Youth Movements And Anti-War Pacifism...Of The 1930s?
By Ed Driscoll · August 21, 2007 11:40 PM · Bobos In Paradise · The Return of the Primitive · War And Anti-War
I picked up a copy of Diana West’s The Death of the Grown-up at Borders tonight; it's a topic that certainly fascinates me (see these previous posts for some related thoughts), while I'm sympathetic to John Leo's criticism in the Wall Street Journal, it certainly seems like there's still plenty of material for West to mine.
In his latest Bleat, James Lileks excerpts this passage of Leo's review:
The 1920s is a far better place to begin detecting the seeds of adolescent revolution, but Ms. West thinks not. She finds "no mention of teen-age problems" in the famous Middletown studies done in Muncie, Ind., in the '20s and '30s by Robert Lynd and Helen Merrill Lynd. But in fact the Lynds noted the rising conflict in Middletown between parents and their young. Arguments about too much drinking (this was during Prohibition) and staying out too late were common. The automobile, mass produced and available to ordinary families, offered the young the means of forming peer groups and a place to have sex.In response, Lileks asks us to "Imagine a 60s-style youth movement in the 30s":
Can you imagine these people grooving to Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway at Woodstock? (Armstrong, after all, did enjoy the herb.) If the Depression hadn’t been as severe, and the youth of the thirties had fought the draft and argued for pacifism, could we have fought WW2?Actually, it's one of the great what-ifs to ponder how close we came to just that last item.
From all accounts, Stalin was apparently quite shocked that Hitler decided to violate his pact with the Soviet Union, and spent a week in deep depression immediately afterwards, even as Nazi Germany was racing through the USSR. Prior to that though, as I've written before, American-based communists such as Pete Seeger, Dalton Trumbo, and Charles Chaplin, were all, in their own way, issuing material whose pacifistic sentiments would have been right at home in the anti-Vietnam war late-1960s. As would these elite British youth of the late 1930s, prompting George Orwell to write, "Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist", a truism to this day.
There's another interesting 1930s and '40s-themed review that went up yesterday, this one by David Frum, of Gotz Aly's Hitler's Beneficiaries (which I'm also working my way through, contra Pat.), a sort of Mirror Universe version of Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man:
Gotz Aly's Hitler's Beneficiaries doesn't look like an explosive book. Written in a dry, unsensational style, it studies that driest and least sensational of subjects: public finance.None of that seems entirely surprisingly; David Ramsay Steele's 2003 essay on "The Mystery of Fascism", seems to dovetail remarkably well with the above passage.
(Incidentally, Reason also had an good review of Hitler's Beneficiaries that's also well worth your time.)
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