chapter  2
26 Pages

Shadow Government: The Brains Trust Under Fire, 1932–1936

Jazz Age prosperity offered a fitting context for wrenching debates over the cultural influence of academic professionals, scientific specialists, intellectual leaders, and other social guardians. Yet the terms of the debate changed dra­ matically following the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the onslaught of the Great Depression, and the advent of President Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal. Re­ sponding to rampant unemployment, falling demand for goods, deflation, and massive liquidation of investment, Roosevelt committed the federal government to unprecedented intervention in a peacetime economy and solicited the talents of leading academic and legal figures. Chapter 2 examines how the widespread use of unelected public service professionals, consultants, and aides during Roosevelts first term intensified anxieties about the perceived political power of the knowledge sector. By exploring public discourse over the role played by policy experts and advisers in New Deal agricultural programs, in legislative regulation of Wall Street, and in the expanding influence of the executive branch, this chap­ ter considers how interest group conflicts fed wider disputes over the relationship of social guardians to government power and the survival of democracy.