October 1960 | Volume 11, Issue 6
ROOSEVELT, Franklin (born 1882)—President of the U.S.A. From 1907—an active Democratic [party] leader. Became a member of the New York State Senate in 1910; Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, 1913-21; Governor of the State of New York, 1928-32. Became President of the U.S.A. in 1933. Roosevelt was the spokesman of those strata of the American bourgeoisie which, under the conditions of economic crisis and acute class struggle, considered it imperative to grant sizable concessions to the working class and the farming masses. Roosevelt proclaimed the so-called New Deal, consisting of the passage of a number of laws designed to regulate industrial and agricultural production. He was responsible for establishing the National Industrial Recovery Administration (NIRA), the purpose of which was to create “class peace” in the U.S.A. by fixing maximum hours and minimum wages for all branches of industry. In foreign affairs, Roosevelt’s most outstanding achievements were the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. (November 16, 1933), as well as the proclamation of the Good Neighbor policy toward Latin American countries.
It was this policy which met with the approval of the American people and which enabled him to become reelected in 1936. Having survived the most critical years of the crisis, the reactionary circles of financial capital came to regard Roosevelt’s concessions as excessive, and pressured the Supreme Court into declaring the NIRA and the New Deal unconstitutional. Under the influence of reactionary elements in the Republican as well as in his own Democratic party, Roosevelt became increasingly more reactionary. This reversal became particularly pronounced after the outbreak of the second imperialist war in Europe. In the interests of imperialist American circles, who demanded the U.S.A.’s active participation in the war for the purpose of redividing the world, the embargo on arms was repealed on behalf of France and Great Britain [ sic ]. In response to Roosevelt’s demands, the Congress systematically appropriated huge sums of money for rearmament. At the same time, the U.S. increased its pressure on Latin American countries, with the aim of subordinating their policies to American interests. Domestically, the Roosevelt Administration accelerated its offensive against the democratic rights of the American people; social legislation was largely wiped out. The presidential election of 1940, the fear of losing the votes of millions of working people opposed to the war, compelled Roosevelt to conduct an ambiguous policy on the international arena, as well as on the home front. After the presidential election, Roosevelt speeded up America’s preparations for war.