Master of Arts (MA)


Michael A Davis

Primary Subject Area

History, United States; Political Science, General; Economics, History


Central Planning, Rexford Tugwell


The free market system has played a vital role in the American experience. However, Rexford Tugwell, beginning in the 1920s, argued that this theory was flawed and must ultimately be rejected. Any system that encouraged competition among companies instead of cooperation (i.e. businesses working together to increase efficiency) was inevitably destined to fail. Tugwell believed that cooperation was the key ingredient to improving the economy. It was imperative that businessmen, industry workers, farmers, and politicians put aside their personal aspirations of working hard for self-improvement, and embrace the idea that through cooperation a new level of prosperity could be achieved in which society as a whole was benefited and not select groups or individuals. Tugwell's idea of cooperation, while contradictory to the traditional flow of business in America, was a foundational necessity in his planning philosophy. Planning was the only way, according to Tugwell, to guarantee future economic success. Through research and scientific experiments, planning, he insisted, could combat the current insufficiencies and wastefulness of capitalism and replace them with economic growth and material abundance. Tugwell believed that all of society's economic problems could be solved through planning and because of this he tirelessly pursued indoctrinating the ideas and core beliefs of planning into the governing systems.