Can someone please summarize chapter 15 for me.

1 Answer

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Chapter 15 takes a materialist point of view in analyzing the 1920s.  Usually, the time period is wrapped in the social element of the flappers, the dances, and speakeasies.  Zinn takes the point of view that the social isolationism that was facilitated at the end of World War I enabled individuals to not pay attention to the minimalist approach government took towards capitalism.  It also allowed individuals to be lulled into a false sense of security in not scrutinizing business practices, moving away from regulatory measures, and silencing the workers' movements such as the I.W.W. that participated in strikes to bring attention to these realities.  Zinn argues that while there was such a dwelling on social reality, those in the position of power were able to use this ignorance to advance political and economic affairs that emboldened the business community.  This materialized in a backlash against workers and ethnic minorities, something that Zinn argues is essential in understanding the rise of the Klan and other reactionary elements in American society.  Zinn argues that the Great Depression brought out more social activism such as the Bonus Army and the establishment of "Hoovervilles" as a way to bring back the social and political activism that raised the affairs of unfair and crony capitalism to public interest.  This calls out for Roosevelt's New Deal legislation, elements that helped to recover, reform, and provide relief to those who ended up suffering under the heels of capitalist practices in the 1920s.