How has Ginsberg's vision of America proven accurate in the poem "America", and how has it not?

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Ginsberg's poem "America" is meant to be funny as well as serious, and it can be a good idea listen to Ginsberg reading it aloud. The audience often responds with laughter.

Much of the trouble we might have with the poem is that it was written sixty years...

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Ginsberg's poem "America" is meant to be funny as well as serious, and it can be a good idea listen to Ginsberg reading it aloud. The audience often responds with laughter.

Much of the trouble we might have with the poem is that it was written sixty years ago, and many of the references (allusions) Ginsberg makes are no longer part of our context. He is writing fewer than twenty years after the 1930s, a time when, due to the Great Depression, many Americans turned to communism, and rivalries between groups such as Wobblies (a different, earlier form of socialism) and Trotskyites, followers of the ideology of the Russian communist leader Trotsky, who was exiled and assassinated, were important. The names Ginsberg mentions would be as familiar to his listeners as names like Edward Snowden and Putin are today. Magazines such as Time represent middle-class American values.

That being said, in a big picture way, things are largely the same as they were in 1956. Ginsberg is making fun of getting his news from a mainstream publication like Time magazine. Today, we likewise often make fun of getting news from social media, twitter feeds, or Fox. Further, in the 1950s, Ginsberg complains, our country was obsessed with the military and waging war: today, we still wage wars in other parts of the world and are dedicated to having a large military so we can maintain our global power.

Ginsberg writes:

Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back.

Writer Willian Burroughs does come back, and dies later in this country, so that prediction was wrong.

Of course, unlike the 1950s, we are no longer involved with a Cold War with the Soviets, and communism has largely fallen off the radar as a viable ideology.

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Allen Ginsberg's poem "America" is filled with more self-irony than are many of his other poems, including "A Supermarket in California," making this poem a challenge to interpret. When is the speaker in the poem being serious? When not? And how can we know?

Composed in 1956, the poem expresses many of the concerns of the Red Scare. That period has passed, but some of the other concerns in the poem may still be relevant, such as the lines:

Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?

or

America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.

We are perhaps more celebrity-obsessed than every before, and -- while the "enemy" has changed, from the Russians and Chinese to Mexican drug lords and Muslim extremists -- we still seem to be caught in conflicts with a powerful enemy.

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