A Fiction of the Past: The Sixties in American History by Dominick J. Cavallo

By Dominick J. Cavallo

Few occasions in the course of that whirlwind of hobbies, conflicts and upheaval referred to as "the sixties" took american citizens extra abruptly, or have been likely to encourage their rage, than the uprising of these who have been younger, white, and school trained. probably none were extra maligned or misunderstood considering. In A Fiction of the previous, Dominick Cavallo pushes prior the modern fog of fantasy, chilly disdain and hot nostalgia that shrouds the novel adolescence tradition of the '60s. He explores how the furiously chaotic sixties sprang from the relatively placid forties and fifties. The ebook digs past the post-World battle II a long time and seeks the old assets of the early life tradition within the far away American earlier. Cavallo indicates how the sixties' such a lot radical rules and values have been deeply etched within the American soul.

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They were committed to an ideological faith in the possibility of fashioning a utopia in which economic exploitation, ignorance and totalitarianism might be vanquished once and for all. ” Bell and other intellectuals—he named Reinhold Niebuhr, John Dos Passos, Sidney Hook, Alfred Kazin and Lionel 28 A FICTION OF THE PAST Trilling, among others—developed a more realistic, “ironic” and paradoxical view of human nature and its prospects. The depredations of Stalinism and the inexpressible horror of Hitler’s gas chambers convinced them that human beings were “children of darkness” as well as “children of light,” in the biblical phrase Niebuhr chose for the title of one of his books.

Nevertheless, the cult of security was pervasive enough to inspire alarm among some Americans. Among other things, they believed it undermined the masculine aggressiveness they associated with the country’s traditions of individualism, technological innovation and spirit of enterprise. THE ORGANIZATION MAN, AMERICAN MASCULINITY AND THE WILD WEST The “organization man” did not exist. He was a sociological abstraction, a myth constructed from the reification of a host of discreet sensibilities. He craved economic security, easily assumed the slavish mien of the conformist and readily cooperated with fellow workers.

42 But daring though the early marriages, high birth rates and indebtedness might seem, they in fact represented a commitment to domesticity that complemented the cult of security. Obviously, these trends were not universal. 43 Neither the suburban lifestyle, despite its surface uniformity, nor the repressive political atmosphere told the whole story. ” Who, after all, defended conformity in America? ”44 Bell was exaggerating, but he had a point. Even in the corporate world, where conformity and the cult of security seemed most pronounced, there were contrary tendencies.

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