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Lecture Notes

Winter History

Table of contents
  1. Class Conflict in the Gilded Age
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. Lucy and Albert Parsons
    4. Industrial Chicago
      1. Back of the Yards and Stateless Expansion
      2. 1873 Great Depression
    5. Ethnic Workers and Radical Demands
      1. Socialism and Anarchism
    6. May Day and the Movement for the Eight Hour Day
      1. McCormick International Harvester Lockout and Strike
    7. Rally at Haymarket
      1. Police Repression of the Anarchists
      2. Legacy of Haymarket
    8. The Second Industrial Revolution
      1. Prelude
      2. Beginnings of the Second Industrial Revolution
      3. The Steam Engine and Railroads
      4. The Role of the State
    9. Industrial Fortunes
    10. Conditions of Labor
    11. Political Corruption
      1. The Bosses of the Senate
      2. The Courts and Liberty of Contract
    12. New Ideologies: Social Darwinism
    13. Strikes and Violent Conflict
  2. Advent of Empire: Race and Conquest in 1900
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. The Spanish American War
    4. Empire of Liberty?
      1. Battle of Wounded Knee
    5. American Progress
    6. Economic Crises
    7. War and Business
    8. Foreign Conquest: Spanish American War
    9. Occupation of the Philippines
    10. U.S. Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism
    11. Racial Constructions During War Time
  3. The Progressive Era: Race, Class, and Gender in the 20th Century
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. Jane Addams and the Hull House
      1. Philanthropic Amelioration
    4. Gender and Progressive Activism
      1. Muller v. Oregon Brandeis Brief
    5. The Women’s Movement
      1. Votes for Women
      2. Birth Control
    6. How Progressive? Margaret Sanger and Eugenics
    7. Economic Ruin in the South
    8. Triumph of Redemption
      1. Roll Back of Black Political Rights
      2. The Rise of Segregation
      3. The Supreme Court
    9. The Rise of Lynching
      1. Sam Hose
    10. Ida B. Wells and the Black Intellectual Tradition
    11. NAACP and Movements for Reform
    12. Migrations
      1. The North: 1919 Chicago Race Riot
      2. American Racial Fabric
  4. New Deals: Ideas and Governance
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. Class Violence and Class Warfare
    4. Towards Progressivism
    5. Political Uses of WWI
      1. War Production
      2. Espionage and Sedition Acts
      3. End of the War
    6. Strike Wave: 1919
      1. Steel Strike
    7. Rise of Authoritarian Communism
      1. The Palmer Raids and the Red Scare
    8. Business Agenda in the 1920s
    9. Workers in the 1920s: Farm Foreclosures and Over-Saturated Consumer Markets
    10. The Crash of 1929
    11. The People in the Great Depression
      1. Hoovervilles
    12. 1932 Election of Roosevelt
      1. The First Hundred Days
      2. Keynesian Economics
    13. Section 7a and the Unions
  5. Labor’s Great Upheaval
    1. San Francisco General Strike
    2. Congress of Industrial Organizations
    3. With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade Documentary
  6. World War II: Meanings of Freedom and Popular Ideas
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. The New Deal and Keynesian Economics
      1. Wagner Act
      2. San Francisco General Strike
      3. The Spirit of the New Deal
    4. Limits of Reform
    5. World War II
      1. Pearl Harbor
      2. Anti-Japanese Propaganda
      3. Japanese Internment
    6. The Second World War and the Arsenal of Democracy
      1. Primary Labor Force
      2. Double Victory Campaign
      3. A. Phillip Randolph
      4. War’s End
    7. The 1945-1946 Strike Wave
    8. Freedom From Want
      1. Economic Bill of Rights
      2. The Fifth Freedom
      3. Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
    9. Labor, Taft-Hartley, and Politics
    10. A New Industrial Relations System
      1. Two Labor Markets
  7. World War II and the Cold War: Warfare and Statecraft
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. The Rise of European Fascism
    4. World War I
    5. Wave of Revolutions
    6. Rise of the Nazi Party
      1. Nazi Political Economy
    7. Ghettos to Concentration Camps
    8. U.S.-Soviet Alliance
    9. War’s End in Europe
    10. War in the Pacific
      1. Victory
    11. Decolonization
    12. The Cold War
    13. The Loss of China
    14. The Korean War
    15. Covert Wars
    16. Handing Over the Keys
      1. Vietnam
    17. Massive Retaliation
    18. Warfare and Statecraft
  8. Freedom Now: Political Economy and Black Movements
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. The New Industrial Relations System
    4. Two Labor Markets
      1. Breadwinner Liberalism
      2. White Affirmative Action
    5. Creating White America: Consumer Society
    6. Black America
      1. Expanding Wealth Gap
    7. Birth of the Civil Rights Movement
      1. Brown v. Board of Education
      2. The Little Rock Nine and School Desegregation
      3. Montgomery Bus Boycott
    8. Southern Christian Leadership Council and Martin Luther King
      1. The Greensboro NC Sit-In
      2. SNCC and Ella Baker
    9. Birmingham Alabama
    10. March on Washington
    11. Black Power and a New Critique
      1. Watts Riots
      2. Black Panthers
    12. Black Culture
  9. Neoliberalism: A Changing Political Economy
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. Union Gains
    4. Structural Problems in the 1970s
      1. White Flight and Deindustrialization
      2. Capital Flight
    5. Urban Crisis
    6. Stagflation
    7. National Conference on Inflation Structural Crisis of the 1970s
    8. New York Fiscal Crisis
    9. The Seattle Boeing Bust
    10. Free Market Economics and Milton Friedman
      1. The Liberal Response
    11. 1976 Presidential Campaign
      1. The Volcker Shock
    12. Reagan
      1. PATCO Strike
      2. The War on Drugs
      3. Iran - Contra
  10. American History Now: Understanding Our Current Moment
    1. Navigate
    2. Introduction
    3. The Reagan Consensus
      1. Clinton Presidency
      2. North American Free Trade Agreement
      3. Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
      4. Financial Services Modernization Act
    4. Empire
      1. Afghanistan and Cold War
      2. Fall of the Soviet Union
      3. Iraq in the 1990s
      4. U.S. Support for Israel
    5. 9/11 and the War on Terror
      1. Iraq War
    6. Economics and Technology: America in the Second Gilded Age
      1. Silicon Valley
      2. Tech Sector and the Information Age
      3. Deindustrialization and Financialization
    7. Subprime Lending and Housing Market Collapse
      1. 2008 Marker Crisis and Bank Failures
      2. Federal Bailouts
      3. Increasing Inequality, Loss of Income, and Home Equity
      4. Increasing Racial Divide
  11. Alternative Linkage

Class Conflict in the Gilded Age


  • Some may be surprised at the extent of class conflict.
  • Jacob Riis, Bandit’s Roost, 1888, from How the Other Half Lives.
    • The class divide; what is America supposed to be?
    • What are the hierarchies present in the image? (us/them)
    • Riis draws us not only towards the construction of class differences but social problems around crime.
    • Hostility; political tensions present.
    • Gets at themes emerging in the Gilded Age - the emergence of social class as a marker of American society; sets of interests and sides in American society.
  • Central questions: Why did the Gilded Age experience so much class conflict and violence? What was the role of the state and other social institutions?
    • gilded age - the appearance of success and prosperity with an underlying set of tensions. Contrast with the golden age.
    • Class Conflict
      • The second industrial revoltuion brought increased competition and conflict for industry and labor.
    • Violence and the state
      • Social conflict provoked violence, with the state taking a partisan role.
        • Haymarket, the Great Railroad Strike, Pullman, etc.
    • The Social Question:
      • How does one address the violence between labor and capital? Can social institutions survive modernity? Are democracy and industrial capitalism compatible?

Lucy and Albert Parsons

  • Very convenient transition from Reconstruction into the Guilded Age.
  • Lucy Parsons is likely born enslaved and wins freedom across the course of the Civil War. Becomes an activist for black equality in Reconstruction.
  • Albert Parsons was a Confederate soldier before having a change of heart, becoming a Republican.
  • While there waas the possibility of greater forms of black equality, by the 1870s this begins to close; legislatures retake control of Southern state power and legislate against black voting and interracial relationships.
  • Travelled to Industrial Chicago in mid 1870s.

Industrial Chicago

  • An enormous fire in the city (1870) that miped out the majority of the city.
  • Was a trading center for many cities in the region; near the Great Lakes.
  • As it rebuilds, it develops along this urban explosion of buildings.
    • The population of the city doubles from 500,000 to 1m people (second largest city in the US at that time).
    • A city so far West was remarkable.
    • 3/4 residents are immigrants.
  • Industrializing is set on a few key industries;
    • Meat packing; all the ranch land of the interior can ship livestock to Chicago.
    • Timber; harvest timber fields of the Michigan penninsula or upper-west (e.g. Minnesota).
    • These draw streams of immigrants to fill labor demands.

Back of the Yards and Stateless Expansion

  • This led to very problematic living conditions.
  • Industrial development (e.g. harvesting of timber) is not being regulated (i.e. thought of as a limited resource).
  • Development of factories was propelled in the interest of productivity instead of protecting workers.
  • Living conditions of people coming into the cities: one could construct housing very quickly, but no sewers, water, garbage infastructure, sanitation, etc.
  • The “Back of the Yards” ; back of the train yards.
    • Chicago was the hub in a network of resource extraction from all across the Great Plains.
    • Farmers growing wheat nad corn in Illinois and Ohio and ranchers herding cattle from Texas to Montana can ship their products to Chicago.
    • Is the intersection of a transcontinental railroad.
    • Chicago has access to a huge expanse from which its industrial factories can process themselves.
  • Right next to the railroad, housing for factory workers were created.
    • These developed without any social planning.
    • Conditions people found themselves in: extremely poor.
    • Multiple depressions; extreme poverty was experienced. Children were often employed to scavenge for food, or some other method to squeeze out an existence.

1873 Great Depression

  • Chicago impacted by the 1873 Great Depression; failures in the banking system (failure to issue bonds for a railroad construction project) led to the collapse of the credit card system.
    • Businesses couldn’t spend money on wages, provide paychecks, etc.
    • The economy ground to a halt and people were thrown out of work even amidst the expansion of places like industrial Chicago.
    • The pressures of poverty; firms have pressures to maintain profitability but laying people off or cutting wages. Poverty was this exacerbated.

Ethnic Workers and Radical Demands

  • The Parsons come to this city in the 1780s and 1790s; begins a process of radicalization for them.
  • Albert Parsons runs for the City Council as a socialist, finds that the system of business-driven politics makes it such that even if everyone on the city council was elected as a socialist, there was no meaningful space for reform.
    • Government transformed from a solution to a problem.
    • Transitioned from thinking themselves as anticaptialist socialists, began thinking of themselves as anticapitalist anarchists.
  • Radicalization was also being driven by ethnic workers from Europe that had a more articulated conception of socialist politics that was brought with them.
    • Industrializing centers of Europe (Rhine River Valley, Bavaria, Paris, Manchester) experiencing rapid industrialism; come to the United States and see parallels. Socialist politics translate fairly easily, and a robust political and workers’ movement around socialist ideas.
  • August Spies - ran the “Arbeiter-Zeitung”, the “Workers’ Times” that was increasingly socialist and anarchist. Discussed problems of poverty.

Socialism and Anarchism

  • Socialism is an economic philosophy, and counterposes itself against liberalism (belief in private property). States that property should be held collectively, and the property of society should be held through social trust. Some sort of governmental agency is needed to decide that - democratic or authoritian.
  • Anarchists were socialists that thought the socialization of property should not be done by the government. Any form of government organization of this socialization would be as tyrannical as liberalism.

May Day and the Movement for the Eight Hour Day

  • Development of an eight-hour movement in the city of Chicago.
    • Then-currently, no regulations for hour production is done inside production; owners could set production based on their markets and schedules without considering the needs of workers.
      • In the steel industry, not uncommon to have 12 hour flips that would flip every week (day and night shifts).
      • Lowell labor unions fought for a ten-hour workday.
  • Initially attempted to push eight-hour day through firms (i.e. strikes until an eight-hour day).
    • Firms would hire strike-breakers; other newcomers desperate to take work were hired.
    • If workers attempted to prevent others from taking the job, employers would hire private security (like the Pinkertons) or the police department to break up the strikes.
    • Frequently, striking workers were killed to clear out the area and to allow new people to come in.
    • Winning at the firm level was difficult.
  • Fought to pass a law that forced all firms to limit the day to ten hours; this was mainly the Parsons’s political work.
    • Despite their anarchist views, most of their political work was around relatively basic work around this law.
    • 1884: labor unions expect by 1886 for this law to be passed.
    • If the law is not passed by May 1st, a citywide strike will occur.
    • The city did not pass anything.

McCormick International Harvester Lockout and Strike

  • 50k strikers on May 1st, 1886; it is fairly successful and a day of protest.
  • On May 2nd, everyone goes back to work; yet some firms (e.g. McCormick Harvester that made tractors) refused to let the workers back in.
  • A trope in American politics around irrational, radical, hysterical women. (i.e. “fire-breathing anarchists”)
  • Workers at McCormick International Harvester are locked out and the police are called in; the police kill two strikers.
  • Radicals nevertheless are feeling particularly stong; attempted for another strike in a few days to demonstrate against the killing of the workers.
    • Perhaps contributing to pressure for the city or McCormick to settle the strike.
  • Prosecuters alleged that radicals were calling not only for a strike but a revenge.

Rally at Haymarket

  • Not many people showed up; perhaps a few hundred.
  • Occurred in May, so conditions were not quite pleasant - rainy, muddy, cold.
  • The rally disappates; at one point, everyone is there (August Spies, Albert and Lucy Parsons).
  • Everyone begins going home.
  • After the last speaker gets off the stage, the police - who have been holding off - decide to march into the plaza to clear it.
  • As soon as they begin to come in, an unknown somebody throws a bomb at the police lines and kills several police officers.
    • The police officers shoot into the crowd and cause a horrible scene.
  • This incident - from Mayday Strikes to the bombing - is the Haymarket Affair.

Police Repression of the Anarchists

  • This is the basis for which anarchist positions are repressed.
  • They are prevented from editorializing, producing literature.
  • Eight radicals are arrested and put on trial not for the act of throwing the bomb; accused of creating the climate and publishing ideas that led to someone who would want to throw the bomb.
    • Are placed on trial against a notoriously hostile judge; the trial is widely regarded as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the American judicial system.
  • There was no attempt by police to find the bombthrower; instead looked to the political leaders of the worker’s movement.
    • All were convicted, and several were executed (2 pardoned later, 1 commits suicide). Albert Parsons later turned himself in and believed he would have a fair trial, was later executed.
      • As Albert Parsons is on trial, Lucy Parsons puts forward her “I am an Anarchist” speech.
    • The trial becomes an international affair on its own; the Haymarket martyrs (the Anarchists of Chicago) were “celebrities” of sorts.
  • Newspapers reporting on the ins and outs of their personal lives; a media spectacle.

Legacy of Haymarket

  • Becomes a moment of reckoning in American society.
  • Basic reforms we take as being self-evident today were seemingly impossible to achieve in the class-driven society at the end of the 19th century.
  • Affair points to the degree to which the state would use violence in thwarting the efforts of industrial workers.
    • Not only in the police force, but also in the entire legal infastructure.
  • What is the role of the state? A major purveyor of the violence is government, in the form of the police and the court system.
  • What would the role of government be in this conflict? How would it navigate this new terrain?
  • The Parsons did not see the state as a solution; but instead as perpetually contributing to the problem.
  • Employers could use the police, the government, the army, and other institutions to enforce.
  • Many socialists argued for electing workers, etc.; argued that this would simply lead to other forms of inequality.
  • A hotbed of radicalism.

The Second Industrial Revolution


  • Chicago Police Force and judiciary & legal system was attempting to put an end to the ability of radicals to organize.
  • This led to the flowering of radicalism, not only in the United States but internationally.
  • Many regions set May 1st as a worker’s day.
  • A global radicalization, and radicalization in the United States.
  • Emma Goldman, young immigrant to the United States; an extremely famous radical anarchist.
  • Radicalized by the Haymarket trial as a 15 to 16 year old, setting her path towards the politics of the Haymarket Martyrs.
  • Haymarket is just the tip of the iceberg; there were at least a dozen other incidents in the late 19th century.
  • What is the context behind it that is producing this? The second industrial revolution.

Beginnings of the Second Industrial Revolution

  • The first industrial was discussed with Lowell.
  • Power sources are an important aspect; Lowell power sources from water, second industrial revolution used electricity.
  • A significant change, utilizing fossil fuels.
  • Interchangable parts of rifles - example of mechanized production.
  • Nevertheless, the railroad industry is the most important part of this.

The Steam Engine and Railroads

  • Initially used in mining to pump water, but it became clear that this engine could be applied to all kinds of production to drive machinery.
  • For example, transportation on river boats or for railroads.
  • Railroads are the most sophisticated and politically dominant industry in the 1870s, 80s, and 90s.
  • There are stock market frenzies, booms, and busts built on the railroad industry; pouring capital to fund competing industries.
  • You had to spend money from the outset to think about getting returns from the freight that would be shipped; bankruptcies were rife in the railroad industry.
  • Technological advancement gave rise to new forms of transit, exchange, geographic scope, continental expanse, etc.

The Role of the State

  • Much of the success of railroads came from support from the state; given massive swathes of land.
  • If the track were built, it would make the land more accessible and desirable to, say, farmers.
  • The railroads could thus sell their lands as part of their profit model to help them survive, as well as other incentives.
  • Regions would compete to have the railroad run through them; i.e. tax incentives for railroad companies.
  • A form of speculation - get gifted land, then parcel it and set it out.
  • State is providing grants and subsidies for these corporations.

Industrial Fortunes

  • Leads to the largest creation of wealth and wealth inequality ever.
  • Leading figures are John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie; were not railroad barons but ancillary industries (oil and steel, respectively).
  • Rockefeller got his start in the Civil War with government contracts; involved in the oil extraction industry.
  • Finds that railroad companies are ripping him off; they’ve monopolized the track and are charging him more money. Solution: buy the railroad companies. and so on w/ other companies. Continued using a vertical itnegration model.
  • At one point, controlled 90% of the oil market in the entirety of the country.
  • Near complete monopolistic control of a whole vertical.
  • Carnegie attempted a horizontal integration - just steel manufacturing.
  • Created the largest U.S. American manufacturing company - U.S. Steel, the first company valued at a billion dollars.
  • Can pre-industrial capitalism forms of government survive monpolistic market control and other industrial capitalism?

Conditions of Labor

  • For working people, the state had a more antagonistic approach; government was providing protections for corporate growth and expansion (contracts), but no similar protections for working people.
  • Little protections for working or living conditions.
  • Led to extreme poverty with few protections.
  • Ruinous competition; firms that would compete with each other and collapse the entire industry. Parallels with competition in labor markets. - The shared legal principle is that the government should not interfere with the process.
  • The state was taking action to spur and advance industrial properties, not taking action to mitigate wealth inequality or thinking about redistributive efforts, workers had no similar protections.
  • No protection in terms of working conditions.
  • 35,000 people were being killed in industrial accidents in workplaces every year; growth of factories geared towards profit maximization are not considering the human conditions of poeple doing the work. - Every industry faces horrifying industrial accidents; collapsed mines, steel explosions, brakemen, etc. - Furthermore, if you are incapacitated, there are few resources available.
  • No protection in terms of consumers and living standards.
  • No oversight regulation standardization guarantees of living conditions; lack of proper ventilation, for example.
  • The law of competition that applies to industrial development also applies to wages, which were continually low.
  • During periods of increased competition, wages would be pushed down even further.
  • Often whole families would need to work; men had the highest standard of wage, women had lower pay even if doing similar work, and children had even lower pay.
  • The standard consensus was to make children useful, and it would be thus routine to see them working.
  • Children are put to work, and the families need the wages.

Political Corruption

The Bosses of the Senate

  • This disequalibrium raised questions about the viability of democratic practice.
  • What does it mean to say you have access to democratic rights when there are limitations on your relationship with the government?
  • It helps if you can sponsor a politician.
  • Helping to provide services that favor the popularity of politicians.
  • Enormous and unprecedented monopolists and corporations could sponsor congresspeople and lobby politically.
  • The “Senator from Standard Oil”
  • Continues into outright corruption; there are a whole series of scandals at the local, state, and federal level.
  • Local level.
  • New York City machine Tweed ring.
  • The process of providing payments, positions, and patronage to vote for particular politicians.
  • State level.
  • Pennsylvania; railroads were “the third state house” because of their influence on state politics.
  • Federal level.
  • Railroad companies served on government boards.
  • A commission would be formed to oversee infrastructure; companies would get executives on the board to deal with themselves.
  • A trust - an attempt to influence market competition by individual firms comign to an agreement on what the prices should be.
  • The companies are not driving themselves out, agreeing on the minimum price to protect market viability.

The Courts and Liberty of Contract

  • A change in the judicial system; how do courts decide on market agglomeration and similar subjects?
  • Railroads - if there is only one railroad line to a particular region, it has a monopoly on that market and can charge whatever they want.
  • Farmers pissed about this lobbied the state of Illinois to draft a law that regulated the price of railroad commerce.
  • Law: railroads cannot charge below a certain amount, or above a certain amount.
  • Railroads took it to the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court initially agreed. It kept markets viable and facilitated free exchange.
  • By 1886, after 10 years, the Supreme Court ruled exactly the opposite; market limitations is a violation of a legal principle of liberty of contract.
  • Liberty of contract - as part of the Constitutional guarantee around property rights, people, firms, companies should not be disrupted by third parties of any type from making free contracts with anyone they should choose.
  • The timber and railroad company can make an exchange for how much they want to make.
  • Applies to employment as well.
  • Laissez-faire capitalism; a contradiction between the government playing an active role and also advocating for the liberty of contract.
  • The Grange movement - farmers’ movement against railroad company control. Eventually lose in the Supreme Court because of Liberty of Contract.

New Ideologies: Social Darwinism

  • New ideologies are also emerging; the guiding orthodoxies of social relationships change.
  • Social Darwinism: social thinkers in the 19th century (Herbert Spencer, William Sumner) take the conception of Darwinian evolution and apply it to societies.
  • What if people develop traits that make them well-developed or not to modern civilization?
  • Is this is an unchanging law of biology and society, and therefore thinking about competition for survival means that mitigating this is not helpful?
  • Is it such that those that are unfit should die? Does this further human evolution?
  • Applications: are immigrants well-adapted to society?
  • Racial and class dynamics.
  • Spencer and Sumner are not just in the elite press, but making it into society more broadly.

Least of all does the world owe a living to the deadbeats, vagrants, dunkards, thieves, guttersnipes, Communists, and vicious loafers who came to the front and demanded it in recent riots. The world owes these classes rather extermination than a livelihood. -Chicago Tribune, 1877.

The worst specimens fo feminine depravity; scatter in all the red-headed, cross-eyed, and frowsy servant girls in the three divisions of the city. -Chicago Tribune, 1879. (on the Chicago march for the Paris Commune)

Strikes and Violent Conflict

  • This type of thinking, this vision of the state, etc. meant that for the late 1800s, these conflicts continued.
  • Many people begin the era with the 1877 Railroad Strike, but continued.
  • Wabash Strike; Southwest. The federal government is called in to put down strikers and rioters; shooting protesters.
  • Federal government develops a national armory system. Weapons are held in major cities to deal with social unrest.
  • Pullman Strike. Pullman railcard owned the housing and the factories that workers lived in; cut wages during the depression and raised rent on the housing they charged.
  • Federal government was brought in to take jobs and put down rioting.
  • Homestead strike in 1892
  • The Coal Wars of the American West; coal workers were involved in shooting matches with employers.
  • 1911 Ludlowe massacre, where workers and their families were burnt out and killed by a firm owned by Rockefeller.
  • How do we make sense of the violent conflict?

Advent of Empire: Race and Conquest in 1900


  • Miss Columbia’s School House, 1894.
    • How is the “education” going?
    • Depicts internal borders and the process of immigration: it is going quite poorly.
    • Can be read as an anti-imperialist or anti-expansionist message, as the U.S. considers bringing in new territories: is it possible?
  • Central Questions: Why Empire? What drove U.S. imperial expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries? What is the relationship of economic factors, ideology, race, state power, and violence in U.S. expansion?
    • U.S. origins are founded in the Concept of Empire
      • Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Liberty
      • Conquest of Native Lands up to 1890
    • Economic Expansions and the Quest for New Markets
      • The Spanish American War
    • America’s Race Thinking and the Problem of Exclusions
      • International Component - Conquest of New Lands and Open Door Policy
      • Domestic Component - who is fit for civilization?
    • Resistance to War and Imperialism
      • “War is the Health of the State”

The Spanish American War

  • 1898; a turning point historians seek to in trying to explain American imperialism; anticolonial struggles that the United States stepped into.
  • Seen as the “moment” of the development.
    • It’s important to be grounded in what this is.
  • By the 1890s, the Spanish Empire (founded with conquest) is collapsing, in a free fall.
    • A series of nationalist revolutions all throughout the Spanish empire.
    • Created several independent countries - Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.
  • A process of decolonization has been occuring, and the Spanish continue to hold some more important colonies - the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.
    • No longer able to hold it.
    • Anti-colonial natioanal liberation movements emerge in all of their colonies, modelled on the American revolution from the 1790s.
  • United States is depicted as protecting Cuba from the nasty Spanish conquerers (cartoon).
  • Giving the U.S. the oppurtunity to think of itself as an expansionist nation.

Empire of Liberty?

  • The United States invades Cuba and the Philippines - seen as a major transformative point?
    • Some historicans have begun questioning that point.
  • Jefferson writes to the revolutionary army; writes that it’s important colonials access the fort because we’re trying to establish an empire of liberty.
    • Not a monarchist and oppressive government like the British, but an expansion based on democracy and liberty.
    • A beacon of freedom rather than one of oppression and tyranny.
  • Opening up the American continent for settlement; justified with the conception of Emprie of Liberty.
    • Concieved as a contest between European empires.
    • A process of territorial expansion into foreign-held space and violence with a self-conception of empire.
  • What has changed, what is significant about what is happening in the 1890s?

Battle of Wounded Knee

  • “The Closing of the American Frontier”
  • The notion of territorial expansion across the continent is being closed as the government militarily conquers this space.
    • “Pacifies” indigenious resistance to American expansion.
  • 1890 Battle; the U.S. switches its policies from Indian Removal (pushing indigenious people into territories) to Reservation (creating reserves for indigenious people to live on).
  • Pursuing this policy at a time when plains Indians develop a “ghost dance” process.
    • A lament, memorial to all of the indigenious peoples that have been killed and died through these hundred-years of conquest.
    • Also a messianic quality; by enacting the ghost dance, plains people would come together for rituals and call forth a Messiah.
    • All of those lost peoples would come forth and be present, to create a moment that would stop the advance of white settlers; to create a new-formed indigenious society.
  • The U.S. didn’t like this process, because it brought people from all regions together, disrupting the reservation process; furthermore, conflicting political overtones.
    • U.S. attempted to stop the process of the dance.
    • Come to arrest the Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bull.
    • Arrive at an encampment to sieze and arrest Sitting Bull.
    • In a conflict, there is shooting and Sitting Bull is killed in that arrest attempt.
  • The hundreds of Sioux that are in the encampment flee, where the American army pursues them; catches up to them at Wounded Knee Creek
    • In the middle of Winter, proceed to halt the fleeing people.
    • The American army opens up on the fleeing people, killing everyone.
    • Very few survivors escaped.
  • “The end of the ghost dance”.

American Progress

  • Closing the continental expansion - the United States has militarily secured the portion of the N.A. continent it claimed from indigenious resistance.
    • Is this a change or a shift?
    • Perhaps; is this an advent of something new?
  • The use of violence and force was used to secure territory for government settlement.
  • American Progress.
    • Lockean justification for expansion.
  • Some violence is underpinning this process; how are things being enacted?

Economic Crises

  • If anything was different - looking for continuity - it is the development of industrial capitalism, and the advent of a series of economic crises.
    • Punctuated every decade.
  • Ex.
    • Depression of 1873
    • Depression of 1886
    • Depression of 1893
      • By far the worst depression; 500 Wall Street firms and banks closed, 15000 closed businesses, farms that have to shut down.
      • Unemployment rate as high as 25%; in Michigan at 40%.
      • A dramatic economic crisis that contributes to social crises and questions.
    • Cycle of boom & bust continues; an important part of thinking about how other state planners are thinking about military expansion.
  • Crisis of overcompetition or ruinous competition.
  • Economists and state planners thought of these crises as overtapped markets that could not consume the volume of goods that the American economy was producing.
    • There is a new industrial process; it’s producing way more canned goods but the American people are not consuming enough.
    • Thinking: there can be ways to solve this boom/bust cycle, evening out the markets if a constant way to expand into new markets was found.
  • By expanding into new markets (i.e. not only sell to New England but the entire Eastern seaboard, or the entire continent and overseas), boom/bust cycles could be ended and new production be satisfied.

War and Business

  • Indigenious scholars bring the question of continuity to analyzing Empire.
  • What about thinking about expansion in the context of the Guilded Age; were businesspeople continuously thinking about how to access new markets?
    • Levelling out dramatic market spikes and drops.
  • This was the defining decision point for figures like McKinley to opt for war; economic depression and drive for business interest to get access to new markets and goods.
    • Interests in Cuba are mostly commercial.
    • U.S. heavily involved in the Cuban sugar market

Foreign Conquest: Spanish American War

  • Incident in Havana harbor in which a U.S. ship explodes; this is taken by the media as an attack by Spain.
    • Likely to actually be the result of a boiler explosion.
  • Used to argue that the United States was under attack.
  • Secretary of State John Hay - a “splendid little war”.
    • Few casualties and almost complete victory, attempting to “facilitate Cuban national independence”.
      • Cuba did become a nominally independent country in that it had its own Constitution and laws.
    • However, the United States was heavily involved in the process; required the Cuban Constitution have certain sets of provisions.
  • Required provisions in the Constitution:
    • Ensuring American access to a naval base in Cuba
    • Cuba must allow American military intervention unilaterally
    • Treaty of Commercial Reciprocity; removed tariff restrictions on goods coming into the islands.
    • Reciprocal relationship for the export of sugar.
  • Result: America owns the majority of Cuba’s sugar exports’ Cuba remains a monocrop economy after Spanish rule but exports to America.

Occupation of the Philippines

  • Invasion of the Philippines was not; it was a protracted guerilla conflict.
  • Part of a much longer nationalist struggle against colonial rule; a series of leaders like Emilio Aguinaldo - nationalist figures.
  • Came to the United States seeking aid, but became clear as the U.S. became involved that it would not allow the Philippines independence but was seeking to have a more dominant, imperialist relationship.
  • The nationalist movement came from fighting Spanish occupation to fighting U.S. occupation.
  • 1898-1903; 5 years’ turn. As many as 100k Filipinos and 4.5k Americans are killed.
  • An insurgency - armies cannot fight toe-to-toe with an industrial empire, so they use guerrila tactics (surprise, traps, knowledge of terrain).
    • Filipino armies would gain support from locals that would give food, shelter, etc. in support of a national insurgency movement.
  • THe United States engaged in counter-insurgency methods; torture tactics to gain information, etc.
    • Chinese water cure - simulated drowning, pouring water over someone’s face to make them feel like they will suffocate.
    • Hamlet operations; displacing operations, removing villages, ending chain of aid and support going to the insurgency.
    • When people resisted, they were chased down and killed.
      • Massacre at Moro Bay; American army pursues and opens up militarily on Filipinos - as many as 1800 people.

U.S. Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

  • Many saw this as a break, a change from what the United States had practiced in the past.
  • What did this type of imperialism mean for the character of the nation? - for the United States to be making rather brutal military tactics to be controlling very far-flung and different territories?
  • Could the United States as a republic survive an advent of empire?
    • Can internal democratic practices survive force and authority required?
    • What happens to the conquered people?
      • Can savage people be participants in a republican form of government.
  • Those in favor of military intervention stated: yes, the process is to uplift and civilize “our little brown brothers” (McKinley).
    • Taft: “to teach Anglo-Saxon liberty”
    • A disequilibrium that can nevertheless be overcome.

Racial Constructions During War Time

  • After the capture of the Philippines in the Battle of Manila; were ready to declare victory.
  • “Expansion, Before and After” - The Boston Sunday Globe.
    • A necessity for transformation.
  • Race, in addition to continental expansion and commerce, is a fundamental justification both for and against forms of imperial expansion.

The Progressive Era: Race, Class, and Gender in the 20th Century


  • Introductory art: George Bellows, New York, 1911.
    • An emphasis on the light; buildings are illuminated across the plaza.
    • What is it like to be in a city in which massive skyscrapers cause large shafts of light to jut out between buildings.
    • Expresses the optimism and hope of progressive development and urbanism, yet the chaotic mess and swirl of the modern urban world without structure and regulation.
    • Comes from the Ashcan school tradition of art.
  • The Guilded Age was filled with class conflict and violence; perhaps these tensions should be mitigated.
  • Contrast notions of “progress” at the turn of the century
    • Central Questions: What factors make progressive social change possible? What is “progressive” social change? How important is social history, intellectual history, race, and class to understand the progressive era?
    • Jim Crow in American society
      • Jim Crow was slowly built over decades of rolling back black political empowerment and constructing and reinforcing white supremacy in law.
      • Entrenched racial segregation and racial conceptions of progressivism.
    • The Social Question, socialism, and Progressivism
      • Tensions of class, immigration, and ethnic identity from the Gilded Age spilled into the 20th century.
      • Progressivism was the response to tensions of the Gilded Age.
    • Women’s movement in the early century
      • Referred to the “first wave” of feminists.
      • Women after 70 years of social movement organizing, began to win major legislative victories.
    • Lecture will focus on race, gender, and class in the Progressivist movement.

Jane Addams and the Hull House

  • Jane Addams is a Chicago-based reformer that began the settlement house movement in the United States.
    • Adopted from a British tradition.
    • The Hull House settlement is her philanthropic project.
  • Hull House was an attempt to address the forms of social inequality and poverty through voluntaristic and philanthropic means.
  • Settlement houses, which appeared in every single major city, were tasked with ameliorating the communal working conditions that people found themselves in.
    • Based on women’s activism.
    • Women couldn’t vote; professional or middle-class women couldn’t get an education.
  • Many of these women became settlement house activists.
    • Developed programs for hygiene and sanitation classes for working-class women, for example.
    • By facilitating cleanliness, reduced disease in the home.
    • Provided uplifting conditions for working-class women.
  • The settlement house became somewhat of a community gathering place.
    • Could get access to free education, exposed to lectures on the arts, music, and other uplifting topics to pull people mentally out of the conditions of poverty.
    • Reorienting working people towards more refined sensibilities.
    • Done almost exclusively through philanthropic activities.
  • Women solicited (or donated) to these large settlements to pay for teacher salaries, to build lecture halls, and other funding necessary.

Philanthropic Amelioration

  • For example, would construct playgrounds for working-class children to play with.
    • Living conditions in working-class communities are horrid because they are right next to industrial facilities.
    • Specific sites could be designated to build play sites.

Gender and Progressive Activism

  • There are millions of people - thronged with immigrants.
  • The limits of voluntaristic philanthropic efforts to address larger social questions became very clear.
  • Discussion of early settlement house women was that one or two play structures could be built, but the government’s support was needed.
  • The only way to make these changes scale is for the government to operate them.
  • Women’s social role at this moment is being pushed into the political sphere.
    • If one was confirmed with the condition of working-class people, quickly it becomes a political issue that must be addressed politically.
  • Nutrition in the home - if the mother’s role is to provide for children, how can she do this in a society with expanding and unregulated food production?
    • Slaughterhouses of Chicago were not monitored and routinely got people sick, causing consumer death and illness.
    • Consumers had no way to know if their food was rotten or diseased.
    • For women to have a scope of control over the domestic role, she needed to at least have some say in what the inputs to the household were.
  • These types of questions and the middle-class-activist role began to push outwards the boundaries of women’s social participation in a much bigger way.
  • In the late 19th and into the 20th century, this tied into broader movements.

Muller v. Oregon Brandeis Brief

  • Came out of the Seneca Falls women’s meeting that had been mobilizing for decades.
  • These kinds of Progressive activists were able to link these: women needed votes such that they could act as the moral conscience in society.
    • The working conditions for children, nutrition, etc. needed to be regulated.
  • If a women’s social task was to be the care-giver and the nurturer, in a place where work and labor are being placed outside the home, she needs to have a larger political and social role.
  • People for decades had been struggling for the 8-hour day or other workplace limitations.
  • The first set of those laws are set up for female workers.
  • Many industrial workers were women; the first laws to enact limitations of hours of work were passed for working women only.
    • More than 10 hours of work was prohibited for women.
  • Passed by cities and states; Oregon passes one of these laws but issued.
    • Sued based on liberty of contract arguments.
  • A laundry, which employed almost all women, in Oregon sues the state of Oregon.
    • The state sues back that the laundry is violating the law.
    • Reaches the Supreme Court because of the legal arguments of Louis Brandeis, a leading Progressive reformer and future Supreme Justice.
  • Brandeis Brief: prepared by his cousin, a woman, who couldn’t practice law.
    • He was made famous for this brief.
    • Argued a sociological, not a legal case, for why limits on women’s work hours should exist.
    • There was no legal precedent for this case; up to decades at this point, liberty of contract was a constitutional guarantee.
  • Brandeis developed an argument based on sociological studies about the health impacts of working large hours as it relates to pregnancy and other facets of women’s’ lives.
    • It is deleterious to women’s health to be working for more than 10 hours, and thus it is in the interest of the public to impose a limitation.
  • Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brandies for the first time.
    • Crux of reasoning:

      “the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and care to preserve the strength and rigor of the race.”

The Women’s Movement

  • An emerging women’s movement is coming to the fore and is becoming increasingly radicalized.
  • Early efforts of reform were around ameliorating social conditions, and for the vote - an extremely important part of the women’s movement.
  • Radical in the sense of questioning not only the social model of women as inherently more moral sex, and the whole framework - if this is the basis for which transformations to women’s conditions are being made, it doesn’t sound like equality.
  • Crystal Eastman talking at the moment of the Women’s Movement’s greatest triumph - it is only a place to begin for much further activism.
  • Some of the women activists began calling themselves feminists from French groups.
  • Began to challenge social orthodoxy in a host of social markers - like a dress and gender presentations (what is ascribed to gender)?
  • A small group of American women were calling themselves feminist; this carried out throughout the 20th century.

Votes for Women

  • Eventually able to win the vote, do it throughout the war.
  • There are interesting and important stories there.

Birth Control

  • One of the increasing parts of more radical demands: birth control.
  • A social critique was that they were chained to their social roles as parents, unable to control when and how they had children.
  • Access to regular birth control (before hormonal birth controls - instead, physical barriers like diaphragms or condoms).
  • Emma Goldman - arrested repeatedly for giving speeches that violated obscenity laws.
  • Goldman also promoted regular access to birth control, “free love”.
    • A radical way to approaching women; not only “expanding the moral role” but rethinking the entire construction of women as being particularly moral.
    • A 16-year old Ukranian immigrant radicalized by the Haymarket Affair, began to read about anarchism and become a devotee of anarchist philosophers.

How Progressive? Margaret Sanger and Eugenics

  • Contradictions on progressivism; the other person promoting birth control is Margaret Sanger.
    • Margaret Sanger began the birth control organization that became planned parenthood.
  • Promoting birth control for all of these reasons: saw women dying in childbirth, getting infections, or bleed out because of lack of access to healthcare.
    • Saw that birth control was a way to address this if they could protect their reproductive health.
  • Published and was arrested for obscenity laws.
  • Also promoted arguments among eugenics and race purity for why access to birth control was important.
  • If the doctrine of Social Darwinism was to be accepted, and some deserved to survive and others deserved not to the poor, if given birth control, would not progress.
  • Radicals like Emma Goldman are putting forth this outrageous vision of what women’s vision should be, whereas Sanger is approaching it from a more race-focused perspective, both pushing for the same thing.
  • Alice Paul argues for very interventionist militancy that becomes the fracture point.
    • When Paul was leading the suffrage movement, Ida B. Wells (black activist of the same period) wanted to be involved in the pageantry aspects.
    • Paul rejected Wells because she was black; that having Wells involved would draw attention and divert from the goal.

Economic Ruin in the South

  • Contradictions emerging around contradictions of progressivism and pushing the “envelope”; even in common parlance identified as progressive.
  • Around this is a thinking that is difficult to call progressive.
  • Rise of Jim Crow and the rise of lynch law
  • US is continually remaking its racial policy; gives rise to new forms of racial hierarchy and oppression.
  • Structures are being conscientiously made and are one of the main contradictions on Progressive ideology.
  • Economic devastation of the South was very totalizing, and it never recovers; it continues to struggle.
  • Because of very little Reconstruction that occurs, only a few cities (e.g. Georgia, Birmingham) emerge.
    • For example, for textile manufacturing, coal, or intersection of railroads.

Triumph of Redemption

  • White supremacist groups that pushed out black officials and gained power in every Southern state; began developing reconstruction programs.
  • Progressive taxation that had emerged in Reconstruction became undone.
  • The attack on public schools and other public infrastructure harmed poor whites as well.

Roll Back of Black Political Rights

  • Restrictions on political rights make gaining access to power and the electoral college very difficult.

The Rise of Segregation

  • Legislating social interaction.
  • Once black people were disenfranchised politically, it became possible to pass laws to restrict social interaction.
    • For example, cannot use the same doorways, streetcars, or sidewalks.
  • Marks a legislative shift in a way that had never really happened before.
  • Results in the era of Jim Crow segregation.
  • Sets the stage for much of the 20th-century struggle.

The Supreme Court

  • The federal system has supremacy; federal law supersedes federal law.
  • In the wake of the Civil War, radical Republicans passed a variety of laws.
    • For example, the Civil Rights Act and Constitutional amendments require equal protection before the law.
  • Because of this, people attempted to test Southern segregation laws as a violation of Constitutional principles and amendments.
  • Activists set up legal challenges to push back against newly emerging sets of racial legislation in the South.
  • Homer Plessy decided to test the public transit segregation of railroads in 1895-1896 by riding a train into the South.
    • Trains needed to be segregated after cars entered Southern states.
    • Plessy hired a private agency to arrest him such that the Supreme Court could decide on it.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson: separate but equal.
    • Advent of a new system; was being made. Where is the legal founding upon which this ruling can be made?
    • Distinction between the social and the political; if they want to impose racial hierarchy, they must develop a contrivance to address that legally.
    • By making a distinction between social and political - arguing that the amendment applies politically - it can be argued social relationships should be segregated.
    • This segregation now has federal legal backing for the entire nation, not just in the south.
  • 1896 - a wave of violence in the South in the aftermath of this ruling.
    • Segregation is legally justifiable, but vigilante groups can now enforce segregation with violence.

The Rise of Lynching

  • 1825-1930s; usually, a black person is accused of a crime.
  • They are arrested, broken out of the jail by a mob, taken sometimes by small groups or in large groups in the middle of the night secretively.
  • Tortures and executes them.

Sam Hose

  • 5,000 lynchings (and others unrecorded) have been recorded by magazines.
  • It is known from the newspapers; the Sam Hose case around the 1900s.
  • Sam Hose was a laborer who was working for someone who refused to give him time-off requests.
  • Are involved in a physical altercation; Sam Hose strikes his employer and kills him.
  • Sam Hose knows he will face lynching and cannot turn himself to the police (will be broken out), so he flees and tries to get out of the state.
  • While he is leaving, word of the killing gets out; comingling with the rumor is that he raped a white woman (invented).
  • Is eventually spotted on a train and taken by a mob where he is tortured before he is killed.
    • Torture involves flaying - removing portions of his skin, as well as cutting off body parts like ears, fingers, and genitals, burning; then killed.
    • People took souvenirs from his body; W.E. du Bois later found pieces of his body for sale.
  • Poses questions and problems; begs why questions.
    • What is this level of violence and horror?
    • How is this explained?

Ida B. Wells and the Black Intellectual Tradition

  • Performs qualitative and quantitative evaluations of newspaper lynchings in the South; looks into individual cases to see what is happening.
  • Three people Wells knew in Tennessee had been lynched; their grocery store competed with a white-owned monopoly and was lynched.
  • Wells concluded those being lynched were ones pushing the boundaries of Jim Crow segregation.
    • Found themselves to be targets of this kind of violence.
    • Performed a detailed account of raping white women; in almost all cases, it was unfounded and used to justify the horrific violence.
  • Wells asserted there were consensual sexual relationships between white women and black men.
    • Claims of rape were happening in established by illicit interracial relations.
  • Black women and white people were also lynched.
    • Regardless, overwhelmingly black men were lynched.
  • Wells develops the phenomenon of lynching; Southern officials are not investigating.
    • Sometimes, Southern officials participate in the lynching.
    • In some instances, sheriffs are responsible for handing people off to lynch mobs.
  • A social movement is being created around this.

NAACP and Movements for Reform

  • In the NAACP, founded in 1909, their primary campaign was around lynching.
  • A newspaper publicized every lynching they found out about.
  • Wells was prevented from sitting on the board of the NAACP; continued the tradition to uncover “lynch law”.
  • Their approach was that the legal basis of equality was present in the United States, but it needed to be enforced.
    • Integration and other measures needed to be done so in the existing political and economic framework.
  • Attempted to directly challenge racial supremacy.
  • Others had completely different approaches: Booker T. Washington
    • Washington argued that changes for equality did not look promising.
    • Instead, a strong economic condition could be built for, and the welfare could be developed in that way.
    • Washington argued not to push the envelope.
  • Marcus Garvey
    • Argued the question of equality would never be possible.
    • Advocated for black nationalism, which was the notion of constructing a new and separate nation.
    • Attempted to found the economic basis for a new political identity.
  • Intellectually, many ways to seek redress or thinking how to navigate white supremacy.


  • Many decided to leave; between 1910-1930, the “First Great Migration” occurs.
    • Black people, in 1s and 2s but also families, move north.
    • 1.3 million people left the south in the first wave.
    • Transformed neighborhoods like Harlem that become overwhelmingly black.
    • Primarily because of racial covenants - for instance, black people could not own homes above a certain street.

The North: 1919 Chicago Race Riot

  • In 1919, there is one of the largest race riots in the United States.
  • Chicago had segregated beaches.
  • In the summer of 1919, a child swims across the segregated line in the water.
    • The white crowd is outraged and attempts to kill the child.
    • The mob turns into Chicago and begins pulling black people off of railroad cars and attacks them in the street.
  • Results in the killing of 38 people in a riot that lasted several days.
  • Was not only confined to an area.

American Racial Fabric

  • Emerging is a fabric of racial structuring that permeates society.
  • In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan is resurgent.
  • High school yearbooks from certain states have KKK clubs.
  • 1922 march with thousands of Klan members marching in the capitol in a show of political strength.
  • In 1916, Woodrow Wilson is a leading Progressive that invites a leading segregationist.
    • Invites screening of films that valorize the formation of the Klan.
    • Widespread and highly contradictory.
  • Contradictions in the progressive era; progressive reforms are changing the shape of the nation in a contradictory and complex way.
  • It helps us think about defining what this phenomenon of Progressivism is.

New Deals: Ideas and Governance


  • Diego Rivera, Man at the Crossroads, 1933
    • Thinking only two ways forward: capitalistic system and communistic system.
  • Large transformations to the economy and state in the 1930s.
    • Central Questions: What caused the Great Depression? What factors led to the creation of the New Deal? Why was unionization successful during the Great Depression? Why was excluded from the reforms and why?
  • New ideas in the wake of the Gilded Age:
    • Progressivism, Laissez Faire, Communism
    • Keynesian Economics and New Deal Liberalism
      • Not communism nor laissez-faire capitalism.
    • Economic Inequality in the 1920s
  • The Great Depression
    • Keynesianism and the centrality of workers
    • Rise of industrial unionism (CIO)
      • Unions not only for the conditions of workers but structural components to the U.S. government.
      • Unions emerged as an important part of Keynesianism.
    • New Deal and excluded groups
  • The role of the state
    • Violence and repression: WWI and the Red Scare
    • Social safety net and social welfare?
    • New exclusions

Class Violence and Class Warfare

  • Ongoing and seemingly perpetual class violence occurred from the 1870s forward.
    • Ludlowe massacre: Rockefeller’s mine interests against workers in a Colorado mine.
    • Italian anarchists tried and executed in 1927.
  • Cycles of economic boom and bust, as well as depressions.
    • Would cause panic in the stock market; bankruptcies, depressions.

Towards Progressivism

  • Attempted to make conditions a little bit less horrid.
    • Prevented people under 14 from working; fire escapes, etc.

Political Uses of WWI

  • Comes to fruition in WWI; Progressive reforms at a national level are put into place politically.
  • Before, the state of Oregon or a city like Chicago would pass a law, but there was no federal approach.
    • Remained in a Liberty of Contract position.
  • WWI made questions of industrial stability part of the U.S. government’s wartime interests.
    • Do not want disruptions during wartime production.

War Production

  • The government regulates wartime production; guarantees industrial firms contracts, federal wages, and hour limitations.
  • Other ancillary reforms are passed; votes for women passed (difficult to argue for fighting for democracy when women couldn’t vote).
  • War Production Board: a greater assertiveness for worker’s rights

Espionage and Sedition Acts

  • Many contradictions present.
  • No anti-lynching legislation to mitigate and address white supremacist violence that was rampant.
    • NAACP had been pushing for it.
  • Passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts.
    • Sedition is about speech, and speaking out against U.S. military war aims.
    • Was used to prosecute a whole series of peoples; mostly people from the left.
      • These were most vocal in their opposition to the left.
    • The U.S. was also in opposition to war; many German immigrants were opposed to war against Germany.
      • A farmer said that what the U.S. did in the Philippines was worse than what Germany was doing.
      • Farmer was fined for speaking out.
    • Eugene Debs, went to a rally to support the farmer’s right to speak, he was put in jail.
      • Debs ran for the presidency from jail.
    • Edward Snowden would be prosecuted under the Espionage and Sedition Acts.
  • Had a deleterious effect on speech in the United States.

End of the War

  • U.S. is involved for a relatively shorter period - about 16 months.
  • The war was partially ended by a series of revolts in European countries.
  • 1917: the U.S. gets involved in the war, but it began in 1914.
  • Became the most devastating European conflict; presumed to be a quick war, but new military technologies emerged.
    • Gatling gun, chemical technologies, biological technologies.
    • Leads to horrifying brutality and carnage.
  • Hundreds of thousands of soldiers being killed in single battles.
    • Battle of Verdun: 700k people killed.
    • No lines were moved forward, nothing changed.
  • Eventually sparked revolt and revolutions in countries like Russia (peasant population revolted against the war), Germany (officials began refusing orders, brought the German imperial war machine to a close).

Strike Wave: 1919

  • Brought questions if the wartime protections would continue - were they permanent fixtures of the American political economy?
    • Will these wartime Progressive measures continue after the war?
  • A series of national strikes in the U.S. and across Europe as well.
  • Pushes these questions, arguing that these protections would continue.
  • In Seattle, one of the first of a series of general strikes is experienced.
    • The entire city - all the unions and workers - strike at the same time.
    • Seattle as a city is struck down for a few days.
    • To avoid bloodshed, strike leaders back off after federal troops are called in.

Steel Strike

  • Largest in the steel industry - upwards of 90% of steelworkers shut down the steel industry in 1919.
  • Is eventually unsuccessful, because the strikers refused to let black workers into the unions.
  • All of the strikes do not win or continue protections.

Rise of Authoritarian Communism

  • Many arguments against claims for protections were predicated on framing those claims as communistic.
  • Up until this point, to be “left” meant to be anticapitalist.
    • Therefore, some socialist-anarchist or communist stripe.
    • In the early 20th century, the left had been the largest it had been up to this point.
  • 1917: Russian revolution, which is a peasant revolt. Russia’s population is ~90% agrarian.
    • The Bolsheviks - during the chaos - maneuver themselves through elections and seizing power to control the Russian government.
    • Led by Vladimir Lenin, represented a particular authoritarian strike of communism.
    • Most socialists and anarchists called themselves communist in that they imagined a stateless, socialized property.
      • Differences in how to get there: anarchists believed states could not be used to facilitate creating a communist society, socialists are defined by their statist beliefs.
      • Sanders believed you can win office in a capitalist society to transform the government into a more collective form of organization.
    • Communists believed that the capitalist government could be toppled and that a new government could be used to create a communist society.
  • The Leninist Bolsheviks built upon this ideology; the state was to impose communism.
    • Not only is a revolution needed, but single-party control.

The Palmer Raids and the Red Scare

  • This revolution led to a series of anti-communist scars in the rest of the Western world and fears the communist agitators and bogeymen were behind every discontent and strike.
  • The revolt against Germany that ended the war was partially communist-inspired and revolutionary but was put down with violence.
  • The strike wave in the United States also gets put down with violence in the merging violence in 1920-1921.
  • Someone sends a bomb to the attorney general of the United States; Mitchell Palmer was the AG.
    • Police power of the executive is used to do a national sweep of leftists and radicals in the US, rounding them up and arresting them with sedition.
    • FBI emerges from this.
    • Highly disrupted to the organized left in the United States.
  • Emma Goldman, the birth control advocate, and anarchist was detained and then reported.
  • Was this regarded as Constitutional?
    • Absolute equality was intended, but… whatever, so went the reasoning.
  • IWW would attempt to recruit union remembers by standing on street corners, and would get arrested for encouraging union membership.
  • Famous free speech fights in Spokane, WA: passed an anti-criminal syndicalism law (could not talk about unions).
    • Lost the free-speech fight; courts would issue injunctions against unions for striking.
    • The kinds of constitutional protections we know today do not seem to be there.
  • The Red Scare was highly successful in disrupting the left - those opposed to capitalism.

Business Agenda in the 1920s

  • Many of the labor movements and the Progressive wartime reforms were undone or hindered.
  • The electoral terrain was shifted as it became much harder to run as a socialist or a leftist.
  • There were hundreds of leftist mayors, council members, etc. that could not run easily again.
  • What returned in eh the 1920s was a return in laissez-faire capitalism that occurred in the Gilded Age period.
  • 1920s elections: Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover passed business-friendly legislation.
    • Idea that the state could be used to provide some protection to workers was undone.
    • Progressive-era reforms are undone.
  • Ideology of Liberty as Contract returns and is generally held as a Constitutional standard.
  • Idea of federal regulation of railroads or financial markets that the federal government had a responsibility to regulate financial markets - undone.
  • A period of really expansive economic boom-times.

Workers in the 1920s: Farm Foreclosures and Over-Saturated Consumer Markets

  • “Roaring 20s” for the business sector in the U.S.
  • Underneath this emerges real social crises, like farming.
  • The U.S. agricultural industry boomed in the U.S. because it became the supply of food to all of Europe.
    • Europe’s productive capacity is being destroyed; creates a new expansive market for U.S> agriculture.
  • As the war ends and agricultural production in Europe returns, the U.S. begins to lose its demand despite producing enough food to feed the world.
    • In the 1920s, the price of food begins to collapse; are not even able to sell cost.
    • A spreading crisis of agricultural and framing crises across the MIdwest and places like California.
  • The turn from yeoman family farm to mega-agribusiness occurs in this area.
    • Small farmers that had gotten homesteads are losing those farms and are bought by large agricultural firms.
  • Industrial workers in the city have stagnant wages and are increasingly reliant on debt.
    • New mechanisms of commercial credit are created.
    • Purchase something on a payment plan for a refrigerator or a toaster.
    • Increasing debt burden.
  • 1920s gives us a picture of a rapidly dividing wealth and income gap.

The Crash of 1929

  • Business is booming but the lower classes are being quashed.
  • In October of 1929, the stock market crashes; the largest crash in history.
  • Much of the speculative investment in Wall Street had run its course, and people realized they were investing in a whole lot of nothing.
  • The market began to shrink, and people were afraid their asset values were diminishing, and the whole operation collapses.
  • Banks became bankrupt in a day.
  • No division between commercial banking vs investment banking; banks could take your savings into the stock market.
    • When the stock market collapsed and everyone was requesting funds; the banks could not provide money to account holders.
  • Causality is similar to other boom/bust cycles.
  • 1920s - many outrageous mechanisms.
    • Because of the growth of the 1920s stock market, a loan could be taken based on future earnings.
    • High-risk forms of investment are occurring.
  • lender of last resort - one of the largest figures in the banking world, JP Morgan, began, as the market was collapsing, to buy everything.
    • Restored confidence in the market, and turned everything around.
    • Huge banking figures like Morgan should not be relied on; a system should be able to act as a lender of last resort.
    • Federal Reserve Bank - begin to lend money in times of crisis like this to ease the wheels.
  • Outside of this, borrowing on future earnings is happening in the private sector; no policy for commercial bank trading.
  • For four years after 1929, there is continual decline and erosion of the market and the rest of the economy.
    • The stock market loses 90% of its value in a years-long decline.
    • Erosion of capital meant that banks weren’t lending to business, but could not meet their month-to-month expenses.
    • Begin to lay off people; people that lay off are not buying things. Industrial firms face collapse and bankruptcy.
    • A cascade of a downward spiral; there appeared to be no solution. Would markets eventually hit a bottom and rebound? The search for the bottom ran apace.

The People in the Great Depression

  • The impacts on working people were devastating.
  • There were not the same accounting numbers; it was very difficult to get a national picture of what unemployment looked like.
    • Estimated 25-30% of the entire country was unemployed.
  • Industrial cities had upwards of 50% unemployment, or up to 60%.
  • People could not pay rent or mortgage, so were evicted from housing and thrown on the street.
    • Normal agencies of relief - the “poor house” - meant philanthropic organizations, like churches that would run a soup kitchen or some other form of relief.
    • These funds come from donations, but the type of voluntaristic philanthropic aid of the Progressive era also gets wiped out.
  • City governments cannot provide much aid either - they get their revenue from taxes.
    • Also facing bankruptcy.


  • A series of homeless encampments in every industrial city, named after Herbert Hoover.
  • President Hoover was elected in 1929 - sworn into office in March.
    • In October of 1929 is the stock market collapse; he thought it would be self-corrupting.
  • Hoover would come out every few months and assure that the bottom was met. Waited for his entire term for a market solution - for which there wasn’t one.

1932 Election of Roosevelt

  • This leads to the 1932 presidential election. Hoover is resoundingly criticized and destroyed at the polls.
  • FDR, a progressive Democrat, is elected into office; runs on a campaign promise of hope and change.
    • Does not give much policy prescription, but promises a system of national and economic relief.
  • On this promise, he is elected.
  • Looking at the conditions: families that were being malnourished throughout the crisis.

The First Hundred Days

  • Begins a series of economic transformations.
  • Some addressed economic conditions, like the AAA - Agricultural Adjustment Act.
    • Created a system where the government paid farmers not to produce, such that the stability of markets could be more predictable.
  • Federal Banking Act - forces commercial and investment banks to separate.
  • Pass the WPA, Worker’s Progress Administration - a series of federal infrastructure programs.
    • Created road construction, engineering projects, high schools, parks, etc.
  • Civilian Corps - putting many people to work
  • These reforms are the New Deal - a hodgepodge of different emergency mechanisms.
  • NIRA - National Industrial Recovery Agency

Keynesian Economics

  • Concern of economic debt transformed Keynesianism.
  • “Social democracy” - unexpected development of the 1930s.
  • Until 1936, John Maynor Keynes published his general theory.
    • Economic orthodoxy was that budget shortfalls had to be addressed by cutting the budget.
    • Restrict expenditures - limit social spending such that things equalize when the markets recover.
  • Keynes threw this out of the window: he pointed out that markets have flaws, many times they do not recover and market solutions are not possible.
    • Often rooted in psychology; in cases of market decline, if buyers are afraid or fearful that the market hasn’t reached the bottom, even if they have money, they won’t buy-in.
    • A prudent or fearful buyer will not buy anything.
    • Psychological factor was crucial for Keynes to explain why certain institutions could not be private and needed to address market failures.
    • Government did not need to live by indebtedness; they don’t need to play by the rules.
  • Debt was to operate differently for the government.
    • Public debt (debt from the government) is a debt we owe ourselves.
    • If a home owns a bank, it is external debt.
    • If it is the national debt, it is internal debt.
  • Keynes’ solution: governments can spend their way out of economic crisis and the economic ledgers don’t matter if there is growth.
    • You could pay people to dig money, and throw money into the holes: at least it is putting money in the pockets of workers.
  • Why was the economy suffering and struggling in the first place?
    • The model or exponential growth at the top is not a fundamentally sound economic structure.
    • Money at the button is a sound economic structure, but money in the hands of regular people and consumers such that they can spend and buy the abundance that capitalism is producing.
    • Need some redistributive mechanism in place; money siphoned to the very top of society, speculated through the financial system,m redistributed to consumers that can spend it on industrial goods and commercial products.
  • Firms become sound financial industry again; a positive cycle.
  • Economic thinking was something of a revolution, attempting to address the situation that the U.S. found itself in.

Section 7a and the Unions

  • How can the money be distributed? How should Keynesianism be implemented?
    • One can just taxa directly redistributive mechanism in the government.
      • Tax the rich over a certain benchmark of wealth and spend it on public services or give tax credits, no-interest loans, etc. to working people.
    • However, like a good Lockean system, such a directly redistributive mechanism will not be implemented.
  • One could empower unions to do structural work in the economy.
    • Unions can play this role; the government is not involved, but they can legislate and legally protect working-class organizations tasked with raising the standard of living with working-class people.
  • The FDR passes the NIRA - National Industrial Recovery Agency - whose law, Section 7a, legislated in favor of legally recognizing unions for the first time.
    • If workers had a free, influenced election vote to have a union, employers needed to negotiate with them.
    • This is ruled unconstitutional, and there is a court-packing fight.
  • The Wagner Act is later passed.
    • The identical court members that ruled the NRA unconstitutional later pass the Wagner Act.
    • Roosevelt threatened to pack the court.

Labor’s Great Upheaval

  • 3 general strikes in 1934 around wages getting cut off, conflict, striking, the police are called in, violence ensued.
  • Continues to be violent class conflict in Minneapolis, Toledo, all across the country.

San Francisco General Strike

  • Dockworkers that unloaded goods off of ships (before containerization - not lifting with cranes - people need to go into a cargo hold and pick it up, then carry it off, very labor-intensive.
  • No regular employment. The gig economy is a long-standing feature of industrial capitalism and dock workers were hired by the day.
    • Highly contingent labor, low conditions, and low pay.
  • Workers are looking for union recognition and a hiring hall to address these issues.
    • Employers do not recognize it and there is a strike in SF.
    • Police kill 2 of the workers; there is a massive memorial march for the slain workers.
    • As the march turns into a general strike; all workers refused work unless one union was recognized in the city.
  • Spreads to a coast-wide longshore strike - even to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles.
    • Employers asked un the federal government to put down the strikes.
  • Perkins - Secretary of Labor - forced the employers to bargain with the unions.
    • Justification for this entity of a union and legitimization, signifies federal support for the first time for this kind of union struggle.
    • Becomes coddled into law.

Congress of Industrial Organizations

  • A whole series of strikes - the Flint Sitdown Strike, in the automobile industry.
  • Instead of a strike, sat in on the industry and refused to allow strikebreakers to get in and work the machinery.
  • Left employers in a difficult situation.

With Babies and Banners: Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade Documentary

  • Interviews with women who participated in the United Auto Workers sit-down.
  • Winter season of 1937, one evening: the husband didn’t come home for several days.
  • Strike began at Fisher 1 - sent the women working there out of the plant.
    • The media were eager to say that there was sexual mingling, so women were asked to leave.
  • Forming the Women’s Auxiliary.
    • Organized more women in the Auxiliary.
  • Picket lines - women were going to be just as part of the strike as the women.
    • Women were very optimistic; helping the men in the strike.
    • Women volunteered to take food to the strikers.
  • The union told women to serve in the kitchen; instead, the children’s picket line was organized.
    • Received national publicity.
    • Some of the women brought their children into nurseries.
  • The union was the domain solely of men; women were not wanted in the craft unions.
    • Men were suspicious.
    • Women received lots of hostility.
  • GM had many people that tried to cause trouble, staffed with guns, etc.
  • Bull Run - radio had announced that a riot had broken out and a revolutionary system was breaking out.
    • The populists drove down to gather to observe; the men were speaking to the people beyond the police lines.
    • The sound car was broadcasting to those people.
  • Women broke through the lines - the police did not want to fire into the backs of unwound women, and this wound up the battle.
    • Born solidarity and a feeling that women were as capable and courageous as men.
  • Within the next few days, all women who wanted to or could be involved were to arrive at the hall and to form a brigade.
    • Brigade was there to provide any support needed.


  • Norman Rockwell, Four Freedoms, 1943.
  • Roosevelt and economic justification in inaugural address - “the only thing to fear is fear itself”.
    • Stock markets and fear, Keynesianism.
  • New Deal, War, and Postwar - what happened in the war and postwar period? What was the role of women and how and why did it change? Why did civil rights become the dominant domestic political issue of the postwar period?
    • Tension between political and economic rights.
      • Wagner Act and structural reforms
    • The rise of fascism in Europe.
      • The confluence of economic and ideological factors
    • World War II - two-tiered labor market.
    • Freedom and Democracy.
      • What do political rights mean without economic security?
    • White affirmative action / breadwinner liberalism
      • How do policies of the federal government impact populations of the United States disparately?

The New Deal and Keynesian Economics

  • Rise of the new deal and Keynesian economics.
  • New Deal: highly tentative, major opposition domestically to the policies - largely from the business sector.
  • New Deal had enormous popular support but business community was opposed to many of these, especially the Wagner Act.
  • Advent of the war - with war, there is less resistance because of wartime contracts.

Wagner Act

  • 1938 and into the wartime period - the Wagner Act is upheld.
  • Unions had dropped their radical politics.
    • Many WWI unions advocated against war.
    • WWII unions dropped militant tactics (no-strike pledges), etc. - holding onto labor visions but dropping some leftism.

San Francisco General Strike

  • The federal government has a new role in arbitrating labor conflict; it is not pushing unions’ agendas but is more sympathetic to their organizaiton and recognition.
  • To Eisenhower, accepted a role in federal governments based largely on Keynesian grounds.

The Spirit of the New Deal

  • State acted as a guaranteur of political rights for employers and employees, as a platform for which both could organize.
  • Disallowed intimidation, violence, hostility; allowed exchange to happen.

Limits of Reform

  • Serious limitaitons to what got included in labor relations law changes; many exclusions.
  • Wagner Act decided who got defined as a worker - employment protected by the government.
    • Debate on the passage was what types of occupation should be covered.
    • Was not universal: two crucial excluded occupations from the labor protections.
    • Domestic workers (childcare person, maid) and agricultural workers (fields, harvesting food) excluded.
  • 90% of agricultural and domestic workers in 1935 were black; a way to exclude African Americans from legal, social, and democratic protections without saying so explicitly.
    • Justification given - the type of work was not advocated to apply to houework or agriculture.
    • Bargain between the Southern Democrats that stated they would support the legislation if blacks in their state would not get thee Wagner Act passed.
  • These are also protections for people working in industrial manufacturing; other types of employment are not quite recognized in the same way.
    • Servicework, secretary work, retail, housework is not being recognized as work that gets similar protections.

World War II

  • December of 1941; reshapes the industrial relaitons regimes of the United States.
  • Solidifies many of the reforms of the New Deal.

Pearl Harbor

  • Based on the failures of the compromise from the first 1918 WWI and the economic crisis of the 1930s, fascist powers come to power in Italy, Germany, and other powers.
  • An extremely militaristic set of foreign policies that forces European countries into another global conflict.
  • December 7, 1941 - Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor.
  • The United States gets involves in conflict with Germany.
    • What was significant about the attack was that it was carried out by the Japanese empire.

Anti-Japanese Propaganda

  • A series of racist hysteria that emerged around the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor feeding on long-standing West Coast anti-Asian sentiment.
  • Most prints - some by oil companies, government agencies - are about labor productivity in wartime industries.
    • By having accidents, you encourage the enemy.
  • Racial language and tropes have been developed in U.S. racial discourse; undergoing a continuation and a shift in many ways.
  • One of the first executive orders coming out of the Roosevelt presidency following the bombing was internment.

Japanese Internment

  • Some immigrantsd from Japan were interned, but also many natural-born citizens.
  • A series of Supreme Court hearings that ruled these Constitutional.
    • Became the policy of the federal government for which they apologized and paid reparations.
  • First people to be rounded up in government trucks and tagged.
    • Justification: wartime necessity; Japanese people constituted a military threat.
    • However, it is children being tagged and transported.
  • Internment was happening on the west Coast, but in Hawaii there was no internment despite the high Japanese population.

The Second World War and the Arsenal of Democracy

  • U.S. developed a public-private synthesis over the course of the war to develop ammunitions.
  • Develop a board to oversee orders and facilitate government orders.
  • Automobile, airplane, and aerospace companies come out of this moment.
    • Have cost+ contracts with the government (guaranteed profit).
    • Government guarantees working conditions for maximum hours and wages.
  • Birth of the tech industry and relationship between private companies and the government.
    • Government funding for military usages - computer systems, etc.
    • Relationship between government funding and the private sector.
  • Resulting huge demand for labor; millions of men and women are serving and working.

Primary Labor Force

  • Collapse of demand in the New Deal is undone as the federal government needs everything.
  • Scarcity of labor, people are going to war.
  • Primary labor market - unionized, high paying government contract jobs - had been mostly the purview of white men, but now are opened up to other segments of the population.
  • Federal government actively recruit women (Rosie the Riveter mythology, etc.), but did not do the same for African Americans into primary labor market jobs.
    • Black workers continued to be excluded from these jobs.
    • Many black organizations began to organize and agitate for these protections.

Double Victory Campaign

  • Many black soldiers served, but were serving in segregated units.
  • A shipyard in Alabama - practicing Jim Crow - can continue to discriminate, for example, as a private entity.
  • Black political organizations, church groups, etc. developed a Double V campaign.
  • Too claims in the government about fighting fascism - if fighting against fascism in Europe and for democratic societies there, what about democracy at home?
  • How different are racial policies in the United States to those of Nazi Germany?
  • Recognize this distinction - fighting an antifascist war, not seeing this at home.

A. Phillip Randolph

  • Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph decided to organize around this question.
  • Black workers need to believe in this democracy at home.
  • Leverage war rhetoric to get gains for black workers.
  • With the New Deal, are being excluded economically as well; further excluded by war contracts.
  • 1943, called for a march on Washington for jobs and freedom during the war.
    • Two pieces are being linked in this moment; threatens this wartime march.
  • Mobilize a political demonstration against the government on wartime.
    • Threat worked and the FDR administration did not want to see marches happening during wartime.
    • FDR caved and agreed; signed executive order 8802 - desegregated war industries for the first time.
  • Black workers suddenly had access to these jobs being read about.

War’s End

  • 1945 - Soviet Union defeats Germany with aid from an Allied Invasion.
  • United States has gone on to defeat Japan and uses two atomic weapons.

The 1945-1946 Strike Wave

  • A massive strike wave - largest in United States history - in 1946.
  • Largely about keeping protections and not regressing to a prewar or pre-New Deal type of labor regime and relationship.
  • The entire mindset was different - Keynesianism had proved important to restructuring the economy, ideologically there are reasons for doing so.
  • Mass worker organizations in the CIO and labor movement - representing about 1/3 of Americans - in most of the key industries.
    • Construction, rail, automobile, steel, etc. are all unionized.
  • Demonstrating these in postwar strikes.
  • System being experimented with holds and continues into the postwar period.
  • Racial integgration of unions - black workers are working in automobile jobs en masse for the first time.
    • Automobile workers would stage hate strikes - would strike their job if it was being integrated.
    • Hate strikes led to a 1943 Detroit riot, in which a dozen black people are killed.
    • Lots of tension around this.
    • Questions around radical unions - UE was a Communist influenced union (refused to purge Communists)

Freedom From Want

  • Emphasis on the economy has to be on consumer spending.
  • Capitalist democracies are not to survive if they continue laissez faire system of the Gilded Age, or even Progressivism as a tempered version.
  • Claims that the Roosevelt administration was making was an attempt to push in that direction.
  • This economic vision could be made possible with an economic bill of rights.

Economic Bill of Rights

  • Roosevelt administration was arguing for a “second bill of rights” to be added to a bill of rights.
  • Political rights, it was argued, must be supplemented by economic rights.
  • Need to be universal.
  • Ran a campaign for this second bill of rights.
  • Was passed as the “GE Bill of Rights” - “GE”: general enlistment.
  • Serve in the military, the government will pay for your college, a subsidized or no interest home loan, healthcare, preferential hiring on jobs.

The Fifth Freedom

  • Only certain segments of the population are getting sets of protections; a patchwork.
  • Political backlash: 19, 20 years post-Great Depression, the ideas that the business community had supported pre-Depression are seeking ways to reassert themselves.
  • A massive propaganda effort in dialogue with the Roosevelt’s claim of the four freedoms.
    • Business community says the fifth freedom is the free enterprise system.
    • Consider this part of the penanoly of freedoms we have.
  • Viability of other New Deal programs, etc. woudl falter.
  • Now, when we think of economic freedoms, we think about free market policies and not Roosevelt’s economic policies.
    • Shows the success on the ideological front of these ideas.

Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

  • von Hayek was an antifascist, trying to think about and understanding how the Nazi party came to be and how Nazi totalitarianism emerged.
  • Answer: effort to restrain economic freedoms, to influence market failures, and to create a more regulated and aggressive role for the government meant a slow agglomeration of state power.
    • Effort to regulate private enterprise is an expansion of state power and opening the road to serfdom.
  • Is a foundational bedrock for free market intellectuals in the postwar period.
  • Expansion of welfare state, etc. - becoming more fascist.

Labor, Taft-Hartley, and Politics

  • Many of the mechanisms that enabled labor parties were taken back.
  • If you’re part of a union and you’re striking for someone else, this is no longer allowed.
  • You could not be a communist and part of a union.
    • Political sympathies or had been a party member, outlawed union participation.
  • Made it more difficult for unions to be effective.

A New Industrial Relations System

  • 1950s and beyond - guaranteeing a consumer society without the radicalism, militant tactics, disruption, etc. to regulate economic growth, overcome boom-bust cycles, and have workers as part of this economic boom.
  • There are very severe limitations and restrictions.

Two Labor Markets

  • White workers have particular sets of benefits in a two-tiered labor market.

World War II and the Cold War: Warfare and Statecraft


  • Last time: Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, 1943.
  • Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937.
    • What if all the political organizations and science give way to violence, conflict, fascism?
  • Central questions: What explains US policy during and after the war? Why were the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
  • The rise of fascism in Europe
    • The confluence of economic and ideological factors
  • Balance of power at the end of the war
  • The decision to drop the bombs
    • The role of the Soviet Union
  • The Cold War and post-war considerations
    • The beginning of the American century.

The Rise of European Fascism

  • Italy and Germany.
  • Fascism - some aspect of politically authoritarian society; a break from traditions of liberal individualism and rights.
  • Capitalist democracies have the idea the property and individual rights are the purview of state protections.
  • Fascist politics don’t share this view. Property is more of a national issue.
  • How does this collective get defined? Constructing a hierarchy of human value - some humans more valuable than others.
  • 1922 Italy, following the dislocations in Italian society caused by the failures of WWI.
  • 1933 Germany, Nazis won representation in Germany’s Parliament and gained state power.
  • Out of WWI and financial/political revolution, fascism arose offering a solution.

World War I

  • 20 million people were killed, hundreds of thousands of people killed in single instances. No progress in terms of advancing war agendas or remaking the war map.
  • Carnage continues until the end of November 1918; years of people being sent to their deaths and economies being disrupted.
    • A brutal development.
    • Chemical warfare, tanks, greater and more efficient mechanisms of killing.

Wave of Revolutions

  • Germany lost not because the leaders surrendered, but because there was a massive revolution in Germany against the Kaiser.
  • 1918 and 1919 revolutions, sailors and soldiers began to refuse orders and going to their deaths.
    • Initial refusal sparks a full mutiny in the army that shuts down Germany’s war effort.
  • Mutiny spreads into a Communist-inspired workers’ revolution in Germany.
    • Partially inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution.
  • Germany can’t maintain its war effort - it comes to the end and the Allies win.
  • This revolution was later put down; the Communist leaders were assassinated by other Communist leaders and a bourgeois republic (Weimar Republic) remerges out of this conflict.
  • Terms of peace imposed upon Germany were onerous; France and Great Britain lost significant parts of their economy and sought to redress those by having Germany pay for them.
    • 35 billion dollar war debt on Germany, in 1919 dollars - an enormous sum of money.
    • Germany would be paying that cost for the rest of the 20th century, at a time when they just went through a devastating war and their economy collapsed.
  • Government began to print more and more money - massive inflation occurs.
    • 1922 - Deutschmark is worth about 1/300 US dollars. By the end of 1922, it is worth about 1/7400; the next year, it is worth about 1/1b.
    • A massive inflationary crisis in the German republic in the 1920s, leading to an economic crisis.
  • Other Western powers said that they wouldn’t accept payments of worthless money - instead, they would seize the industrial factories and pay themselves in product outputs.
    • Get a coal mine and pay themselves in coal.
    • Imposed further German deprivation on the German economy; they were suffering harsh economic deprivation throughout the 1920s.
    • This inflation crisis occurs in 1923, ‘24 - the currency begins to stabilize by the end of the decade.
    • In 1929, a global economic depression tanks the economy yet again.

Rise of the Nazi Party

  • In this context, the Nazi party comes to power.
  • 1933 - the party wins a plurality of the German Parliament.
    • Not a winner-take-all two-party system, but many-party proportional representation.
  • With a 30% vote, the Nazi party was the largest in the German Parliament and hence the dominating party.
  • A whole series of political calculations that people made.
    • Were Hitler and the Nazis one-trick ponies? Hitler was able to use extra electoral power to attack other political parties.
  • Nazi’s party came from organizing disaffected German citizens and war veterans that had sacrificed a lot for war and returned to a country completely fallen apart.
  • Organize these into paramilitary forces associated with the party, not the government, that could physically attack and disrupt other political organizations.
  • Largest party by membership was the socialist party, then the communist party - the Nazis would send these “brownshirts” to physically attack and kill other party members.
  • Staged an abortive coup early in 1924, attempted to seize power through a coup by extralegal means; are defeated and stopped, Hitler is arrested and sent to prison.
  • Hitler writes Mein Kampf in prison and becomes a fundamental document for the Nazi ethos.
  • The party had a paramilitary wing using violence but also refined the Nazi ethos and appeal.
    • To the soldiers and unemployed: the economic crises of the nation are the result of the failures and betrayals of leftists and Jews.
    • Germany could have won World War I, they argued, if not by Communists that staged a 1919 revolution.
      • The tradition of German greatness had been sabotaged by these leftists that had betrayed the country.
    • According to common anti-Semitic tropes in Europe, Jewish people were argued to have controlled the banking industry.
      • Price inflation and currency devaluation were argued to be the result of the secret Jewish bankers, secretly profiting while everyone else suffered.
    • Jews were also argued to be radicals as well - behind Communist plots.
  • Jews and the left were argued to pose a serious threat to German national greatness.

Nazi Political Economy

  • A series of crises through which Hitler uses the crises to declare a state of national emergency; use the state power to attack rival political parties, beginning with the Communists.
  • Communists are put into detention centers that are the forebearer to much larger concentration camps.
  • The Nazi party can maintain the party throughout the 1930s; develop a political economy meant to rectify the crises of the ’30s.
  • Do this through greater state intervention and to questions of economic priority.
    • Using the state to facilitate economic growth and profitability.
    • Increased militarism.
  • Even though the Treaty of Versailles disallowed German military development, Germany did it initially on the sly, then in the open - arguing it would revive the economy.
    • Somewhat successful, to some degree.
  • Not just empty promises and racial stereotypes that the German political economy was offering.
  • This economic and military growth led to a policy of “living room”, the German “living space”.
  • Germans needed greater mobility, access to resources. Had somewhat legitimate claims to reseize territory.
  • The Western powers seized factory production, Sudetenland, etc. which were claimed to be legitimate German territories.
  • The economy is being revived through military industries being used to seize sets of territories, which later became claims to entire countries - like Austria.
    • Austria, as a German-speaking country, was argued to be part of Germany.
  • While mostly tolerated by other countries, German crossed the red line in 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland.
    • Initiation of defenses by the Soviet Union.
    • The rest of Europe follows suit, causing the second World War.

Ghettos to Concentration Camps

  • 1930s - eliminating political opposition, developing a system of racial hierarchy that was based on U.S. Jim Crow segregation.
  • The idea that racial minorities should not have full and equal passing rights, or should live in particular neighborhoods or areas, confined to certain ethnic ghettos.
    • Came from the U.S. practice of segregation; in the German case Jews face a more stringent set of restrictions around owning property, purchasing things, having to wear public symbols to identify themselves as Jews, etc.
  • This policy of confinement becomes a policy of extermination.
  • Concentration camps transformed into death factories; a significant number of people were killed in these concentration camps.
    • An equal number were killed by death squads that the Nazis would send into far-field rural cities.
    • Many Jewish communities were isolated and rural; shooting communities of Jews.
    • Developed into the Holocaust.

U.S.-Soviet Alliance

  • Nazi Germany invaded Poland and goes to war against Britain and France.
  • When the United States’ territory is bombed in 1941 by Japan, U.S. enters the war and is in alliance with the Soviet Union in 1941.
  • France is overrun by the Nazis in 1940, the country is divided between a Nazi government in the North and a resistance government in the South.
  • Britain is suffering nightly air raids; is having a hard time fighting back against the military might and acumen of the Nazi government.
  • Soviet Union and the United States emerged as the two main industrial powers able to counter Nazi military might.
  • Much of the U.S. war effort taken on individually is in the Pacific, which alleviated Soviet Resources to fight Nazis in the European field.
  • Allied Powers refrained from getting heavily involved in Europe until fairly late with the D-Day invasion.
  • Bulk of the fighting was done by the Soviet Union (Europe) and in the United States (Pacific).
    • Both were opposed to fascism for immediate political power interests.
    • Also both are opposed to fascism for ideological reasons.
      • US - a commitment to liberal democracy, individual property rights.
      • Soviet Union - a commitment to internationalism and opposition to nationalism.

War’s End in Europe

  • Soviet Union bears the brunt of fighting in World War II, is continually losing until the battle of Stalingrad in 1944.
  • Nazis push against the entire Western expanse of the Soviet Union till Moscow until a brutal battle in which over a million soldiers are killed in the battle of Stalingrad.
  • Nazi forces are pushed back and Berlin is take in the spring of 1945.
  • The Allied forces that invaded France in the D-Day landing, headed by future president Dwight Eisenhower, refrain from marching to Berlin and allow the Soviets to do so.
  • The Death Toll is devastating for the Soviets; more than half of the military deaths are by Soviet soldiers.

War in the Pacific

  • China was a country in crisis because Western colonialism had left it quite impoverished; was suffering a series of social cataclysms including revolutionary movements of multiple types.
    • Japan invades China and has been in a process of industrial development since the late 1900s forward.
    • Have a political system that is based on recognition of an Emporer and military prowess.
    • This led to Japanese expansion in the 1920s and 30s into the invasion of China - Manchuria, in particular.
    • Under which, there is a social revolution happening in an attempt to fight off against this occupation.
    • Many of the Chinese deaths come from this Japanese invasion.
  • The United States is fighting in the Pacific largely on its own against Japan; the majority of U.S. war deaths come from this.
  • The war was particularly brutal and devastating; much of embittered fighting in the Pacific.
  • Not traditional troop movements as in Europe, but seizing islands and such to advance in the Pacific.
  • Japan is knowing it is losing and U.S. planners are looking for peace - conditional or unconditional, terms, etc.
    • Planning a full-scale invasion when the developments of the Manhattan project come to fruition in the Spring and Summer of 1945.
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in his fourth term in office; his vice president Harry Truman takes over the presidency.
    • Very quickly, decide to use nuclear weapons against two cities - Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, and then Nagasaki on August 8th, 1945.
  • Development of atomic weapons was significant in a variety of ways, certainly for what they signify in terms of the destructive capability of industrial societies.


  • Ends in victory for the Allies, but the continent of Europe is destroyed; Germany, Great Britain, and France are devastated.
  • Hard to call this a victory; one of the most devastating and horrific events in human history.
  • These developments haunt the human psyche in the a) Holocaust and b) the development of nuclear weapons.
  • Raises strategic and moral questions for how to defeat fascism.


  • European empires had been significantly disrupted; their ability to maintain their imperial control of much of the rest of the globe was eradicated; in the aftermath of the war, their move around decolonization in a whole series of countries emerges.
    • Most significantly, in the independence of Pakistan and India; Great Britain is no longer able to control Indian politics and a nationalist movement emerges.
    • England gives up its most economically profitable colony.
  • The United States gives up the Philipines in 1946, starting a whole chain of anti-colonial movements that are won - some easier than others, for instance in Angola and the Congo against Dutch Rule.
    • Continues to hold some other colonization.
  • A whole movement of independence and anticolonialism occurs in the aftermath of the war.
    • Virtually every country in Africa emerges as an independent nature.

The Cold War

  • Two militarily and politically dominant superpowers; many of the other international players have been severely weakened.
  • A competition between the superpowers to ally with new countries for questions of prestige and ideological victory, as well as concerns of power and access to resources.
  • From the perspective of the US, the postwar period was a significant loss.
    • Many of the countries allied with the Soviet Union were once allied with the US.
  • As Russia marched across Eastern Europe, it gains allies.
    • The Soviet Union has been almost defeated many times, so it is important to have a series of friendly nations to trade with and to protect military vulnerabilities.
  • Europe is partitioned into Eastern Bloc countries and Western Bloc countries.
    • NATO pools resources to monitor and threaten the Soviet Union; similar alliances are set by the US.
  • Greece: communist forces were some of the most antifascist partisans and were widely popular, but the US-supported former fascist leaders to put down the communist forces such that Greece would not become communist.
    • National politics are struggled over by the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • Many nations, like Egypt, attempt to nonalign with any bloc.

The Loss of China

  • State planners refuse the Communist revolution of 1949: “the loss of China”.
  • On the model of Stalinism, single-party rule and heavily authoritarian, which happened because of internal factional fights within the nation of China.
    • China had been picked apart by Western policies and onerous drug trades.
    • Social tumult and dislocation emerged in conflict.
    • Nationalist movement - along the lines of Western liberal democracy - and a Communist movement - led by a large peasant population that was Communist-allied.
  • They are occupied by Japan during World War II (one of the justifications for Japanese imperialism was that an Asian empire was needed); revolutions in China continue to unfurl and the Communists are victorious.
    • China is “lost” to the West.
  • This is a significant conceptual movement; Eastern Europe and the largest player of Asia have been removed from Western influence.
    • Develop a policy of containment; official US foreign policy of the 1950s.

The Korean War

  • Fought another war if Korea would emerge as a Communist nation or not.
    • Korea is divided with a Communist North that is attempting to invade the South.
  • The US intervenes and 35k soldiers are killed; 2m Korean people are killed.
    • The general wanted to use nuclear weapons and invade China but was prevented.
  • Peace terms emerged as what they had before - nothing changed.
  • The US was committed to a policy of containment after the loss of China; the US would military action in any country threatened with developing a communist regime internally or via invasion.
  • Official stated purpose of communism - to overthrow capitalist governments.
    • A tradition of internationalism - disregarding nationalist borders.
    • These ideas are conflated with the policies of the Soviet Union, which are not exactly that.
      • 1920s Soviet Union was trying to expand an international communist movement.
      • Later, though, the Soviet Union develops a policy of “socialism in one country”.
      • Nonetheless, the specter of international communism continues to haunt Western state planners that come to see communist threats under every nook and cranny.
  • McCarthyism - carried weight and people began suspecting and investigating.
    • In the 1930s, the labor movement is widely influenced by communists, anarchists, socialists, etc.
    • Became an internal search around this.
  • Korean War demonstrates the extent to which the US will pursue this containment strategy.

Covert Wars

  • Covert, or Proxy, wars - facilitating others’ fights.
  • Cold War - never an outright conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but instead all sorts of proxy conflicts, including political destabilization, staging coups, and others.
  • The Korean War - 1954 aftermath, US begins a policy of destabilizing governments it does not look favorably upon.
  • Iran: Western powers had a long tradition of economic and political relationships with Iran, mostly based on Churchill’s decision to shift the British military from coal to oil-based.
    • GB needed a source of oil, and Iran is one of the most oil-rich nations in the world.
    • Iranco - Anglo-Iranian - which has sweetheart deals to extract oil from Iran, using the oil resources to support British military expansion.
    • A nationalist leader (not Communist) but interested in developing Iran’s internal economy, Mohammed MOzatec, is elected in a democratic election and begins to attempt to renegotiate the Iranco oil contract to provide more resources for public spending.
    • GB does not like this but is hobbled by the impacts of World War II and asks the United States to step in.
    • The US gets involved - Kermit Roosevelt orchestrates a military coup that gives rise to a dictatorship that goes on to impose a brutal military dictatorship through the 1970s.
    • Signifies a large power transfer by the United States.
  • Guatemala: interests of the United States are bananas; US control of the agricultural economy in Guatemala was the driving force.
    • A democratically elected regime is interested in shifting the balance of trade and providing more resources for internal development.
      • Not Communist as it was nationalist economic development.
    • Is overthrown in a military coup that imposes a military dictatorship lasting for decades.
  • Both military dictatorships are fairly brutal; the secret police of these societies are infamous for their persecution of radicals and torture chambers.

Handing Over the Keys

  • In the 1950s, the former imperial holdings of the Europeans are being handed over the US political management.
  • France gives Indochina - which will emerge as Vietnam.
    • Vietnam had been staging anti-colonial movements for decades.
    • France loses at a famous battle in 1954 - Dien Bien Phu.
    • Asks the United States to “manage”.
    • The nationalist movement is largely Communist and the leading figure - Ho Chi Min - is a communist figure.
  • The United States support by sending technicians and advisers, then by propping up a government in South Vietnam that had little support.
    • Leads to a protracted war over several text decades.


  • Increases its military participation throughout the 1960s.
  • 1964, there is the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a US fleet in the South Asian sea claims to have been attacked by potentially North Vietnamese forces.
    • Lyndon Johnson uses this incident to argue that the US was being directly attacked.
    • Going to directly invade; through 1968 and 1970, at its peak, upwards of 500k soldiers are serving in Vietnam.
  • A massive war mobilization, and the process looks similar to the Korean War.
    • The United States loses 55k soldiers throughout the conflict.
    • Millions of Vietnamese people are killed, and millions more if related wars (e.g. Laos and Cambodia) are counted.

Massive Retaliation

  • All of this is undergirded by the development of the atomic age.
  • Every development carries the threat of the use of nuclear weapons.
  • These weapons are further advanced into hydrogen bomb technologies, which have explosive capacity many multiple times those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • GB, France, China, India, Pakistan, etc. develop nuclear capabilities.
    • Proxy conflicts are undergirded by the threat of full-scale nuclear confrontation.
    • There are a whole series of moments where global nuclear conflict becomes very close.
  • There were orders given in the Cuban missile crisis to fire a nuclear assault on the US.
    • Were it not for a submarine captain that refused, there would have been nuclear weapons used in the confrontation.
  • The United States develops a policy of “massive retaliation”.
    • If nuclear weapons are threatened in a limited or threatening sense, the US would use the full might of their nuclear stockpile on that enemy.

Warfare and Statecraft

  • Not a great picture for humanity emerging out of World War II and in the Cold War.
  • As we inherit this world: something to think about.
  • There have been nuclear de-escalation treaties that have merged to prevent further and more devastating weapons.

Freedom Now: Political Economy and Black Movements


  • Last Week: Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937.
  • This week: The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, Betye Saar, 1972.
  • Why did Civil Rights become the dominant domestic political issue in the post-war period?
  • Wartime labor mobilization brought increasing bureaucratization to labor-management issues.
  • Organized labor developed an ambiguous relationship with workers.
  • Huge benefits for white workers - economic protections and government action.
  • Women, African Americans, racialized minorities continued to face exclusion.
  • Freedom and democracy: what do political rights mean without economic security?

The New Industrial Relations System

  • Codified coming out of WWII with an almost consensus support for the Keynesian economic policies and approach to economic management.
  • For the most part, acceptance of Keynesian policies as a way to stabilize and grow economic development “won the day”.
  • The greatest period of US economic growth in a long time - through 1969.
    • Enormously stable; because of Keynesian policies and rising wages.
  • A third of the workforce is involved in unions - this has spillover impacts.
  • 1964 Voting Rights Act - many remaining unfinished aspects.

Two Labor Markets

  • Because of racial exclusions written into the New Deal explicitly, it meant that there were differential labor markets that emerged.
  • The federally recognized and protected industries like auto manufacturing had these unionized jobs with protections like unemployment programs; unprecedented accumulation of wealth for white working people.
  • In retail - predominantly employing women - domestic work, African American-dominated work, etc. are often not unionized and do not get the same protections.
  • A labor market largely around the question of race.
  • Moved the country out of Gilded Age-style wage cuts and inequality into a more managed, stable, and consumer-focused social order - except for parts of the population left out.

Breadwinner Liberalism

  • Scholars have begun using “breadwinner liberalism”.
  • Federal protections would be created for a breadwinner job (male head of household); would get reasonable pay and benefits through the job that would cover dependents.
  • No need for universal coverage; if male heads of households are working, it should be sufficient to cover everything.
  • The cultural assumptions of New Deals were that single-family households made up the household.
  • Unemployment insurance - work for a period, the employer pays into federal unemployment insurance.
    • If you are laid off, you get payments from the unemployment insurance.
  • If you are a home-maker, you don’t get those benefits - you don’t get access to unemployment insurance.
    • No national healthcare program; has all sorts of spillover effects.
    • If a housewife was in an abusive relationship, there were no economic resources for her to have economic independence to get out of that relationship.
    • It left huge gaps and social reinforcement in patriarchal relationships.

White Affirmative Action

  • The colorblind, race-neutral policies of the New Deal - social security, for instance - in a society of racial hierarchies fall disproportionately.
  • GI Bill - economic bill of rights that meant the federal government provided particular sets of protections for veterans: home loans, education, preferential hiring.
    • You enter the housing market as a veteran.
    • If you are white, you can purchase a home and develop in the affluent suburbs of the city.
    • If you are black, you face racial covenants; federal insurance would not support certain investments and redline areas.
  • When you come into a racially segregated society, whites can operate better in the system than blacks.
  • Federal highway program - something as innocuous as the freeway system being developed in the 50s and 60s allows for the process of establishing white communities to happen.
    • White families can get out of poorer neighborhoods and into the suburbs to accumulate their wealth agglomeration.

Creating White America: Consumer Society

  • Workers as consumers could be the economic engine of growth in the postwar period, facilitating ht process of federal spending.
  • Creates the American middle class for the first time.

Black America

  • Jim Crow segregation is still in place (Plessy v. Ferguson ruling).
    • Public segregation was constitutional and protected by the federal government in Northern and Southern states.
  • These sets of segregations continue until the postwar period.
  • Economically, the protections and benefits being given to white workers are being denied to black workers.
    • Segregated in this tiered market system.
    • Segregated by the housing market.
  • Tiered labor: if there are more people than there are jobs, they compete.
    • A market equilibrium gets worked out in which the price of the jobs is set at the wages under the assumption that everyone is competing for the same jobs.
    • Tiered labor market - access to different levels of jobs.
      • Partially set by federal policy, which is choosing to provide protections for industrial workers but not agricultural workers.
      • These jobs are disproportionately going to white workers, which are using unions to keep out black workers.
    • All sorts of social mechanisms and filters - some set by social practice, custom, or policy - maintain the tiered labor market.
  • Not only is there social segregation and exclusion but economically too.
  • Prevented through legal segregation and economic inequalities as well.

Expanding Wealth Gap

  • When the American is transformed and much of the labor conflict is being smoothed over; black people are almost entirely being left out through filters and exclusions.
  • Even though wealth inequality overall is decreasing - the enormous wealth gap emerging in the Progressive era is being reduced through unions, redistribution; yet, the gap between white and black families is increasing.

Birth of the Civil Rights Movement

  • “Birth” is not entirely accurate - black people’s struggle for equality, etc. continuing in a long tradition.
  • Very clearly, there were antecedents in WWII itself that contribute to the time of this Civil Rights movement.
    • A. Philip Randolph’s explicit civil rights struggle happening in the 40s - march on Washington.
    • The Double V Victory - democracy abroad and at home.
  • The use of racial segregation by the Nazis to justify their system gave a serious political blow to those that continue to defend racial hierarchy in the US.
  • Returning black veterans that fought in the Pacific or Atlantic Theatre - returning to a system that practically discriminates against them in all facets of life.
  • The growth of the NAACP from returning black veterans - experiences double-digit growth throughout this period.
    • Robert F. Williams - a black WWII who became the president of the NAACP chapter in his hometown of Munroe.
    • In the 1950s, attempted to desegregate the public swimming pool - to put pressure on white supremacist oligarchs in his town.
    • White supremacist violence eventually chases him out of his country and he flees in 1961.
  • Militancy - an aggressive political agenda.

Brown v. Board of Education

  • NAACP emerges as the 1950s premier civil rights organization by W. E. B. du Bois and Ida B. Wells; the ideological approach is for the possibility of racial integration and fighting for equality under the law within the political system.
  • To develop this strategy, they pursue a series of legal cases in the 1940s and 1950s to try to test racial segregation everywhere they possibly can.
  • Intentionally select individual plaintiffs and cases they think have the best shot of being able to challenge a system of legal segregation.
  • Do it on public spending, business discrimination, and a whole array of other issues they attempt to force through.
  • Most famous: 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.
    • Uses sociological evidence to argue to challenge the impacts of segregation.
      • Assuming it is equal, the mere fact of having social segregation has psychological and sociological impacts that are deleterious.
      • The Doll Case/Study - young black girls were shown different skin color dolls and asked to tell which ones they identified with or found more beautiful and desirable.
        • Overwhelming numbers, black girls are choosing white dolls and devaluing themselves.
      • The Court recognizes this in the schools.
    • Brandeis Brief - no legal case based on precedent could be made, so Brandeis brings forth sociological evidence.
  • Attorneys were strategically selective in their cases - found the most “squeaky-clean” plaintiffs in which nothing could tarnish the case.
    • Sociological case was used and won.

The Little Rock Nine and School Desegregation

  • The law has changed and it is now unconstitutional to practice racial segregation.
  • Popular activism - militancy - of regular people - to force the question of school districts.
  • 1957 Little Rock Nine case for desegregation in schools, Little Rock, Arkansas.
    • Central High - had big, beautiful New Deal buildings, textbooks, resources, and so on.
    • Governor of the state of Arkansas refused to integrate the schools and called in the state guard to block the entrance to the black students.
    • Created an international incident - in the context of the Cold War, these flaws of the United States created a media incident.
    • Eisenhower federalizes the national guard, reverses their orders - the guards are now escorting them into the school.
    • State guard provides continual protection for the students in the first year.
  • Individuals begin forcing this question of increasing militancy.
  • Began in fits and starts; takes federalizing the police forces to desegregate.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

  • Grows into larger, more collective activity.
  • 1958 becomes a much more widespread and massive roll of activism.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott; the entire city’s black population refused to use the bus system.
  • Rosa Parks - arrested for violating public segregation on public buses.
    • NAACP and SCLC - Southern Christian Leadership Council - turns this into a disruptive social resistance and action, civil disobedience.
    • Refusing to use the bus system until it was desegregated.
  • The entire population of black people refused the service.
  • This campaign lasts over a year and launches the career of Martin Luther King, Junior

Southern Christian Leadership Council and Martin Luther King

  • Other black leading community figures don’t want to undergo the risk of being the spokesperson - his career transforms from being a preacher into a political organizer.
  • Political activism takes a significant part of his time.
  • The SCLC emerges as one of the leading movement organizations and a significant shift from the NAACP legal strategy to a movement strategy based on passive resistance.
    • Disrupt as much of the system and politics of the South and the United States as necessary until some change is made on the question of segregation and Jim Crow.

The Greensboro NC Sit-In

  • Massification of the movement that is happening until the 1960s.
  • Lunch-Counter sit-in movement.
  • College students in Greensboro, North Carolina are sitting at a public lunch counter that had been segregated.
  • Lunch counters - access to symbols of a consumer society; the freedom of being a middle-class American consumer without restrictions because of race.
    • A demand around these sets of concerns.
  • Every day, they come, demand service - sometimes attacked by white mobs, etc. Spread into the press; other college students somewhat spontaneously decided to sit in on the local department store, diner, lunch counter, soda fountain, etc. and demanded service to be the tens of thousands of people.
  • Like the Occupy movement in 2011.
  • Are in the conversation about what to do - develop national relationships around sit-ins. Was that it, what happens from here?

SNCC and Ella Baker

  • A field organizer for the SNCC and SCLC.
  • Both organizations wanted to begin a youth organization to help direct and control these young people’s activism.
  • Ella Baker ostensibly argued not to join others’ organizers; for the students to form their autonomous society: forms the SNCC.
  • Most important civil rights organization that no one has heard about.
  • Facilitated this style of massive disruptive activity all across the country; hardly any other organization is thinking about it on this style.
  • Facilitate white students; look for indigenous black leadership in the South willing to step up, etc.; begin a massive nationwide organizing campaign to disrupt the legal and political system of segregation.
  • Focus on the South but are also active in other Northern cities.

Birmingham Alabama

  • Police riots in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Militancy of the movement is very widespread; mass demonstrations, sit-ins, protests, forcing the question of desegregation.
  • Birmingham Alabama - King and SNCC do a test campaign in which they attempt to overwhelm and flood the system - legal and court system - to force the question of desegregation.
  • Sheriff - Bull Conner - is a well-known white supremacist.
  • They develop a strategy of using high school students, which could get arrested repeatedly.
  • Develop a strategy to challenge the system.
  • Bull Conner is vicious in his response - police of Birmingham run riot on the protestors, attacking with police dogs, water cannons, etc.
    • A high degree of violence.
  • All filmed, photographed, recorded by the national media that puts pressure on the Kennedy administration to pass civil rights legislation.
  • This news gets carried internationally, especially to the Soviet Unions.
  • Puts pressure on Kennedy - a Democrat.

March on Washington

  • No civil rights bill happens; implement A. Philip Randolph’s plan for a march on Washington.
  • Main thrust of the political agenda: freedom and jobs.
  • King delivers him “I Have A Dream” speech.
  • This national movement and the international strategy of shaming the US, and continual activity for years across the country forced political change.
  • Kennedy is assassinated in 1963; Lyndon Johnson, vice president of Kennedy - who is a virulent racist - becomes president at this moment and is attempting to pacify the disruptions, making the US look better in the eyes of the Cold War.
  • Johnson passes the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
  • Further legislation is passed to continue to attempt to pacify and disruptive the movement in the 1965 voting rights act.

Black Power and a New Critique

  • Significant political victories for the movement - the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act are significant.
  • The federal government is committing itself to the enforcement of the laws.
  • What about the economic demands and the job guarantees, access to the primary labor market? These are not addressed in the law.
  • Another wing of the movement emerges - the Black Power or Black Nationalist wing.
    • It’s not enough to have “parchment rights” in an unequal system - the balance of power needs to be radically redistributed so that black people are empowered socially, economically, culturally.
  • New figures - Malcolm X, a figure of black nationalism and comes from a Garveyite tradition, and Stokley Carmichael, who becomes president of SNCC and is increasingly radicalized.
  • Carmichael argues that political gains cannot change and advance their economic position in society.
  • Black Power - not just around desegregation or political rights, but empowerment.

Watts Riots

  • Seen as a significant turning point.
  • “Good 60s/Bad 60s” - seen as a turning point between the pacifist movement towards a more violent one.
  • In 1965, after the passage of all these laws, is a black riot.
  • When there are race riots, it is white people attacking and killing black people.
  • In this case, a major riot that causes damage is being led and run by black people.
    • Watts is a neighborhood in Los Angeles; a motorist is severely beaten in front of everyone in the neighborhood before being arrested and taken to jail.
  • Attacks on the police turn into wide-scale riots in this ethnic community of black residents.
  • Lasts several days and several people are killed.

Black Panthers

  • Not a question of integration or Jim Crow, but more fundamental questions around housing stock and access to wealth, jobs, job training, police brutality.
  • Other organizations emerged in 1965 and 66 to address those sets of questions around black equality.
  • 1966 Black Panther party emerges in Oakland, California (the next chapter was in Seattle), becomes a nationwide party soon.
  • The Black Panther Party for Armed Self-Defense; is carrying public weapons in public spaces to protect themselves from police violence.
  • Patrols to police the police - a visibly militant shift and part of a broader cultural shift in black militancy.

Black Culture

  • Adaption of naturally worn hair, of the black, is beautiful movement not just for black physical features but for black arts, creative genius, etc.
  • Emphasis on cultural and intellectual traditions as being important cultural contributions.

Neoliberalism: A Changing Political Economy


  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leeches, 1984
    • How chaotic is it? - how financially does it become?
  • Central question: Why did US policy and political economic change in the 1970s and 1980s? What explains that shift?
    • Civil Rights and labor movements had the potential to undo historic inequality in the US
      • Undone by the advent of neoliberalism
    • Structural and political crises in the 1970s
      • Stagflation and new political priorities help to check the Keynesian consensus
      • New York City fiscal crisis
    • Reagan: A New Type of State
      • Reagan and PATCO
      • War on Drugs
      • Iran Contra
  • Some argue that neoliberalism is not the absence of government, but the pursuit of certain interests and policies.
  • There was unquestionably a change in US domestic policy in the 70s and 80s.
    • What was that change and why?
  • This defines our moment now.
  • Liberalism - 19th century, with the development of industrial capitalism and the commitment to laissez-faire principles defines liberalism.
    • Emergence of new free-market ideas - a neo liberal project.
  • End and failures of the civil war movement - succeeded in ending legal Jim Crow segregation.
  • Structuralism - social structure, used to refer to foundational elements that make society work in particular ways, that define a society.
    • The economics of slavery was a social structure in the economic system; it was the major wealth generator for the whole country.
    • The use of structure is a metaphor from biological sciences - how does society operate and what makes a society function.
      • Cells have structures that process things and make the cell function in a certain way
      • Shifted how US political economy works.
  • A new set of politics - known as Reaganism - is produced.
    • A turn away from welfare, social spending not on amelioration but policing and military, increasing authoritarian policies.
  • Changing policies; different use of the state government following 1975.

Union Gains

  • Civil Rights organizations began in the late 60s to address the economic question.
  • Civil Rights groups sitting down and picketing for jobs, or in unions.
  • Black caucuses and organizations would demonstrate construction unions to hire more black workers.
  • There began to be some movement on this question in the late 1960s and 1970s; by 1973-4, in states like New York, the parity for black women and white women were getting close (gap decreasing).
    • This is for women, but at least there is some briding of inequalities.

Structural Problems in the 1970s

  • Major policies of the Johnson administration - War on Vietnam and the War on Poverty.
  • Economists refer to this strategy as a guns and butter economy.
    • The United States is spending on military wars (guns), which impacts the domestic economy (butter).
  • Social spending that benefits regular people - public infrastructure, schools, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, nutrition programs, etc.
  • As the United States starts to lose the war in Vietnam, it chooses to prioritize military spending.
    • The butter side of the equation is being cut or limited in the spending priorities the state has.

White Flight and Deindustrialization

  • White working-class residents can move to the suburbs and take their property value and income with them.
  • Leaves an urban core with fewer taxable properties, more people dependent on social spending, a greater need for spending around unemployment or food services.
  • Deindustrialization - from the high point in 1955 when the US has the greatest extent of its manufacturing industry, there is a slow and steady decline of manufacturing jobs that are leaving industrial centers - Chicago, Detroit, New York City.
  • These industries were the root of what made these huge cities possible; as jobs leave, residents leave with them.
    • Detroit becomes the 5th largest state in the 1960s to the 20th now - a huge depopulation that happens with the loss of these jobs.
    • So too with the economic impacts that this industrial production has - tax base, jobs, spillover into ancillary industries.
  • Loss of manufacturing core caused spillover effects.

Capital Flight

  • Main thing that is driving capital flight is the quest for a lower cost of employment for employers.
  • Evading unions; employers prefer to go to states that do not have the same union protections.
  • Employers decide it is cheaper for them to entirely uproot a manufacturing facility - vacate it of its machinery and move it somewhere else - in the pursuit of lower wages.
  • By the 90s, with agreements like NAFTA, labor moves offshore into “free-trade zones”.

Urban Crisis

  • Known as the 60s and 70s urban crisis.
  • Begin to be abandoned and rotted out; de-population happening in the urban centers.
  • People who remain are those that have few economic options, prevented by racial covenants from owning homes in the suburbs, could not move across the country to follow jobs.
  • Those that are left behind have higher rates of unemployment and poverty; a restricted tax base to fund job training, education, etc.
  • Riots of 1967 and 68 - the language of the unheard.
    • Need for increased spending, even with War on Poverty programs to address this urban crisis.


  • Wiping out industrial complexes.
  • Besides these structural crises, there is another completely inexplicable one - according to traditional economic theory.
  • Stagflation = Stagnant Economy + Cost Inflation
  • If you have the conditions for a stagnant economy - a recession or depression, profitability is down and spending is down, wages are down, unemployment is up. What this means is that prices should decline where they reach a level that people should start buying again.
  • More people were facing unemployment because of this economy, and prices were going up; they were growing in double digits on everyday items.

National Conference on Inflation Structural Crisis of the 1970s

  • Treat unemployment by having more social spending, putting more government jobs into circulation, but that makes prices go higher.
  • Alternatively, treat inflation by slowing down the economy, which means laying off more people and forcing the country into a recession, depressing the value of what is being circulated in the economy.
  • Traditional Keynesian policies did not know how to address both sides.

New York Fiscal Crisis

  • Some cities begin to experiment - New York City 1975.
  • Facing this Urban Crisis; lost 500,000 manufacturing jobs in 5 years.
  • Families who occupied these jobs have left, those who were left behind needed greater social services.
  • City begins to face budgeting crises; must choose what to spend money on.
  • New York City creditors all of a sudden decided to stop lending to New York - not giving them any more money until the social programs were cut.
  • Turns to the present government - Gerald Ford, will the federal government lend?
    • Ford’s administration says no; creditors are correct.
  • New York City began to cut social programs in a depression; cut city jobs, further creating pressures on the recessionary side.
  • Continues through the rest of the decade and becomes a hallmark for how cities, states, and municipalities begin to address this.

The Seattle Boeing Bust

  • Military contracts going to Boeing began to dry up after the failure of the Vietnam War.
    • Oil crises are also making air travel more expensive.
  • Boeing lays off tens of thousands of workers; many left and freed up space for Asians fleeing the Vietnam War to settle.
  • Seattle has the same policies; losing its major industries, begins to cut social programs.

Free Market Economics and Milton Friedman

  • Are you in a depression? Act more, have the government act as an economic stimulus. -Keynesian economics.
  • This is the opposite of what the nation decided to do, partly because of the new economic theory emerging and would soon become economic orthodoxy to the point now where they do not teach an alternative to the work of Milton Friedman, for example.
  • Friedman was a Chicago-based economist; he argued that the turn away from market solutions is what drives the stagflation crisis of the 70s.
    • His economic intervention was that stagflation is being caused by social spending inflating prices and forcing a loss of profitability and long-term recession.
  • Free-market prices would be painful and mean more layoffs, but eventually, rectify themselves with market-based solutions.
  • Wins the Nobel Prize for economics; his free-market ideas become economic orthodoxy, a revolution in the field of economics.
  • The Keynesians are gone at this point.

The Liberal Response

  • Those ideas were being embraced by conservatives, mostly; President Ford, his Chief Advisers, etc. highly influenced by Friedmanite ideas.
  • Ironically, the previous Republican president Nixon stated “we’re all Keynesians now”. A radical economic shift in thinking.
    • Part of the reason why the Ford administration did not give aid to New York City.
  • The liberal response is not that much better, emphasizing cultural transformations.
  • Position paper on the War on Poverty programs as they target black families; argument: welfare spending creates a cycle of dependency because of cultural changes that it imbues in the recipients.
    • “Culture of Poverty”
    • Emphasized legacy of slavery and lack of patriarchal households.
  • Two ideological and policy prescriptive movements emerge.

1976 Presidential Campaign

  • Keynesianism - not so good, creating more problems in the 70s.
  • Between Ford and Jimmy Carter; Ford loses.
    • Pardoned Nixon, which was extremely unpopular.
    • Denied New York City the loans.
  • Carter comes into power but has embraced these new economic and social thinkers.
  • Major economic proposal policies: deregulate the airline industry, the transportation industry, the trucking industry.
  • Cut the tax system in the United States to lessen inflationary pressures.
  • The highest tax bracket is 90 percent and used for redistribution; Carter cuts this to 70 percent.
  • Carter, a Democrat, begins to implement these Friedmanite ideas - no longer the party of FDR.

The Volcker Shock

  • 1979, the year before the 1980 election.
  • Paul Volcker - chairman of the federal reserve, appointed by Carter.
  • Sets the interest rates on loans.
  • By the end of the 1970s, the choice between unemployment and inflation for banking elites and policymakers - decided to address inflation, to bring inflation down.
    • Make it harder to circulate money; put the brakes, but it will decrease inflationary crises.
    • Decide to focus on inflation.
  • Volcker increases the federal interest rates, the ability for people to get access to loans; people are out of work, and jobs are lost.
  • Into the early 1980s, it is successful after a series of crises for working people.


  • 1980 - Reagan runs on this crisis, are you facing these unemployment issues? Embracing these new ideas and economic ideas that can rectify the economic crisis, the unemployment crisis, all the crises.
  • Very famously, he said that the people of the United States turn to the government to look for solutions, but the government is the problem, not the solution.
  • Also runs on the Southern Strategy, which represents a major shift in the politics of the two-party system.
    • Democrats passed the voting rights act in the 60s to secure black voters, but alienate the Southern Democrats.
    • Republicans in the 70s see an opportunity to get the white votes by speaking to racial fears and antagonism, using coded language to talk about race to get the Southern white voters.
  • Reagan does this fairly well and launches his campaign of Philadelphia, where three Civil Rights activists had been lynched; he begins using symbolic gestures.
    • These two electoral tactics are used, which is very successful.
  • Many see this as a significant turning point in national politics.

PATCO Strike

  • Went after unions; the very first act in 1981 is to bring in federal troops to work the air traffic towers, breaking the air traffic controller union strike.
  • Reagan is using federal troops to send a message to unions that the federal government will no longer support workplace action from unions.
  • A precipitous decline in the level of strikes and union activity in the United States.
  • Reagan’s actions significantly transform this landscape.

The War on Drugs

  • Emphasizing law and order; criminal responses to a nationwide drug problem, especially heroin and crack cocaine.
  • Drugs were not thought of as a health crisis but is instead criminalized.
  • Drug possession faced very severe penalties; laws were passed that required judges to pass particular sentences.
  • Begins significant military spending for police forces in the United States to enact this war on drugs, to raid drug houses, for instance.

Iran - Contra

  • Continues the Cold War policies.
  • Reagan was barred from funding Central American paramilitary anti-Communism campaigns.
  • Sold weapons to Iran and used the money to purchase further weapons.
  • Represents an accretion of executive power important to think about.

American History Now: Understanding Our Current Moment


  • History Now: Our Current Movement
  • How do we understand our current moment? What is America, and why?
    • The 1990s and early 200s, the Reagan Consensus
    • Empire and Blowback
    • Economic and Technology
      • Internet and Finance
    • Gender
      • Articulating Identity
    • Ecology
      • Capital and Climate

The Reagan Consensus

Clinton Presidency

  • A few things emerging from the Reagan administration - shift to neoliberal policies, turn away from supporting unions and the institutions that made a functional middle class in the United States.
  • Altering National Labor Unions Board to issue imbalanced policies.
  • Began a series of union-busting beginning with the PATCO strike.
  • The beginning in the 1970s of divides of inequality that we experience now.
  • New Deal Liberalism - Roosevelt embracing employers and employees; PATCO strike symbolizes a turn in the employer-employee relationship.
  • Clinton Presidency represented a transformed Democratic party - one that embraced neoliberal Reaganite agenda.
    • Fruition of these policies.
    • Reagan did tax reform and others, expanding the extralegal expanse of the presidency.
  • Solidified fiscal and economic turn to the right.

North American Free Trade Agreement

  • 1993 NAFTA - retain a worker base that had generally been offshore.
  • Deindustrialization in Northern cities - now called the Rust Belt.
  • In the 90s, beginning with NAFTA and other global trade arrangements, these facilities were moved into other areas entirely into Mexico and Southeast Asia.
  • Driving firms to seek lower labor costs - a significant push in the 1990s.
    • Took much political capital for Clinton to pass the Free Trade Agreement.
  • Critics were primarily right - a decrease in industrial manufacturing jobs and a boom for corporate industries.
  • NAFTA prevented tariffs but other protections.
  • Deindustrialization further erodes union jobs and makes union positions must more difficult.

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act

  • 1994, Clinton Administration passes the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (the “1994 Crime Bill”).
  • Creates more punitive and firm penalties for drug possession or gang activity.
  • Real militarization begins under Reagan.
  • Clinton fixes some imprisonment issues.
  • Discussion around “superpredators” - to try teenagers as adults for certain types of drug crimes or violent crimes.
  • Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden advocated for the notion of teenage “superpredators.”
  • Created the most expansive prison system; the U.S. incarcerates more of its population than any other country.
  • Was a question of race that we should talk about more.

Financial Services Modernization Act

  • There were many significant laws - the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act.
  • Deregulated financial investment and services industry regulations in place since the New Deal.
    • Allows for greater speculative activity with fewer restrictions.
  • Separation between commercial and investment banking was undone.
    • “Mom-and-pop” banks that lend to American consumers can take their mortgage investments and package themselves as investment assets that people buy into and speculate with.


  • Significant move towards the right from the Democratic party and thus also for the Republican party.
  • Expansion of the U.S. empire even with the collapse of the Cold War.
  • Major justification for military intervention was the Soviet Union.

Afghanistan and Cold War

  • U.S. military expansion hardly skips a beat with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • Raison de etre of Reagan policies and Cold War foreign policy - stopping the Soviet threat.
    • Spending so much on military development because of the international madness of communism that needs to be corralled.
  • Leads the U.S. into outright illegality, for instance, with the Iran Contra Affair.
  • Covert Wars, including the Afghan resistance fighters’ funding to the Soviet Regime based on a series of tribal affiliations from ethnic groups in Afghanistan.
  • Increasing potency and militancy of Political Islam.
    • A movement takes certain aspects of Islamic aspects and ignores others, emphasizing parts on political and military conflict.
    • Contemporary contemporary Islamically aligned states.
  • Funding this movement began in the Democratic Regime - Carter Administration - as a way to ensnare the Soviet Union in a Vietnam-style trap.
  • In 1975, the U.S. lost the Vietnam War; millions of people are killed in the Vietnam War, and billions are spent.
  • Method to create a similar trap for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by funding the resistance fighters.

Fall of the Soviet Union

  • 1991, continues past the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • Was a moment of strategic realignment.
  • Some diminution of spending; several bases around the country were closed.
  • However, redoubles by the end of that decade.
  • The United States becomes committed to acting as a police force in a unipolar world.
    • No longer is the world bifurcated between the United States and the Soviet Union; the United States influences all of it.
    • Dominated by an economic orthodoxy of free trade.
    • The United States should act as a force for humanitarian intervention and morality.
  • It is not needed to fight communism, but now to stop bad things from happening, like genocide or dictatorships.

Iraq in the 1990s

  • A series of other military interventions in the 1990s, including outright warfare in several spaces.
  • Kosovo - a humanitarian intervention around the interethnic conflict in Yugoslavia.
  • Invasion and war on Iraq - are incredibly complicated.
    • In the 1980s, the United States was allied with Iraq, ruled by a dictatorship - centrist nationalist party, Saddam Hussein.
    • Iraq was officially at war with Iran, an official enemy of the United States.
    • The U.S.-backed Shah is overthrown and replaces with a Shiite theocracy.
    • All sorts of weapons and military support were provided to Saddam Hussein, as well as suppressing movements like the Kurdish movement of Iraq.
    • When Saddam Hussein used these to attack U.S.-backed allies like Kuwait, the U.S. adopts a sanctioning and bombing campaign throughout 2000.

U.S. Support for Israel

  • Increase its support for the state of Israel in the Middle East.
  • One of the reasons is it uncritically backs the Israeli state as it occupies Palestine.
  • In 1967, the state of Israel takes territories in the process of national formation.
  • Does not leave throughout the 90s; the U.S.’s critical support of Israel turns into support, including its occupation.
  • Leads to a series of peace treaties between these countries, most famously the Oslo Accords.
  • This process of the U.S. supporting military dictatorships in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and others, contributed to the tragedy.

9/11 and the War on Terror

  • This terrorist attack, one of the most significant events in modern United States history, was the hijacking of four commercial airlines flown into the World Trade Center in New York, as well as the Pentagon.
  • This moment led to a dramatic expansion and escalation of U.S. imperial presence in the globe.
  • Authorization of War Powers; Congress expands executive authority in pursuit of this undefined war.
    • War against networks of terrorists.
  • Very quickly with an invasion of Afghanistan that were now part of and supported by the Taliban regime.

Iraq War

  • The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was justified by Iraq’s weapons program or its terrorist regime.
    • The official reasons given for the invasion were not valid in any case.
    • Became one of the most destabilizing events in the Middle East in a very long time.
  • Led to the erosion of civil society and control in Iraq and the deaths of hundreds and thousands of Iraqis.
  • Breakup of the Iraqi state in the emergence of Iraqi and other ethnic movements.
    • Emergence of ISIS in the central part of Iraq - political Islam.
    • Kurdish freedom movement in the North of Iraq.
  • These disruptions contributed to regional destabilizations, in which ISIS-controlled significant amounts of territory.
  • Shared by Democratic and Republican regimes.
    • Expansion of drone program bombings against targets in Yemen, which the United States is not officially at war with but by executive decree.
    • Targeting American citizens in Yemen.
    • Another one of Trump’s platforms was withdrawal from the cost of acting as the world’s police force.
      • An attempt to draw down U.S. military interventions.

Economics and Technology: America in the Second Gilded Age

Silicon Valley

  • Transformations are remarkable, unprecedented. A history that is the legacy of state and private synthesis in developing new technologies.
  • Technological shifts have revolutionized how we engage with each other and how the business operates.
  • Much of this is a story of the emergence of Silicon Valley in California at the South end of the San Francisco Bay.
  • A transformative and revolutionary moment - Silicon Valley is made out of Cold War Era defense spending.
    • Pursuit of military technologies at universities like Stanford but also funding through private sectors.
    • Rapid technology advancement in computing power and commercialization of these technologies are handed over to the private sector.
  • Technologies that we take for granted like microchip processing and the turn away from vacuum-computers to the Internet itself, which was developed as a military network of communication in the case of a nuclear attack.
  • Silicon Valley emerges as a hub for this type of technological development.
  • Technology developed without risk by the state and handed over to privatized organizations.

Tech Sector and the Information Age

  • Begins a computing and information revolution.
  • We live in the “Information Age” - part of what this means is that information services as a form of capital now in a way that it never has before.
  • Its dissemination and communication are more rapid, possible, and controlled.
  • Coronavirus vaccine - technologies could be opened up to share to generate as many vaccines as possible, but the information is being held in reserve as private capital.
  • Edward Snowden - working for a military contracting firm that had access to diplomatic cable exchanges that he was reading and became outraged by, taking action to release that information to the public was.
    • Crime was disseminating private capital.

Deindustrialization and Financialization

  • Advent of finance - the growth of the financial industry as a share of GDP in the United States is significant.
  • Comes from the deindustrialization, passage of NAFTA, and offshoring of productive capabilities.
  • This process is also being driven by Wall Street.
  • There are all kinds of ideological and political choices that go into this.
    • A firm running at profitability and has union representation needs to compete against the competitor reducing labor costs and moving offshore.
  • Wall Street is becoming increasingly deregulated; financial industry economic activity as part of GDP is increasing.

Subprime Lending and Housing Market Collapse

  • Deregulation of the financial industry and the separation of commercial and investment banking.
  • Major Wall Street banks, went all-out in terms of banking activity, like mortgages.
  • Packaging consumer credit and mortgages as assets that people could speculate on.
  • New categories of mortgages, subprime lenders - people in the past lacked access to loans.
    • Attempt to capture these markets, bundled them with other assets, and sold them to investment firms, other banks, etc.
  • By lending to people with riskier credit scores, there is a premium to be paid: interest rate hikes.
    • Pay on 3%, then at 10%; your home payments are increased by whatever that value is.
    • Lenders were unaware of these provisions.
    • Mortgage lenders guiled consumers into taking mortgages.
    • Premium payments increase and you were not expecting it: you cannot pay.
  • A series of defaults.
  • As subprime mortgage rates take effect, they begin to go into foreclosure, and the housing market begins to collapse and turns in on itself.
  • A foreclosure crisis across much of the United States - people were being evicted from their homes.
  • Banks had created those homes as investment assets; those assets collapsed as well.

2008 Marker Crisis and Bank Failures

  • Dramatic impacts until today; the United States economy never recovered.
  • Workforce participation rates - number of people active in the workforce - between 2009-2019, an entire section of the population could not find work and permanently left the employment market.
  • Wall Street 2008 crash as there is an election happening: McCain is leading in the polls against Obama until the market crisis hits.
    • Republican policies of Bush were blamed for this economic crisis, and the opposition party wins.
    • Unprecedented bank failures; exciting stories to tell about this.
  • Leading figures of the Bush administration’s secretary team were leading laissez-faire free market figures.

Federal Bailouts

  • Thought that the Lehman Brothers would collapse unthinkable, the market panicked and further devalued.
  • Government began a further cash bailout via quantitative easiness meant to enliven the rest of the economy and prevent further collapse.
  • Contradiction and political crisis around this: the beginning of the period in which people say we live in a second gilded age.
  • Beginning of our current homelessness crisis is coming from this moment.
  • Bush, then Obama, was using federal bailouts not to address the core foundation of the crisis in infusing cash back into the mortgages, but instead to the top of the banking industry.
  • Result was a disparate impact in terms of how the recovery from this footing going forward looked in economic terms and continued the growing inequality questions from neoliberal policies.

Increasing Inequality, Loss of Income, and Home Equity

  • For the most part, the most prominent players were able to navigate the crisis, getting federal spending and support.
  • Contributing to a growing gap in terms of wealth inequality in the United States.
  • Even in stable economies like Seattle, housing prices dropped in 2007-2012 because of this financialization and speculation; people were losing value on their home, but the real people who lost significantly were those who were evicted, who had completely lost their home.
  • Main asset the most middle-class people have is their home; it is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the most significant asset value they have.
    • To lose this in a foreclosure crisis means that these people face more significant forms of economic poverty.

Increasing Racial Divide

  • Greatly exacerbates the racial wealth gap.
  • The racial wealth gap was growing steadily.

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