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Thread: Were the 1950s really conservative?

  1. #1
    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member faintsmile1992's Avatar
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    Were the 1950s really conservative?

    There's no question about the social changes that happened n the 60s, but were they truly a revolution or just carrying on social changes that were already happening? What was so good about the 1950s for conservatives? Conservative writer Thomas Fleming has written about this.

    "Those who prate so much of "family values" long for the life depicted in Norman Rockwell covers and 1950's sitcoms. They refuse to acknowledge the emptiness of the postwar Potemkin village erected by American and European governments, in a vain effort to pretend that the social and cultural revolutions that erupted in the 1920's had been annulled. In America at least, something like no-fault divorce had become so common by the end of the 19th century that Lord Bryce, that great Americanophile, was dismayed. By the 1950's monogamy was still the norm, even in Hollywood, but it was the serial monogamy of Mickey Rooney, Clarke Gable, and Elizabeth Taylor.

    More seriously, the erosion of family functions and their commodification (by schools, camps, counselors) accelerated its pace, prefiguring the shattered families of the post-apocalypse America in which we live, where home is a holding pen to contain parents and children between institutional appointments at the gymn, school, or recreational center.

    The seeds of this social, moral, and spiritual destruction, which had been sown centuries earlier, were springing forth in full vigor in the sterile 1950's. It is thus small wonder that the literature of the United States and Britain was dominated by increasingly embittered old men (Eliot, Pound, Hemingway, Faulkner) and self-indulgent punks who struttered their mental and moral infirmities in public--the Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men. While they accomplished nothing of lasting value, the punks were a conspicuous symbol of a world in collapse.

    The conservative response in America was Bill Buckley's The National Review, about which the less said the better. T.S. Eliot found it a waste of time, but it is a good thing he cannot see how infinitely more puerile it has become in the hands of Bill's successors. So-called conservativism, these days, is a classic illustration of the old proverb about shutting the barn-door when the horses are out. Alas, it is not a barn-door but the American mind that seems to have been permanently closed.

    We all enjoy nostalgia, because it allows us to recapture that warm glow--the naivete and inexperience of childhood. Whenever I hear "In the Still of the Night," I am once again thirteen years old, slow-dancing with Donna or Jeanie or Tonie or whoever was the girl of my dreams at the moment.

    Unfortunately, nostalgia also blinds us to the actual miseries that afflict us. Christendom did not fall to the assault of the Beatles and the Stones nor to combined might of Jerry Rubin and Danny the Red. It had been undermined, generation by generation, by thinkers, writers, statesmen, and theologians most conservatives revere--Montaigne and Voltaire, John Locke and Adam Smith, Tom Paine and Abe Lincoln and FDR. By 1945, there remained only a hollow shell of polite insincerities--very pleasant they were, too--which were blown away by the lightest breezes of revolution that sprang up in the late 1960's."

  2. #2
    MH Senpai 有名人 / Yuumeijin / Celebrity Zatono's Avatar
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    Re: Were the 1950s really conservative?

    Your definition of social changes seems a little specific to me, at least going by what you quoted. But anyway, there's no question that major important social changes happened in the mid/late 1950's and ended up going through until the late 1960's, like the Civil Rights movement.

    However, that's not to say that the 1960's was totally just carrying through ongoing changes. The Feminist movement, the entire Hippie counterculture thing which basically opposed the conservative 50's, the huge anti-war faction which pushed for the voting age to be lowered, and succeeded, and even the first major Gay Right's Movement started in the late 60s.

    So in conclusion, although the 60s did carry on a thing or two, it wouldn't be right to say that everything it had was just a continuation from the previous decade. It definitely saw more new movements than the 50s did, and it definitely held more "social revolutions".

  3. #3
    Horosho 伝説メンバー / Densetsu / Legendary Member Kaiten's Avatar
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    Re: Were the 1950s really conservative?

    Could you more clearly explain the purpose of this thread. The quote provided does nothing more than repeat your thesis. In no way have you provided any information regarding what changes you are referring to, how they effected subsequent history, or why you believe what you say. Furthermore history is not a series of confrontations between eras, but the study of past events and how they effected subsequent generations. The two decades in question are not even a generation apart. The principles in one were alive and well in the other. Of course unresolved issues from one would carry over to the next, that is common sense. 1959 was followed by 1960, the 1960's followed the 1950's. Neither decade can be judged in a void, or discussed as in opposition to each other. They need one another to exist, for context. Just as they need the 1940's and 1970's too. The 50's were a truly tumultuous period from Sputnik, to Mccarthy, to Brown vs. Board of Education, Elvis, rock and roll, television, the Korean War, the Beats, jazz, the Cold War, Suez Crisis and more. But to judge the 60's as any less tumultuous, or as a mere continuation of the 50's, would be a gross misinterpretation of history and wrong in the strictest definition of the word. And to judge an entire decade in all it's complexities by little more than bland ideological tags is not even possible.

    If the intent is to discuss moral, social, and cultural standards of the 1950's please link to sources providing realistic historical evidence about the era. Recent history is to well documented to be debated based on opinion alone.

  4. #4
    Registered User 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member faintsmile1992's Avatar
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    Re: Were the 1950s really conservative?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaiten View Post
    Could you more clearly explain the purpose of this thread. The quote provided does nothing more than repeat your thesis. In no way have you provided any information regarding what changes you are referring to, how they effected subsequent history, or why you believe what you say.
    What I say or conservative writer Thomas Fleming? And I'm sure I don't need to provide information about the changes I'm referring to because everyone has an idea which social changes the 60s are commonly associated with.

    Quote Quote:
    Furthermore history is not a series of confrontations between eras, but the study of past events and how they effected subsequent generations. The two decades in question are not even a generation apart. The principles in one were alive and well in the other. Of course unresolved issues from one would carry over to the next, that is common sense. 1959 was followed by 1960, the 1960's followed the 1950's. Neither decade can be judged in a void, or discussed as in opposition to each other. They need one another to exist, for context. Just as they need the 1940's and 1970's too. The 50's were a truly tumultuous period from Sputnik, to Mccarthy, to Brown vs. Board of Education, Elvis, rock and roll, television, the Korean War, the Beats, jazz, the Cold War, Suez Crisis and more. But to judge the 60's as any less tumultuous, or as a mere continuation of the 50's, would be a gross misinterpretation of history and wrong in the strictest definition of the word. And to judge an entire decade in all it's complexities by little more than bland ideological tags is not even possible.
    Yep, I know, but most people don't. Many conservatives look back to the 50's as though things suddenly went wrong in the 60's because of the left, and as though it was a paradise lost, which never existed until people put on rose tinted spectacles.

    Quote Quote:
    If the intent is to discuss moral, social, and cultural standards of the 1950's please link to sources providing realistic historical evidence about the era. Recent history is to well documented to be debated based on opinion alone.
    Actually, my intention was to see how other people see the 1950s. I'm often amused by watching other people's opinions, and understanding why they have the opinions, attitudes and perspectives that they do, and understanding why they think and feel that way.

  5. #5
    Horosho 伝説メンバー / Densetsu / Legendary Member Kaiten's Avatar
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    Re: Were the 1950s really conservative?

    Please stay on topic. The topic of this thread is social mores in the 50's. The evolution of Hollywood and tension between Asians and Caucasians are clearly not on topic.

    ---------- Post added at 03:30 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:23 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by faintsmile1992 View Post
    What I say or conservative writer Thomas Fleming? And I'm sure I don't need to provide information about the changes I'm referring to because everyone has an idea which social changes the 60s are commonly associated with.
    Many changes took place in the 60's, spell it out so that other members know what the points of debates are. The quote used is nothing more than a broad thesis statement that does nothing to expand on your own thesis. A clearly stated topic statement that can allow other members to properly reply is an expectation. Please specify the topic and stick to it.

    Broad, rambling thread topics will no longer be tolerated. This is not a debate point but a policy statement by a site administrator.

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