Objective 1 Discussion Forum # 1 The Nervous Generation
Princeton historian and professor Arnold Toynbee once wrote, referring to the late 1800s and pre World War I 1900s:
“It was expected that life throughout the world would become more rational, more humane, and more democratic and that slowly, surely, political democracy would produce great social justice. We had also expected that the progress of science and technology would make mankind richer, and that this increasing wealth would gradually spread from a minority to a majority. We had expected that all of this would happen peacefully. In fact, we thought that mankind’s course was set for earthly paradise.”
Sounds so very positive and hopeful, doesn’t it? But, as we all know, instead they got World War I (known as the Great War) which detonated this dream. Later, the Great Depression would devastate our people.
The Americans of the 1920s are often referred to as the Anxious, Nervous or even Lost Generation (the chapter reading uses this term). Now doubt, it was a turbulent decade. And our American culture responded to it in different ways: with the loneliness and no God giving miracle philosophy of existentialism, with tremendous freedom but pressure on the individual; with a disturbing turn toward alcohol and drugs, many of which we combat today in our modern times; with a reckless and hedonistic “live for today” lifestyle of careless partying and living for the moment characterized by the novel The Great Gatsby; with a rejection of traditional values (the music composer Cole Porter would write a song called “Anything Goes” to characterize some of it) that we will see emerge over and over in the course as the counter-culture; an overall malaise and depression; with a turn towards the almighty dollar and almost slavish worship of big business and profits. And more: the rise of the “new woman”, exciting technology (cars and planes), civil rights issues and crucial world diplomacy. Wow.
These were such strange times and yet so important to understanding the America that was to come in the future.
Our Objective 1 Discussion Forum #1 question is: What do you think happened ?
Objective 1 Discussion Forum # 2 The Great Depression
The Great Depression. You have studied it quite a bit in your k – 12 education and so know a lot about it. Let’s not rehash all the pieces of it. Instead though, let’s try a more of an overview and identify together what it meant to our American culture and why and how we see elements of it even today in our government and society. All of this just from your own memory and what you know and think.
Objective 1 Discussion Forum Question #2: What is the meaning and legacy of the Great Depression?