Chapter 34. An Age of Anxiety. Postwar Pessimism. The “Lost Generation” Term coined by Gertrude Stein, the writer/playwright/art patron and godmother of Americans in-exile in Paris after the war.
An Age of Anxiety
Still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Many attacks on progress: Scientists and technological innovations were deemed responsible for the making of poisonous gas and explosives that killed millions and destroyed agriculture and cities.
Science and technology blamed for the industrialized mass killing and maiming of World War I.
Most western democracies granted suffrage to all men and women following the war, but faith in democracy’s ability to deal with complex problems of the modern world was waning.
Many intellectuals became disillusioned with democracy because they saw it as lacking positive values. Some worried about the democracy’s “rule of inferiors” and its tendency to reward mediocrity.
Henri Matisse, Blue Nude (Souvenir de Biskra), 1907
André Derain, Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1906,
Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1905-06
Bust of a Man, 1908
Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Bauhaus Dessau building designed by Gropius, opened in 1926
Poster for a 1923 Bauhaus exhibition
Oskar Schlemmer, Bauhaus Stairway, 1932
“Glass Boxes” of the “International Style”
United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan designed by Le Corbusier, completed in 1952
Lever House in Manhattan completed in 1952
Austria/Germany borrow money from U.S. to pay war debts to France and England
France and England pay debts owed to U.S. for WWI
System dependent on easy credit from U.S. banks
U.S. investors begin to call in German and Austrian loans in 1928 in part to put the money in the booming New York stock exchange
Dust storm in the U.S. Midwest in the 1930s
From The Grapes of Wrath (published 1939):
“The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in
the river and the guards hold them back; they
come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges,
but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still
and watch potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quicklime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; an in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.”
Thinkers like French physician Charles Richet believed that removing women from the workforce would solve the problem of male unemployment and increase the nation’s low birthrate.
Great Depression caused enormous personal suffering
Millions struggled for food, clothing, and shelter
Marriage and birthrates declined, suicide increased
Intensified social divisions and class hatreds
Great Depression Bread Line near the Brooklyn Bridge
Laissez-faire, “planned scarcity” approaches fail
Economist John M. Keynes (1883-1946) challenged classical economic theory: the belief that capitalism was self-correcting and operated best if left alone.
Keynes argued the depression was a problem of inadequate demand, not supply; therefore, governments should play an active role in stimulating economy and consumer demand.
Keynes: Health of the economy is not measured by production, but by employment.
The New Deal of President Franklin
Delano Roosevelt anticipated many of
After 1932, Roosevelt put in place
protections for the banking system, massive public works projects, and farm subsidies
Creates the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Legislation established minimum wage, social security, and the right to collective bargaining for workers' unions
WWII Spending: Whether New Deal worked is still debated; ultimately gearing up production for World War II lifted the depression.
In October 1917, Lenin led an armed
uprising against the Provisional Government.
Lenin renamed the Bolshevik Party
(“Minority Party”) as the Communist Party
in order to win wider support.
Civil War: Anti-Communist “Whites” fight
against new “Red” regime from 1917 to 1922.
In December 1917 Lenin set up a secret
police force known as the Cheka; agents spied on industrial workers and peasants and reported disloyalty.
Lenin launched the “Red Terror” campaign in September 1918 against anti-Soviet peasants, striking workers, and anyone associated with the White Guard. Some estimates say 50,000 people were arrested and executed in this period.
Lenin pushes for rapid implementation of Communist reforms during “War Communism” of Civil War period
Rapid collectivization of farms and confiscations of private property
Massively unpopular, Lenin backtracks in 1921
He initiates the New Economic Policy (NEP), which allows for partial privatization of the economy; marks a stepping back from pure Communist program
Lenin crushes workers’ strikes, peasant rebellions, and a sailor’s revolt.
The New Economic Policy (NEP) temporarily restored private enterprise in Russia.
Large industries, banks, and transportation and communications facilities remained under state control
Government returned small-scale industries to private ownership.
The government allowed peasants to sell their surpluses at free market prices.
Technical schools established
Stalin in the 1920s
Lenin suffers three debilitating strokes and dies Jan. 21, 1924.
Bitter power struggle among Bolshevik leaders ensues.
Lenin had written that Stalin was too rude and lacking finesse to become the Secretary-General.
Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky
in the Caucasus
Orthodox seminary education
Japan, Peru, Paraguay, Romania, Spain, etc.
Primacy of state over individual
Devotion to a strong leader
Ethnocentric: Faith in superiority of one’s own culture
Chauvinistic: Interests of one’s nation before all others
between 1930-1932, but did not have a majority