A fifth population lived in poverty. The rise of black Americans and the inauguration of economic opportunity to women did little to reduce the dominance of white men in almost every sphere of life. The feeling of American exceptionalism was widespread, as was a semi-official belief in something called the “American way of life”, which was based on an image of idealism (which, to put it mildly), was not inclusive.
Culture industries, as they expanded, absorbed and commercialized independent and offbeat culture-makers, and the university, as it expanded, swallowed the world of creative writing and disparate political opinion. At the end of this period, the country plunged into a foreign war of national independence, from which it could not extricate itself for eight years. When it finally happened, in the 1970s, growth stalled, the economy entered a painful period of adjustment, ideological differences intensified and income differentials began to widen rapidly. The United States grew from foreign commitments, and other countries grew the United States.
And yet, something had happened. There was a drastic change in America’s relations with the rest of the world. In 1945, there was widespread skepticism among Americans about the value and sophistication of American art and ideas, and also about the intentions and intentions of the American government. After 1965, those attitudes were reversed. The United States lost political credibility, but it had moved from the periphery to the center of a growing international artistic and intellectual life.
[ Return to the review of “The Free World.” ]
Cultures are transformed, not intentionally or programmatically, but by the unpredictable effects of social, political, and technological change, and random actions of cross-pollination. Ars Longa is the ancient saying, but in fact, making art is short-lived. It is a reaction to changes in the immediate environment and the result of serious road-level interactions. Between 1945 and 1965, the severity rate increased, and the environment changed dramatically. So did the art and thought.