The researcher of this essay aims to analyze ‘The Modern Temper’ by Lynn Dumenil. Dumenil argues that it should be understood as only partially true for not every citizen earned an equal share of cultural and economic opportunities…
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This research will begin with the statement that in exploring the cultural and socio-political content of the period which has been widely referred to as the ‘roaring twenties’, Lynn Dumenil brings her analytical insights on how the American culture and society in the 1920s was formed upon revolutionary grounds. The present research has identified that by ‘modern temper’, she attributes the prevailing characteristic or temper of the era to the state of transforming the repressive Victorian age. The author has rightly presented that the phrase ‘modern temper’ tends to pertain to the 1920s settings and pervasive styles which comprised in the type of modernity developing between the end of World War I and the severe regression of stock market. This paper illustrates that this stage of history is claimed by the author to have established “the central motifs that have shaped the modern American temper.” While she acknowledges how important the role is of World War I being a tool or process of making the ‘roaring twenties’ happen, Dumenil does not believe in the common knowledge which infers that World War I is hugely responsible for such an outcome on which various aspects of change in American society, politics, economy, and culture are embedded. To her, it seems that the main source points to the major events of the industrial revolution as well as the consequences of a rapidly industrialized culture within a capitalist society. This is to say that World War I serves only to polish the results in the overall image of progressive economy or the idea of prosperity which caused population to shift from rural regions to urban locations believed to possess centers of commerce and adequate employment to support good living standards.
Among a number of trends which are quite vivid in her investigation of the 1920s, the expanding bureaucratic form of government is prominent yet somewhat notorious for yielding to excessive power which had stirred general distrust across the nation. By noting how a U.S. representative kept an argument about daylight-savings time in a wartime program, Dumenil demonstrates how federal laws are exercised even in handling petty matters of politics, sarcastically reacting “we might soon have laws passed attempting to regulate the volume of air a man should breathe, suspend the laws of gravity, or change the colors of the rainbow.” Alongside the increasing state of bureaucracy emerged urban liberalism and pluralism in America’s heterogeneous society. Coupled with a mass-consumer culture, this led to unequal distribution of wealth so that social movements which influenced different religious, ethnic, and cultural groups were put up in protest of living under impoverished conditions.
Violent labor disputes were similarly fanned by relative advocates of socialist and communist ideals at the height of brief yet sharp recession of the American economy, resulting to high prices and scarce jobs. As a further consequence, bomb threats forwarded to the state alarmed majority of the Americans who readily got anxious that something equivalent to Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution is bound to erupt in the country. The government and businesses at the time appeared to create a joint action in suppressing both immigrant activists and labor radicals who initiated such event which was registered in history as the ‘Red Scare’. For the first time in the 1920s, according to Dumenil, lobbyists turned out to be politically persuasive while certain commercial establishments as movie studios had been able to profit out of schemes that enabled selling of commodities through national chains which generated the popular culture of mass market.
Women of the ‘roaring twenties’ managed to penetrate the workplace and encountered prosperity for themselves. Most probably this is the reason why most of them were observed to demand greater autonomy in identifying their needs in terms of economic, social, political, and even sexual aspects of life. Dumenil points out, however, that “the new women’s liberation [was the domain of] white, relatively affluent women,
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