Ideologies and Utopias: The Impact of the New Deal on American Thought

By Arthur A. Ekirch Jr. | Go to book overview

FIVE
Life Can Be Beautiful

THE HOPES and plans of the New Deal were not confined to politics and economics. In the 1930's for the first time in American history, aesthetic goals became a part of official thinking and the public philosophy. In the continuing effort to overcome the depression, the Roosevelt administration believed that life in the United States could somehow be made more attractive as well as more secure. This goal of a popular mass culture -- as distinct from a society in which the enjoyment of arts and letters was limited to the few - had long been an article of the American democratic faith. But before the 1930's the federal government exerted little influence upon most aspects of American cultural and intellectual life. Now, however, not only did American writers and artists rediscover their native land, but the political leadership of the New Deal also recognized that the depression was affecting these people as much as businessmen, farmers, and laborers. The severe economic plight of thousands of unhappy, frustrated, and talented individuals underscored the need for new forms of patronage, public as well as private, if the artist, or intellectual, or professional man was to survive and maintain his integrity. Thus the environment of the depression

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Ideologies and Utopias: The Impact of the New Deal on American Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • One - The Crisis in the American Dream 3
  • Two - The Search for Solutions 36
  • Three - Roosevelt in a Word 72
  • Four - Toward a New Public Philosophy 105
  • Five - Life Can Be Beautiful 141
  • Six - A Chorus of Dissent 177
  • Seven - War and the Intellectuals 208
  • Eight - The Wave of the Future 245
  • A Note on Sources 267
  • Notes 271
  • Index 297
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