Daily Archives: August 3, 2011

Frye on the “Crisis of Confidence” in Democracy

FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights

Frye in an interview conducted on 13 October 1976. Four years later we had Ronald Reagan and the thirty-years-and-counting nightmare of crony capitalism. Things apparently had to get much worse. However, we can hope that the expectation Frye articulates here will prove correct in the long run. The symptomology he lays out very accurately describes the general collapse of democratic values, political discourse, and economic opportunity since the scorched-earth administration of George W. Bush:

In this North American complex that we’re in there’s a crisis of confidence perhaps in our own liberal and democratic values, and I think that that’s partly a political and economic thing. It’s almost a repetition of what happened after 1929 when I was a freshman here. There was a great wave of buoyant confidence which was really infantile, based entirely on credit. Then there was a great stock market crash. Then there was a tremendous reassessment of the values of capitalism and out of that emerged the Roosevelt period. I think that something like that is happening now. We’re going through a crisis of confidence not so much in capitalism as in democracy. (CW 24, 322-3)