W3.03 Total Politics
» Welcome back. Make yourself comfortable. Let's see how the politics of extremism played out in the middle of the 1930s. It's mass politics. The stakes are very high. In these new economies, systematic controls are everywhere. We got a harbinger of that when we looked at the way economies were mobilized during the First World War. And for a lot of these countries the First World War gave them a tool kit of ideas. As in the 1930s, they converted their economies to systematic command management of different kinds. There's also new communications. Those old wireless sets where people were listening to their headphones, now everybody's sitting around the radio and you can broadcast political messages, news messages to tens of millions of people instantaneously. Or you can use newsreels that give you the ability to actually show people visual images. I know this seems commonplace to us today. In the 1930s, though, every week, people are going into the movie theaters, sitting down and watching films like this, which is updating them on what we would now call the Spanish Civil War breaking out in the middle of the 1930s in Spain. [MUSIC] » And the war goes on. [MUSIC] Even the British Consulate in this Spanish city feels the effect of shell fire. City after city get the hard effect of this civil strike. Building after building is torn and destroyed. Streets, where once peaceful Spaniards roam, now harbor collapsed structures. Planes soar high overhead, bombing ever bombing. » In some of these countries, the state is being used in entirely new ways. In Germany, for example, by 1935, the state is actually formally identifying people with racial categories. Jews are being distinctively identified as Jews. They're forced to wear badges. They're prohibited from certain areas of employment. The state is getting into defining even down to who is a Jew based on your parentage and so on, all of this handled through administrative records. The state is even getting into the business of looking at people who might be insane or whom the state judges genetically unfit and considering whether those people should perhaps be put to death. It's still on a relatively low scale in a place like Nazi Germany, but they're playing with ideas, novel ideas about how to use state power. Even in the more progressive, we might think, United States of America, the state is playing with these fashionable ideas about genetics and is approving the sterilization of people who are being judged mentally unfit. Another thing that's happening in these extreme movements is notice how in some of them the identities are getting much larger than just national identities. In the age of nationalism we had national empires: British Empire, French Empire. The Soviet Union is a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In other words, a union of workers' republics. It is in a way an empire of workers' democracies. The identity element is what we all have in common is solidarity as members of the proletariat, of the working class. That's a transnational identity on which you can build transnational states of immense size. Hitler is also identifying a racial identity, not just German but Aryan, which can extend to all people who share this racial identity anywhere in Europe. With the politics of extremism, the menu of choice changes too. Let's revisit again our little schematic diagram for the different families of political ideas that have been engaging in this great struggle about how to organize modern industrial societies, really ever since the 1880s, 1890s. So remember we started, say at around 1900, with this family of ideas, in which this group of parties were the centrists at the top. And then this morphed, National Tradition monarchist parties are now replaced by Fascist parties. Revolutionary Socialists solidify into a international Communist movement. But at the end of the 1920s, I crudely depict these different families of ideas as roughly comparable to each other in influence. In the mid-1930s, with the politics of extremism, that's changed. It's changed in a couple of ways. One: notice that the folks on the far wings, the Fascists, the Communists, much larger and more influential. I've tried to represent that schematically in this way. The Democratic Socialists, Liberals, National Conservatives, relatively smaller. Let's linger a bit over this new political phenomenon, this new ideology: Social Democracy, the Social Democrats. Tributaries into this movement, which I've shown here in purple, come from different sources. There's an ingredient in here from the Democratic Socialists. It's about empowering workers and strengthening unions, and recognizing some of the class distinctions in society, using the power of government and unions to offset the power of big business. But there's also some elements of Liberalism: individual rights, the government protection of individual rights is flowing into that, as well as the remaining pure Liberal party. There's a tributary here from the National Conservatives because you're using the central government, the federal government to actively modernize the country with powerful new federal innovations. So, for example, in the United States, when Roosevelt is building his New Deal Coalition, he's attracting democratic leftists in the big cities of the United States, people who would have identified themselves as either Democratic Socialists or an American version of Liberalism. But Roosevelt is also drawing support from some of the people who'd identified themselves as members of the Republican Party, but of the progressive wing of the Republican Party, who were also attracted to his vision of an energetic rebuilding of American power in the federal government at home in domestic affairs. Similar phenomenon, too, in a country like Sweden, which was pioneering these ideas in Europe in the 1930s, also with some of these same strains running into it. You see the emerging alliance here? An alliance between the people who want government to do good, sometimes for individual rights, but also powerful unions and powerful big business. With the government, big business, big unions, providing big, combined, central control to build up and protect the country during the years of Depression. That's part of what's going on in Social Democracy. If you believe in a little government, in less government power and more individual liberty in the old-fashioned 19th century sense, you're still going to align yourself more with pure Liberal parties such as you find in some states in Europe. Now, it's worth just kind of pausing and reflecting about the culture of these mass politics, because what they all have in common is increasingly the sense of society is one big industry. One big factory in a way in which everybody is playing their part in generating national power. Man becomes just one more essential part of a very powerful machine. And the supreme metaphor of the era was the metaphor of steel. Steel as a measure of national power, steel as a measure of personal power. [LAUGH] You can see it humorously over here in the first issue of the comic strip featuring a character called Superman. June 1938 is Action Comics No. 1. And who is Superman? Why, he is a Man of Steel. More seriously, perhaps, is this man of steel. Literally, the leader of the Soviet Union who had changed his name into the name Stalin. After all, the original name, Jugashvili, the Georgian name he was born with, might not have been too inspiring to the hundreds of millions of people in the working masses. Stalin, literally the man of steel, is the inspirational figure of the Soviet Socialist Republics. Now let's zoom in on some particular illustrations of how the politics of extremism is playing out. Moving to the United States in the big city of Chicago, there's a New Deal going on in the mid-1930s, led by the government of Franklin Roosevelt, epitomizing these new ideals of social democracy. In this image imagine: you still have big businesses, big corporations, steel industries, auto industries, but they're now matched by big unions. Like, for example, the Congress of Industrial Organizations that increasingly is pulling the workers together in a city like Chicago and matching corporate power. You're no longer relying, as you did in the 1920s, on benign big businesses to take care of their workers. They couldn't take care of their workers under the strains of the Great Depression. Instead the unions are mobilizing to look after themselves. There are some huge pitched battles, like, for instance, in the auto-industry between the new United Auto Workers and companies like Ford and Chrysler that were fighting the union. So, imagine big business, big unions mediated, umpired by a big government that is increasingly sympathetic to the unions, giving them the power to offset corporate power. That kind of triumvirate captures some of the sense of social democracy. In a city like Chicago, it's balanced, too, by a continuing heavy reliance on local government to manage social conflicts. Take this map of Chicago, for instance. This is from 1950. It's an ethnic map of Chicago. You see how all the different ethnic communities are broken up into their neighborhoods. Each of them part of a local ward. Each of them represented in their way in a city government. Genially presided over by the big city mayor. That's one American vision of how to reconcile differences in these new stronger states. If we spin the globe and go to China, say to Shanghai, we'll see that the Republic of China is sponsoring what it called a New Life movement. Mass organization. Somewhere in between a national conservative movement and a fascist movement really, drawing a lot of inspiration from communist examples, but elevating traditional Chinese Confucian ideals as an important part of their philosophical mix. The Republic of China is still at war with its communist enemies. That war that I talked about, getting started in 1927, centered in Shanghai. If you look at this map, by the mid-1930s the Chinese Communists had concentrated in a series of these different base areas called Soviet areas around China. This map shows the victories of the Chinese Republic, the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek, as they're chasing the Communists out of their base areas, all of them eventually withdrawing by 1936 until they are all concentrated right up here in Yan-an. Now let's spin the globe again and zoom in on the enormous country of South America, Brazil. What's going on in Brazil? South America isn't immune from all of these ideological arguments taking place in Europe. They're very much picking them up. They too find appeal in national conservative, authoritarian rulers veering more and more towards some of the fascist ideals. For instance, in Brazil their republic is taken over by military Ruler: Getulio Vargas. Vargas is ruling in the name of the Republic. He's going to try to stabilize the Republic. Vargas is mindful of both socialist examples, the man standing up for the common people against the wealthy oligarchs, but he's also mindful of some of the fascist illustrations from Mussolini's Italy. This portrait from the Brazilian historical magazine Aventuras Historia nicely captures these mixed streams of influences on the Brazilian leader Vargas, who will maintain supreme power in Brazil through 1945. But in the middle of the 1930s, no country played a greater role as the theater of the politics of extremism, watched by the entire world, than Spain and the Spanish Civil War. So, if we zoom back to Barcelona, a city we visited several times before, what happened in Spain? After the military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, a new republic comes into being around 1931. That republic is more strongly influenced by the parties of the left. But Spanish politics is very polarized. The parties of the right don't give up. A Spanish general name Francisco Franco, serving with the Spanish forces in North Africa, leads a revolt against this new republic in 1936. Very quickly, the Nationalist armies fighting the republic control about half of Spain. This map shows you the battle lines. Here are the lines as of about early 1937, drawn here. See here's Barcelona, one of the absolute centers of the politics of the Republic. Indeed a British essayist, George Orwell, will come from England to volunteer to fight for the Republic. He's written a famous memoir of his experience called Homage to Catalonia. There's a lot in there about what Barcelona was like in 1937. Orwell himself will go to fight on this Eastern Front. Or another author, Ernest Hemingway, will come to visit Madrid. He'll write a novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, dramatically depicting fighting occurring here on the Central Front, with the Republic receiving strong assistance from Soviet advisers. Hemingway describes the Soviet role in ambivalent terms. Hemingway was deeply sympathetic to the Republic. Orwell describes his shock as the communist cadres in Barcelona purge their enemies on the left, including some of the anarchist parties to which Orwell himself had been most strongly drawn. He came to regard the communists as just another form of totalitarian dictatorship, the same kind of dictatorship he had come to Spain to fight. One way to give you a sense of how the world saw the stakes in the Spanish Civil War as much larger than Spain, would be to visit the exposition held in Paris in 1937. At that exposition, you would've seen, for example, this exhibit. Study the two women. What a contrast between the woman over here and the woman over here. What does the exhibit want to tell you about these two women? Let's zoom in and take a look. You see that more modern woman? She's engaged against women who are trapped by superstition and the misery of eternal slavery. She is the woman, capable of engaging and actively participating in the future. Here's another way of engaging the population in the struggle. This is the kind of poster you would have seen hanging in Barcelona. It celebrates the alliance between the Anarchist Militia, the FAI, and the Industrial and Agricultural Unions, also revolutionary socialists, over on the right. Ultimately, though, these groups will come into conflict with the Communists, who want to bring them under firm control. And those Communists were strongly supported by arms and advisers from the Soviet Union. International volunteers were organized into international brigades, which also came under increasingly firm control from the Communist International, receiving its orders in Moscow. On the other side, on the Nationalist side, they too had foreign allies: Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, sending thousands of troops and airmen to fight with the Nationalists, and the Nationalists win the Spanish Civil War. The Fascists, the Nazis, their Spanish allies win. They capture Barcelona, they end up reducing the Republic to this area here, and then they overrun it all in 1939. Take, for example, this painting by the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Dali, himself Spanish, profoundly empathized with the plight of his countrymen. It's interesting to contrast a painting like this and the way it's expressing the horror of war, with some of the paintings we looked at early in the course. You remember the sketches we showed you from Goya about the horrors of war during the French invasion of Spain in 1808, 1809? Here is the way now in the late 1930s that Dali is trying to express the plight of his country. Here is the way another Spanish artist, Joan Miro, is also trying to rally support for the Spanish cause. Perhaps most famously is this image. This is also displayed at that Paris Exposition in 1937. This is the work by Pablo Picasso: Guernica. Guernica was a city in Northern Spain that was bombed by German and Italian aircraft. Hundreds of people were killed. It was one of the first examples of terror bombing of cities from the sky, a sight that was to become all too familiar in the years to come. But it was still shocking in the 1930s. And Picasso was trying to use art to convey that sense of shock, disorder, and alarm. From the individual trapped in flames on the right, to the frenzy of the animals, to images like this one on the left of the mother holding her stricken child. Here, for example, is a way in which Picasso was trying to capture that image in an earlier preparatory sketch as he was preparing the painting. But the Spanish Civil War is really just a dress rehearsal showing where mass politics was going. These new empires were formulating much more ambitious plans for how they were going to reshape the world. It's those plans we're going to turn to next time.