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Some Surprises in 1950's Television

Many people have a negative stereotype of 1950's television: too conservative, sexist, etc. In watching a classic show from this era, "Wagon Train," several things have surprised me.

For instance, the writers' treatment of the military was different than I thought. After all, it was only a decade after "The Good War." Weren't all the "boys" heroes? Think of that iconic photograph from Life magazine of the sailor stepping into the leaning, tango-like position of the nurse. And 9 months later, the baby boom took off like a rocket.

So why was the television writing so disdainful of the military? The martinets, the mickey-mouse rules, the glory-hounds, the civilians who were on the losing side. Didn't that offend the "heroes" sitting in their living rooms?

Although it may seem like I am breaking the continuity of this post, the explanation of the above may be buried in a wonderful recent essay from Fred Reed, "A Most Sordid Profession."  
...the military keeps aloof from America. This too serves the purposes of the [Military Industrial] Complex, further preventing attention by the public to what is not its business. In the days of conscription there was a familiarity with the armed services. Young men from most social classes wore the uniform however ruefully and told of their experiences. Not now.
In contrast with today, "the boys" of World War II, watching those television shows in the 1950's, remembered their military days -- and were glad they were over! They were relieved to be in the suburban living room, acting like a normal human being, with their family surrounding them. They were probably in agreement with the television show writers in holding the military in disdain.

I believe this explains the surprising anti-military bias shown in 1950's television.


edlfrey said…
I think it explained the continuing anti-military bias against the Vietnam War. It was not surprising that the Vietnam vets returned to derision rather than a hero's welcome.

It does surprise me that more Vietnam vets are NOW proud to claim they served there, or during the 'period', than ever did in the 1980s and 1990s.
Vietnam was the next stage of the military-non-worship era. Perhaps the glorification of the military didn't really start until the Reagan era. And it took off like a rocket after 9-11. But I agree with Fred Reed: that a volunteer military has aided the construction of this myth, because of the separation of the average person from the disgusting nature of being in the military.
In talking about how Vietnam era soldiers have changed their tune over the years, you are bringing up another type of "separation", other than the one that Fred Reed and I were talking about. You are referring to Time as the mechanism of separation.
In other words, Separation, in its various forms, is a crucial part in the construction of an untrue mythology.
WWII and before boys were drafted, now, most boys have nothing better to do, no prospects, paid to go to war, kind of like a mercenary. War for profit. Ugh. Martin says it so much better than me. Long quote.

The reasoning behind the second amendment was to PREVENT war.

Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu, baron de La Brede et de (1689-1755) influential French philosopher...born at the dawn of the Glorious Revolution in England. That birthed the idea of limited power of monarchy that came at the end of 224 years of true struggle that was marked by the birth of the Wat Tyler Tax rebellion and witnessed a persistent increase in the trend of peasant tax uprisings between 1381 and 1685. This period is often glossed-over as religious rebellions, Protestant v Catholic, but at the core was truly the economic oppression by the monarchy.

Montesquieu was trained as a lawyer and witnessed the intellectual inferiors who manage to gain control of the court of government.

In Vienna, Montesquieu met the political leader and soldier, the Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), whose political discussions helped spark ideas within Montesquieu expanding his understanding of government. Savoy was considered even by Napoleon as one of the seven greatest strategists in military history... plagued by a rumor that he was really the illegitimate son of King Louis XIV of France that he perpetually denied he left France and offered his talent to Leopold I (1640-1705), Holy Roman Emperor who was fighting the Turks. He distinguished himself in the siege of Vienna in 1683 and his military career was born.

Prince of Savoy acquired a brilliant skill and the wisdom that allowed him to see that military victory was merely an instrument for achieving political ends. He was Europe’s most formidable general who was wounded 13 times himself, serving three emperors, Leopold I, Joseph I, land then Charles VI. Of these men, Prince of Savoy considered that the first had been a father, the second a brother, but with the third, he was just the hired help. The brilliant insight of Eugene greatly influenced Montesquieu, that it laid the foundation for the right to bare arms, as the Second Amendment to the United States constitution for the idea was to eliminate standing armies that feed the cycle of war returning a nation as Rome began – citizen militias.

The idea was that because you have a large army, kings and ministers eventually use them for it is like having a toy you do not play with, just leave it on the shelf. So in reality, those that support personal retaining of gun, also support a strong military presence. They have blended the two and created a hybrid that is rather far from the original ideas that were the foundation of the USA.

This vortex of war that we are entering is a downward spiral from which there may be no escape. The wisdom of Savoy and Montesquieu is what Jefferson fought for an opposed the Federalists. He was fighting for SMALL government knowing the dangers that would be unleashed by BIG government that included perpetual extortion of the people through rising taxes and subjecting them to international war. History repeats because these passions of man remain unchanged from one century to another.

Pawn of Finance

The whole idea of a militia and the right to bare arms as they do in Switzerland was to eliminate standing armies and thereby reduce the risk of war. Both Russia and the USA are armed to the teeth. As always, kings and ministers simply view the people as their pawns to move around the chessboard as they like and tax them to death when they stand still. This is exactly opposite of what the American Revolution was all about.

Montesquieu is the man who inspired the creation of the tripartite branch of government – executive – legislative – judiciary.