Uncle Sam’s Leaden Age
since 1945, the American Left has been awaiting the “big bust”. When it came, the trade union movement would supposedly overthrow its moderate leadership and American politics would be transformed. When the economy was bailed out of its first post-war recession by the Korean “police action”, many on the Left said, “the capitalists depend on military adventure to do it. It’s still either depression or war.” The post-Korean recession ended in 1954, and the economy started climbing again—with a built-in stabiliser in the form of defence contracts, but without a shooting war. By the beginning of the third post-war recession in 1957, Left analysts had become cautious in their predictions. And sure enough, the slump turned round in 1958, and in 1959, despite the long steel strike, most previous highs were topped. Though the Democrats and the trade unions see a new recession in the making for 1961, there is almost nowhere fear of a true crisis.
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