“Is this Tomorrow?”

Apparently the link for “Is this Tomorrow”  (4.1.) has disappeared.  Try this Flickr site.    http://www.flickr.com/photos/57391637@N05/sets/72157625660722718/
No need to read the whole thing.  You’ll get the idea soon enough.  Also, simply search for the entire title  “Is this tomorrow?”  to find a little background.


Livestock Killing Under the Agricultural Adjustment Act: Through Children’s Eyes

Little attention has been given to the provision of the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) that sought to artificially stabilize meat prices. It authorized the government to purchase and destroy cattle, swine, and other livestock by the millions across the United States. The Act included many other provisions including subsidies, soil conservation, agricultural insurance, and government control of the supply of “basic crops.” This government control of U.S. farmers continues today under the United States Department of Agriculture to the tune of twenty billion dollars a year in subsidies.

GraemeIn 2001 my father interviewed three Texans who came of age on farms during the Great Depression; for each, among their most vivid memories of the era was the killing of cows in 1933.  Alton Behrend was twelve years old in Lee County: “The only memory I have about the president is when he issued an order… we had to shoot some of the cattle and bury them and I will never forget that. Everybody could have used the meat. There were a lot of ill feelings around that time.”  Frankie Rich was fourteen years old in Houston County: “My daddy said, ‘They’re burning them cows again.’ Perfectly good cows. They’d give them five dollars and then they’d take it out there, shoot it and burn it. They wouldn’t let a man have a piece to eat.” Minnie Campbell was ten years old in Trinity County: “Roosevelt, when he got in there, he ordered something about all the cows… and they killed and put them in ditches and covered them up.” She never forgot her ailing father’s reaction, “Well maybe they’re going to kill all the old people next, like us.”1

For poor farm children in rural Texas, the New York Stock Exchange was a world away and Hoovervilles were nowhere in sight. For them the Great Depression is remembered in shoeless feet, grumbling stomachs, and weeping mothers. Their innocent recollections focus on the raw and the visceral—the things that mattered in day-to-day life. A deeper understanding of the era can be gained through exposure to such primary sources, in addition to the academic, Washington-centric textbook accounts. Posted by Graeme Campbell

The Creation of an American Hero

During the 1930’s the American escaped the tragic mood of the Great Depression by reading comic strips. By 1935, almost 2000 comic strips were being published in newspapers all across the country. Comic strip creators were treated as celebrities and were able to earn good money for their work. Many young men attempted to break into the comic industry to earn money in lack of proper employment, including the two sons of Jewish immigrants, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. These two friends created the characRiceter Superman, an alien who immigrated to earth and possessed superpowers who protected the American people. They pitched their idea for five years before it was picked up to be the first issue of Action Comics.

Superman became popular almost instantly because he represented justice for the unemployed and prosperity for immigrants. The unemployed American responded to a man whose job was to protect the common man, especially during the 1930’s where the average American felt powerless to big business and a 25% unemployment rate. Immigrants also identified with Superman, as Superman had left his alien home of Krypton behind to assimilate into the ideal American man. Superman changing his name to Clark Kent and finding success in both his career and his mission to protect justice made him a symbol of the “American Dream,” or being able to come into America and find success no matter one’s previous history.

Two years after its release, Action Comic’s published Superman in the first ever full-length comic book devoted to a singular character. His success sparked a new industry of comic books. By 1940, over two-dozen firms were publishing comics of their own myriad of super-heroes, such as The Flash, The Human Torch, and Plastic Man. Superman created a new industry that returned United States citizen’s faith in the American Dream during a hard time in history, and has continued through the 2st century.  posted by Holly Rice

Injustice Follows Anarchism

Anarchism grew throughout the 20th century, and its extremist notions sent ripples of fear across America and Europe. The Accidental Death of An Anarchist by Dario Fo satirically captures this widespread fear by addressing a true event. Giuseppe Pinelli was an anarchist arrested in 1969 for allegedly bombing the Piazza Fontana in Italy. After being interrogated, one day he was reported, “flying” out of the window of Milan’s police headquarters. This term especially bothered Fo, because it was indicative of the media’s attempt to influence public opinion, by mocking Pinelli, who seemingly thought he could fly.While officially Pinelli’s death was declared a suicide, the policemen’s stories held blatant contradictions. So Fo satirizes the police by having his main character – the Maniac – consistently discredit their recollection of events, thus ridiculing them. Fo maintained that Pinelli’s arbitrary arrest was a grave miscarriage of justice, intimately connected to the latter’s anarchist beliefs.

theoSimilarly, anarchist prejudice in America influenced the court’s decision to execute two Italian anarchists: Sacco and Vanzetti. They were arrested in 1921 for a burglary and the death of a security guard. But since the prosecution lacked material evidence to prove their guilt, it relied on witness testimonies, which though held many contradictions.Historians, in hindsight, underline the biases operating within American culture at the time of the trial, with fear of anarchism being a central one. This explains why the two men were found guilty without sufficient physical evidence. Apparently, the cultural bias towards anarchists, Fo spoke of, was not limited to Italy.

Ultimately, Fo’s play highlights the underlying societal prejudice existing in the West in the 20th century, which led to instances of injustice. Although he focuses only on Pinelli’s death similar themes permeate American culture of that time, as illustrated by Sacco and Vanzetti’s treatment. Quite notably, Fo also emphasized the media’s tendency to manipulate information, thus shaping public opinion. Essentially he criticized society’s generalization of anarchists as an ideological and political threat, which had created a bias so strong, that for some it proved fatal.

The play’s script can be found here .  posted by Eleni Theodoropoulos


Taxes to Sink the Axis

Thought you might like this… Donald Duck to encourage Americans to pay their (new) income taxes.  Lots of patriotic imagery and a talking fountain pen.  1943

Strangely, this youtube link is down…. so you can go directly to Archive.org to watch the cartoon.


Read more about the history of income taxes on Planet Money

Bomb experts work to defuse 450kg second world war explosive in London

Interesting article just posted in the Guardian.