The Essence of 20th century America

Sigmund Freud’s shadow hung over the Twentieth Century like a dark storm cloud. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ditzy 1920 heroines were “hip to Freud” , and it was Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays who invented the science of public relations which rules us today. During WWI Bernays — along with the two other founders, Rockefeller press agent Ivy Lee and the neoliberal philosopher and pamphleteer Walter Lippmann — was in charge of manipulating a reluctant populace into accepting the war, with the help of the usual contingent of jackbooted thugs,. From this came the American dream of world domination in the service of freedom and virtue.

After the war Ivy Lee worked for the Nazis, while Bernays worked to gain the right to smoke cigarettes for the beaten-down women of Puritan America, who were never allowed to have any fun.   As for Lippmann, already the brains behind the New Republic tabloid, he became one of the  elder statesmen of the American media and of the Democratic Party and one of the founders of neoliberalism, and he convinced the Democratic powers that the general public is a mindless mass and detriment to wise governance which only responded to gimmicks and buzzwords.

And finally in 1956, Ivy Lee’s nephew William Burroughs revolutionized American literature and showed us America as it really is. That’s a lot of culture to pack into 40 years, and everything you really need to know need is right there. Various other Americans were once thought to have been culturally important in some way, but in the long haul none of them amounted to a hill of beans.