America in Search of Culture

America in Search of Culture

America in Search of Culture

America in Search of Culture

Excerpt

America to-day is greatly concerned about its spiritual destiny. No nation of the Western world has produced so vast a literature of disillusion. Most of this literature dates from the days of prosperity. The recent collapse of the economic system is merely a tragic postscript. The entire outfit of mass ideals and stereotypes that grew up with that system has suffered a mortal shock. In its songs, its anecdotes, its popular magazines, its movies, its plays, the nation is satirizing itself with a torrent of bitter laughter. Beneath that laughter is a genuine and growing concern about the quality of American life.

As a nation, America for many years was one of the unemployed. She had accepted no function, no responsibility, in the international community -- perhaps (though it seems unlikely) because there was none for her to accept. "Patriotism," said President Coolidge, "means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country." But even in his day there were many who felt that chicken-in-the-pot patriotism is not enough -- that more might fairly be expected of Manifest Destiny. And now that thirteen million pots stand these many months innocent of breast or bone, people suspect that the eggs were addled: that there . . .

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