The New Deal in Europe By Emil Lengyel


I finally got a hold of this book – about two years late. It looks really interesting, though the prospect of revisiting this stuff is appealing and exhausting at the same time. For those interested, here is a review from the April 4, 1934 issue of The Nation magazine on the book. It’s written by Johannes Steel,  whom I assume is this Johannes Steel.  It’s very interesting in itself. Basically, Steel seems to be saying that Emil Lengyel’s view that European New Deals in Italy, Germany and Russia are indeed very similar is valid. But Steel can’t ultimately agree with Lengyel because of his own loyalty to Marxist theory and Soviet propaganda:

In broad and bold outlines Mr. Lengyel gives an excellent picture of political and social developments in Soviet Russia, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and other European nations during the last few years. In particular he shows what constitutes the “newness” of the deals which Messrs. Stalin, Mussolini , and Hitler have given to their-respective fellow-countrymen.  His study is a very instructive piece of political journalism in the best sense of the word. It is important because it will impart to its readers a great deal of elemental information with which the American public has been hitherto largely unfamiliar.  Since Mr. Lengyel is as well acquainted with the social behavior and political characteristics of the European peoples of whom he writes as he is with the American scene, he is able to make , present-day Europe and its various political upheavals seem less like a jigsaw puzzle to Americans. He gives on the whole a reliable account of the historical, social, economic, and political forces that caused the upheavals.

The author confines himself almost excIusively to the reporting of facts and does not often attempt to give his own interpretation or opinion of them; and it is the facts themselves which make one thing clear: with the exception of Soviet Russia,  there is in reality very little that is new in the so-called “new deals” in Europe. They are nothing but the old deals disguised in new forms and “sold” to the populace by means of the latest methods of advertising and political propaganda.  When Mr. Lengyel does theorize on the principles upon which the Nazi and Italian fascist deals are based, he is apt to let his journalistic instincts get the better of his judgment. It may be true, as Mr. Lengyel points out, that in the past Georges Sorel, the French syndicalist, found reasons for admiring Mussolini. It is not likely that Sorel would admire the Mussolini of today. For although Mussolini has stolen the rhetorical thunder and the terminology of Sorel, it is necessary to remember  that the doctrine of syndicalism essentially means that the  “controi of the means of production and distribution should be conquered by the workers and that this control should then be handed to the community to be administered for the commonweal”; and it is a fallacy to imagine that any state by itself would voluntarily hand this control to the workers. This is particularly true of the fascist state upon whose administration the worker has little or no influence. Mussolini may ostentatiously be “developing into the champion of the little man” and Hitler may speak of measures which, in the words of Mr. Lengyel,  are “equaled in radicalism only in Bolshevist Russia,” but the truth is that the actions of political parties are determined less by the terms of their formal programs than by the sources from which their funds are drawn and the elements upon whose support their power depends.


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