An Interpretation of History based on the Novel The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald and an essay: The fact of the force
By Trudy A. Martinez
The Beautiful and Damned, a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald who succumbs to alcoholism as an escape from his reality, the reality of his transgressions, and writes this book in restitution and as a release from his own pain of realization (so it is believed). The main characters in his novel suffer from a similar reality of transgression as they struggle down different paths towards achievement of their dreams of materialism.
In the end, they achieve it; or they struggle, experiencing hardships, tribulations, ruthless misery, loneliness, and then rewards of satisfaction and self-worth without succumbing to the materialism they desperately seek in the beginning.
The book centers around a young twenty-five (25) year old man, Anthony Patch, a Harvard graduate in the state of sublimity, who thinks of himself in the highest esteem with greatness as a destiny, and inherit wealth, a money aristocracy, gained through the achievements of his grandfather. Anthony is the grandson of Adam J. Patch, known as “Cross Patch”, a man who went from rags to riches playing the stock market on Wall Street, accumulating seventy-five million dollars and a guilty conscience. Although Fitzgerald begins the story in 1913, the actual plot begins in the year 1861 with the grandfather who works his way through the new impersonal forces of a nation destine to turn into a capitalistic society and damnation to some.
The grandfather comes to the realization of his transgressions and seeks restitution through reforms, but yet, he begins to force feed his morality and values upon Adam, his grandson, just as he was force feed in 1861 by the new society. Adam’s grandfather uses criticism as a tool molding Adam, I. e., conditioning through the practice of behaviorism; introducing patriotism through inducement to write about the war effort; stressing individualism through emphasis away from oneness towards sameness by restricting free will; producing optimism through the establishment of inheritance, a reward for progress which ultimately produces materialism as a symbol of acceptance. The Stewards of the system, the Presidents are guardians for the rich; they insure the stability of the system through reforms and through necessary changes, amendments to the constitution to induce gratification; to protect property; to protect individual rights; to regulate industry; to investigate deviations and corruption; and to monitor aggressors; and progress, and monetary rewards.
Adam J. Patch, Anthony’s grandfather, who in 1861 joins the war effort, a Union Calvary regiment in the Civil war, advances in rank to a major. Upon his return from the war, Adam sees opportunity for gain; he joins the speculators on Wall Street, the rich, the social elite, in the buying and selling of stock in their new religion, capitalism. “Cross Patch” converts; he gains much ill will, attempting to rub elbows with the rich. While at the same time, another segment of society (others of his own caliber) cheers and applauds as they also join the new aristocracy, the money elite, in their flight upward through the “Impersonal Forces”. Adam’s journey begins with his introduction to Nationalism through his Patriotism and taking up of arms to fight for the Union cause; he replaces his values, his uniqueness, his oneness, and his “love of man” in individualism for a false sense of “oneness”, i.e., “sameness”, a partnership, in all endeavors, in work, and later in marriage. In the Civil war, he fights for a false freedom, the end of slavery, the emancipation of the blacks.
A new freedom guaranteed through the constitution, the bible of the social elite, now expands to include Capitalism which differs slightly from the original views of the fore fathers of America. Through Optimism, his hope for a better tomorrow establishes his desires; his achievement reassures his dream. Adam sees through progress of industrialization he can subordinate the Impersonal Forces to guide him to the new ultimate destiny, Capitalism, the temple of the rich, and a new aristocracy of the money elite. As a reward for his progress he gains Materialism, a symbol of acceptance, progressivism, and a new Article of Faith. He hears the common man’s cry of despair, and turns his back on their voice of Hope which introduces through Populism and progressivism an alternative to struggle through Socialism. The new aristocracy recognizes the introduction of Marxism as an artificial retaliation to Capitalism with no merit, no method of application, or any real threat. The common man’s dilemma justifies itself through the theory and practice of Social Darwinism, Herbert Spencer’s economic and social application of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, “Survival of the Fittest” which upholds the Paternalism of The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegies’ contribution, and the form of slavery so nice to society and murderous to the common man. To give in to the common man’s cry will be an injustice and against their “god’s” will for only the “chosen” are to survive the living hell of their existence.
“Cross Patch” did not suffer, he rose to the temple, but yet, falls; succumbs to the reality of his transgressions as he seeks escape through Alcoholism. Illness besets him; sclerosis redeems him to consecration of his past. “He becomes a reformer of reformers.” As a means of restitution, he attacks the escape mechanisms of despair for which he himself resorts; the deceitful decay of his values damns him to obligatory obscurity.
When Anthony’s grandfather marries, he marries well into a social acceptable family; his marriage bares him a son, Adam Ulysses Patch, Anthony’s father. Adam Ulysses Patch grows-up dull, an overrated, superficial, selfish man, and a continuation of Adam Patch himself. Ulysses marries a Boston socialite; the marriage produces one child, Anthony. When Anthony is five years old, his mother dies. Anthony and his father, Adam Ulysses Patch, go to live with his grandfather, Adam J. Patch.
Anthony gets continual empty and unfulfilling promises of togetherness, leaving him disillusioned because his father’s promise of tomorrow never comes. When his father finally follows through with a promise and takes Anthony on a trip abroad, he dies suddenly, leaving Anthony in a panic of despair. Anthony’s impressionable childhood years, five through eleven fills his life with death and despair. He lost both parents and his grandmother. As a diversion to his grief and a struggle against death, Anthony withdraws, indulges nearly his whole existence into an uncontrollable hobby of stamp collecting, his childhood escape from the reality of his meaningless existence. Anthony never feels nurture or love with both a paternal (conditional) and maternal (unconditional) balance in his life.
“He [lives] almost entirely within himself, an inarticulate boy, thoroughly un-American, and politely bewildered by his contemporaries.”
While schooling abroad a tutor successfully convinces Anthony to go to Harvard, as it will open doors for him, earn him friends, and social acceptance. So Anthony does, he goes to Harvard. After graduation at the age of twenty, he returns to Rome, and acquires culture. Anthony’s shyness as a result of his childhood conditioning and childhood withdrawal hinders him and dictates his conduct for the balance of his life.
Anthony returns to America in 1912 after learning of his grandfather’s illness, sclerosis. In America, he finds himself amidst the feverish election of 1912 which offers too many choices, i.e., William Howard Taft, the President, a Republican, is caught in intense battles between the progressives and conservatives; the progressive on-slaughter produces a split in the Republican Party when Theodore Roosevelt, a Progressive, bolts to lead the Progressives on the Bull Moose platform of his “New Nationalism, “which highlights conservationism; William Jennings Bryan, a Democrat and Populist, now faces an opposition with an eastern progressive Taft and a western progressive Taft in addition to a conservative Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, whose program of a “New Freedom” based on individualism and states’ rights. The break in the Republican Party soon ensures the election of Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, with his “New Freedom” policy to the White House and the Presidency with William Jennings Bryan as his Vice-President.
Anthony deserts his plans to live abroad; he decides to resign himself from his personal ambitions until after his grandfather’s death. Adam dreams of the day his grandfather will die, so he can inherit his fortune and live a life of luxury. Adam didn’t work, never worked, and did not intend to work; his income comes from interest on money he inherits from his mother. He contemplates writing as a career, but isn’t able to commit a single line to paper. Someday, someday, someday, never today; always tomorrow, empty devastating promises; just as his father conditioned him through behaviorism. Anthony continually finds incommoding escapes from reality.
Anthony is the recipient of negative, critical observations of his Grandfather’s scrutiny. Everything about Anthony’s life is pre-ordained through the conditioning of hereditary compromise, “Damned.” His “hope” and dream of writing about the middle ages are met with asperity by his grandfather, leaving him with a sense of despondency. Adam Patch lives his life voluptuously a legacy for which Anthony’s vanity is damned.
“himself in Congress rooting around in the litter of that incredible pigsty with the narrow and porcine brows he saw pictured sometimes in the rotogravure sections of Sunday newspapers, those glorified proletarians babbling blandly to the nation the ideas of high school seniors! Little men with copy-book ambitions who by mediocrity had thought to emerge from mediocrity into the lusterless and unromantic heaven of a government of the people—and the best, the dozen shrewd men at the top, egotistic and cynical, were content to lead this choir of white ties and collar-buttons in a discordant and amazing hymn, compounded of a vague confusion between wealth as a reward of virtue and wealth as a proof of vice, and continued cheers for God, the Constitution, and the Rocky Mountains!”
Anthony begins to look for something beautiful in life, something or someone that will help bring him out of disparity. When Anthony meets Gloria Gilbert, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen, who shares the same dreams and the same escapes, he falls passionately in love, and soon marries her. The minister who marries them takes on the air of bourgeois with flashy gold teeth. Both Anthony and Gloria share the same dream, the dream of the day they will be filthy rich. Once they marry, they share their dream as if in partnership; the dream is their future, that triumphant day when Adam Patch dies; they find endless ways of relieving their boredom while they wait to inherit luxury by spending money way above Anthony’s income; and they even purchase an automobile in the fury of materialism sweeping the capitalistic society of America. Anthony and Gloria sink deeper and deeper into the escape mechanisms, using the sensationalism stirring the country as an excuse for their excessive indulgence. They have nothing except the stench of liquor and cigarettes to show for the money spent. They eat, drink, and make merry, while running from their own existence; they contemplate the death of Adam’s grandfather and the celebration of life thereafter as successors to his wealth. The hedonic nature of their existence, their devotion to happiness and gratification full of pleasure, which clouds their succulent dream of riches, is their goal.
In the year 1913, the Progressive Movement blooms; President Wilson maneuvers major legislation through congress, the Underwood Act to lower tariffs and its attachment, a graduated income tax; and the Federal Reserve Act to provide elasticity to the money supply.
War breaks out in Europe, growing into a World War. World War I stimulates the American economy through trade with war filled countries. Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, manages to keep America out of the war, while at the same time tending to some of the restitution of guilt for the money and social elite through progressive reform legislation. In 1914 an antitrust legislation establishes a Federal Trade commission to prohibit unfair business practices. Then in 1916, another burst of legislation brings new laws which prohibit child labor and limit railroad workers to an eight hour day. Because President Wilson’s hard work produces those and other reforms and the slogan, “he kept us out of war,” Wilson narrowly wins the 1916 presidential race and reelection to the office of the Presidency. Up till this time, government protects business over an individual (religion became a business, and corporations consider themselves individuals under the constitution). It appears to the public as if the individual, the common man, is finally becoming a protected concern of the government.
Criticism enters Anthony and Gloria’s relationship, criticism of others and each other. They travel and squander money on endless drunken parties. Anthony attempts to work, but finds self-assurance and opportunism wins out over technical knowledge in Capitalistic America, so he resigns. With no ambition, but he continually attempts to please his grandfather.
“Anthony completed a Chestertonian essay on the twelfth century by way of introduction to his proposed book.”
An essay, Anthony’s grandfather will never admit to reading. He suggests Anthony write about the Germans, offers to pay expenses, that is, as long as he conforms to his grandfather’s values. Anthony’s grandfather objects to Anthony’s curiosity and need to write about the era of the “Dark Ages”? Is there a secret in this period of history that will reveal a mystery of mankind that some men want to be kept a secret?
At one of their drunken parties Maury gives his thinking on some secrets, but “Maury’s adaptation left his friend disappointed and Gloria had shown her disinterest by falling asleep.” Then again at a later date, Anthony and Gloria join friends and a drunken party ensues. Adam Patch, who that very day gives funds to help the national cause of prohibition, decides to disinherit Anthony (without Anthony’s knowledge) after an abrupt unannounced and unexpected visit to see Anthony and Gloria at their summer home. He appalls at the sight of a wild drunken party in progress; he condemns Anthony because of the unrighteous way he is pursuing life. A lifestyle he also employs in his youth.
Both Anthony and Gloria are in a state of panic from the realization of his grandfather’s visit. They ponder ways to make up with his grandfather with righteousness. All attempts fail. They move back to New York City, where they find inflation accelerates the cost of an apartment to above one-third of their income; their income dwindles. Anthony continues to seek restitution and forgiveness from his grandfather, but is kept from his grandfather’s sight.
When Adam Patch dies, all the newspapers relish in the opportunity to tell of his riches and dream of industrialism using tainted propaganda (they avoid mentioning Adam’s attempts to make restitution for the error of his ways through the reforms he sponsors and finances). When Anthony discovers to his dismay, he is not mentioned in the will of his grandfather, he decides to contest the will. The newspapers have a heyday when the terms of the will are made public and also print items concerning Anthony’s suit. Rumors run amuck and Anthony becomes bitter. Anthony’s bitterness increases as he is reminded of the cruelty of life with the death of a proud man, who dies from the indirect actions of some young thugs; a man who obviously got caught up in the Impersonal forces and reduced to a job beneath his stature, the job of a janitor in the building where Anthony lives. When Gloria gets an inheritance after the death of her mother, Anthony learns her beliefs differ from his and he and Gloria begins to argue more and more as they both begin to sink further and further into obscurity. All Anthony’s attempts to becoming a successful writer fail. They again live for today. The beautiful Gloria enters the glamorous motion picture industry as an illumination of her beauty against Anthony’s wishes. Their animosity for each other grows and so does their criticism.
The British intercept and communicate to Washington, D.C., A secret order, the Zimmermann notes, which instructs the German foreign minister to invite Mexico and Japan to join the Central power, (if the United States joins the war effort) and offers the booty of lost lands in the southwest to Mexico as an enticement. Wilson publicizes the Zimmermann note to win votes for his proposal of arming American merchant ships and employ other means necessary to protect American vessels and citizens at sea. Wilson states, “No one was immune from the German aggression”. Journalism assists Wilson; they cry and shout hysterically about the evil morals, philosophy, and music of the Teutonic characteristics of Germany, stirring up the American people to correct the world situation and go to the aid of England and France, who are on the side of God, in their fight for glory.
Then on April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson reverses his previous stanch of emphasis on the individual when the United States of America declares war on Germany and enters the war on the side of the Allies. All meaningful legislation Wilson maneuvers through congress suddenly become obsolete, e.g., the Underwood Act which lowers tariffs on imports is now useless as in time of war there are no imports; the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit unfair business practices is worthless as the government contracts with big business (exclude small business) for urgently needed war materials.
America’s interest in the First World War begins with an increase Nationalism in 1898, when America declares war on Spain. The Spanish American War is the signal of America’s entrance into “Imperialism”. The culmination of Nationalism and Imperialism are the indirect cause of America’s entrance into the First World War and of the World War itself. The question to the President and to the congress from big business investors who invest heavily through-out the world and especially in England, our mother country, is: “How [can] America remain isolated in foreign affairs when Americans [stands] to lose so much?”
With the end of the American Revolution, Quincey Adams, then President of the United States, took America into Isolationism for the purpose of staying out of foreign affairs and European wars. Woodrow Wilson, on the other hand, wants to end the Isolation of America and involve America in foreign affairs for the purpose of greedy Imperialist who plan America’s entrance into the First World War. Woodrow Wilson becomes their partner in this endeavor; he is a very clever man, who thinks “God” ordains him. He pursues the “Politics of Morality”. He is a southern white Presbyterian, who is out to save America and is now out to save the world.
The best and the brightest, the aristocrats, the alumni of three or four Eastern colleges, join the war efforts by applying for officer school. Anthony, however, is determined to be unfit for service as his ideals are un-American. West Point emerges. The propaganda of journalism guides Americans causing a sudden shift in attitudes. Everything is glorious, every race, (except the German race) is a great race. The previous outcasts and scapegoats now join the armed forces and are forgiven. Patriotic citizens favor the arm forces with alcoholic drinks all across America.
The sign of the times adds to Anthony’s disparity. When Anthony receives word the jury bases its decision on the immorality of his lifestyle, the verdict they deliver favors the testator; Anthony reciprocates by appealing the decision as he feels the fortune is his birthright.
Government institutes the selective service act which includes all qualified men regardless of social position.
“All males between the age of 21 and 30 were ordered to personally appear at their polling place in the Election District in which they reside.”
The purpose of appearance is to register for the draft. The war effort produces two million volunteers and three million draftees. This allows Anthony to enter the war as a private with no mention of the previous reason for his exclusion as an officer. Anthony, an aristocrat by birth right, is destined to rub elbows with the lower classes, to see the growing dissension first hand and the impersonal forces at work, the behaviorism tactics thrust upon the men with the malice of school boys, the odd and playful fancy of all army administration, the stressing secession of immeasurable detail, the indignity of the common man’s position, the breaking of man’s spirit, the changing of values, the fears, the disappointments, the hate, the lies, the regret, the emotional unstableness of war.
It is too late, he is no longer an individual; he is a puppet, lacking the ability to make a decisions on his own. Anthony moves from one disparity to another, doubt is born; he is nervous, irritable, afraid, and angry at the world. It is then he makes a fatal error in judgment; he lies and suffers the consequences as he sinks deeper into depression and a drunken daze. His punishment, confinement; Anthony is going mad; he feels a sense of terror, a fearsome ménage of horror. He exhausts himself and becomes ill with his release from confinement.
“He was aware that his illness was providential. It saved him from a hysterical relapse.”
Mail from Gloria requires his attention as Anthony and Gloria grew further and further apart. The war is near an end. Anthony did not leave the states; his imprisonment at Camp Mills is an enigma. The camp is under quarantine from influenza; it is a filthy, windswept, cold, dreary muddle, a breeding place for disease. When word comes the enemy, Germany, is ready to surrender. West Pointers become angry because the war is going to stop before they get a chance to go overseas. Then suddenly the war appears over and Anthony is on his way home to New York to Gloria. There is a celebration in the air; people are drunk with happiness and alcohol.
Gloria’s life apart from Anthony brings her to the realization her once close friends are not really friends, but mere acquaintances, selfish and unfulfilling. Her own morals diminish. Anthony is a stranger to her, someone from her distant past. She is filled with memories and with regret for not living her life differently, for not succumbing to her birthright of motherhood. But now she is faced with Anthony and the possibility of fulfilling a mutual dream of being filthy rich. Things change, prices highly inflate; their income dwindles further; the stocks drop, and their investments are not paying; they both sink into disparity and engulf in parties and alcohol again. Their life is like a yo-yo, up, down, up, down. Anthony (in need) takes the job of a salesman, selling stock to those who cannot afford them; he is destined to failure. Their dollars shrink not only in amount, but also in purchasing power.
As the need for war materials end, America is suddenly sent backward. President Wilson travels abroad to Paris, France, leaving his responsibility and legacy of the Presidency and the American people behind. He is greeted as no other ever was greeted, he thinks, as the “savior” of the world. Wilson comes equipped with his famous fourteen points to bring peace to the world, a way to end all wars, through application of the fourteenth point, the League of Nations. The League of Nations allows reason to prevail in settlement of the problems of the world. There is evidence of starvation on the streets of Europe; the swollen stomachs of young children also suggest malnutrition. President Wilson is no match for the other three great powers at the peace conference. Britain’s Lord George, France’s George Clemenceau, and Italy’s Orlando are ruthless, greedy, domineering, authoritarians with stubborn revengeful streaks: their deceitful pride does not allow Germany, the loser of the war, to sit in the conference for peaceful resolutions. A big mistake, a mistake that will cost the world greater destruction; it will spark the attitudes and actions of those responsible for the “Treaty of Versailles”. Woodrow Wilson makes grave errors as the President of the United States, he listens to the money elite, he leaves America unguided for six months, he fails to appoint an influential Republican to the America delegation at the peace conference, and he thinks of himself as the “savior” of the world which leaves him vulnerable to his fate. Getting ill in Paris forces him to trust others and forces him to compromise beyond his original beliefs. When Wilson returns home, he faces unbearable world embarrassment as the Senate will not sign nor recognize his achievements, the “Treaty of Versailles” and the fourteenth point, the League of Nations. The President succumbs to his fate and collapses, leaving America to the wolves and his second wife.
Rapid growing unemployment emerges at the end of the war and the American attitude suddenly changes; they are disillusioned, alienated, and feel abandoned. The working class, the common man, is disciplined as strikes break out all over America and businesses refuse to cooperate with the need and the demands for higher wages. Investment and get rich quick schemes flourish. Old prejudices arise once again; organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP emerge working against each other when needs of dissention are planted by big business and journalism, thus resulting in race riots. Prohibition brings more drinking.
“To have liquor was a boast, almost a badge of respectability.”
The Jazz age blossoms, a “live for today” attitude, a form protest of the times, and age of nonconformity and dissent, allowing sexual permissiveness to lead to a decline in morals in urban America. Big business and Journalism produce a Red Scare that drives an unjustified fear into the hearts of the common people. The Red Scare is brought on by the fears of big business of the new communist party, a combination of Marxist-Lenin theory which arises out of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and sends chills down the backs of the capitalistic business world. Lenin believes only revolution throughout the world will bring about the culmination of Marx’s theory of the Dialectic, communism, and Lenin’s theory of implementation through force. Lenin says to the communist people, “We must send professionals, professional revolutionaries, through-out the world and make it happen”. Take over the world from the owners of the means of production, the Capitalist. When Journalism capitalizes using propaganda to influence the people of America against such notions, the result is the “Red Scare”. The propaganda of Journalism causes man to go against his neighbor, his friends, snitching becomes an everyday practice, and the feeling that no one can be trusted begins to take over society. America has been censored, and it is back to Isolationism, dramatic plays get labels of pornography and art leads to extreme reactions of delight or discuss.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations, the FBI, is established to investigate suspect aliens and radicals under the strenuous, inhumane campaign of Attorney General Palmer. Hundreds of Russians who are not guilty of any crimes, nor communists, get deported; six thousand people, mostly American citizens, are arrested (prompted by suspicion) and taken from their homes without cause, warrants, or justification, and then held against their will. There is no evidence of a communist plot, but few Americans speak out because of the false illusion journalism makes. Palmer continues to send false messages of fear to the American people, causing mass hysteria, coupled with the fear of an unknown. The government allows the Attorney General to violate the constitutional rights of thousands of Americans under a false pretext of a revolution, a fear of communism, an unjust fear, that starts with business, the owners of the means of production, as a method to prevent revolution as they know their oppression of the working class is unjust and can result in revolution with the help of the communist. The remembrance of the historical French Revolution is still fresh in the mind of the greedy capitalist.
It is back to “Isolationism” when Warren G. Harding wins the election of 1920. He is a weak man who uses pompous phrases with no definite appeal, who “looked like a President”, who likes the taste of whiskey, and who lets the machine bosses set the policies.
“By 1923 the post war depression seemed to be giving way to a new surge of prosperity,–‘less government in business and more business in government’”. “Advantages rather than responsibility were also the goal of the representative of business and finance who shaped the domestic policies of the Harding Administration.”
Harding’s soap box approach gives way to a bubble that bursts by dirt of a scandal, the Teapot Dome Scandal, which is conveniently withheld from the public until the day after his questionable death.
Sigmund (Sex) Freud, the Jewish German, introduces his Freudian theory of the Libido, the ego, superego and the Id, the selfishness of man, the “I want” struggle of the conscious and the unconscious mind for the pleasure and gratification, a theory that becomes his passport out of Germany at the onset of World War II, his escape from death at the hands of the fascist movement of Adolph Hitler who rises out of a quilt filled Germany to bring destruction and death to the world as restitution for their transgressions against Germany, the superior race. Freudianism gives rise to Narcissism as an explanation for the common man’s dilemma. The Freudian theory, based on the Capitalistic society, reaffirms and conveniently compliments “Capitalism. In actuality man’s narcissism is a direct result of the Capitalistic society replacing the values of man from “Oneness with God” and “Oneness with Man” to “Sameness”, a concept of partnership, in marriage, in work, in all endeavors, giving man Materialism, Narcissism, Alcoholism, Sexism, Darwinism, and justifying the “Paternalism” of the Capitalistic societies Gospel of Wealth, the form of slavery that is so nice to society and murderous to the common man.
Gloria’s self-esteem declines abruptly into paranoia as she realizes her beauty and freshness is fading and is replaced with wrinkles. Along with Gloria’s beauty, her love for Anthony also fades, but she stays faithfully by him in their partnership of marriage even as he sinks deeper and deeper into his alcoholic escape. They still share the same dream of riches.
When the dream comes to be reality and Anthony recovers the family fortune by winning the lawsuit, Adam Patch’s estate, the ligancy of Anthony’s birthright, it appears to be too late for Anthony, he appears beaten, and he withdraws once again to his childhood obsession. Had Anthony’s victory come too late? Was his victory now his damnation? There is no turning back. If Anthony was given his grandfather’s estate without a fight, his reaction may have differed; he may have succumbed to materialism. But now all Anthony can do is reminisce, to look back on his hardships, his tribulations, his ruthless misery, his loneliness, and his justification in obtaining his birth right, an autocracy. He is no longer materialistic in his thinking.
“Great tears stood in his eyes, and his voice was tremulous as he whispered to himself. “I showed them,” she was saying. “It was a hard fight, but I didn’t give up and I came through!”
What then is his gain? Is not the advantage of a money autocracy, a form of materialism and Anthony’s gain? Anthony diverts the Impersonal Forces and takes responsibilities for his own life. He does this without succumbing to Materialism. It is not for us to judge Anthony. Anthony’s “hope”, his optimism, is his inheritance; he gains satisfaction when he gains his birthright, his inheritance. Anthony’s previous actions reflect the mood and the atmosphere of the post war era of World War I. The post war era of World War I and World War II differ.
“Franklin D. Roosevelt assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression helped the American people regain faith in themselves. He brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his Inaugural Address, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself’.”
Approximately three months after Roosevelt is elected to the Presidency, America sinks to its lowest point in the Great Depression. Thirteen Million people are unemployed and almost every bank closes. Roosevelt is a man of action destined to reestablish the faith in Capitalism.
“In the first ‘hundred days’, he proposed, and congress enacted, a sweeping program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to losing farms and homes, and reform, especially through the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority.”
Businessmen and bankers fear the actions of Roosevelt and dislike the Nation being taken off the gold standard, the deficit budget, and the concessions made to labor. Businessmen and bankers are unwilling to pay for the changes, but they reaped the rewards through Materialism and want to keep them. Roosevelt is a man of action and knows these actions are necessary to prevent a possible revolution from within with the growing unrest of the middle classes; he responds with new programs of reform:
“Social Security, heavier taxes on the wealthy, new controls over banks and public utilities, and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed.” ‘In 1936 he was re-elect —–he sought legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, which had been invalidation key New Deal measures. Roosevelt lost the Supreme Court battle, but a revolution in constitutional law took place. Thereafter the government could legally regulate the economy.”
Roosevelt pledges a “good neighbor” policy against aggressors in the Western hemisphere which transform the Monroe Doctrine, a doctrine America now feels they have the strength to protect. Roosevelt seeks to keep America out of the European wars while pledging to help nations that are under threat or attack. America is to remain neutral? How can America remain neutral and follow the contradicting policies put into effect? The President is given power to implement embargoes that threaten or attack other nations. Problems arise all over Europe. Japan becomes aggressive again and Germany unifies under their fascist leader, Adolph Hitler. The French fall to Germany’s aggression. Aid short of war is the policy of foreign affairs in America. With this attitude, war is inevitable.
Through Roosevelt, America helps to strengthen the countries that will eventually retaliate against it because America suddenly becomes unable to defend the Monroe Doctrine as Roosevelt pledges. The Philippines, America’s stepping stone to Asia, is in jeopardy to Japan. Roosevelt feels the salvation of the world peace will ultimately depend upon the relations between opposites, i.e., Russia, the communist, and the United States, the capitalist. Therefore, he devotes his energies to the planning of the United Nations, the afterbirth of Wilson’s fourteenth point.
When Japan retaliates against America through the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America’s efforts are redirected into global warfare. Internally the American political machine retaliates upon citizens of Japanese descent, removing them from their homes against their free will into what is referred to as protective custody, imprisonment, stripping them of their due rights as Americans; rights guaranteed them by the Constitution. In times of war Americans have no rights. Roosevelt’s health deteriorates. He dies in 1945 just prior to the close of the war, Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, is not informed of the developments and difficulties of the wartime problems that suddenly come to be his problems to solve. He tells reporters:
“I felt like the moon, the star, and all the planets had fallen on me.”
During World War II he headed the Senate war investigating committee, checking into waste and corruption and saving perhaps as much as fifteen billion dollars.
As President, Truman faces crucial decisions. At first he follows Roosevelt policies, policies which damn America into becoming a police state for the correction of world unrest, pledging the lives of Americans to solve world problems while at the same time ignoring the suffering needs of Americans at home; he witnesses the signing of the United Nations charter. But it isn’t long before he develops his own policies.
“He presented to Congress a 21-point program, proposing the expansion of Social Security, a full employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, public housing and slum clearance. The program, Truman wrote, ‘symbolizes for me my assumption of the office of President to my own right.’ It became known as the Fair Deal.”
Truman retaliates against Japan after sending a warning shot of fear into the world and bringing the world to a peaceful means of communications, the coalition of the United Nations and the entrance of America into a Cold War, a military dominated complex. Truman campaigns successfully in 1948 against Dewy, the same man that tells the Spanish governor to get out of the Philippines when America declares war on Spain and helps allow American big business to take its first greedy step into Imperialism. With Truman as President, America does not revert back into Isolationism as it did during post World War I; instead, America pursues the “Truman Doctrine”, the Marshall Plan which stimulates economic recovery in war-torn Western Europe. Truman takes the stanch to fight against aggression rather than feed and nourish it. He negotiates a military alliance to protect Western nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. When postwar antagonism utilizes aggression to bring about communism in Korea, America along with the United Nations holds a line above the old boundary keeping the war a limited one.
When Truman gives his address to the nation in 1948, he states his views outright:
“We have rejected the discredited theory that the fortunes of the nation should be in the hand of a privileged few, instead, we believe that our economic system should rest on a democratic foundation and that wealth should be credited for the benefit of all. The recent election shows that the American people are in favor of this kind of society. Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from his government a fair deal.”
Truman meets with opposition from business and congress in implementing his strategies; he wins some, and loses some. Truman seeks a “war against world poverty”, but is hindered by business and congress from achieving the same justice for all the American people. Truman also meets with opposition in his efforts in Korea from the military. General McCarthy voices opposition to Truman by making allegations. The Tyding Committee declares McCarthy works a “fraud and a hoax”, but the backlash of the Korea war gives McCarthy an audience which produces another Red Scare sending school children under their desks in fear of atomic bombs; these scare tactics continue in force until 1953, but are not held with the severity as they are in the previous scare of 1919:
“Slander, lies, character assassinations—these things are a threat to every single citizen everywhere in this country. When even one American—who has done nothing wrong—is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.”
How is true justice to prevail in America when men like Truman, who fight for the individual, are made to look silly under the false threats of communism brought on by the fear of business paying their fair share of wars which are of their making and for their profit or prevention of losses in their Materialism? Truman is a man of the people who fights for legislation and reforms that help the common man. Under Truman the common man is not reduced to the bread lines with the severity of oppression from big business as they are in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Truman listens to what the people say and makes his intention know to follow the designs of America people, when Eisenhower is elected President in 1952, he plays along with the game of politics, but in his farewell address he seeks restitution and warns America of things to come:
“The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every State house, and every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need of this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved, so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisitions of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted . . . Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial military posture, has been the technical revolution during recent decades . . . The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present—and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we would, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy would itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite (January 17, 1961).”
In conclusion, the Steward of the rich, the President, is merely a guardian for the rich, whose policies differ from guardian to guardian, giving only the minimum amount of change or adjustment to prevent revolution and establish “hope” or reestablish faith in the system. There is but one exception, Harry S. Truman who becomes the President because of the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Truman’s administration during the postwar era of World War II brings changes to the American society, helps the common man, through establishment and revisal of reforms, thus preventing or attacking the abuse, massive oppression, discrimination, and fears that were felt by the common man and the middle class in America at the hands of big business and government in the post-World War I era under Harding.
And in my opinion, the Capitalistic Society is a nation whose processes, rewards, and acceptance through Materialism can be the damnation to one’s soul if an individual chooses the wrong path upward through the impersonal forces toward an American dream. However, it is also a reward (through non-conformity) because under the Capitalistic society the freedom of choice of which road to take on the travel upward through the impersonal forces toward the American dream is left up to the individual, not the government.