May 9, 2009

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“As In The Twenties, Voices Of Protest Were Attacked As “Subversive,” or “Un-American.”” Robert Goldston

“The New Deal reached a stalemate in 1938 and was drowned by the war. Unfortunately, also drowned was the spirit which had supported it. The years following World War II were to see a dreary repetition of the hysteria, public apathy, and return to overweening private greed which marked the years after World War I. There was to be another and even more damaging “red scare” presided over by Wisconsin’ Senator Joe McCarthy (and supported by a large segment of the American people). There was to be a return to business ethics and private morality in place of the public ethics of the thirties. Bruce Barton’s revelation of Christ as a businessman was hardly more indicative of the spirit of the twenties than General Motors President Charles Wilson’s brusque “What’s-Good-For-General-Motors-Is-Good-For-America” was of the fifties. While the newfound prosperity of America was poured into goods, services and hardware, into ever bigger and more vulgar automobiles, ever flashier kitchens, ever more clever gadgets, it was to be withheld from the public sector of the economy. The shiny new cars cluttered poorly paved city streets. The flashy kitchens were often found in crumbling public housing. Well-dressed children attended public schools whose buildings were a national disgrace; they were taught by teachers whose salaries were a national shame. And once again, as in the twenties, voices of protest against the decay of public community were attacked as “subversive,” or “un-American.””

Robert Goldston, The Great Depression: The United States In The Thirties (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968).

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