This was the time from the middle of the 19th Century to the middle of the 20th – not a good time to be a small child, when I was born in 1936.
This was the Industrial Era – that produced great good and great bad. And most remarkably, people who were incapable of understanding this. How could something be both at the same time?
Very easily, in fact. The human mind – and human society – are perfectly capable of considering opposites as identical. And producing both at the same time.
This should strike us as common sense – but does not. Why?
Perhaps this was caused by Christianity – that was dominant in Western Society for over a thousand years, in the Middle Ages. This was plenty of time for its peculiar outlook to become permanent. God was all-good, who produced everything – so where did Evil come from? The solution – Original Sin – was a disaster for the human race – especially for women.
But it is difficult for contemporary Americans to accept that something that happened a thousand years ago – still affects them today. They have no trouble accepting cause and effect – in fact, they believe in this fervently. But they cannot see how this effects them morally. To their minds, these are two entirely different parts of the world – and cannot effect each other. To put this another way – Religion and Government must not effect each other!
These were the Enlightenment values that America was founded on – but these values were overridden by Industrialization – that changed America, and its values, completely. There is a movement now, in the 21st Century (sponsored by MIT, for example) – to return these values to the Business World.
I have developed an interest in the Poetry and the poets of the Industrial era – and we can take Walt Whitman as an example. He celebrated the Common Man – while overlooking the Civil War (that killed plenty of them) and the huge income disparity, of the Gilded Age.
What can we say about him? He was the typical of the artist of his time – who could concentrate on higher things – while ignoring the lower.
These people still existed in the Fifties – I can remember Alice Baxter, of my home town of Nauvoo, Illinois. She cut quite a figure in her time. She never married, but took care of her parents in their old age – and was rewarded with their house and a substantial income. She took piano lessons from an upper-class teacher in Chicago – and dispensed music lessons, and upper-class culture, to her middle-class students – which included me and my father. In the Sixties, she faded away – and now no one remembers her – or what happened to her.
This was typical of America in general – during the Sixties and Seventies it went through a huge change (that it never noticed) and forgot its past entirely. A new machine has appeared – the Computer. That is busy reshaping us, once again.
Americans are caught between two worlds, and understand nothing – except that, whatever it is – it does not like them. And they have responded by destroying everything! This, for me, explains the triumph of Trump.
This is my analysis, for what its worth. I found another one this morning in Foreign Affairs How to Create a Society of Equals.
You can take your pick.