Back to the Land

Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s chapter, “Back to the Land” in Three New Deals discusses the concept of a “back-to-the-future movement” with the revival of “the region” (p 111). Fascism, National Socialism, and the New Deal all had reforms focusing on the decentralization of the state’s population. I found Stuart Chase’s perspective of this movement particularly intriguing. He argued decentralization was ideal for “maintaining and encouraging the handicrafts”(p 118). The main idea behind this movement was to restore the unity between nature and economy. The driving force behind this idea was the belief that a large, industrial economy was more problematic than a smaller, “crisis-resistant” economy (p 118). In Germany, these small regional settlements, landstadt, were overwhelmingly unsuccessful. The failure of landstadt was succeeded by the Industrie-Gartenstadt, which tied a community to large-scale industry.

National Socialist Propaganda used these settlements as a symbol of their architecture. However, these settlements did not contain the necessary power to fulfill this symbolic role (p 136). Schivelbusch ends this chapter by stating this orientation was shared with both Fascism and the New Deal. In what ways do you think these regimes shared characteristics with the National Socialists? If the landstadt couldn’t fulfill the symbolic power for propaganda, what could?



Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. “Back to the Land.” Three New Deals: Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, and the Rise of State Power in the 1930s. New York: Metropolitan, 2006. 105-37. Print.

4 thoughts on “Back to the Land

  1. Why was large industry perceived as problematic? I would think that the answer to that question is indirectly related to why many small regional settlements failed.
    I think what Schivelbusch means by the closing point is that the National Socialists, Fascism, and the New Deal all looked to the Soviet Union as a source of inspiration for their “gigantic projects”. What specific programs in the regimes of the Germany, Italy, and the US reflected Soviet policy?

    • Some saw the “Arthurdale settlement” type programs in America as ‘Soviet’ because of their attempts to “develop collective and cooperative forms of life.” (( ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, (New York: Picador, 2006,131)) This, to many people, reflected Soviet policy in that the Soviet Union emphasized a ‘collective and cooperative’ society. They wanted people working as one, well oiled machine. In Nazi Germany, a similar type of program was the idea of “Landstadt, or ‘rural city’. Both of these programs aimed to make cities smaller and marginalize big industry, but at the same time created a comparison with the Soviet Union.

  2. I think that architecture is the answer to both maltzd and Kristin’s last questions. The landstadt was too small to be economically productive or inspire true national pride. The movement toward a more industrial and suburban system allowed the state to effectively unite the people through architecture. All of these governments engaged in enormous building project similar to Soviet Russia, which built new cities and settlements from scratch. Architecture is most effective at on large scales and when it directly channels faith towards the state (through the construction of courts, monuments, schools, etc).

  3. Fascism and the New Deal as well as the National Socialist government were all attempting to help their countries recover after the Great Depression. The leaders job became to turn the country inward and become economically self-sufficient and as a result they had to propose both propaganda and ideas to assist the country in it’s recovery. However, Schivelbusch states that “propaganda is only successful when it picks up existing ideas, opinions and desires and transforms them into a message of salvation” ((Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three New Deals, 136)). So perhaps the failure of some of the programs, such as landstadt,were a result of a disconnect between the propaganda, the proposed programs and the already existing ideas of the public.

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