The Racial Conflict: Anglo-Saxons Versus Foreigners
Some little Yankee shoe-shine boy, a kid with a rat's face, half Saxon, half Jew, with a trace of Negro ancestry in his maddened marrow, the future King of Oil, Rubber, Steel, creator of the Trust of trusts, future master of a standardized planet, this god that the universe awaits, god of a godless universe.
-- Georges Bernanos, 1931
The deterioration of Franco-American relations in the early twenties created an atmosphere in which French observers were prepared to discover and emphasize some of the less attractive aspects of American life. This change in the diplomatic climate was accompanied by a social revolution within the United States. The most important aspects of this revolution were the conflict in values between native Americans and immigrants and the spread of new industrial processes such as the moving assembly line and the Taylor System. Even without the disintegration of the entente, these new developments would have justified French observers in creating a new image of America. However, the emphasis which was placed on the two revolutionary aspects of American life can only be explained by the context in which they appeared. The rising power of the United States in Europe made mass society and the racial conflict particularly relevant to Frenchmen. In addition, the negative reactions of American writers helped to reinforce the predispositions of Frenchmen on these matters.