TO WESTERN EUROPE, 1948-53
Charles Maier has coined the term “politics of productivity” as a key to the understanding of American policy after World War II. During the war, the US developed a strategy of social engineering which it tried to implement in Western Europe through the Marshall Plan. Social problems were sought depoliticized and turned into technical problems. Productivity, which was low in Europe compared with America, should be enhanced through co operation between workers and management, and the increased benefits resulting from this effort should be shared equitably between labor, stock holders and consumers. Growth would make conflicts over distribution of wealth superfluous, since it would allow everyone to enjoy rising living standards. Thereby it could be hoped that “old-fashioned” traditions of class-struggle, still deep-rooted in many European labor movements, would die away.1 The American policy was thus also the product of a certain vision of Western Europe, and particularly of countries such as France, Italy or Western Germany, where the production and distribution system was “antiquated”2 and where management was perceived as impregnated with “feudal economic thinking,”3 while the labor movement seemed dangerously dominated by leftist ideologies. Modernization in these countries could only be achieved by their conversion to the American version of free market economy. The economic and social-engineering motives behind the Ameri can politics of productivity were closely linked to American Cold War policy. On a general level, economic prosperity would hopefully provide social and
1 See Introduction. Concerning the different dimensions of the Marshall Plan, see: Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power. National Security, the Truman Administration and the Cold War, Stanford, 1992, pp. 157-64.
2 Fitzgerald to the Sub-Committee on Mutual Security Appropriations on 6.7. 1953, in: Mutual Security Appropriations for 1954. Hearings Before a Sub-Committee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Washington, 1953, p. 506.
3 Dwight D. Eisenhower Library (DDE), Manuscripts, Clarence Francis Papers 1933 1973, box 3, f. “European Productivity Agency. January 1954,” memo, Todd to Stassen and Rand, 25.1. 1954, “General Objectives of US Economic Policy in Western Europe.” See also: Hogan, The Marshall Plan, p. 418.