Last modified on April 9, 2019, at 18:05

National Recovery Act

The NRA's Blue Eagle logo was inspired by its counterpart European Fascist movements of the 1930s.[1]

The centerpiece of the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933, which was “similar to experiments being carried out by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in Italy and by the Nazis in Adolf Hitler's Germany,” according to John A. Garraty,[2] of the Society of American Historians.[3] NIRA established the National Recovery Administration (NRA), “the New Deal’s attempt to bring to America the substance of Mussolini’s corporativism.”[4] As one NRA study concluded, “The Fascist principles are very similar to those which have been evolving in America and so are of particular interest at this time.”[5]

Just as Mussolini “organized each trade or industrial group or professional group into a state supervised trade association” that “operated under state supervision and could plan production, quality, prices, distribution, labor standards, etc.,”[6] the NRA “forced virtually all American industry, manufacturing, and retail business into cartels possessing the power to set prices and wages, and to [7] dictate the levels of production.”

U.S. Ambassador to Italy Breckinridge Long wrote to Roosevelt’s economic advisor Rexford Tugwell, “Your mind runs along these lines [corporativism]… It may have some bearing on the code work under N.R.A.”[8] Tugwell, the “most prominent of the Brain Trusters and the man often considered the chief ideologist[9] of the ‘first New Deal’ (roughly, 1933–34),” said, “I find Italy doing many of the things which seem to me necessary…. Mussolini certainly has the same people opposed to him as FDR has. But he has the press controlled so that they cannot scream lies at him daily.”[10]

As head of the NRA and thus “FDR’s leading bureaucrat,”[11] the President appointed[12] General Hugh Johnson, who was granted “almost unlimited powers over industry.” [13] According to economist Thayer Watkins (who teaches economic history[14] at California’s San José State University), Johnson was “an admirer of Mussolini’s National Corporatist system[15] in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.” Walker F. Todd, research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, agrees that Johnson “did admire greatly what Mussolini appeared to have done,” and identifies the NRA as a “thoroughly corporativist” [16] idea.

Johnson was said to carry around with him a copy of Raffaello Viglione’s pro-Mussolini book,[17] The Corporate State,[18] even presenting a copy to Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins.[19] In his 1934 retirement speech, he invoked what he called the “shining name” of Mussolini.[20] According to Jonah Goldberg, Johnson displayed a portrait of ‘’Il Duce’’ in his NRA office and actually “distributed a memo at the Democratic Convention proposing that FDR become a Mussolini-like dictator.”[21]


  1. Fascism and the Blue Eagle, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 16 January 2009. Retrieved from the Future of Freedom Foundation, ( 8 September 2010.
  2. past president
  3. John Arthur Garraty, ‘’The American Nation’’, 4th ed., vol. 2 (Harper & Row, 1979) ISBN 0060422696, p. 656
  4. Leonard Peikoff, ‘’The Ominous Parallels’’ (Stein and Day, 1982) ISBN 081282850X, p. 293
  5. Janet C. Wright, "Capital and Labor Under Fascism," National Archives, Record Group 9, Records of the National Recovery Administration,Special Research and Planning Reports and Memoranda, 1933-35, Entry 31, Box 3
  6. John T. Flynn, The Roosevelt Myth (The Devin-Adair Company, 1948) pp. 42-43
  7. [1]
  8. Long to Tugwell, May 16, 1934, Breckinridge Long Papers, Box 111, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
  9. FDR — The Man, the Leader, the Legacy, Part 11 by Ralph Raico, Future of Freedom Foundation, February 2001.
  10. Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: the Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Random House, Inc., 2008) ISBN 0385511841, p.156
  11. Hugh Samuel Johnson, Arlington National Cemetery Website.
  12. General Hugh Johnson, Vanity Fair.
  13. NEW LAW IS ANTICIPATED; President Telephones Associate of Baruch of His Selection. ANSWER AWAITS PASSAGE As Administrator, He Would Have Under Roosevelt Vast Powers Over Business. LEADER IN DRAFTING BILL Plans Made to Put Measure in Operation Within Week After It Is Enacted. JOHNSON CHOSEN INDUSTRY CHIEF, The Associated Press, May 19, 1933.
  14. Thayer Watkins, Ph.D, San Jose State University.
  15. The Economic System of Corporatism, Thayer Watkins, San José State University.
  16. The Federal Reserve Board and the Rise of the Corporate State, 1931-1934, Walter F. Todd, Economic Education Bulletin, Great Barrington, Massachusetts (ISSN 0424–2769) (USPS 167–360),
  18. ‘’
  19. Frances Perkins, ‘’The Roosevelt I Knew’’ (The Viking press, 1946) p. 206. Socialist (Kent Worcester, ‘’C.L.R. James: A Political Biography’’ [SUNY Press, 1995] ISBN 079142751X, p. 175) George Rawich wrote that Perkins told him Johnson gave each member of the Cabinet a book by Fascist theoretician Giovanni Gentile, “and we all read it with great care.” Schivelbusch suggests the book was actually Mussolini advisor Fausto Pitigliani’s ‘’The Italian Corporativist State.’’ (‘’Three New Deals’’, p. 203, n. 28)
  20. Arthur Meier Schlesinger, ‘’The coming of the New Deal, 1933-1935’’ (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003) ISBN 0618340866, p. 153