Doctor MJ wrote:E-Balla wrote:Doctor MJ wrote:The question is really if we can learn from this and get back to the healthier mindset Americans used to have. People came out of WWII filled with competence, confidence, and optimism, and they made a tremendous amount happen. How do we get back to something like that?
This is an odd thing to say. Americans still have the same mindset they had back then and if anything that era birthed the mindset that's dooming us now.
Maybe you're getting it mixed up with the post depression era or something here.
Ever read this?
As we may think.
Basically, this was a guy strongly connected to the Manhattan Project and pioneers of what we now think of as Silicon Valley. This is him after WWII writing an article for a mainstream magazine in which he basically sketches out the user-interface of the internet as we know it today.
WWII was in the '40s, the dot com revolution was in the '90s, but the roots of the dot com revolution came from the leaders of the '40s. Guys who were making money to be sure - this guy founded Raytheon - but were thinking primarily about how to take humanity to the next level.
I don't see the man that helped create the idea for and secure the funding for the Manhattan Project as someone that was looking for ways to advance humanity as much as he was looking for ways to help America take over the globe.
Then you get Civil Rights Movements and all sorts of super-optimistic thinking that went through the next couple decades.
But why did we get the Civil Rights era? Was it because people generally realized their behavior was terrible? No it was because their behavior was so terrible people were fed up and basically forced the government to give them rights even though the general populace just wanted them to go home and shut up because they were personally living life well.
And I don't think there was too much optimism in that. There were over 100 race riots from 62 to 68, mass rioting is literally the opposite of a show of optimism. We're still having those same fights now, and I'm sure no one would talk about the "optimism" of people fighting that battle in 2020. It's all revisionist rose tinted lenses we're looking at the 50s and 60s with but honestly not much has changed culturally tangible ways since then and where things have changed we've improved.
Now, did the optimism back then influence the counter-cynicism that has been killing our culture since Nixon for the past half-century? Yes, but while you can criticize some of that optimism as misplaced the reality is that the big things we've achieved since then were basically thought through in that post-WWII time period.
I do understand that the whole "Everything was better in the '50s" thing is a myth. I'm not talking about nuclear families and pretending non-white people don't exist, I'm talking about empowered smart people actively taking humanity forward.
By creating the internet? Is that the only mark of progress? What about the creation of nuclear weapons? The destruction of the public social safety net and death of New Deal politics following the inclusion of ALL Americans in government programs? The creation of the TV was great but the culture of the consensus of the post war era silencing anyone that wasn't part of what we now call a destructive American mindset? Not so much. The optimism from back then is still around and part of the culture it seems to me, they're just the parts of the culture we hate the most.
Since then we've been moving in a direction toward currently leadership which tries to make up for a lock of competence with bluster. A "C'mon, we're Americans, we'll do it better than anyone else because we're Americans!", which resonates with people because back when people Trump's age were growing up, the US won everything with a tremendous amount of rapidly growing technical competence. We had advantages of geography over other countries to be sure, but it still required a ton of competence and trusting of experts to do their thing. And now we have a guy in charge who openly mocks "experts".
It resonates with some people in that age group. Ask my grandparents how great America is even back then and I guarantee you'll get a totally different answer, and that's my main point here. Your idea of the era of consensus is undeniably wholly informed by looking at how white males felt about that era. The Civil Rights Movement wasn't optimistic. It never was. If it was about optimism there wouldn't have been so much violence and they wouldn't have evolved into the socialist radicals of the 70s.
McCarthyism didn't define the '50s dude. McCarthy was an upstart trying to grab attention who within a few years was hated by almost everybody. To see the '50s in terms of him instead of Ike is not focusing on who actually had power. While McCarthy was seen as a has-been joke while the man who defined American government in the '50s, Ike, was still president.
McCarthyism/the 2nd Red Scare by most estimates made over 10 thousand people lose their jobs. Sure it doesn't define the 50s but the main point is that anything I can think about in the 50s, the building of suburbia, the red scare, the civil rights movement, the culture of the consensus, etc. are all undeniably negative and created the exact culture you're saying stinks now. And I'm not saying it gradually led to the creation of the current culture but that the creation of that culture gradually led society to where it is now. America's growth is completely stunted thanks to that post WWII mindset of American exceptionalism.
And Eisenhower's presidency and accomplishments are a good proof of the issues of that mindset. American's use cars way too much and our transportation infrastructure went from best in the world to lagging behind most of the first world thanks to all the rails we removed to build highways and the selling of our public rail infrastructure to Amtrak a decade after he left office. Of course he also used highway building as a way to destroy the wealth in majority minority communities.
Or what about the Eisenhower Doctrine which got us involved in the Middle East which... Yeah...
Or what about the mass firings of homosexuals with government jobs?
Or what about his weakening of New Deal policies?
On the other hand, the fear-your-fellow-American mentality that McCarthy used got repackaged by Nixon as "the Silent Majority", and Republicans have basically been running on that after since (with Trump as a clear cut case of it). So yeah, McCarthy's approach was later very influential within his party, but he has nothing to do with why big things of government accomplishment came out of that time, which is what I'm talking about.
I mean the biggest examples of government accomplishment in the 50s if you ask me in terms of domestic policy was the creation of highways, which again came with the caveat that it was used to destroy minority wealth around the country. NATO is the biggest thing to come out of foreign policy, and that's great at least.
I just don't think in general I'd want to wax poetic about the optimism of people manically attempting to take over the globe.
When it comes to positive people attempting to make the world a better place in that era they all got killed, imprisoned, or exiled. There's not many people that were well respected then that would be anywhere near well respected if still alive, and the people you're probably looking back on positively were hated. It's an era with mindsets so **** we've had to revise it more than any other in our history books.