Stuart Chase

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Stuart Chase (March 8, 1888 – November 16, 1985) was an American economist (MIT),[1] social theorist and writer.[2] His writings covered topics as diverse as general semantics and physical economy. Chase's thought was shaped by Henry George, economic philosopher Thorstein Veblen, Fabian socialism, as well as the Communist social and educational experiments being conducted in the Soviet Union around 1930.;[3][4] Chase spent his early political career supporting "a wide range of reform causes: the single tax, women's suffrage, birth control and socialism." [3] Chase's early books The Tragedy of Waste (1925) and Your Money's Worth (1928) were notable for their criticism of corporate advertising and their advocacy of consumer protection.[5]

Early life[edit]

Chase was born in Somersworth, New Hampshire, on March 8, 1888, to public accountant Harvey Stuart Chase and Aaronette Rowe. His family had been living in New England since the seventeenth century. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1907 to 1908 and graduated from Harvard University in 1910 as a public accountant. After graduating, Chase became part of his father's accounting firm in Boston. Chase married Margaret Hatfield in 1914 and had two children. He and Margaret got divorced in 1929 and one year later he remarried to Marian Tyler. Chase died in Redding Connecticut on November 16, 1985, at the age of 97.[6]


In 1917, Chase left accounting and took a position with the Food Administration of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., along with his former classmates, journalist Walter Lippman and John Reed and poet T.S. Eliot. In this commission, Chase conducted investigations on waste and corruption, one of them being the meatpacking industry with Upton Sinclair.

In 1921, Chase joined, along with economic philosopher Thorstein Veblen,[6] the affairs of the Technical Alliance which later formed into Technocracy Incorporated, (Technocracy movement).[7][8] Chase also worked with the Labor Bureau, which was an organization that provided services for labor unions and cooperatives.[6] In 1927, Chase wrote Your Money's Worth, discussing advertisements that fail to deliver products that are advertised to customers who order them.[6] In 1927, Chase travelled to the Soviet Union with members of the First American Trade Union Delegation and was first author on a book that praised the Russian experiments in agricultural and social management.[9] In 1932, Chase wrote a New Deal, which became identified with the economic programs of American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Fabian socialist and Florence Kelley gave to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which he used in his first presidential campaign agenda.[6] He also wrote a cover story in The New Republic entitled "A New Deal for America", during the week that Roosevelt gave his 1932 presidential acceptance speech promising a new deal, but whether Roosevelt's speechwriter Samuel Rosenman saw the magazine is not clear. His 1938 book The Tyranny of Words was an early (perhaps the earliest, predating Hayakawa) and influential popularization of Alfred Korzybski's general semantics. Chase supported the isolationist movement and was against US entry in World War II, advocating this position in his 1939 book The New Western Front.[1] After the war, Chase became involved in social science to labor and to the environment. He wrote The Proper Study of Mankind in 1948, where he introduced the social science to several college campuses.[6]

In a 1952 article "Nineteen Propositions About Communism", Chase criticised the government of the Soviet Union, stating that Russian citizens, trade unions and farmers "had no power" in the Soviet Union, despite the claims of Communist supporters.[10] Chase also dismissed the Communist Party of the USA as "our miniscule menace" whose members consisted of "a high proportion of frustrated neurotics and plain crackpots as well as some high minded-idealists-a tragic group, this last".[10] Chase also quoted Herbert Philbrick to the effect that "the McCarthyites and demagogs...make the work of the FBI more difficult by confusing the innocent with the guilty."[10]

In the 1960s, Chase lent his support to the Johnson administration's Great Society policies.[1]

Advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt[edit]

Stuart Chase served as an advisor to President F.D.R.[1]


Chase is famous for the quote at the end of his book A New Deal, "Why should the Soviets have all the fun remaking a world?" – a reference to the "socialist experiment" in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).[11]

He is quoted in S. I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action as having said, "Common sense is that which tells us the world is flat."

Free Enterprise into 'X'[12][edit]

On pages 95 and 96 of The Road We Are Traveling, under the heading of "Free Enterprise into 'X'", Chase listed 18 characteristics of political economy that he had observed among[13] Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain between 1913[14] and 1942. Chase labeled this phenomenon "... something called 'X'".[12] Characteristics include the following:

  1. A strong, centralized government.
  2. An executive arm growing at the expense of the legislative and judicial arms.
  3. The control of banking, credit and security exchanges by the government.
  4. The underwriting of employment by the government, either through armaments or public works.
  5. The underwriting of social security by the government – old-age pensions, mothers' pensions, unemployment insurance, and the like.
  6. The underwriting of food, housing, and medical care, by the government.
  7. The use of deficit spending to finance these underwritings.
  8. The abandonment of gold in favor of managed currencies.
  9. The control of foreign trade by the government.
  10. The control of natural resources.
  11. The control of energy sources.
  12. The control of transportation.
  13. The control of agricultural production.
  14. The control of labor organizations.
  15. The enlistment of young men and women in youth corps devoted to health, discipline,community service and ideologies consistent with those of the authorities.
  16. Heavy taxation, with special emphasis on the estates and incomes of the rich.
  17. Control of industry without ownership.
  18. State control of communications and propaganda.

Selected bibliography[edit]

Responses to Chase[edit]

In 1969 President Richard Nixon cited Chase's work in a message to congress about consumer protection.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d Sullivan, Ronald (November 17, 1985). "Stuart Chase, 97, Coined phrase "A New Deal"". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-13. Stuart Chase, an economist and member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's brain trust who coined the phrase a New Deal, died yesterday at his home in Redding, Conn. He was 97 years old... During the 1960's, Mr. Chase was a strong advocate of the Great Society programs of President Lyndon B. Johnson... Mr. Chase opposed warfare and aligned himself with isolationists who opposed United States entry into World War II. 
  2. ^ Norman Silber. "Chase, Stuart";; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Wed Nov 06 2013 16:06:31 GMT-0500 (EST) Copyright © 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ a b Westbrook, Robert B. "Tribune of the Technostructure:the Popular Economics of Stuart Chase". American Quarterly, Vol.32, Autumn 1980, pp. 387–408.
  4. ^ Engerman, David "Modernization from the Other Shore: American intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development". Harvard University Press, 2009 ISBN 0674011511.
  5. ^ Chapman, Richard N., "A Critique of Advertising: Stuart Chase on the "Godfather of Waste"" in Sammy Richard Danna (ed.), Advertising and Popular Culture: Studies In Variety and Versatility. Popular Press, 1992 ISBN 0-87972-528-1 (p.23-29).
  6. ^ a b c d e f Silber
  7. ^ Retrieved March-10-13
  8. ^ Retrieved March-10-13
  9. ^ Chase, Stuart, Robert Dunn, and Rexford Guy Tugwell, "Soviet Russia in the Second Decade: a Joint Survey by the Technical Staff of the First American Trade Union Delegation". The John Day Company, 1928.
  10. ^ a b c Stuart Chase, "Nineteen Propositions About Communism: An Editorial". The Saturday Review of Literature, April 5, 1952, (pp. 20–21).
  11. ^ Gillespie, Nick (January 2008). "Remembering 'the forgotten man'". Reason 39 (8). Retrieved 2010-06-07. The last sentence of Chase's book is, 'Why should Russians have all the fun remaking a world?' 
  12. ^ a b Chase, Stuart – The Road We Are Traveling, Page 95, 1942
  13. ^ Chase, Stuart – The Road We Are Traveling, Pages 57, 58 – 1942
  14. ^ Chase, Stuart – The Road We Are Traveling, Page 94, 1942
  15. ^ Chase, Stuart; Tugwell, Rexford; Dunn, Robert (1928). "Catalog Record: Soviet Russia in the second decade". HathiTrust. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  16. ^ Nixon, Richard (October 30, 1969). "Richard Nixon: Special Message to the Congress on Consumer Protection.". Retrieved 10 July 2013. 


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