The following quote comes from a speech made to the US Congress in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. He had in mind the potential danger that can result from the accumulation of economic and political power by elite individuals and groups in society, and was speaking in the aftermath of the Great Depression, which was then followed by the horrors of World War II. His words ring true once again.
Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is fascism-ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.
Those wondering at the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump need look no further. FDR didn’t get it all right, but he made the case for state intervention to protect people against the instability and criminality that unfettered capitalism periodically produces.