Postwar World

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Information about Postwar World

Published on February 20, 2008

Author: Goldye


The Postwar World :  The Postwar World Conformity and change from 1945 through the 1960s Canada:  Canada In Canada, the mid-century Liberal Party leadership of MacKenzie-King continued with the Liberal government of Louis St. Laurent (1948-57) but then switched to the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker (prime minister 1957-1963). Canada sees self tied more to North America and the U.S. for economics and defense instead of the fading British Empire. The “postwar liberal consensus” promotes major social programs such as universal health care and other social programs. Mexico:  Mexico In Mexico, although still dominated by the PRI, leaders such as Miguel Aleman Valdes and A. Ruiz Cortines move away from the hard left Cardenas policies to more business-oriented approaches, including the development of the Mexican tourist industry. A North American Society:  A North American Society St. Lawrence Seaway a joint U.S.- Canadian project. Immigration from Caribbean to U.S. brings Latin influences to American culture from the Mambo and the Cha Cha to the character of Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy” to the Puerto Rican characters in “West Side Story.” Cold War Politics: Domestic:  Cold War Politics: Domestic Election of 1948. Harry S. Truman (shown here, center, at the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission) defeats Dewey but Truman’s pro-civil rights stand alienates white Southerners In 1952, Dwight D Eisenhower elected. By mid-1940s, conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats are the main influences in Congress (especially the Senate) and hold many governorships as well. McCarthyism:  McCarthyism In early 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy announces that he has a list of known communists. Begins witch-hunt known as “McCarthyism.” Loyalty to the United States was considered important. The fear was that communism was not just a political force, but something subversive that would undermine American society if given a chance.  Remember that communism was relatively fashionable in the 1930s, esp. among intellectuals and entertainers. Now things are different. The result was a new Red Scare. Anti-communism and society:  Anti-communism and society In popular culture, 1930s stars were targeted and ousted if perceived as communists. People could be fired for being suspected of communism. Speaking out against these actions could put one in trouble as being labeled a communist. Plays that criticized public tolerance of the witch hunts such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible were shocking and controversial at the time. In April 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death (and executed in 1953) for giving information about atomic technology to the Soviet agents in 1944. Liberalism Returns:  Liberalism Returns Election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Represents youth and promise of the World War II generation assuming the reigns of power. First Catholic elected president. John F. Kennedy:  John F. Kennedy Embodied image of youthful exuberance. Appointed pragmatic intellectuals to cabinet. Dean Rusk—Secretary of State Adlai Stevenson—to United Nations Robert McNamara, president of Ford Motor Company, was Secretary of Defense.  However, while was popular as a figure, had to contend with conservative Republicans and southern Democrats in Congress.  Programs of his “New Frontier” platform were to stimulate growth, helping needy groups with social welfare, etc. Yet had problems. Getting civil rights reforms passed was extremely difficult.  Anti-communist and foreign policy items were easier to get through. Also had to prove that he was not “soft on communism.” Prosperity as National Security:  Prosperity as National Security G.I Bill allows veterans access to loans for houses and education. Veterans preferences for hiring allows returning personnel to get jobs. Construction of high technology for the defense industry (Boeing, Motorola, etc.) as well as maintaining military bases and uranium mines opens new avenues for well-paid employment. (Wichita’s Boeing plant is shown here). 1956 Highway Act supports federal construction of cross-country highways. Construction of Alaska Highway and Trans-Canada Highway bring development to western and northern North America. The Result: :  The Result: Growing dependence on automobile. Boom in suburbs such as “Levittowns” and other planned communities. Growth in universities, especially programs related to the sciences Prosperity for middle classes allows people more free time and disposable income to travel and purchase consumer goods. The Good Life (for some):  The Good Life (for some) The ideal living arrangement was the “ranch house” surrounded by lawns in a suburb. The central room is not the formal parlor or even “living room,” but the “family room” where kids could be raised. For women, there is a renewed move towards “domesticity,” in image if not fact. The family wage allows the man to work while the woman can stay home to care for the children. Modern = Good:  Modern = Good Daily life centered around balancing traditional values with the latest modern technology. Appliances, especially televisions, became common, even expected parts of daily life. Science was to make things better and better, including research on child-rearing. The trend, promoted by Dr. Spock (no, not Mr. Spock) was that children’s creativity and individuality should be cultivated and nourished, rather than formed through strict discipline, as in earlier generations. Popularity of “modern” design concepts such as “Googie” Abstract Expressionism becomes popular in art circles. The Consumer Society:  The Consumer Society Shopping malls with vast parking lots become standard. Decline of “mom and pop” stores in favor of national chains such as Piggly Wiggly or Woolworth’s. Start of decline of downtown business districts. Children become increasingly important part of market. Children’s programs such as “Howdy Doody,” “Lone Ranger,” and Hoppalong Cassidy” are popular figures with their own line of merchandise. The ideal:  The ideal Popular culture, including television shows, emphasized how America was a place of tolerance and freedom, compared to communism of the present or fascism of the past. In the words of a book of the time, “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” were all legitimate manifestations of American religious practice. Election of Catholic John F. Kennedy was seen as a case in point. America was the place where freedom and opportunity flourished, and had so since colonial days. Fears and challenges:  Fears and challenges American society was still highly segregated. By the mid-1950s, however, growing challenges to that segregation started emerging (to be discussed later in the course). Some popular culture also criticized the look-alike conformity of the age. There was a fear that American culture was so orderly, tame, and sanitized, that all the life was being drained from it. Fear that if Americans let their guard down, communists would take over and the Good Life would be lost. Symbolized, for example, in horror movies that featured zombie-like or evil creatures that attacked suburban society and reduced residents to mindless drones. Lyndon B. Johnson:  Lyndon B. Johnson  From Texas. Like Kennedy, was from a very politically active family. Was in House of Representatives in 1937. Strong New Dealer. Senator in 1948. Late 1950s, was majority leader in the Senate.  Assassination of John F. Kennedy November 1963. Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) becomes president and is elected on his own terms in 1964. The War on Poverty:  The War on Poverty The Great Society:  The Great Society Took advantage of the feeling after Kennedy’s death to push for Civil Rights legislation in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Real passion was for a program called the “Great Society,” to wage a “war on Poverty.” At the time, 1/5 of population was still in poverty. Programs included Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Urban Renewal, Office of Economic Opportunity, and Medicare. But….:  But…. Yet, one historian put it that “the so-called War on Poverty was in reality little more than a pilot project.” Would largely be overshadowed by the conflict in Vietnam.   The Times’ they are a-changin’:  The Times’ they are a-changin’ Changing cultural landscapes Terms::  Terms: Racism: The attitude that one race is inherently better than another.  Discrimination: Practice of limiting what a person is allowed to do based on assumed characteristics other than merit or competency for an activity.  Segregation: In the U.S. context, is a policy of restricting of access to a person or group of people based on race or ethnicity. Segregation: Types:  Segregation: Types Legal-official ordinances either city, state, or county Policy—either intended or unintended Personal-individuals choosing where to live. Spatial—a byproduct of how communities developed. May be based on things such as economics or transportation links. Segregation: Arenas:  Segregation: Arenas Residential Work/commercial/social access Public facilities and services Education and institutions Lifestyles—e.g. marriage and adoption   Tools and techniques:  Tools and techniques Campaigns that gained media attention such as sit-ins, protest marches, civil disobedience. Tension between those who favored moderate reform in courts and public opinion to gain more civil rights within the society’s existing framework vs. those in favor of more activist efforts to change the system itself. Shifting Generations:  Shifting Generations The leaders of these movements tended to be from what some called the “Silent Generation” (born c. 1925-1945). While their WWII-serving older siblings or parents desired stability, comfort, and the “American Dream,” these younger folks saw limitations in that dream and sought to reform it. Ranged from civil rights activists of the 1950s to labor activists and anti-war protest leaders in the 1960s and 1970s. Baby Boomers (born roughly from 1945-1965) filled the ranks of movements lead by the Silent Generation. Tended to couple the idealism of the civil rights and anti-war movements with personal goals of greater freedom of expression such as the fashions of the “counterculture.” Tend to be divided into two cohorts: an older wave that favored the activism of the Silents and a younger wave that reacted to that and became leaders in a conservative reaction. Whether conservative or liberal, boomers have been especially drawn to the techniques first honed in the civil rights movement. The realities of politics:  The realities of politics White Southerners comprised a major presence in Congress, especially the Senate. The preservation of segregation, Jim Crow, above all social stability where everyone knew their place drove Southern politics, both locally and nationally. Included major figures such as Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson, both from Texas. Both were pragmatists but had to contend with more dynamic and vocal persons such as George Wallace and Strom Thurmond. Two phases:  Two phases 1945-1965 Advocated reform within structures of society. Often targeted legal barriers and sought to bring the civil rights and opportunities that white males had long enjoyed to groups that had been excluded. 1965-1980 Suggested that the very economic, social, and political dynamics within the society had to be changed. Saw problems as rooted in deep-seated attitudes that were hard to change with court decisions or new laws. African Americans:  African Americans Changes in 1940s:  Changes in 1940s World War II units were segregated. 1947 Jackie Robinson allowed to play for a major league team. Civil Rights became an issue in 1948 election. White southerners start leaving the Democratic party. Some, such as Strom Thurmond, become “Dixiecrats.” 1948 Truman orders military to desegregate. Challenging legal segregation:  Challenging legal segregation In Sweatt v. Painter, Supreme Court rules against segregated law schools in 1950. NAACP organizes five cases to go before the Supreme Court. One involved Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In 1954, Supreme Court rules that separate is inherently unequal. Overturns Plessy v. Fergusson. In 1955, the decision known as “Brown II” orders schools to desegregate. Preserving Segregation:  Preserving Segregation Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas refuses to desegregate schools. Eisenhower calls in the National Guard to enforce desegregation. Renewed growth of the KKK One symbolic part of this movement was the embrace of the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of “Southerness.” Civil Rights activities :  Civil Rights activities December 1955. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, AL. Is arrested. Leads to Montgomery Bus boycott. Lead by Martin Luther King. 1958. Students in Wichita conducted a sit-in at the Dockum Drug Store. Forced the chain to desegregate. 1960. A more publicized sit-in took place in Greensboro, NC. Activism in the 1960s:  Activism in the 1960s White students from north came to South to challenge segregated facilities. Martin Luther King organized protest marches, the most famous included a march in Birmingham, AL, and one in Washington, D.C., both in 1963. Freedom summer of 1964. Organized efforts to get African Americans to vote. Legal changes:  Legal changes 1964. Civil Rights Act: bans segregation in public places. 1965. Voting Rights Act: bans restrictions on voting based on race. Debate in the community:  Debate in the community Martin Luther King Baptist Minister Appealed to middle class African Americans and whites. Emphasized nonviolent tactics and peaceful civil disobedience to call attention to issues. Felt whites and African Americans must work to overcome racism. Assassinated in 1968. Malcolm X Became involved in the Nation of Islam Believed that racism was inherent in society and could not be erased. Advocated a African Americans separate from larger society to develop their own institutions. African Americans who were trying to work within the larger society were simply “Uncle Toms” who were still playing in the white man’s game. Assassinated in 1965. The debate, 1963::  The debate, 1963: King: “Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.” Malcolm X: “An integrated cup of coffee isn’t sufficient pay for four hundred years of slave labor…a better job in the white man’s industry or economy is, at best, only a temporary solution. The only lasting and permanent solution is complete separation on some land that we can call our own.” Postwar urban issues:  Postwar urban issues The first migration of African Americans in the 1910s and 1920s had been relatively urban even in the South with numbers of professionals and business leaders along with workers. Second migration from the 1930s through the 1950s consisted of more rural populations and more laborers. Found few opportunities up north. One perspective::  One perspective: “It seems that Cousin Willie, in his lying haste, had neglected to tell the folks down home about one of the most important aspects of the promised land: it was a slum ghetto…There were too many people full of hate and bitterness crowded into a dirty, stinky, uncared-for closet size section of a great city. Before the soreness of the cotton fields had left Mama’s back, her knees were getting sore from scrubbing ‘Goldberg’s’ floor. Nevertheless she was better off; she had gone from the fire into the frying pan.” From Claude Brown, Manchild in the Promised Land Urban responses, urban ironies:  Urban responses, urban ironies Groups such as the Nation of Islam, advocating an African identity and emphasizing patronizing African American businesses. Formation of groups such as the Black Panthers. Race riots, one of the most infamous was Watts in 1965. Government programs of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” program thought the solution was large blocks of public housing that replaced earlier “blight.” Ended up concentrating the poverty even more. Women:  Women Issues:  Issues Opportunity in the workplace Questioning role in society as only mothers or supporters of men as husbands and/or leaders. Harassment Legal rights in marriage and family matters Questioning the roles:  Questioning the roles Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex in 1953, discussing women’s subjugation in society. In 1963, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, noting that for many women, the suburban ideal did not turn out to guarantee the happiness the popular culture promised. From The Feminine Mystique::  From The Feminine Mystique: “If I am right, the problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today is not a matter of loss of femininity or too much education, the demands of domesticity…We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: ‘I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.’” Early activities:  Early activities Kennedy administration was the first to study the status of women. 1964 Civil Rights Act included ban on discrimination based on sex. Was a last minute addition intended to kill the bill. 1966. Formation of the National Organization of Women (NOW). First wave of feminists:  First wave of feminists Tended to be white, middle class, and educated. Used similar tactics as African American civil rights movement. Issues included: An Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution   Employment opportunity be guaranteed  Maternity leave established  Tax laws to permit the deduction of home and child-care expenses for working parents  Child Care facilities be established as public endeavors  Legislation (state and fed) support equal access to education Reproductive rights Second wave (1960s and 1970s):  Second wave (1960s and 1970s) Advocated not just legal or economic changes but rethinking of gender roles in society. Advocated a concept of “sisterhood.” Still middle class but more linked to anti-Vietnam war protest movement or counterculture movement. Growing awareness of different groups within the women’s community such as Latinas, African American women, and lesbians. Began criticizing the sexism within the civil rights, protest, and labor movements. Also concerned that the women’s movement had traditionally been of, by, and for middle class white women. Changes in the 1970s:  Changes in the 1970s Ms. Magazine published. 1973. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. Military integrated women into the armed forces. Equal Rights Amendment passed Congress but failed to get enough states to support it to become an addition to the Constitution. Television programs such as Mary Tyler Moore showed single women as successful professionals. Latino and Mexican Changes:  Latino and Mexican Changes Major demographic groups:  Major demographic groups Latinos who were part of northern Mexico/American Southwest and were absorbed into the United States in the 1800s. Migrants from Mexico who fled poverty and the turmoil of the Mexican revolution. In Kansas, came to work on the railroads. Migrant workers from Mexico who came to work the fields of Texas, Arizona, and California. Became especially numerous with the Bracero program of the 1950s. Migrants from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Caribbean into the cities from Miami to New York. Migrants from Mexico and Central America who arrived in the wake of immigration laws of the 1960s that did away with quotas. Organizations:  Organizations La Alianza Hispano Americana formed 1894 In 1929, several Latin American civic groups merge to form League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Early efforts centered around desegregation and anti-discrimination issues. Brown Berets organized in 1967 as a more activist organization. National Council for La Raza promoted Hispanic pride and solidarity. Cesar Chavez:  Cesar Chavez Cesar Chavez was a labor organizer among the migrant workers of California. Helped form the United Farm Workers (UFW). Used tactics of Martin Luther King to advocate non-violent protests to focus media and public attention on migrant worker issues. Advocated the public participate in boycotts of certain produce, especially grapes. The Chicano/Xicano Movement:  The Chicano/Xicano Movement A movement to promote a pride in a Mexican identity. Mexican identity, rather than being “Spanish American” or even a blending of Spanish and Indian, was seen as more connected to the Aztecs and native peoples of Mesoamerica. Rejected the Spanish heritage as simply the heritage of European conquerors. The Left Returns to Mexico:  The Left Returns to Mexico Rise of leftist sentiments in 1960s Mexico challenge the establishment. Particularly visible in student protest at the National University in 1968. The Qurious Qase of Quebec:  The Qurious Qase of Quebec Quebec’s role in Canada :  Quebec’s role in Canada Politically, it functioned akin to the U.S.’s South in that it was a major force to be reckoned with. All national policies had to address a very powerful Quebecois political presence. Culturally, however, Quebec functioned akin to other marginalized minority groups asserting greater visibility in society with a reaffirmation of ethnic identity and solidarity. Francophone Nationalism:  Francophone Nationalism In Canada, greater emphasis on ethnic identity in the 1960s corresponded with a rise in Quebecois nationalism and the move towards bilingualism, especially under the administration of PM John Pearson. Books like Pierre Valliere’s controversial The White Niggers of America argued that working class Quebecois had been an exploited people under the thumb of Quebec’s elites, Canadian politics, and the U.S. domination of North America. The only way to change things is the completely overthrow the system. Quebecois presence in government included Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Meanwhile, politicians such as Rene Levesque moved for Quebec’s provincial government to take a greater role in managing its own social programs and energy policy separate from that of the rest of Canada. Radicals disaffected with the Liberal Party’s stance formed the Parti Quebecois advocating greater autonomy and even quasi-independence for Quebec. Valliere’s view of things:  Valliere’s view of things “It has become a cliché to say that Quebec is a colony, a sub-colony, a triple colony, etc. The dependence of Quebec in relation to foreign countries is a constant in its history….For ever since Champlain established a trading post in Quebec in 1608, Quebec has always been subject to the interests of the dominant classes of the imperialist countries: first France, then England, and today the United States.” Pierre Vallieres, White Niggers of America The Environment:  The Environment Outdoor Recreation Movement:  Outdoor Recreation Movement In middle of the twentieth century, environmental ethics were tied largely outdoor recreation activities such as hunters, hikers, and fishermen. Has mostly been an urban constituency. Groups like the National Park Association, Sierra Club, Audubon Society,and National Wildlife Federation worked for more parks, national forests, and game preserves. Opposed construction of dams in the American West that were flooding many scenic areas of the region. Changing values:  Changing values In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring about the hazards of pesticides. Wilderness Movement advocated setting aside lands with little or no development, even for outdoor recreation. Growing awareness of “ecology” and that the environment is a web that if destroyed, will also harm humans. Encourages seeing habitat and ecosystems rather than just scenery. Groups such as Greenpeace took a more activist approach to environmental issues. Policy Results:  Policy Results Clean Air Act 1955 (amended several times in the 1960s) Wilderness Act 1964 National Environmental Policy Act 1969 Earth Day 1970 Environmental Protection Agency Act 1970 Endangered Species Act 1973 Legacies:  Legacies Uncertain paths:  Uncertain paths By the 1970s, many of the official barriers of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, such as legal segregation, had been done away with. Laws and policies promoted civil rights, addressed environmental concerns, and tried to deal with social and economic inequalities. However… Unintended consequences:  Unintended consequences Integration got rid of Jim Crow but also eliminated the need for African Americans to patronize African American business. Integrating social institutions such as churches sometimes resulted in the closing of institutions that had been centers in their community. Urban renewal did away with some aspects of urban blight but concentrated that blight into larger housing blocks. Federal highways constructed within cities destroyed large sections of old neighborhoods. Integrated bussing, intended to bring the races closer together, sometimes resulted in friction within schools as different racial/ethnic groups came into conflict with each other in the school halls. Greater awareness of civil rights among many groups pointed out that there was no such thing as a simple division between “oppressed” and “oppressor.” The very groups advocating for change sometimes were blind to the sexism, racism, and cultural biases among their own ranks. It became increasingly apparent that someone to be “oppressor” and “oppressed” simultaneously. Political Ramifications:  Political Ramifications Issues of civil rights and the conflict in Vietnam drove wedges between the moderate and activist wings of both parties. Democrats became increasingly identified with ideological liberals, minority groups, and labor. Republicans became increasingly connected with ideological conservatives, business, the South, and West.

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