“Liberalism! Not in all history has a word been so wrenched away from its true meaning and dragged through the gutter of defilement,” the Wilsonian Progressive George Creel protested angrily in a memoir of 1947: “Where it once stood for the dignity of man, … it now stands for the obliteration of individualism at the lands of a ruthless, all-powerful state.” For nearly fifty years, most scholars have given little heed to the rage vented by Creel and other critics of New Deal “liberalism.” Amidst the expansion of the American welfare state, the outlook and ideas of the anti-New Dealers seemed at best naively outdated and at worst positively pernicious. History—in the form of an increasingly massive, paternalist, neo-mercantilist, bureaucratic state—seemed to be firmly on the side of those who advocated the expansion of federal authority over more aspects of American life.
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