarding only the interests of those oligarchs, those economic royalists who control all that cash at the top.
Historically, that morphing process takes on the qualities of rank fascism.
Thom Hartmann has written a powerful booked titled The Crash of 2016. It is a roadmap that will leave you mad as hell about what has happened to capitalism and democracy in America. If you are rational along with being solidly angry, the word “terrified” might pop into your head. But then, like virtually every book Hartmann has ever written, he will show you the way out of the spooky dark forest with simple, practical ideas about how we can avoid disaster.
Hartmann says there is no need for another 1929 or 1770, or 1856 kind of economic burndown. Think of Hartmann’s Crash of 2016 as a How-To book. A how-to about saving ourselves, you are foolish not to buy this book.