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Back to the Land: Arthurdale, FDR's New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning by C. J. Maloney

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Epilogue: To the Victor, the Spoils

It is not possible to experiment with a society and just drop the experiment whenever we choose. The experiment enters the life of the society and can never be got out again.

—Professor William Graham Sumner (1840–1910)1

World War II had fallen upon the American people, and by then Arthurdale had slipped into the quiet anonymity from which it has never escaped. The little mountain town was pushed to the bottom of America’s mental toy chest; the nation now worried over the great struggle, not “Eleanor’s pet project.” Treated for the most part as an embarrassment, it rested deep within the National Housing Agency, a subsection of the Federal Public Housing Authority—its final home.2 The fires of first love faded and the initial enthusiasm now long gone, Arthurdale was already forgotten. No longer did hordes of tourists drive up the mountain roads to see the dawning of a new way of life, or strangers peek in at windows to ask some fool question.

War grants to some its illusion of beneficence, and as during World War I, the hyperdemand to feed World War II had West Virginia manic busy; jobs were easy to find for the homesteaders, even more so as the induction of 121 of its young men into the military further exacerbated the sudden labor shortage. With congressional opposition growing against continued funding of the resettlement communities and a steady paycheck at long last delivered to the homesteaders, after nine years it was finally time for ...

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