REVOLUTIONARY AMERICAN CHANGES
IN a book published in 1925 by the American author H. G. Scheffauer, The American Mind of To-day. there appears the fol lowing significant statement : " America is slowly changing itself into a second Europe.
Thus this American writer expressed a thought the truth of which has since then been increAingly accepted by astute observers, namely. that America or, in other words, the United States and Canada, is following in the footsteps of European developments from a distance of approximately twenty-five to thirty years--or, in short, that the so-called " young nations" are by no means demonstrating a unique or indigenous development but reflect a pattern with which the entire Occident has already become intimately acquainted. This fact is more clearly manifested if we observe the current transformation being effected in the intellectual, political and economic life of the United States and Canada. In this we see an amazingly close parallel to the situation as it existed in Europe after the first world war; an uprooting of the old, the traditional way of thinking and acting, which illustrates that the revolution of the Occident " as it manifested itself in Europe after the first world war has now extended itself to the very periphery of the Occident and is responsible for a host of questions and problems almost identical with those that arose in Europe a quarter of a century ago.
Thus we only need point to the obvious disintegration of she old political order and, what is even more significant, that actual changeoval. from old political ideology and method.
Two-Party System Collapsing ?
The collapse of the old two-party system in the United States and Canada is a self-evident fact to-day —not merely confirmed by the size of the new parties that have risen. but by their marked vitality and also the matter of fact way in which their continued existence has been accepted and by the prestige which hos been lost by both of the traditionally accepted parties.
It i's indeed odd to observe the close parallel between the disintegration of both old parties—the Democratic and the Republican parties in the U.S., and the Liberal and Conservative parties in Canada, Horizontally the parallel may be seen in the establishment of a "class party" (Wallace's progressives) in the U.S., and the C.C.F. (Labour Party) in Canada. Vertically it may be seen in the regional division as symptomised by the " States' Rights Party " of the U.S. southern States, and the " Union Nationale " of the Canadian province of Quebec. The overwhelming victory won by the Union Nationale in the July 1948 election in Quebec may well be a forerunner of a similar victory by the American States' Rights Party —just as the huge successes of the C.C.F. in Ontario and Saskatchewan may find their parallel in an appreciable vote for Wallace's Progressive Party. At any rate, one thing is certain; the old two-party system is on its way out, not only in Canada but in the United States as well, and the political fronts are shifting rapidly. This fact comes more to the fore in the internal disintegration of the old parties in both countries than in the election results. If it is true, as a Gallup poll recently pointed out, that almost one-half of the people questioned could see no essential difference between the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S, (and between the Liberals and Conservatives in Canada). then we have tragic evidence of the downright critical lack of confidence in the old political order. Apparently the American and Canadian people no longer believe that their old political parties are representative of a living idea; they now see only machines operating by the self-same (finance) circles under various firm names.
Compared with Europe This loss of confidence in the old political parties follows precisely the same trend as in Europe after the first world war, when the spirit of general dissatisfaction and social unrest began like a fever to undermine the old political institutions and forms to make way for the new dynamism of Fascism (National Socialism) and Communism (Bolshevism). Any sharp-eyed observer of the current political atmosphere in America will readily discern signs almost without number that reveal an amazingly close similarity
to the political and intellectual atmosphere of Europe after the first world war—just as our present-day literature in America is similar to that of Europe in those days.
The big party conclaves of the
Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. have clearly revealed how tragically lacking in leadership are both of these old parties—i.e., the inane attempts by each of the two In win over General Eisenhower as a
drawing card " candidate.
And meanwhile in Canada. the leaders of the two old parties have abdicated: the Conservative leader Bracken did so in order to make room for Ontario's Minister President Drew, the " Canadian Dewey" —while the old Liberal leader, Prime Minister Mackenzie King once again lived up to his unofficial title of " fox " by resigning his position as party and State leader when defeat appeared imminent. There again the internal rather than the external developments arc more significant: for the fact is that both Dewey as well as Drew, Mackenzie King as well as his successor St. Laurent, are competent and respected persons. But the big difference is that they no longer have the youth of their countries behind them !
The cynicism of our youth follows the same pattern as that in Europe after the first world war. It shows itself in widespread indifference. apathy, lack of confidence in the old
political parties. platforms, and programmes, and it accounts for the fact that many of those who still hold membership therein are members more in name than in spirit.
A certain idealism, not to mention conviction, and the resultant spirit of militant activity and selfsacrifice inspired thereby, these things are to be found almost exclusively in the newly established parties, where they help further the growth of a radicalistic class struggle and extreme nationalism. It would be a mistake, of course, to overestimate the speed of this development—but it would lead to even more fateful mistakes to ignore its tendency. Anyone wishing to evaluate properly the intellectual, political and economic developments within the foreseeable future here in America (and their decisive effects upon Europe and the world). will do well to keep in mind the lesson of Europe after the first world war. and understand clearly that the waves of Occidental Revolution have indeed reached the shores of our Western Hemispheres, where they will result not only in essential changes in the political atmosphere but, even more important, in the entire political structure.