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The History of Planning: Part II

This chapter covers the eight-decade period from the beginning of the Great Depression to the present day. The Depression years stand as an isolated decade sandwiched between the prosperous 1920s and the beginning of World War II. The period from the end of the war to the present is very different. Although marked by enormous social, political, and technological changes, it is a more or less continuous period. The 1930s was a period in which capitalism functioned very poorly and in which the enemy abroad, fascism, was on the political right. In the postwar period, capitalism in the United States, by and large, functioned well, and the enemy abroad, communism, was on the political left. Our former enemies had been defeated and were now our allies. Our former ally was now our mortal enemy. Then, in a series of remarkable events beginning in 1989, the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe and then the Soviet Union itself broke up, and the Cold War appeared to be over. These events will affect the background against which planning issues are decided well into the twenty-first century.

One theme of this book is that one cannot understand the history of planning by itself. One must see planning in a historic and an ideological context. This brief contrast between the 1930s and the postwar era is included to remind the reader to view the last eight decades of planning history against a changing ideological background.

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