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FDR's New Deal Terms

Wilsonian Internationalism, Wilsonian

A foreign policy based on aggressive international pursuit of democratic ideals. Named for Woodrow Wilson, not the volleyball company.

Isolationism, Isolationist

A foreign policy based on withdrawal from international affairs. Popular with introverts.

Collective Bargaining

The process by which workers, organized together in a union, negotiate a contract with their employer. The right to collective bargaining is considered to be the bedrock principle of the labor movement.

The most common way for employers and workers to settle their differences. Collective bargaining takes place when a union representing the collected employees sits down with managers to hammer out a contract.

Class Consciousness

In Marxist theory, the recognition of the working classes that they are being exploited by the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system in general.

Prohibition, Prohibitionist

The nationwide ban on alcoholic drinks, in effect from 1920 to 1933. Started by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and repealed by the 21st.

Substantive Due Process

A constitutional theory, developed in the late nineteenth century, that held that any government regulation that infringed upon an individual's freedom of contract was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

GNP, GDP, Gross National Product, Gross Domestic Product

Gross National Product, a common measure of the overall size of a nation's economy. Gross, in this case, does not mean "disgusting."


The Constitution of the United States is, in its own words, the "supreme Law of the Land." That means that no other law can counteract or override the Constitution itself. If Congress passes a law (or the President undertakes an executive action) that runs afoul of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can use its power of judicial review to rule that such a law (or executive action) is unconstitutional and therefore should be overturned.

A legislative act or executive action which violates the terms of the constitution is said to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has the authority to overturn laws or executive orders that it finds to be unconstitutional.

Activist State

A government willing to intervene aggressively into the capitalist economy to attempt to achieve particular social or economic objectives. The New Deal represented a dramatic increase in government power and influence; the United States has been an activist state ever since.

Structural Reform

Changes to the core political economy of a society.

Retrenchment, Retrenchments

Cutting back on expenses during times of economic difficulty. A business pursuing retrenchment would cut production and lay off employees; an individual pursuing retrenchment would cut back on consumer spending.


A macroeconomic condition in which the aggregate demand for goods and services within an economy falls far below the society's potential output, inducing an economic slowdown. Underconsumption has frequently been cited as one of the main causes of the Great Depression. People don't buy enough, so there's less reason to work, and there's a vicious cycle.

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