The Thirties

In the previous article, I briefly mentioned how the Great Depression and World War II were a gigantic detour from the logic of the new Modern values which supplanted Victorianism and put down their roots in the Roaring Twenties. The country had to unify, confront and overcome a major economic and international crisis before domestic life could return to normal in the postwar era.

The Lost Generation, GI Generation and Silent Generation lived through the Great Depression and World War II in middle age, young adulthood and childhood respectively and led America through the Cold War. The shared memory and experience of those hard times gave the country a false sense of stability and seriousness which wasn’t passed on to the Baby Boomers, Generation X or the Millennials. As a result, American culture was far more cohesive in the early postwar era when the Silents were growing up in the 1950s and the Boomers were being born than it had been in the 1910s and 1920s.

In a sense, the Thirties and Forties put the Roaring Twenties on ice until the economic expansion of the Thirty Glorious Years. The American liberal intelligentsia became more liberal, modernist, antiracist and cosmopolitan in this decade, but as a practical matter the ordinary American was now too broke to live out the new values. The federal government couldn’t afford to wrangle over civil rights because of the economy and international situation. Even the writers of the Lost Generation who had been living it up in Paris and the South of France had to come home when the economy collapsed.

Conservatism was hurled into the dustbin of American politics for causing the Great Depression. It wouldn’t begin to crawl back out of it until the 1970s.

About Hunter Wallace 9630 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

8 Comments

  1. What you have been posting, looks to me like exhaustive note and/or sample chapters of a book that you should be writing. I would buy it if it came out before my present incarnation expires (I am now seventy-six years old).

    BTW, I think you Southern Nationalists will get your wish once the United States fragments.

  2. Hunter Wallace:
    The Lost Generation, GI Generation and Silent Generation lived through the Great Depression and World War II in middle age, young adulthood and childhood respectively and led America through the Cold War. The shared memory and experience of those hard times gave the country a false sense of stability and seriousness which wasn’t passed on to the Baby Boomers, Generation X or the Millennials. As a result, American culture was far more cohesive in the early postwar era when the Silents were growing up in the 1950s and the Boomers were being born than it had been in the 1910s and 1920s. Conservatism was hurled into the dustbin of American politics for causing the Great Depression. It wouldn’t begin to crawl back out of it until the 1970s.

    I understand what you’re trying to get across, but I don’t think it’s totally accurate. Affluence in any society, especially after a period of despair, leads to a more generous progressive mindset among the populace which is why civil rights gained traction in the 50s and triumphed in the 60s instead of during the 30s and 40s. 1950s America was the most prosperous society in history and produced the largest middle class ever, so how was it a false sense of stability when it really was stable?

    Conservatism was still behind the scenes even during the Depression and that’s why FDR said he wanted to save capitalism instead of ushering in socialism which was a serious threat in the country at the time. The conservative coalition of Old Right Republicans and Dixiecrats in Congress blocked or watered down much of FDR’s New Deal. Goldwater wouldn’t have gotten the GOP nomination if conservatives were in the dustbin until the 70s.

    Wally Wally
    Trump Trump

    • Here is what I would say in response:

      1.) As president, FDR kept civil rights on the backburner throughout his presidency due to the circumstances of the Great Depression and World War II. The economy and foreign policy dominated his presidency. The issue had come up in the late 1930s and revealed divisions in the Democratic Party when Southern Democrats blocked an anti-lynching bill. The New Deal coalition united conservative Southern Democrats in an unstable coalition with Eastern progressives.

      2.) Racial attitudes were completely transformed by World War II. The decisive years in which racial attitudes changed were 1938 to 1945. Even if FDR had tried to move on civil rights, there wasn’t public support for it at the time.

      3.) Civil rights rose to the top of the agenda when Truman became president in 1945. During World War II, both political parties became committed to civil rights reform. Truman moved on civil rights to appeal to the black vote in Northern cities which had been growing due the influx of blacks who moved North to work in wartime industries.

      4.) I wouldn’t attribute civil rights to the prosperity of the Thirty Glorious Years. The far more important cause was the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Foreign policy dominated America in the Cold War era.

      5.) Goldwater won the Republican nomination, but went down in a landslide defeat because his views on economics were considered too radical at the time. This changed in the 1970s when the economy entered stagflation and during the backlash to all the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

      • 1. The New Deal united urban and Catholic whites, Jews, blacks and other nonwhites, and Dixiecrats in an unsteady coalition that split in the 60s. Depression and WWII aside, FDR didn’t pursue civil rights because he didn’t want to offend most of this coalition to help blacks and he wasn’t as progressive as his wife Eleanor on the subject. His private writings on race were insensitive and keep in mind he interned not only American born Japanese on the West Coast, but he also restricted the civil liberties of Italian and German immigrants. Joe DiMaggio was the greatest baseball player but even his parents weren’t immune from FDR’s wartime actions. Republicans J Edgar Hoover and Ike opposed what Democrat FDR did.

        2. Many of the liberal elites changed their racial attitudes during and right after the war, but most Americans didn’t and academia wasn’t hijacked by the left. How do you explain racial differences being taught in schools and schoolbooks, cartoons, shows, and movies being unabashedly pro-West even until the 60s? Americans didn’t vote for most of the civil rights victories in the 50s and 60s–they were court victories.

        3. I don’t think it was that simplistic because both parties had factions that opposed the civil rights movement: the Dixiecrats in the Democrat Party and the Old Right and libertarians in the GOP. The liberal Dems and Rockefeller Repubs cooperated to pass civil rights legislation. Truman desegregated the military, but he didn’t want to go as far as something like Brown vs. Board. He only went as far as the Dixiecrats would tolerate at the time, which shows racial attitudes weren’t as progressive as you may think they were back then. Both parties play politics, but the Democrats do it way more because they’ve tolerated slavery and segregation in the past. They now condone anti-white racism and want to keep people poor, especially blacks and Hispanics, for votes.

        4. I agree most of Congress supported civil rights during the 50s and 60s because our Soviet enemies were using anti-American propaganda to expand the Soviet sphere of influence in the developing world. But prosperity played a part in the American public accepting some of the reforms. History shows when society is rich and comfortable it becomes more open to change and liberal thinking. That’s why civil rights attempts failed before the postwar consensus. Foreign examples are Saudi Arabia and Russia. Both are wealthier now than ever and women and minorities have gained more civil rights.

        5. The fact that William F Buckley was able to get a TV show, forge a conservative coalition, and start the National Review and Goldwater got the nomination shows conservatives weren’t completely out of the picture after the Depression. I think you’re confusing laissez-faire with “conservatism.” I agree laissez-faire economics lost all credibility but that began during the Progressive Era before the Great Depression. Even during the conservative Roaring Twenties, the income tax on wealthier Americans became a permanent fixture and Progressive Era reforms stood intact. I think conservatism was still a sizable force and that’s why FDR refused to grant visas to Italian and German aliens during the war and Hart Celler didn’t happen until 65. Can you see even Trump trying to do what FDR did with immigration?
        If the mainstream media and Democrat Party hadn’t overblown Watergate then Nixon would’ve finished his second term as one of the greatest Presidents, Carter wouldn’t have been elected, Reagan wouldn’t have won, amnesty wouldn’t have passed as it did, the GOP would be more competitive, there would be less diversity which means less racial conflict, and perhaps things would be better now.

        Wally Wally
        Trump Trump

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. The GOP and Cultural Change – Occidental Dissent

Leave a Reply