America has really degenerated over the last 60 years, and lost many of the qualities that people of that time were capable of. People of that day were just coming out of eons of Mankind living in the most primitive, violent ways because of lack of technology. When Mechanism took Command, it enabled man to live on a level, and in an orderly way, as he had never been able to in all human history. This was exemplified for a while in the 1920s, when, for the first time, a man could live an orderly life, with clean surroundings, new clothes, a modern house, and conveniences and amusements like cars and radios, if he could secure a living. The possibility of Order came into humanity, which had never, ever existed before. Imagine living in the world of Henry VIII; even the wealthy could not live an orderly life then, because of the insecurities of disease, of impoverishment through government fiat, or else having your head cut off.
As the 30s progressed, despite the Depression, the technologies just became more refined, a progress that has gone on uninterruptedly since those days. Compare the cinematography of the 1930s to that of 1963, and you will see a huge improvement in image quality. And now, unfortunately, films look like commercials, having lost that documentary realism one got from the black and white dramas of the 1960s.
This artistic degeneration also eclipsed Jazz. Jazz from the late 1950s to around 1970 was quite a popular genre, though not the major one of Rock, which also had a huge creative explosion during the same period. Both of them started to change in the early 70s, and by 1980 you had disco and jazz was using synthesizers, and sounding a bit like Soul music. The drive and elegance of Basie and Ellington, and the many, many talented trios and quartets, was really amazing, even to this lover of Rock. College kids back then would listen to Jazz in addition to Rock. Do they do that now?
So the breakdown of Art in Film, Jazz, and Rock seemed to parallel the breakdown of American Society that started to set in under Nixon, and really took off under Jimmy Carter. Since then every President has made it worse. Hopefully the current one might reverse that trend, although it is too far gone already.
In the 1960s, people were still in touch with that long past wisdom and humanism of man. People in Britain were generally very courteous and civil, and despite a hard life, alleviated only by beer, cigarettes, and football, they seemed to remain cheerful, and displayed a sharp sense of humour, based on plays, puns, and double meanings of English words. Literature was prized. In a famous, or infamous, speech of War Criminal Lyndon Johnson, in the early 1960s,on gun control, he mentions that in the US there were over 40,000 homicides in the previous year, compared to 38 in England. A murder in England would be in the national papers, and the police didn’t carry guns. In fact, if anyone attacked or shot a policeman in a robbery, the other thieves would help the police catch the criminals.
Of course, there were many very bad aspects to British society, but in general it was a civil, courteous, fairly cheerful, one.
One reason for this was Capitalism. Not the Capitalism of the behemoth corporations like GE and the major banks. But Capitalism in the form of the shop, Individually-owned. England used to be known as a “Nation of Shopkeepers”. A person would open a store dealing in something he liked, or was interested in, or knew much about. The fruitier who loved fruit and seeing people eat, the bookseller with his regulars whose favorite subjects he’d memorized, the three-chair barbershop, the antique junk shop, the cigarette card and stamp shops,— all these enabled their owners to earn a living in an age when many were virtually forced down the coal mines, or to be a dull bank or insurance clerk, scribbling away all day, while the boss rode you. To shop-ownership you probably owe the Capitalist, libertarian strains in English history, the low murder rate in a country where drinking was de rigueur for the working man and everybody else, despite alcohol’s lowering of inhibitions. Blows they’d come to, but rarely murder. And if done on alcohol, murder was rarely premeditated. The Dr. Cribbin who poisoned his wives was a figure of horrible fascination for the public, frequently referred to for decades afterwards. I doubt if many American millenials would now know who Dr. Cribbin was.
And Capitalism in England, as in Holland, forced or encouraged people to get along with each other, so that toleration of other people’s views was necessary if you wanted their custom, and custom meant money now and money in the future. As I put it, imagine two Armenians who go into business together, and after a few years, one finds that the other is defrauding him through the business. He breaks the partnership, and takes on a Korean partner. Not only is the Korean scrupulously honest, but he’s pleasant to work with, having an excellent sense of humor. And both partners are making a good living through the business. Is the Armenian likely to hate Koreans, or does the partnership humanize what was an Ethnic identity into an Individual? Modern people have forgotten that up to 1960, Americans thought all Japanese and Chinese looked alike. But decades of frequently seeing Asian faces have now led people to see them as individually as they see Western faces. This is what made America unique; it was a place where people from many lands came to create a society where Capitalism and the law created the conditions for an orderly life (as compared to anywhere else on the earth), and its basic law was the most Classically Liberal and Libertarian in the long history of Mankind. Jefferson in 1776 was light-years ahead of most of the current leaders in the world in his Libertarian understanding of political science, Natural Rights, and the composition of a Minarchist, or minimal government, Republic, as well as being far ahead of almost all current American politicians. (President Kennedy, the last great President, once invited Pablo Casals to perform at the White House. After the performance he said, “There has never been this much culture in the West Wing since Jefferson dined alone.”) That Capitalism, combined with the radical Freedom of Conscience which some of the Christian Radicals like Roger Williams displayed, along with those other colonies that propounded a radical tolerance for different religious sects and religions, — that I think is what made America so unique in the history of Human civilizations, although there were those anti-libertarian colonies that persecuted sects mercilessly, like the terrible persecutions of the Quakers. You also see this radical Libertarianism in the later efforts of Christian radicals like William Lloyd Garrison who, in the 1830s, was speaking out against “the Peculiar Institution” of slavery, as it was so euphemistically referred to, the worst anti-libertarian Crime next to murder.
You can see this collaboration of many ethnic strains coming together in the making of Hollywood films. If you look at the names of the technicians and actors, you will find names typical of virtually every country excluding the Third World of Asia and Africa (except for cameraman James Wong Howe). Somehow all these people of different backgrounds came together to make the steady stream of excellent films that came out of Hollywood for 30 years after sound came in. And what caused all this energy to be expended was Capitalism, the desire of all these people to make a profit in order to live. As one person aptly put it, the films were written by Communists, they were directed by Social Democrats, and they starred Right-wing Republicans.
But now that Socialism has so long depleted the wealth of Americans, and the constant printing of money and piling of government debt has further weakened the currency, American society is reaching the limits where social groups start fighting for the limited resources. And that is the underlying cause of the increased social friction between the two competing large political camps in America, the Left and the Right. Like Camus, the libertarian is neither one nor the other.
The Libertarian economists Hayek and Mises both predicted this degeneration late in the socialist cycle, and now that 51% of Americans receive government benefits, and 49% don’t and pay into the system, we have crossed into a democratic-majority socialist entity that is no longer the old Jeffersonian Republic of pre-1964, when the US ended silver coinage.
I recall financial analyst Robert Prechter predicting this increase in conflict in 2009. He said that you didn’t want to be in office during that time because you would be blamed for the collapse, no matter what you did. But he recommended getting elected during the depths of the late depression because, when the economy naturally rebounded as markets always do when they’re not interfered with, you would reap the Political credit, even if you did nothing. (Re-elect Harrigan! He did nothing! (Cheers are heard from the crowd.)).
So the heated political rhetoric goes on, with very few having any idea of the libertarian political and economic Principles on which the Republic was founded.
The U.S. – A great Society that reached its peak 55 years ago, and began to die with the twin murders of President Kennedy and silver coinage.
— Paul Grad, Enviro-Vegan Libertarian