This Side of Paradise

Victorian America ended in the catastrophe that was World War I.

2 million American soldiers had fought in France. 130,000 of them never came home. The Wilson administration imposed a suffocating conformism on the country which exceeded anything in American history before or since. We have already seen how The Masses was shutdown and anarchists like Emma Goldman were deported from the country during the Palmer Raids.

In the 1920s, there was a huge backlash against Woodrow Wilson and Progressivism. The League of Nations was rejected. Conservatives reverted to their pre-Teddy Roosevelt 19th century form. Warren Harding was elected president after promising “a return to normalcy.” Calvin Coolidge became president when Harding died in 1923. Herbert Hoover succeeded Coolidge and defeated Al Smith in the 1928 election. While the Republicans politically dominated the 1920s, there was no “return to normalcy.” A hundred years later, American conservatives are still making the same promises to their voters.

The following excerpt comes from New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America:

“The curtain was rising on the Jazz Age, the decade Fitzgerald named and was to make his own. Skirts were going up, young women were drinking in public, painting their faces, and puffing defiantly, if awkwardly, on cigarettes, and “all night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the ‘Beale Street Blues’ in Harlem …

It was just the beginning. Over the next few months, his life (F.Scott Fitzgerald) became the concrete expression of the American Dream of easy, overnight success that is a persistent theme of the Jazz Age. He married his girl, magazine editors clamored for his stories – some even bought those they had previously rejected – and This Side of Paradise was adopted by his contemporaries as their Bible. The first printing sold out in twenty-four hours.

The book is flawed by a haphazard framework, the author’s borrowing from other coming-of-age novels is readily apparent, its characters are inconsistent, and the writing uneven, yet it captures the rhythm and feel of its era. Flippant, ironic in tone, and drenched in alcohol and an innocent sexuality; it consigned the remnants of Victorian morality to oblivion and gave voice to the attitudes, pleasures, and self-doubts of “a new generation … grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken …”

World War I was the great turning point of modern history. Over 15 million lives were lost in the struggle, including those of about 130,000 Americans. The universal presumptions of the Victorian Age – progress, order, and culture – were blown to bits. …”

Young Americans who had fought in World War I and who came of age in the 1920s rejected the Victorian values of their parents and embraced the new values of Modernism. This transition can be seen in This Side of Paradise which was the novel that made F. Scott Fitzgerald famous.

The Lost Generation was the first modernist generation. The term was coined by Gertrude Stein to describe all the American expatriate writers like Ernest Hemingway who took up residence in Paris in the 1920s and became the conveyor belt through which Modernism poured into American culture. Randolph Bourne died of the Spanish Flu in 1918, but his vision and values lived on. They were the first generation in American history to start to become antiracist, deracinated and cosmopolitan.

The culture war between the emerging Moderns and Victorians who clung to the traditional values of Anglo-Protestant culture defined the 1920s. It inspired the rise of the Second Klan and the growth of the Fundamentalist movement which was pilloried by H.L. Mencken who covered the Scopes trial. By the time women started smoking “torches of freedom” in public, slumming and drinking with men in jazz clubs in Harlem, tanning, sleeping with random men before marriage and dressing according to the modernist tastes of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, you have crossed over into our times.

About Hunter Wallace 12382 Articles
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  1. Evelyn Waugh’s “Decline and Fall” spans this exact era. Well worth a look. Freakishly fresh it even has a character called Alastair Digby-Vaine Trumpington.

  2. “””….there was no “return to normalcy.” A hundred years later, American conservatives are still making the same promises to their voters….”””

    Same in the Europe. When you do not address the root cause of the problem and dealing only with symptoms, then the problem will keep coming back with different symptoms

    People doing things, not isms. Now the question of the Millennium. How can we get out from this endless wheel hat white genetic liberals attacking and normal whites only helplessly whining ?

    How the 98% of the normal whites can`t deal with 2% of psychopathic genetic white liberals ? US for example, from Salem witch hunt to modern transphobic hunt is something 400 years.

    Brilliant Great Thinkers complain that transphobic hunt is like witch hunt but all of them refuse to even there may be connection between two of them, for example white genetic madness.

    Because of 16 years old obese lesbian Antifa scream that all of us are equal and Great Thinkers like Pat Buchanan and Jared Taylor obey.

    Have you not noticed that in the white countries where is no Great Thinking has no Antifa ?

    • This really isn’t that easy to deal with, Charlottsville would be a good example, the alt right shows up, they get attacked, defend themselves, and the alto right is the one blamed by authorities. When people running things are this unstable, what’s the answer? Who among us wants to go to prison, especially if nothing gets changed at all.

      • Copper- We can’t talk of Revolution, or Restoration. HW won’t let us… or haven’t you read the sidebar? HW WANTS to keep us in this state of Societal GloboHomoSchlomo Purgatory.
        No violence! Tsk, tsk, tsk

  3. I have been reading quite extensively on the subject and without a doubt you begin to see the major influence of global financiers around the time of WWI with the entrance of the U.S. into the conflict. I found a great article from a Jewish woman on Ginsburg which I will include below which mentions how the Balfour decleration and extension of the war was almost exclusively the work of Wilson and his financiers. We do not really begin to see the effects of it until post WWII in terms of the manic anti-racism egalitarian mindset.

    The article also touches on the hypocrisy of the Jewish progressives as the take a hardline stand on everything and anything far Left Progressive. Except Israel. I stumbled upon this totally as an accident when searching something else, but am glad I did

    • By 1900 Japan was competing with Tsarist Russia for Far East territory in Manchuria including the warm water, ice free port of Port Arthur, leased to Russia from China in an arrangement similar to Hong Kong. The Japanese government decided upon a course of war against Imperial Russia after negotiations with Russia over these territories reached an impasse. The Japanese launched a ‘Pearl Harbor’ type surprise attack on the Russian Imperial Fleet in Port Arthur, Manchuria in 1904, commencing hostilities with Imperial Russia, destroying the Russian fleet and leading to the capture of Port Arthur after a siege. A peace treaty was later signed in Portsmouth, NH after the Japanese victory leaving Japan a new great power in the Far East.

      Before starting the war with Russia Japan signed a limited alliance with Great Britain in 1902 that would ensure British neutrality in a war against Russia. This meant that most likely France and Germany would also remain neutral in a war with Russia. Japan ended the treaty with Great Britain after the Russo-Japanese war because the treaty had served its purpose.

      Japan also needed to secure large loans before commencing war because all the bankers in Europe believed Japan would suffer defeat and be unable to pay back even their existing loans. Without loans Japan would have to pay with hard currency for materials and their savings would be quickly depleted. Japan’s economy, then as now imported every kind of raw material and many manufactured items also. Without imports of coal, oil, iron ore, tin copper etc. their economy and war effort would collapse.

      After Japan was refused loans by bankers in London a group of Jewish bankers organized a loan syndicate to loan the money needed by Japan to fight Imperial Russia. Anti-Russian animus was the motivation for the loans, a deep seated hatred for all things Russian permeated their thinking. Without these loans it’s unlikely Japan would have risked war against Russia.

      The effect of the Russian defeat was an unstable Russia, diminution of the respect for the Tsar and the monarchy and the rise of Japan as a Pacific power. This defeat greatly contributed to the outbreak of WWI by leading to a belief in Germany that Russia could be quickly defeated in another war. This also led the Russian government to rapidly modernize its military and economy, a process not complete by the start of WWI but part of the impetus for Germany’s decision to go to war in 1914, German fear of a rapidly modernizing Russia.

      Without those loans WWI and the attendant horrors that followed might have been avoided.

      • Precisely. The RI article on Grigori Rasputin from four years ago, talks about all of this, as do some of the comments.

        If Orthodox Russia had been let alone, instead of brought into WWI, if the English Monarchy would have at least been civil to his first cousin, ‘Nicholas’ and the West had not allowed Lenin back into Russia, the entire last hundred years would have been demonstrably different- Hitler might not even have arisen! But always, first and foremost, it was the Jews and their HATRED for Christianity, that led to the massive butchery of the last century. Every. Single. Time.

        • The execution of Czar Nicholas is one of the subjects that I have a difficult time getting through based solely on the level of depravity with the way that family was treated. You need to be a special kind of evil coward to take part in a plan which involves wiping a whole family, including their dogs and loyal servants, off the face of the Earth. They didnt even have the decency to be straight with them but instead slyly smiled to their face with murder in their hearts. Pure evil

  4. By the way, great Tweets lately Brad. The Trump Platinum Plan, because with his tacky casino sensibilities everything needs to be bathed in platinum gold and diamonds, is a disgrace. But his white base is eating it up. Reading that Charlie Kirk Tweet about Trump being the first president to go after the clan, recognize Juneteenth, and promise half a trillion dollars towards black business. Then the responses.

    It made me doubt these are real people. White people thrilled that blacks are going to get more money and more holidays while Crowder thanks “black policemen”. These people are either dimbulbs or pandering slime. I don’t care which but I want nothing to do with either. Disgusting

  5. “Modern America Began in the 1920s” …

    Yes, with the rise of consumerism, Madison Avenue Hype, technological appliances, instantaneous mass communication means (radio) and Globalism, the enemies of God, this country, and, indeed, all Western Christendom, had the wherewithal to seize power by every means.

    Too, there was the meteoric rise of the athletic/idol, none more prominent than the charming, yet gluttonous and degenerate George Hermann Ruth, known as’ The Babe’.

    And, yes, at this time New York made it’s first publick grab for power, this by fielding a candidate for president by the name of Al Smith, his failure soon made good on by the man who claimed to have taken everything from him – New York governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    The 1920s was also the first generation to feature millions of woman boldly proclaiming their independence from the patriarchy, this by frequenting speak-easies, smoking in public, bobbing their hair to follow the Weimarish bisexual Louise Brooks, dancing the lascivious Charleston, and swelling the back alleys for abortion.

    Who old enough to recall, can fail to remember the cigarette brand, Virginia Slims marketing campaign in the late 1960s and early 1970s?; those ads which always featured a svelte delectable Anglo woman with a cigarette between her fingers, the slogan below reading, ‘You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.’

    And so it was that God was gradually elbowed out from centre-stage in the 1920s, and, because He loves us so, He has allowed us to continue that for the last century.

    He gave us the right to ruin ourselves, and that we, our fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and now our children and grandchildren have seemed all fired hellbent to do.

  6. Are you understanding Bourne correctly? He argued in “Trans-National America” that the U.S. cannot force all immigrants to assimilate to “English” culture, as he put it. The popular “melting pot” idea was wrong. The diverse natures of the various non-English peoples cannot be erased, and they will always remain connected to their “spiritual countries,” However he was wrong in thinking that this inerasable, inescapable diversity can somehow be beneficial for the original (English settler) people.

    I had never paid attention to Bourne except to learn that he was a strong anti-war figure, and of course I liked that.

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