American History Series: Intellectual Change In The 1930s

The ideas which have dominated the post-World War II liberal consensus triumphed in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The American victory in World War II was the capstone on their dominance.

The following excerpt comes from the chapter “The Intellectuals Abandon the Caste Establishment” in E. Digby Baltzell’s book The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy & Caste in America

Looking Backward soon became the most popular American book since Uncle Tom’s Cabin. By 1890, it was still selling at the rate of ten thousand copies a week and was being translated into many languages. Bellamy’s Boston friends founded a magazine, the Nationalist, to propagate his ideas, and Nationalist clubs spread throughout the nation and abroad. Looking Backward became the bible of Progressives: Thorstein Veblen read it aloud to his wife, and Henry Demarest Lloyd was convinced that “we must now achieve the Social Utopias of Christ, Thomas More, Mazzini, Bellamy and Howells … ”

In many ways, of course, Bellamy popularized in fictional form the basic assumptions and ideals of the New Social Science which Beard, Dewey, Veblen and other serious scholars were developing at the same time. As an indication that these ideas had reached the status of secure orthodoxies, Looking Backward had a great revival in the early thirties and new Bellamy societies sprang up all over the land. Heywood Broun wrote a “Back to Bellamy” column. And, as another index of the Bellamy influence, it is interesting that an admirer and biographer of Bellamy was Arthur E. Morgan, idealistic engineer, leader in the Unitarian Church and the progressive-education movement, president of Antioch College, and chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the New Nationalism phase.

But the importance attributed to Das Kapital and The Golden Bough was even more indicative of the dominant place now held by the social sciences in the intellectual climate of opinion of the thirties. Both books laid great stress on environment, rather than race or heredity, as the independent variable in the formation of personality, the creation of religions and value systems, and in determining the direction of social change. Indeed, the environmental concepts of culture (anthropology), class (sociology) and ideology (sociology) were central to the liberal Weltanschauung of the 1930s. Just as the Freudian theory of ideas had shown that truths were largely rationalizations, rooted in the emotional life of the individual thinker, so the findings of social science now confirmed that truths were merely ideologies projecting or reflecting the cultural conditioning of classes of intellectuals.

These views of truth, of course, were thoroughly grounded in the scientific findings of experimental psychology. Thus the concept of the conditional reflex was discovered before the First War when a brilliant and aristocratic Russian of the old regime, I.P. Pavlov, showed that dogs do not associate by rational thought or according to any inborn instincts, but largely as a result of their conditioning. At the same time, in this country, a rural South Carolinian, John B. Watson, who mistrusted philosophic introspection and the existence of any such thing as an inner conscience, founded Behaviorism which, by the end of the twenties, was not only the most fashionable school of psychology in this country but also became the central theory of human nature upon which the great industry of advertising was being built. It was no wonder that Pavlov was threated with great deference and respect by the Bolshevik revolutionists, and that Watson eventually left John Hopkins to become a vice president of one of the nations most successful advertising agencies. Faith in conditioning became the basis of social control in the new manipulative society, composed of citizen comrades in the U.S.S.R. and citizen consumers in the U.S.A.

The central ideas of the New Social Science, largely developed before the First World War (see Chapter VII), finally came into their own as the dominant view of man and society, in the course of the thirties. The decade witnessed the complete triumph of naturalistic relativism over transcendental absolutism; theology was replaced by anthropology; and the universalism of the inner consciences of men gave way before the particularistic conditioning of the external environment. The popularity of Marxian socialism on the Left was quite understandable because it was, after all, only an extreme example of a naturalistic environmentalism which most educated men in the West adhered to anyway. For they now shared John Dewey’s faith in the plasticity of human nature and the possibility of progress if only the environment could be reformed or transformed through social engineering in order to allow the natural goodness of human nature to express itself fully, unfettered by the harmful conditioning of a competitive bourgeois culture.

As the founder of modern anthropology, E.B. Tylor, and Thorstein Veblen had predicted back in the nineteenth century, the idea of culture, now reinforced by scientific psychologies, was indeed a revolutionary concept. And it is important to see that the New Deal’s efforts to change the economic and cultural environment, largely through legislating greater equality of conditions between classes of men, were a reflection of the whole intellectual climate of opinion at the time. In almost every area of intellectual endeavor – in the theories of crime, in law, in religion, and in the arts – there was general agreement as to the sickness of the bourgeois society and the need for environmental reform. …


  1. “The modern liberal worldview triumphed over its opposition in the 1930s”

    in the early 1920s, Former New York governor Al Smith took a lot of socialist ideas and implemented them into the policy of his state. The ideas of ‘spreading the wealth’, as Al Smith liked to say, had a huge positive on the lives of many, and, thus, he became wildly popular.

    Not long after Huey Long would bring Al Smith’s ideas to Louisiana, and, thus, he would become the most popular governor in it’s history.

    Opposed to these ideas was the Republican Party, both in Louisiana and in the nation, as a whole. So, when Al Smith ran for president in 1928 against Herbert Hoover, the GOP successfully assassinated Smith’s character and Hoover won.

    4 years later, in the middle of a national depression, the national judgement was that the Republican Party idea of laissez-faire economics was bad – the Democrat idea of tinkering with the economy, on behalf of the Working Man, worth a try.

    Thus, the man who had succeeded Al Smith in New York as governor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ran against President Hoover and defeated him.

    FDR took Smith’s ideas and sold them as ‘The New Deal.’ FDR immediately took the banks in hand and began, over the furious opposition of the Republicans, to pass programsand regulate banks, that would have enormous benefits for umpteen zillion Americans. and smalltowns thrived like they never had before.

    Hence, it’s no wonder that those who advocated these things, ‘The Liberals’ would win any argument.

    Liberalism would hold sway over American politics in the 20th century, because it had proven itself of great benefit to so many lives..

    You do not have to agree with Liberalism or like it, but, the reality is that, when it came to economic ideas in the 20th century, it was much much more in the right than the laissez-faire ridiculousness advocated the Republican Party.

    Of course, nowadays The Democrat Party is no longer Liberal, nor are most of the ‘Liberals’, for that matter, so, in effect, ‘Liberalism’ has died in America.

    Liberalism, of the Huey Long/FDR/Al Smith type, was what glued this country together.

    Now that it is gone, and the Middle Class deeply ailing, the country is falling apart, and that is before we get to other matters, such as the unconstitutional behavior of the Federal Government or White Replacement, or the Globalist destruction of our manufacturing, there is this central issue.

    Liberal economics in the 20th century, in the eyes of many, represented justice, and, apart from the pension programs very little of that is left…

    • Hello Ivan;

      How right you are. JFK was the last of the old style “liberal” Democrat presidents, and he lowered the top individual tax rate from 91 % to 65 % to revive the economy and put more money in people’s pockets. The loathsome Republicans opposed his proposals for space exploration because of the cost, willfully blind to doing something great for the country.

      After JFK the Democrats abandoned Whites except of course for wealthy, crazy communist Whites. LBJ helped wreck Dixie with his maniacal push for so-called “Civil Rights (sic)” legislation and the 1965 immigration “reform” act. The Democrats have been the Bolsheviks of America since the 1930’s under FDR but after JFK’s assassination they went balls out, no turning back.

      • @12AX7…

        Thank you, for your kind and, as always, thoughtful reply.

        As to you history of the dissolution of the Democrat leadership, it is, unfortunately, as good one.

        That said, I really feel that you must consider Bill Clinton, for he and Madame Secretary brought a corruption and machiavellian machination to my once party, from which it has never recovered.

        Nothing better demonstrates this than how Senator Sanders was clobbering her in 2016, and yet,somehow his votes kept getting diminished. Then, when Sanders clobbered Biden, and the rest of the field, in Iowa in 2020, they simply refused to count the votes.

        I still have yet to hear a public announcement regarding the results of that caucus.

        What I did hear was President Obama stating that Sanders’s victory run could not be allowed to stand.

        And, what do you know? : a few months later, it was Biden who was ‘winning the primary’, in a manner which he would beat President Trump, in November of that year.

        Somehow, Candidate Biden, who hardly ever left his garage in 2020, would be recorded as having scored a record 81 million votes!

        The Democrats are lucky I am not governor of my state, for that party would be immediately thrown out of it.

        All the best to you and yours, up yonder!

    • ” course, nowadays The Democrat Party is no longer Liberal, nor are most of the ‘Liberals’”

      So true.
      Democrats use to be the party for workers and farmers, then it was hijacked in the 60s by kooks.

      • @Arrian…

        Yes, kooks and kookery started coming into the Democrat Party way back when.

        Yet, I wish the only disparagement that could be applied to them were ‘kooks’.

        When I was a child, the Democrat Party was already divided in 2 halves, Southerners who liked the New Deal referred to as ‘Dixiecrats’,

        Liberalism is dead in this country, and it is The Left, NOT The Right, who killed it.

        Thank you for your comment!

    • Huey Long did great things for the people. While I’m not a present liberal, I’m very pro old time Dixiecrat type Democrate. Make nme king for a day and I would pass a law that any corporation importing stuff and not making it in the USA would not be able to make over 20 times their lowest paid worker. Minimum wage basically. I would dump the FED and confiscate all their assets. Since the FED has given sweetheart deals to take over all the businesses I would call in all their loans and confiscate most all the corporations and fire all the crooked CEO’s. I would deport anyone who immigrated from 1965 that took any government benefits. I would not let anyone vote if the immigrated, citizen or not. I would

      • @Sam J…

        Yep, you sound a lot like me – a Dixiecrat.

        Needless to say, I agree with all your points.

        In fact, if I were governor of a Southern state, the following would happen lickety splt ..

        #1. No one could vote in a state election who could not prove that they had spent at least ten years of their childhood in The South, or, failing that, that they had lived at least 30 years in The South, as an adult.

        #2. All social media accounts would be combed and all Leftist teachers and professors would be pensioned.

        #3. No gay marriage, no LGBT stuff, of any kind, but, by the same token, no tolerance of violence, bullying, and intimidation against people, for any reason, whatsoever.

        #4. No porn access to those under 21.

        #5. No penalties for drug users – the death penalty for drug dealers.

        #6. No selling in my state if you do not manufacture in a Southern States; no corporate contributions to elections or corporate opinions allows on my state’s culture.

        #7. No more immigrants allowed, until my state’s White population returned to it’s pre 1950 percentage.

        #8. No forced integration and no marriages with race-mixing.

        #9. All pharmaceutical drugs would be bought by the state, the savings passed along to all citizens.

        #10. Substantive financial incentives for couples to marry – grave penalties for parents who run out on children.

        #11. No abortion, exception in the case of the life of the mother being threatened – free contraception to all who would apply.

        #12. Christian prayer back in school, and in all public places

        #13. All monuments returned to the places.

        #14. The disallowance of all corporations, like Google, to invade the privacy of my citizens.

        #15. The raising of a 1,000,000 man volunteer militia, paramilitary training available to all boys over age 8.

        #16. All transgender procedures illegalized, for any age, all transgenders allowed to compete only in women’s sports, – IF they were born women. No male cross-dressers in female sports.

        #17.The Confederate flag flown at all public buildings, under our state flag.

        #18. Proper funding of minority schools, including a proper musical, art, and farm education for all – so that healthy spirits arise. In too many Southern States Black kids are left to rot – not just by their naer-do-well daddies, but, by a collusion of officials trying to deprive them of an education.

        #19. No cell-phones ever allowed in schools.

        #20. Auto mishaps involving cell-phones automatic prison term.

        #21. No affirmative action or any racial quota system for job or school applications.

        #22. A sales tax and monthly lotteries held to pay for affordable and effective medical care for all.

        23. Substantive tax incentives to those who take care of their elderly kin at home.

        #24. A committment to clean drinking water, and sustainable organic farming practices. Dangerous sprays, like Round-up, would be immediately illegal.

        #25. No MRNA vaccines, and no compulsory childhood vaccines, of any type for anyone.

  2. Looking Backward was like Profiles In Courage 20 years later, a book that sold millions that no one except a few freaks read. Millonaires purchased most of the copies in bulk. The same happened with Nixon’s books after he scurried away. Richies purchased millions of them. They were passing them out at colleges, anywhere, just to be tossed in the round file.

    In the 30’s ZOG waged a literal war on Appalachia. All through Appalachia they sent in military to drive families off the land. A huge number of families fought back, with no chance of winning. Thus, the national park and forest system was greatly expanded, by destroying a civilization.


  3. In the Ukraine, I’d bet, we’ll see the end of this longstanding delusion, which is what it seems to me to have been. It’s America’s Greatest Hits, political classic rock, or let us say New Deal theater, with Joe Biden in the role of FDR, Putin as Hitler, and Zelensky as—what? De Gaulle, I guess?

    We’ll find out whether de-Aryanized America retains enough punch to prevail once more, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a bit of panic is forming, at the edge of liberals’ consciousness.

    PS Update from de-Aryanized America, Philadelphia sector …
    (” Motorist in [SEPTA] trolley collision was an off-duty SEPTA worker and allegedly driving under the influence, police say”—2023 August 7)

  4. ” … and chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the New Nationalism phase.”

    Probably I’ve said some of this here, at Occidental Dissent, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it pointed out that the Tennessee Valley Authority, along with the Grand Coulee Dam, out in the northwest, seem to have been part of America’s move to a war footing, almost immediately upon Franklin Roosevelt’s assuming the presidency. Yes, the TVA was probably sold as “rural electrification” or some such thing, that the South might be brought solidly into the New Deal coalition; and I guess the Grand Coulee Dam was sold as—well, whatever it might have been sold as. Each of them seems to me really to have been intended for production of matériel, for war against Germany.

    So much gunpowder had whites used in killing each other before and during the first parts of World War I that Earth was running out of natural nitrates for its manufacture. Just as whites were in danger of no longer being able to destroy each other in great numbers, an electricity-intensive process for artificial production of nitrates was developed. The dam that was, in effect, the origin of the TVA was built during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, for exploitation of that process. A New Dealer in Congress made sure it wasn’t turned over to Henry Ford, for commercial purposes, after the war.

    Similarly, I’d guess, the Grand Coulee Dam was intended, from its conception, for production of aluminum, for aircraft and other military goods. Both it and the TVA ended up producing electricity for a process that hadn’t been imagined when they were built. I mean production of fissile material, for the Manhattan Project.

    Just look at the dates, which I’ve never seen anyone point out: FDR inaugurated March 4, 1933. Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany, January 30, 1933. The two were squaring off immediately. Tennessee Valley Authority founded, May 18, 1933. Construction of Grand Coulee Dam begins, July 16, 1933.

    This is all amateur history on my part, so if I have anything wrong there, someone here, at Occidental Dissent, will let me know.

    • Interesting observation Mr. Bonaccorsi, I don’t know if I have read that before. The process to produce nitrates directly from the atmosphere (79 % nitrogen) is called the Haber-Bosch process which was developed right before WWI. The process was economically uncompetitive with mining natural deposits of nitrates found mostly in S. America at that time.

      With the outbreak of war Germany was cut off from nitrate imports and faced a critical shortage that reduced both explosives and fertilizer production. This was exactly what the British intended with their naval blockade of Germany. The Haber-Bosch process was immediately put to use on an industrial scale to keep Germany supplied with both explosives and fertilizer. The process was energy intensive, consuming vast quantities of coal but for Imperial Germany, cost was of secondary concern.

    • John Bonaccorsi, all good points.

      Not to mention laying the keels on mammoth battleships in mid 30s at major US yards.

      Germany was building the world’s largest resorts for its workers and cruise ships.

  5. If only we could get back to Reaganomics and the traditional family values of the 1980s, when blood & soil/throne & altar reigned supreme, as opposed to the weak, woke consumerist values of today.
    Perhaps Trump, or DeSantis can revive the lost but not forgotten golden age of morally and racially pure and pristine 1980s America, you know the good ol’ days when men only dressed up like prostitutes on the weekend to see their favorite hair metal band, not every damn day like they do now.

  6. Comrade commissar FDR of the CPUSA (D) was an imperial executive right up there with Ape Lincoln and Barry Soetoro in the Fundamental Transformation department.
    This just in from RF/CCP naval flotilla-WTF you gonna do about it Yankee.

  7. Ukrainian marked aircraft are taking off from Polish airfields with Stormshadow missiles, briefly touching down in Ukraine airfields before firing missiles at the Russians in Crimea. This use of neutral fields is going to be the legal basis for attacking Poland.

  8. Why then did massive unemployment and poverty continue throughout FDR’s time in office until he got us into WW2 on behalf of Jewish interests and against 90 percent of the public.Only massive debt and sacrifice for 4 years by millions of Americans supposedly ended the Depression.The Depression which was initiated by Jewish bankers to steal wealth and cause suffering.Also liberal Woodrow Wilson got the U.S. into WW1 at the behest of his Jewish masters once again against the wishes of 90 plus percent of the public.Liberal Wilson gave us the Jewish Fed and the supposed temporary income tax which became permanent.What Huey Long offered was quite different I believe and that’s why he was assassinated by a Jewish hitman.The Republicans were no better except on immigration.Of both parties only the Southern Democrats were even close to being rational.

    • “Depression which was initiated by Jewish bankers to steal wealth and cause suffering”

      (((Eugene meyer)), head of the federal reserve cut the money supply 20% per year for 3 straight years, undoing all the work of the regional governors of the fed who were working feverishly to inject money into the system……….
      Only takes one jwz !

      Jwz wanted to create so much impoverished misery that America would have a communist revolution.

      Strange, how a guy in Grermany brought his country out of the deepest depression in less than 3 years without having a war……really strange.

  9. Thank you Arrian.And I agree,Adolf Hitler was fantastic and perhaps the greatest man in history.I shall forever look to him as my guide.As we get farther from the Garden of Eden and perfect the White man we see a massive degrading of the race and the spirit.I believe this was meant to be in the sense that Satan wants to destroy what God created and cares about.God knew it would happen and result in a one world mongrel Jewish entity.Satan guides the Jews and all the anti-White measures they initiate are for his goal.The goal is to destroy what God made.So when you see mixed race couples or people treating dogs as children or a culture promoting the music and words of the cursed blacks then do not be confused,it is all to destroy the order and way God created for us.Resist people and call upon God and Jesus as your Master and protector and only true friends.Once again thank you Arrian,I always enjoy and agree with your comments.

  10. The Yankee “intellectuals” who would have felt very flattered to correspond with Marx and who would have been Communist sympathizers were never interested in caste as THEY NEVER HAD ANY. While I don’t dismiss the high level of education of people like upper-class Bostonians, I do dismiss the notion of America as a special “middle class nation.” They were certainly NOT superior to the people of other nations. This nation was founded on indentured servitude, that’s why it’s “The Land of the Free.”

    There isn’t nearly so much distinction between the generation that would write something like “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the fellow travelers of the Roosevelt administration. I suppose they switched parties, and the large Catholic and Protestant populations made it difficult to develop Anti-Christianism in America as rapidly as they would have liked. After all, they had to develop Anti-Germanism to a fever pitch, it’s difficult to carry on all the hate campaigns they would like to carry on at once.

    Behaviorism, Freudianism, Deweyism, these were not signs of progress. The outcome of Deweyism is that illiterate Lyndon Baines Johnson gets a degree from a teacher’s college in addition to having inherited his great sympathy for the ADL. The great technological strides of the USA were in large part accomplished by immigrants from Europe. Austria Hungary, Germany, Italy, etc.

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