Leave it To Beaver was probably the most watched and the most popular family sitcom of the late 1950s and early 1960s. And it was America’s idea of the perfect family in the perfect suburban area.
Oh there were other family sitcoms that came before. Like Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show. My Three Sons that came after.and in the 1970s The Brady Bunch etc. Hollywood’s depiction of America for all to see. And America eat it up.
But like nearly all shows Hollywood came up with it was make believe. A fantasy that was about as far as one could get from reality. There were no minorities depicted in any way shape or form in these shows. All the children were even more perfect than in Lake Wobegon. Both parents were kind, caring, soft spoken and understanding. Wally never picked on The Beaver and Beaver rarely got into any real trouble. The teaches and school were perfect as well. Wise and understanding and patient. And when they finally became teenagers, there was not smoking of cigarettes or pot. Not beer or loud parties. All the women and girls wore nice dresses. And nobody was gay or had abortions or got pregnant.
I have live or visited all up and down the east coast of this country. From North Eastern Ohio. The rural areas to the City of Cleveland, suburban Phillie, Naples Florida, Miami Florida and Orlando/Winter Park Florida. I have never, ever come across any family or community that came anywhere near that which was depicted in Leave it To Beaver. No schools or teachers even close to that image. This was pure fantasy. But …
There are still a are number of people in this country that believe this was real. That saw their family as The Cleavers. That still see themselves as The Cleavers. That sill see this country like these neighborhoods. Perfect white enclaves for the upper middle class. None of those misbehaved poor people or minorities.
Not just the Tea Party Right Wing but a fair number of those who consider themselves “Lefties” as well.
And they see this a disappearing and they want it back. So they have the cops arrest anyone who looks out of place. Or even try to remake the area in this image politically and economically. to keep the riff-Raff out.
A white upper middle class utopia that never existed.
Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.
And in the last part of this segment on TRNN he articulates it with the 5 questions posed to him here. I shall embed it thusly.
Hedges dream is to organize massive protests. To get people out in the streets and to monkey wrench the PTB so that business as usual cannot go on. The end result being the removal of the current group of elites from power in a peaceful manner. The same dream I have read from others here and on other blogs and outlets.
The last time we had a massive outpouring of rage and discontent – though not in the streets – was in 2008 when the financial system locked up and Wall Street was about to tank and congress was ordered to pass a bill to refund the banks and Wall Street to rescue them with TAX money. This did not last long and Bush had little trouble getting congress to go along. Sure there was a small act of indignation but it was only and act and except for the fringes on the right and left, those typical Americans began to get quiet. Especially when it was reveled that it was their 401Ks and BMWs and McMansions Washington was trying to rescue from the abyss. Since had the system collapsed, it would have been the stock holders and bond holders via their financial planners and managers who would have been literally thrown out into the streets.
I say it’s a dream because this is the same country where dumping old people into nursing homes and forgetting them is the accepted practice. Where public education is for the great unwashed. And the general mantra is “anything that’s your problem is your problem and nobody else’s”.
So I wonder just how many people would be out on the streets…even if they began to round up dissenters or old people or immigrants and put them in detention camps or just exterminated them. Or would they just plead ignorance like the Germans who lived just outside “Auschwitz” and Chełmno did.
Or would it really only interest just a small circle of friends.
That was the question Bill Moyers presented on his Face Book page. It baffles my how anyone could ask this question. Or rather how they could compare our current situation with that of Brazil or Egypt or any other country that has the problems they do.
Since most of the people here live in places like this.
or this …
And not in places like this.
Maybe it because every time people do take to the streets they are confronted by this.
Or maybe they just aren’t motivated to for some other reason.
Carlos Sayadyan - Famine / wikimedia commons - flickr
We like to compare ourselves to Europe and the rest of the world a lot. Our economists do it, educators do it, health professionals do it even some politicians do it. In nearly every subject imaginable.
Those that like to extort what they call American exceptionalism and those that like to show how out of touch and behind we actually are.
Where here is one subject where most of the world has beat us from the time people originally settled here.
Yep…and they have had a bunch of them. Sometimes killing a million or more people from starvation and/or disease and plagues. We think of these as something that happens only in third world underdeveloped countries. Not so.
The closest we have come to the kind of famines that the rest of the world endured was Year Without a Summerwhere there were massive crop failures in the eastern part of the country. Even then farmers could pack up and leave and move west, which many did.
Those even in Europe did not always have that option and actually could not except to immigrate here. This was not an easy task and for most far to expensive. A good number of these famines were responsible for the immigration to this country. Like the Great Irish Famine in which up to 1,500,000 people immigrated
While the famine was responsible for a significant increase in emigration from Ireland, of anywhere from 45% to nearly 85% depending on the year and the county, it was not the sole cause. Nor was it even the era when mass emigration from Ireland commenced. That can be traced to the middle of the 18th century, when some 250,000 people left Ireland to settle in the New World alone, over a period of some 50 years. From the defeat of Napoleon to the beginning of the famine, a period of 30 years, “at least 1,000,000 and possibly 1,500,000 emigrated”. However, during the worst of the famine, emigration reached somewhere around 250,000 in one year alone, with far more emigrants leaving from western Ireland than any other part.
A large number of which immigrated to this country.
According to the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, in 1790 there were 400,000 Americans of Irish birth or ancestry out of a total white population of 3,100,000. Half of these Irish Americans were descended from Ulster people, and half were descended from the people of Connaught, Leinster and Munster.
According to U.S. Census figures from 2000, 41,000,000 Americans claim to be wholly or partly of Irish ancestry, a group that represents more than one in five white Americans.
Not only immigration but social, political and economic upheaval can be traced to famines. Most notably the French and Russian revolutions.
A history of not having enough to eat also influences the way one eats. Unlike here where we are used to putting whatever we can grab into our mouths and fast as possible, in Europe – and especially in France – meals are social occasions where one takes time to savor each part of each course. And when you don’t have much of any one item, you have as many items as you can. Hence the tradition of having multi course meals. Each served separately and prepared separately – since refrigeration came much, much later and each item had to be fresh.
These social occasions were where you talked over your day and what not.
Food wise this country has never really had it as bad as a lot of the rest of the world. Even during the depression of the 1930s, we did not ever have a situation where 100s of thousands of people died of starvation.
That is how it was put by Romney and his group in the last election, as Richard Wolff reminds us in his presentations. Such as this one. An economic Us vs Them but not entirely. This country is and has been unique in that it is one of the few countries that is not made up of a majority of people from the same racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. So there has been at least an undercurrent of racial/ethnic/religious animosity from the get go.
Add to that the economic and social differences, it’s actually pretty amazing we have not been at each others throats all along. There was great debate as to whether voting should be limited to only those who owned land or were bankers and merchants and yeoman farmers and on and on.
For a while Us was was limited to white anglo saxon men. And then divided up to men either those with money and prestige or those without IE workers and farmers etc. Depending on which group one belonged to. But it did not include and minorities or homosexuals. It included women but only as second class members with – for a while – no voting rights.
Racial bigotry wasn’t limited to blacks. There was Native Americans, Italians, Irish, Jews, Japanese, Chinese and even Germans. Some of it outrageous and some of subtle. Stereotypes and caricatures galore.
Social too. The Hillbilly and Farmers and Southerners and rednecks and city slickers etc. In movies and comic books and on TV and radio…….
And all was fine as long as They kept their place and kept quiet. The war or animosity between the business owners and the workers is nearly as long and in a way rather ironic and most of those who became business owners originally here, came from the working classes over there. Both groups convinced that They are the ones who do the work and They are the ones who make the country great and They are the ones who deserve respect. And that the Others should be grateful and are lazy and uncouth etc.
After WWII and the availability of higher education came another group of educated professionals that did not exist in such great numbers who also spit but this time along more ideological lines of US vs Them. Neither one fully or actually identifying with either of the previous groups. Since they were not part of the rich elites or the working classes. A new bourgeoisie as it were or elites wannabee. Wishing they were rich and quite often trying to live like such.
But then another group emerged. One I first had contact with in the late 1970s. Baby-boomers who rejected the college educated crowd and intellectuals. Who felt that they had been somehow betrayed by them. Angry, disenchanted people who wanted to relate to the proletarians or working stiffs but were quite often well educated. Distrustful of the educated liberals who they thought had betrayed their ideals but not really from the working classes either. An Us vs Them that is not nearly as well defined.
So maybe when Richard Wolff and others ask how come We and not rising up against Them in outrage, it’s because We are not all that sure who We are. Not nearly as clear now as it was in the past.
Just as there was great support for Japanese military atrocities in Japan and Nazi atrocities in Germany during Hitler’s time and Generalissimo Francisco Franco in Spain and Stalin in the USSR. Not just out of fear but also because people there were doing OK under these regimes.
Germany has strict and harsh laws against denial of the Holocaust and tribute to Hitler but I wonder how long this would last should they find themselves in the same situation that led to his rise initially. And how many would dare to speak out such as these young people did.
Liselotte Furst-Ramdohr, already a widow at the age of 29 following her husband’s death on the Russian front, was introduced to the White Rose group by her friend, Alexander Schmorell.
“I can still see Alex today as he told me about it,” says Furst-Ramdohr, now a spry 99-year-old. “He never said the word ‘resistance’, he just said that the war was dreadful, with the battles and so many people dying, and that Hitler was a megalomaniac, and so they had to do something.”
Schmorell and his friends Christoph Probst and Hans Scholl had started writing leaflets encouraging Germans to join them in resisting the Nazi regime.
With the help of a small group of collaborators, they distributed the leaflets to addresses selected at random from the phone book.
Furst-Ramdohr says the group couldn’t understand how the German people had been so easily led into supporting the Nazi Party and its ideology.
“They must have been able to tell how bad things were, it was ridiculous,” she says. – BBC Website
They distributed pamphlets all over the area including to the University of Munich. Where they were spotted by a caretaker who call the Gestapo who came and took them away.
There was a trial with a quick verdict followed even quicker by an execution in the courtyard by guillotine. Now The White Rose are considered heroes and have a monument. But as Furst-Ramdohr says ….
Since the end of the war, the members of the White Rose have become celebrated figures, as German society has searched for positive role models from the Nazi period.
But Furst-Ramdohr doesn’t like it. “At the time, they’d have had us all executed,” she says of the majority of her compatriots. - BBC Website
Such as those who were killed here at Kent State or Jackson State are considered heroes…or were.
We haven’t had any execution here yet of protestors but the silence of those in LA concerning the LAPD, the attacks on OWS and the imprisonment of Bradly Manning with very little outcry except some on the political left – leaves me to wonder. As to why the German people of time supported Hitler and hist actions actively and even passively ? Here is one explanation.
A well-respected German historian has a radical new theory to explain a nagging question: Why did average Germans so heartily support the Nazis and Third Reich? Hitler, says Goetz Aly, was a “feel good dictator,” a leader who not only made Germans feel important, but also made sure they were well cared-for by the state. To do so, he gave them huge tax breaks and introduced social benefits that even today anchor the society. He also ensured that even in the last days of the war not a single German went hungry. Despite near-constant warfare, never once during his 12 years in power did Hitler raise taxes for working class people. He also — in great contrast to World War I — particularly pampered soldiers and their families, offering them more than double the salaries and benefits that American and British families received. As such, most Germans saw Nazism as a “warm-hearted” protector, says Aly, author of the new book “Hitler’s People’s State: Robbery, Racial War and National Socialism” [TC: I cannot find it on U.S. Amazon, trythis German link] and currently a guest lecturer at the University of Frankfurt. They were only too happy to overlook the Third Reich’s unsavory, murderous side. Financing such home front “happiness” was not simple and Hitler essentially achieved it by robbing and murdering others, Aly claims. Jews. Slave laborers. Conquered lands. All offered tremendous opportunities for plunder, and the Nazis exploited it fully, he says.
Sound familiar ? Bread and Circuses works every time. Which could explain why so many here are pretty OK with the status quo. As long as they themselves are well taken care of and are doing OK, that’s all that matters, regardless of how the rest are doing.
“Deadbeat Nation” sounds like a great name for book. And as it turns out, it is a book. In A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America’s Financial Disasters, William & Mary professor Scott Reynolds Nelson argues that American history consists of a never-ending string of defaults at the individual, municipal, and state levels. Credit bubbles alternately finance transformative policies like westward expansion and infrastructure improvements, and then remake the nation’s political landscape when they invariably pop. Economist Tyler Cowen, in a New York Times Magazinereview last July, needed just one sentence to summarize the book: “We have hardly ever had a well-functioning banking system.”
What this means is that from the very beginning the finances of this country were based on fraud. Watch the video here.
In this he shows how nearly all the financial disasters and crisis can be traced back to bank and financier investments that were dodgy at best and fraudulent at worst. What Nelson I think does not realize is that in this he also shows how capitalism itself is at it’s very core is based on fraud, swindling and corruption. And at the head are the bankers.
I have watched a number of these types of videos and read a number of articles and online books of this sort by various economic and financial historians etc. all with the stated or unstated premiss that there is nothing wrong with capitalism providing it is done honestly.
Then each one without exception goes on to show unequivocally that there is no such thing as honest capitalism. There never has been and probably never will be.
One of the main topics these days has been about how to “save the system”. Meaning our current political and economic system here and maybe elsewhere. Or the eventual collapse of same regardless of what anyone does or attempts to do.
And one of the main aspects of this is then context in which this is being done. As if the time after WWII and the depression of the 1930s is the way things have always been and the attitudes there in were the way people always were. The problem here is that anyone who has read any history should know – this is false. But most of us still alive think this way. Those of us born after WWII. The so called Baby Boomers and their off spring.
Before WWII unless you were born into a “Middle Class” family – and I am using the wikipedia definition here, the college educated professional class – your life would be pretty rough. Either working a farm or on one or working in some factory in some metro area for horrible pay and lousy working conditions and lousy housing. And that is if you were white. If you were a minority, it was even rougher.
There were no suburbs or interstate highways or big box discount stores. Health care was minimal, if at all. And the depression made this all much worse. For farmers thing were already getting rough with droughts that precede the dust bowl and the depression. Not to mention that just prior to this in the late 1800s, grain prices had gone down a black hole do to over production caused by the mechanization of farming.
And unless you were born into a very well off family, higher education was pretty much out of the question. There were few state universities and the private ones were beyond all but the very fortunate.
Babe boomers however had it much much better. Our parents got to go to college thanks to Uncle Sam if they were in the service. State Universities were being built along with community colleges. The war and what followed created a huge demand for workers not know before hand. There was a major building boom do to the lack of housing and suburbs popped up like weeds. Unemployment was low and wages were going up. If you were white, during this period, you future was a hell of lot more rosy than you parents was. And most kids then were expected to go to college if they had anything on the ball at all. A major change from previous generations.
Now here is the problem. We were all told – on the radio, television, by our parents and in school – this is the way things are and the ways things will always be. Maybe not on those words, but that was the message. We were not told that this was primarily because the US was the only show in town. That the rest of the world was in the stone age or had been bombed into the stone age. That a very large number of the jobs out there had to do with make weapons to fight those horrible communists. That the cheap gas and oil etc. were provided by US companies that used slave labor to steal it from other less developed nations.
And to tell you the truth few if any of us cared. We were too busy with rock and roll and the beat generation. Hot Rods and girls. The space race. A few of us became aware of racial bigotry and civil rights and began to come a bit more involved with this. Joining marches and protests and singing songs. But with the intention of returning to our nice comfortable lives.
The Vietnam war geared up and more of us get involved with protesting that – primarily to keep our heads from being blown off. And with the intention of returning to our nice comfortable lives. But along the way a lot of us became very disenchanted with our government and political system. We grew up idealistic and getting pretty much what we wanted. We expected to be treated well and listened to and when we were not… When we were treated like some kind of inconvenient pest, a large number developed a deep seated resentment. And far too often this was passed on to their children as well.
We were going to change the world…the system and when we could not, felt betrayed by the whole establishment. Government, education, corporate…you name it. But our expectations were unreal. We were unaware or refused to accept that the times and our it’s prosperity were one huge propaganda event. To show the world that our system was so much better that the “other” system. And as soon as this was no longer necessary, tossed aside like a used newspaper.
Because far too many of us – of my generation, the boomers – would not completely see that because we were white that others were not, was a big reason why our lives had been so comfortable. And that as soon as that was no longer necessary, we would become unnecessary as well.
We had the privilege to live a fantasy. A Disney kind of life for a while. But the fantasy is over. Time to get real.
America has been called the great melting pot. If so, then to me at least, it’s more like fondue that has gone horribly wrong. This great mixing of cultures has yielded a country that is becoming more splintered and divided each year. Instead of molding the traditions and cultural values that were brought over here by those from other areas into one, a number of these beliefs and values have been lost or simply tossed aside.
A country where personal agendas and monetary rewards take president over relationships and community. I remember when it was not so much. When everything did not have a price and avarice was considered by most to be crude and uncouth. Where you went out of your way from friends because friendship meant something. Where people looked out for one another and supported one another. Where jingoistic propaganda was not necessary to get people to back and idea or action. Where everything did not have to be sold by a carnival barker.
I remember a time when a cabbage could sell itself just by being a cabbage. Nowadays it’s no good being a cabbage-unless you have an agent and pay him a commission. Nothing is free any more to sell itself or give itself away. These days, Countess, every cabbage has it’s pimp. -Rag Picker “The Madwoman of Chaillot“
Morris Berman brings this up using Seinfeld as a definitive example.
In the case of the Seinfeld scripts, Jerry provided the upbeat, overt aspect of the show’s humor, while Larry David supplied the subtext. Larry’s vision, especially about America, was quite dark. As a result, there is an undercurrent in the episodes, one which says that the United States is a country in which friendship is pretty much a sham and community nonexistent; a society where nobody gives a damn about anybody else.
This is true not only in the way that the four central characters–Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer–relate to those outside their little circle, but also in the way they relate to each other. They often talk simultaneously, “through” each other, as though the other person weren’t even present. All four of them appear to have only one motive: advancement of their own personal and immediate goals. In a word, the show is actually about the callousness, the almost autistic indifference, of daily life in America; and this is revealed in episode after episode.
Berman then gives a half a dozen plot synopsis as examples of this. But he leaves out I think a very important aspect in the socio economic context. That of the upper class white areas. The gated communities and those with home owners associations and condos and what not. Upper class suburbia and upper class town houses etc. But even the series Friends tried to play this kind of relationship for laughs as well, though with a bit more subtlety.
Among the poor and black and asian and latino communities, this is not the case. At least not nearly as much. For they need to have more brotherhood and fellowship to make it. And from my own small experience they do. This deep rooted community spirit was most prevalent within various ethnic and cultural areas but rarely between different ones. It was also quite visible in rural family farming areas and amongst those who were laborers and blue collar workers as well. It helped to bring together unions and other organizations. It was this value system and attitude that pushed us forward and paved the way for the inventions and progressive attitudes.
So it should come as no surprise that as this value of brotherhood and community as diminished, so have the unions and other organizations. The “Me Generation” and their offspring have take over. Born with a silver spoon in their mouths, dishwashers to keep them clean and sanitary and a guaranteed income from their bought and payed for education. Those that want to throw out anything that they personally do not benefit from but costs them money. A nation that goes to war for no good reason but to further someones agenda. Where Ayn Rand can is a popular metaphor. And as Berman points out at the end of his piece:
When Jerry phones his lawyer, “Jackie Chiles” (a Johnnie Cochran look-alike), to explain that they were arrested for not coming to someone’s aid, Jackie explodes with indignation: “Why, that’s ridiculous!” he barks. “You don’t have to help anybody. That’s what this country is all about!” As the popular American expression has it, He got that one right.
The trial over, the judge sentences our heroes to a year in jail, commenting that “your callous disregard for other human beings threatens to rock the very foundations of society.” But which society? What the show tells us, in episode after episode, is that callous disregard for other human beings is the foundation of society–American society, that is. And so the subtext finally breaks through in no uncertain terms: Seinfeld was A Show About Something, after all.
Seinfeld ran for 10 seasons and was one of the most popular shows at the time. And no wonder, it presented American upper class values to a tee. This show about nothing in a country about noting.
“History is a set of lies that people have agreed upon,” Napoleon said. “Even when I am gone, I shall remain in people’s minds the star of their rights, my name will be the war cry of their efforts, the motto of their hopes.”
It has always been thus, that people will glorify and embellish the past to suit their own egos. Especially when it comes to wars and the victors but even the losers as well. With stories and monuments and what not. Hollywood has made a fortune on this. Books by the millions have been written glorifying the past one way or another.
The split between those in Memphis who hold up authentic heroes—those who fought to protect, defend and preserve life, such as [Ida B.]Wells and Burkle—and those who memorialize slave traders and bigots such as Forrest points up a disturbing rise of a neo-Confederate ideology in the South. Honoring figures like [Nathan Bedford] Forrestin Memphis while ignoring Wells would be like erecting a statue to the Nazi death camp commander Amon Goeth in the Czech Republic town of Svitavy, the birthplace of Oskar Schindler, who rescued 1,200 Jews.
The rewriting of history in the South is a retreat by beleaguered whites into a mythical self-glorification. I witnessed a similar retreat during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia’s economy deteriorated, ethnic groups built fantasies of a glorious past that became a substitute for history. They sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities to restore this mythological past. The embrace by nationalist groups of a nonreality-based belief system made communication with other ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural language. There was no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth. A similar disconnect was illustrated last week in Memphis when the chairman of the city’s parks committee, William Boyd, informed the council that Forrest “promoted progress for black people in this country after the war.” Boyd argued that the KKK was “more of a social club” at its inception and didn’t begin carrying out “bad and horrific things” until it reconstituted itself with the rise of the modern civil rights movement.
This is not limited to political history but to economic history as well. Idolizing the events and leaders of a past that was not nearly as glorious and successful as even those of us who lived it would like to imagine. The post WWII era and FDR’s New Deal. Which either helped tremendously or hindered horribly our economic endeavors. Depending on which revisionist history one adheres to. It generally was not quite that clear cut.
The Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s and (supposed) prosperity following WWII seems to be the current interest of both the right and the left. All conveniently forgetting that this was simply one of many economic downturns and may not even have been the worst. The depression of the late 1800s was by some accounts far worse and even lasted far longer.
But the economic fundamentals were shaky. Wheat exporters from Russia and Central Europe faced a new international competitor who drastically undersold them. The 19th-century version of containers manufactured in China and bound for Wal-Mart consisted of produce from farmers in the American Midwest. They used grain elevators, conveyer belts, and massive steam ships to export trainloads of wheat to abroad. Britain, the biggest importer of wheat, shifted to the cheap stuff quite suddenly around 1871. By 1872 kerosene and manufactured food were rocketing out of America’s heartland, undermining rapeseed, flour, and beef prices. The crash came in Central Europe in May 1873, as it became clear that the region’s assumptions about continual economic growth were too optimistic. Europeans faced what they came to call the American Commercial Invasion. A new industrial superpower had arrived, one whose low costs threatened European trade and a European way of life.
As continental banks tumbled, British banks held back their capital, unsure of which institutions were most involved in the mortgage crisis. The cost to borrow money from another bank — the interbank lending rate — reached impossibly high rates. This banking crisis hit the United States in the fall of 1873. Railroad companies tumbled first. They had crafted complex financial instruments that promised a fixed return, though few understood the underlying object that was guaranteed to investors in case of default. (Answer: nothing). The bonds had sold well at first, but they had tumbled after 1871 as investors began to doubt their value, prices weakened, and many railroads took on short-term bank loans to continue laying track. Then, as short-term lending rates skyrocketed across the Atlantic in 1873, the railroads were in trouble. When the railroad financier Jay Cooke proved unable to pay off his debts, the stock market crashed in September, closing hundreds of banks over the next three years. The panic continued for more than four years in the United States and for nearly six years in Europe. The long-term effects of the Panic of 1873 were perverse. For the largest manufacturing companies in the United States — those with guaranteed contracts and the ability to make rebate deals with the railroads — the Panic years were golden. Andrew Carnegie, Cyrus McCormick, and John D. Rockefeller had enough capital reserves to finance their own continuing growth. For smaller industrial firms that relied on seasonal demand and outside capital, the situation was dire. As capital reserves dried up, so did their industries. Carnegie and Rockefeller bought out their competitors at fire-sale prices. The Gilded Age in the United States, as far as industrial concentration was concerned, had begun.
As the panic deepened, ordinary Americans suffered terribly. A cigar maker named Samuel Gompers who was young in 1873 later recalled that with the panic, “economic organization crumbled with some primeval upheaval.” Between 1873 and 1877, as many smaller factories and workshops shuttered their doors, tens of thousands of workers — many former Civil War soldiers — became transients. The terms “tramp” and “bum,” both indirect references to former soldiers, became commonplace American terms. Relief rolls exploded in major cities, with 25-percent unemployment (100,000 workers) in New York City alone. Unemployed workers demonstrated in Boston, Chicago, and New York in the winter of 1873-74 demanding public work. In New York’s Tompkins Square in 1874, police entered the crowd with clubs and beat up thousands of men and women. The most violent strikes in American history followed the panic, including by the secret labor group known as the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania’s coal fields in 1875, when masked workmen exchanged gunfire with the “Coal and Iron Police,” a private force commissioned by the state. A nationwide railroad strike followed in 1877, in which mobs destroyed railway hubs in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Cumberland, Md. The Real Great Depression – Scott Reynolds Nelson
But both sides of the debate really do not like talking about this part of history since upon close examination it revels how shaky the argument for capitalism really is. For this is the era that Marx was writing in and about. This crisis of capitalism that so parallels our own current situation. But that was the late 1800s and the capitalists were still able to grow and invent their way out of this mess. At least temporarily.
Inventions and growth though have built in limitations as well. This is one crisis that will not be grown out of or invented out of or even be solved by imperialistic wars, such as those used by Germany in the 1930s.
And like all eras of history, it has been glossed over by those who would like to think the years prior to WWI were so peaceful and nostalgic. Conveniently forgetting how horrific they actually were so as to vindicate their own agendas.
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