. . .
Introduction: The Literature of the Welfare State
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ‘‘Annual Message to the Congress,’’ in The
Court Disapproves, vol. 4 of The Public Papers and Addresses of Frank-
lin D. Roosevelt (New York: Russell and Russell, 1938–1950), 17.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ‘‘Presidential Statement upon Signing the
Social Security Act,’’ in ibid., 324.
Wallace Stevens, ‘‘Insurance and Social Change,’’ in Opus Posthumous,
rev. ed. (New York: Knopf, 1989), 233.
Milton Bates, Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self (Berkeley: Univer-
sity of California Press, 1985), 158.
Richard Wright, Native Son and ‘‘How ‘Bigger’ Was Born’’ (New York:
Harper Perennial, 1993), 472.
Irving Howe, introduction to Beyond the Welfare State, ed. Irving Howe
(New York: Schocken, 1982), 12, 5.
As Daniel T. Rodgers explains, the New Deal did not seem to offer
anything like a consistent ideology even to its contemporaries: ‘‘ ‘Aim-
less experiment, sporadic patchwork, a total indifference to guiding prin-
ciples or definite goals,’ Lewis Mumford scolded Franklin Roosevelt’s
policies in the fall of 1934; there was no logic to the New Deal, he
objected, only drift through a sea of ‘confused and contradictory nos-
trums.’ Mumford was in a particularly radical mood that season as the
Roosevelt administration moved into its second Depression winter. But
his exasperation at the incoherence of the New Deal was a commonplace
of the 1930s. Even administration insiders like Rexford Tugwell and
Frances Perkins admitted that finding the central tendency in Roosevelt’s
moves took a kind of lucky divination.’’ Rodgers continues by observing
that ‘‘the conundrum the New Deal poses’’ involves the question of
‘‘how to square its energy, in a decade that dealt so cruelly with progres-
sive governments elsewhere, with its monumental confusions. Without
intellectual and ideological passion, the New Deal is all but inexplicable,
yet virtually every quest for the New Deal’s logic seems only to unravel
in contradictions. The riddle of the New Deal is how to understand the
marriage of such striking success with such massive apparent incoher-
ence.’’ See Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive
Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 409, 412. Need-