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robertogreco : 1930s   18

Cooperative Economy in the Great Depression | Jonathan Rowe
"Entrepreneurs of cooperation
Before Social Security and the WPA, the Unemployed Exchange Association rebuilt a collapsed economy"



"The mood at kitchen tables in California in the early 1930s was as bleak as it was elsewhere in the United States. Factories were closed. More than a quarter of the breadwinners in the state were out of work. There were no federal or state relief programs, nothing but some local charity—in Los Angeles County, a family of four got about 50 cents a day, and only one in 10 got even that.

Not long before, America had been a farming nation. When times were tough, there was still the land. But the country was becoming increasingly urban. People were dependent on this thing called “the economy” and the financial casino to which it was yoked. When the casino crashed, there was no fallback, just destitution. Except for one thing: The real economy was still there — paralyzed but still there. Farmers still were producing, more than they could sell. Fruit rotted on trees, vegetables in the fields. In January 1933, dairymen poured more than 12,000 gallons of milk into the Los Angeles City sewers every day.

The factories were there too. Machinery was idle. Old trucks were in side lots, needing only a little repair. All that capacity on the one hand, legions of idle men and women on the other. It was the financial casino that had failed, not the workers and machines. On street corners and around bare kitchen tables, people started to put two and two together. More precisely, they thought about new ways of putting twoand two together.

Building a reciprocal economy

In the spring of 1932, in Compton, California, an unemployed World War I veteran walked out to the farms that still ringed Los Angeles. He offered his labor in return for a sack of vegetables, and that evening he returned with more than his family needed. The next day a neighbor went out with him to the fields. Within two months 500 families were members of the Unemployed Cooperative Relief Organization (UCRO).

That group became one of 45 units in an organization that served the needs of some 150,000 people.

It operated a large warehouse, a distribution center, a gas and service station, a refrigeration facility, a sewing shop, a shoe shop, even medical services, all on cooperative principles. Members were expected to work two days a week, and benefits were allocated according to need. A member with a wife and two kids got four times as much food as someone living alone. The organization was run democratically, and social support was as important as material support. Members helped one another resist evictions; sometimes they moved a family back in after a landlord had put them out. Unemployed utility workers turned on gas and electricity for families that had been cut off.

Conventional histories present the Depression as a story of the corporate market, foiled by its own internal flaws, versus the federal government, either savvy mechanic or misguided klutz, depending on your view.The government ascended, in the form of the New Deal; and so was born the polarity of our politics—and the range of our economic possibilities—ever since.

Yet there was another story too. It embodied the trusty American virtues of initiative, responsibility, and self-help, but in a way that was grounded in community and genuine economy. This other story played out all over the U.S., for a brief but suggestive moment in the early 1930s.

The UCRO was just one organization in one city. Groups like it ultimately involved more than 1.3 million people, in more than 30 states. It happened spontaneously, without experts or blueprints. Most of the participants were blue collar workers whose formal schooling had stopped at high school. Some groups evolved a kind of money to create more flexibility in exchange. An example was the Unemployed Exchange Association, or UXA, based in Oakland, California. (The UXA story was told in an excellent article in the weekly East Bay Express in1983, on which the following paragraphs are based.) UXA began in a Hooverville (an encampment of the poor during the Depression, so-called after the president) called “Pipe City,” near the East Bay waterfront. Hundreds of homeless people were living there in sections of large sewer pipe that were never laid because the city ran out of money. Among them was Carl Rhodehamel, a musician and engineer.

Rhodehamel and others started going door to door in Oakland, offering to do home repairs in exchange for unwanted items. They repaired these and circulated them among themselves. Soon they established a commissary and sent scouts around the city and intothe surrounding farms to see what they could scavenge or exchange labor for. Within six months they had 1,500 members, and a thriving sub-economy that included a foundry and machine shop, woodshop, garage,soap factory, print shop, wood lot, ranches, and lumber mills. They rebuilt 18 trucks from scrap. At UXA’s peak it distributed 40 tons of food a week.

It all worked on a time-credit system. Each hour worked earned a hundred points; there was no hierarchyof skills, and all work paid the same. Members could use credits to buy food and other items at the commissary, medical and dental services, haircuts, an dmore. A council of some 45 coordinators met regularly to solve problems and discuss opportunities.

One coordinator might report that a saw needed a new motor. Another knew of a motor but the owner wanted a piano in return. A third member knew of a piano that was available. And on and on. It was an amalgam of enterprise and cooperation—the flexibility and hustle of the market, but without the encoded greed of the corporation or the stifling bureaucracy of the state. The economics texts don’t really have a name for it. The members called it a “reciprocal economy.”

The dream fades

It would seem that a movement that provided livelihood for more than 300,000 people in California alone would merit discussion in the history books. Amidst the floundering of the early 1930s, this was something that actually worked. Yet in most accounts the self-help co-ops get barely a line.

The one exception is Upton Sinclair’s campaign for governor in 1934. Sinclair was a kind of Ralph Nader of his day. He based his campaign on a plan he called End Poverty in California, or EPIC, which was based in turn on the self-help cooperatives, UXA in particular. It would have taken the state’s idle farmland and factories and turned them into worker co-ops.

The idea of a genuine economy shorn of Wall Street contrivance touched a chord. Some 2,000 EPIC clubs sprang up. Sinclair won the Democratic primary, but California’s moneyed establishment mustered $10 million dollars to pummel him. EPIC died with his campaign, and the idea has been associated with quixotic politics ever since.

To say UXA and the other cooperative economies faced challenges is to put it mildly. They were going against the grain of an entire culture. Anti-communist “Red Squads” harassed them, while radicals complained they were too practical and not sufficiently committed to systemic change.

But the main thing that killed the co-ops was the Works Progress Administration and its cash jobs. Those WPA jobs were desperately needed. But someof them were make-work, while the co-op work was genuinely productive.

The co-ops pleaded with FDR’s Administration to include them in the WPA. Local governments were helping with gasoline and oil. But the New Dealers weren’t interested, and the co-ops melted away. For years they were period pieces, like soup lines and Okies.

Or so it seemed.

Today, the signs of financial and ecological collapse are mounting. We are strung out on foreign debt and foreign oil, and riding real estate inflation that won’t last forever. Add the impendingc ollapse of the natural life support system, and the ’30s could seem benign by comparison.

In this setting, the economics of self-help are increasingly relevant. The possibility of creating such an economy, though, might seem remote. In the 1930s, there still were farms on the outskirts of cities—family operations that could make barter deals on the spot. Factories were nearby too. Products were simple and made to last, and so could be scavenged and repaired.

All that has changed. The factories are in China, the farms are owned by corporations, and you can’t walk to them from Los Angeles anymore. Products are made to break; the local repair shop is a distant memory. Hyper-sophisticated technology has put local mechanics out of business, let alone backyard tinkerers.

An idea resurfaces

Yet there are trends on the other side as well. Energy technology is moving back to the local level, by way of solar, wind, biodiesel and the rest. The popularity of organics has given a boost to smaller farms. There’s also the quiet revival of urban agriculture. Community gardens are booming—some 6,000 of them in 38 U.S. cities. In Boston, the Food Project produces over 120,000 pounds of vegetables on just 21 acres.Then consider the unused land in U.S. cities: some 70,000 vacant parcels in Chicago, 31,000 in Philadelphia.

Large swaths of Detroit look like Dresden after the firebombing. A UXA could do a lot with that. I’m not getting gauzy here. Anyone who has been part of a co-op — I once served on the board of one — knows it is not a walk in the park. But it is not hard to see the stirrings of a new form of cooperative economics on the American scene today. You can’t explain Linux, the computer operating system developed community-style on the web, by the tenets of the economics texts. Nor can you so explain Craig’s List, the online bulletin board that people use at no or minimal cost.

The cooperative model seems to defy what economists call “economic law”—that people work only for personal gain and in response to schemes of personal incentive and reward. Yet the Depression co-ops did happen. When the next crash … [more]
cooperation  coopeatives  greatdepression  socialism  history  california  us  1930s  economics  solidarity  jonathanrowe  losangeles  compton  farming  agriculture  labor  work  ucro  oakland  carlrhodehamel  uxa  community  mutualaid  detroit  coops  local  fdr  wpa  communism  uptonsinclair  poverty 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Over The Alps
"Over the Alps is a mobile adventure game set against the turbulent backdrop of 1930s Switzerland.

Expect action, drama, suspense and yodelling.

Currently in development, sign up below to receive all the latest news."
games  videogames  1930s  gaming 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Cooling off in the vast and overflowing public pools of New York City
"In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began to introduce the New Deal, a series of economic and social programs designed to pull the United States out of the Great Depression.

The New Deal era saw an explosion of federally sponsored public works projects. After the construction of highways, the largest share of New Deal spending went to the creation of public parks and recreation areas.

In New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed Robert Moses the sole commissioner of the Parks Department. Moses assembled an army of designers, engineers and construction supervisors and oversaw the creation of hundreds of playgrounds, 53 recreational buildings, 10 golf courses and three zoos in just a few years.

To the great relief of New Yorkers in the sweltering summer of 1936, the city also opened 11 enormous outdoor pools with an average capacity of 5,000 people. These photos from the NYC Parks Department Photo Archive capture the ecstatic crowds that flocked to these urban oases."
nyc  swimmingpools  swimming  1930s  newdeal  us  fdr 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Navigating The Green Book | NYPL Labs
"The Green Book was a travel guide published between 1936 and 1966 that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, gas stations, etc. where black travelers would be welcome. NYPL Labs is in the process of extracting the data from the Green Books themselves and welcomes you to explore its contents in new ways."
greenbooks  greenbook  nypl  archives  publicdomain  1930s  1940s  1950s  1960s  history  us  race  racism  driving  jimcrow  discrimination 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Eugenic Design | Christina Cogdell
"Winner of the 2006 Edelstein Prize from the Society for the History of Technology

"This is history that is relevant."—Design Issues

"Engaging, thoughtfully researched, and well written."—Journal of Social History

"Cogdell does much to advance our understanding of an anomalous 1930s aesthetic that has befuddled several generations of the best design historians. Her thesis is provocative, her writing is well paced, and her argument is convincing."—Journal of American History

"An ambitious attempt to link the professionalization of industrial design with the popular eugenics movement of the 1930s. . . . A bold and truly original thesis."—Technology and Culture

"This highly original, well written, carefully crafted, and vigorously argued volume is a notable addition to American intellectual and cultural history."—Enterprise and Society

"A significant contribution to the field of cultural history broadly defined. Cogdell's argument is compelling, and the evidence makes a strong case for linking an important modernist artistic movement with an important—and nefarious—scientific doctrine. This book will be widely read and discussed."—Robert W. Rydell, author of World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress Expositions

"Christina Cogdell provocatively locates the ideology of streamlining in the popular eugenics movement of the 1930s. Tracing complex connections between personal philosophies of industrial designers and the visual rhetoric of their public design work, her cultural reading of design situates it dramatically at the intersection of science, technology, and popular culture. This book could well revolutionize the field of design history."—Jeffrey Meikle, author of Twentieth-Century Limited: Industrial Design in America, 1925-1939

In 1939, Vogue magazine invited commercial designer Raymond Loewy and eight of his contemporaries—including Walter Dorwin Teague, Egmont Arens, and Henry Dreyfuss—to design a dress for the "Woman of the Future" as part of its special issue promoting the New York World's Fair and its theme, "The World of Tomorrow." While focusing primarily on her clothing and accessories, many commented as well on the future woman's physique, predicting that her body and mind would be perfected through the implementation of eugenics. Industrial designers' fascination with eugenics—especially that of Norman Bel Geddes—began during the previous decade, and its principles permeated their theories of the modern design style known as "streamlining."

In Eugenic Design, Christina Cogdell charts new territory in the history of industrial design, popular science, and American culture in the 1930s by uncovering the links between streamline design and eugenics, the pseudoscientific belief that the best human traits could—and should—be cultivated through selective breeding. Streamline designers approached products the same way eugenicists approached bodies. Both considered themselves to be reformers advancing evolutionary progress through increased efficiency, hygiene and the creation of a utopian "ideal type." Cogdell reconsiders the popular streamline style in U.S. industrial design and proposes that in theory, rhetoric, and context the style served as a material embodiment of eugenic ideology.

With careful analysis and abundant illustrations, Eugenic Design is an ambitious reinterpretation of one of America's most significant and popular design forms, ultimately grappling with the question of how ideology influences design.

Christina Cogdell is Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis, where she teaches art, design, and cultural history."

[via: https://twitter.com/camerontw/status/621707666642087936 ]
books  design  history  designhistory  streamlined  normanbelgeddes  raymondloewy  christinacogdell  1930s  ideology  eugenics  industrialdesign  walterdorwinteague  egmontarens  henrydreyfussefficiency  technology  hygiene  gender  designcriticism 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Taylor & Francis Online :: Minotaure: On Ethnography and Animals - Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures - Volume 67, Issue 1
"The surrealist magazine Minotaure (1933–39) demonstrated a vivid interest in ethnography as it set out to explore the “human” according to an early twentieth-century ethnographic conception of universality that proposed to undercut the rule of Western culture over the definition of humanity. The surrealists, however, went even further by extending this exploration to the animal: The pages of Minotaure constantly juxtapose humans and animals and bring forth an empirical redefinition of the human through the observation of its purported other. As a result, they give shape to a nonanthropocentric ethnography that searches for the “sources” of humanity apart from familiar Western humanist presuppositions. Their endeavor raises important questions about ethnography itself as it brings us in a novel way to this fundamental question: What constitutes the human, beyond the pervasive divide between culture and nature?"
2013  via:anne  humanism  minotaure  surrealism  ethnography  anthropocentrism  animals  affierentzou  1930s  culture  nature 
march 2015 by robertogreco
A Christian Nation? Since When? - NYTimes.com
""AMERICA may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

Just a few weeks ago, Public Policy Polling reported that 57 percent of Republicans favored officially making the United States a Christian nation. But in 2007, a survey by the First Amendment Center showed that 55 percent of Americans believed it already was one.

The confusion is understandable. For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.

But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.

Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

Accordingly, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns. Generous funding came from prominent businessmen, from household names like Harvey Firestone, Conrad Hilton, E. F. Hutton, Fred Maytag and Henry R. Luce to lesser-known leaders at U.S. Steel, General Motors and DuPont.

In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention.

The Rev. James W. Fifield — known as “the 13th Apostle of Big Business” and “Saint Paul of the Prosperous” — emerged as an early evangelist for the cause. Preaching to pews of millionaires at the elite First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, Mr. Fifield said reading the Bible was “like eating fish — we take the bones out to enjoy the meat. All parts are not of equal value.” He dismissed New Testament warnings about the corrupting nature of wealth. Instead, he paired Christianity and capitalism against the New Deal’s “pagan statism.”

Through his national organization, Spiritual Mobilization, founded in 1935, Mr. Fifield promoted “freedom under God.” By the late 1940s, his group was spreading the gospel of faith and free enterprise in a mass-circulated monthly magazine and a weekly radio program that eventually aired on more than 800 stations nationwide. It even encouraged ministers to preach sermons on its themes in competitions for cash prizes. Liberals howled at the group’s conflation of God and greed; in 1948, the radical journalist Carey McWilliams denounced it in a withering exposé. But Mr. Fifield exploited such criticism to raise more funds and redouble his efforts.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Abraham Vereide advanced the Christian libertarian cause with a national network of prayer groups. After ministering to industrialists facing huge labor strikes in Seattle and San Francisco in the mid-1930s, Mr. Vereide began building prayer breakfast groups in cities across America to bring business and political elites together in common cause. “The big men and the real leaders in New York and Chicago,” he wrote his wife, “look up to me in an embarrassing way.” In Manhattan alone, James Cash Penney, I.B.M.’s Thomas Watson, Norman Vincent Peale and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia all sought audiences with him.

In 1942, Mr. Vereide’s influence spread to Washington. He persuaded the House and Senate to start weekly prayer meetings “in order that we might be a God-directed and God-controlled nation.” Mr. Vereide opened headquarters in Washington — “God’s Embassy,” he called it — and became a powerful force in its previously secular institutions. Among other activities, he held “dedication ceremonies” for several justices of the Supreme Court. “No country or civilization can last,” Justice Tom C. Clark announced at his 1949 consecration, “unless it is founded on Christian values.”

The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” The Garden of Eden, he informed revival attendees, was a paradise with “no union dues, no labor leaders, no snakes, no disease.” In the same spirit, he denounced all “government restrictions” in economic affairs, which he invariably attacked as “socialism.”

In 1952, Mr. Graham went to Washington and made Congress his congregation. He recruited representatives to serve as ushers at packed revival meetings and staged the first formal religious service held on the Capitol steps. That year, at his urging, Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer. “If I would run for president of the United States today on a platform of calling people back to God, back to Christ, back to the Bible,” he predicted, “I’d be elected.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled that prediction. With Mr. Graham offering Scripture for Ike’s speeches, the Republican nominee campaigned in what he called a “great crusade for freedom.” His military record made the general a formidable candidate, but on the trail he emphasized spiritual issues over worldly concerns. As the journalist John Temple Graves observed: “America isn’t just a land of the free in Eisenhower’s conception. It is a land of freedom under God.” Elected in a landslide, Eisenhower told Mr. Graham that he had a mandate for a “spiritual renewal.”

Although Eisenhower relied on Christian libertarian groups in the campaign, he parted ways with their agenda once elected. The movement’s corporate sponsors had seen religious rhetoric as a way to dismantle the New Deal state. But the newly elected president thought that a fool’s errand. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” he noted privately, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” Unlike those who held public spirituality as a means to an end, Eisenhower embraced it as an end unto itself.

Uncoupling the language of “freedom under God” from its Christian libertarian roots, Eisenhower erected a bigger revival tent, welcoming Jews and Catholics alongside Protestants, and Democrats as well as Republicans. Rallying the country, he advanced a revolutionary array of new religious ceremonies and slogans.

The first week of February 1953 set the dizzying pace: On Sunday morning, he was baptized; that night, he broadcast an Oval Office address for the American Legion’s “Back to God” campaign; on Thursday, he appeared with Mr. Vereide at the inaugural National Prayer Breakfast; on Friday, he instituted the first opening prayers at a cabinet meeting.

The rest of Washington consecrated itself, too. The Pentagon, State Department and other executive agencies quickly instituted prayer services of their own. In 1954, Congress added “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. It placed a similar slogan, “In God We Trust,” on postage that year and voted the following year to add it to paper money; in 1956, it became the nation’s official motto.

During these years, Americans were told, time and time again, not just that the country should be a Christian nation, but that it always had been one. They soon came to think of the United States as “one nation under God.” They’ve believed it ever since.""
us  history  christianity  myths  2015  capitalism  propaganda  evangelism  libertarianism  1930s  1940s  1950s  socialism  government  politics  business  ealth  abrahamvereide  jamesfifield  jhowardpew  billygraham  corporatism  economics  labor  unions  newdeal 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Negro Motorist Green Book - Wikipedia
"The Negro Motorist Green Book (at times titled The Negro Traveler's Green Book) was an annual guidebook for African-American drivers, commonly referred to simply as the "Green Book". It was published in the United States from 1936 to 1966, during the Jim Crow era, when discrimination against non-whites was widespread. Although mass automobility was predominantly a white phenomenon because of pervasive racial discrimination and black poverty, the level of car ownership among African-Americans grew as a black middle class emerged. Many blacks took to driving,[1] often to avoid segregation on public transportation.[2] As the writer George Schuyler put it in 1930, "all Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult."[3] Black Americans employed as salesmen, entertainers, and athletes also found themselves traveling more often for work purposes.[4]

African-American travelers faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences, ranging from white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, to being refused accommodation or food by white-owned hotels, to even facing threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only "sundown towns". New York mailman and travel agent Victor H. Green published The Negro Motorist Green Book to tackle such problems and "to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable."[5] From a New York-focused first edition published in 1936, it expanded to cover much of North America including most of the United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, including Bermuda. The Green Book became "the bible of black travel during Jim Crow",[6] enabling black travelers to find lodgings, businesses, and gas stations that would serve them along the road. Outside the African-American community, however, it was little known. It fell into obscurity after it ceased publication shortly after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed the types of racial discrimination that had made the book necessary.[citation needed] Interest in it has revived in the early 21st century in connection with studies of black travel during the Jim Crow era.[citation needed]"
history  us  race  racism  driving  jimcrow  1930s  1940s  1950s  1960s  discrimination  greenbook  greenbooks 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Photogrammar
"Photogrammar is a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United State’s Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI)."
art  history  photography  fsa  bootstrap  1935  1930s  1940s  1945  fsa-owi  us  maps  mapping  visualization  photogrammar 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’ | Common Dreams
"While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different."
georgelakey  99%  1%  nonviolence  labor  history  norway  sweden  democracy  1930s  transition  socialism  unions  revolution 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Gottlieb Jazz Photos - a set on Flickr
"Celebrated jazz artists come to life in photographs by William P. Gottlieb. His images document the jazz scene in New York City and Washington, D.C., from 1938 to 1948, a time recognized by many as the "Golden Age of Jazz".
jazz  music  photography  flickr  1930s  1940s  history  loc  williamgottlieb 
august 2010 by robertogreco
A Fairy Tale? « Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"reformers convinced best unis to waive admission requirements & accept grads from high schools that designed new programs...Dozens of schools joined experiment. Teachers, admins, parents & students created new courses & ways of teaching teens to become active members of community & still attend college. For 8 years, schools educated students & unis admitted grads...then war came & experiment ended...years passed, few could recall what these schools & colleges did...fairy tale? Nope. Btwn 1933-41, 30 HS...& 300+ colleges joined experiment sponsored by Progressive Ed Assoc...Evaluators found grads...earned slightly higher GPA & more academic honors...were more precise in thinking, displayed more ingenuity in meeting new situations, & demonstrated active interest in ntional & world issues...70 years ago...there was no one single best way of schooling teenagers...fears parents & taxpayers had about experimenting with HS courses, organization, & teaching proved hollow"
education  reform  larrycuban  progressive  tcsnmy  1930s  1940s  experiments  admissions  colleges  universities  research  localcontrol  learning  forgottenlessons  criticalthinking  evidence  unschooling  deschooling 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Dora Russell
"In 1927 Dora and Bertrand Russell opened their own progressive boarding school, Beacon Hill, in West Sussex. The school reflected Bertrand's view that children should not be forced to follow a strictly academic curriculum. Other aspects of the school illustrated Dora's ideas on education. The school was run on the principle that freedom, if understood early enough, would result in maturity and self-discipline. Dora also emphasized co-operation rather than competition and believed that the best way to teach the benefits of democracy was to run the school on democratic lines. Dora's educational philosophy was expressed in her book In Defence of Children (1932)."
history  bertrandrussell  dorawinifredrussell  education  progressive  beaconhillschool  uk  1930s  1920s  schools  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  alternative  tcsnmy 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Proto parkour
"From a 1977 film called Gizmo, some urban tumbling from the 1930s that strongly resembles the contemporary sport of parkour."
parkour  history  1930s  documentary  film 
december 2008 by robertogreco

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