The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!
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'Man cannot strip himself of his social relations and remain man.
But he can shut his eyes to these social relations. He can disguise
them as relations to commodities, to the impersonal market,
to cash, to capital, and his relations then seem to have become
possessive. He owns the commodities, the cash and the capital.
All his social relations appear to have become relations to a thing… By shutting his eyes to all the relations between men that constitute society… man has enslaved himself to forces whose control is now beyond him, because he does not acknowledge their existence. He is at the mercy of the market, the movement of capital, and the slump and boom. … Blind Fate, in the shapes of war, unemployment, slumps, despair and neurosis, attacks the free bourgeois and his free followers. His struggles put him into
the power of finance capital, trustify him, or, if he is a free
labourer, he is herded into the mass-production factory. So far
from being free, he is whirled like a leaf on the gales of social
change. And all this anarchy, and impotence, and muddled
dissension is reflected in his culture...'
Christopher Caudwell, Studies in a Dying Culture (1938)
'Capitalism in decline, as in our own country, is not much
better a patron [of the Arts] than fascism. Stagnation, fear, violence and opportunism, the characteristics of capitalism preparing for the fray, are no background for a writer, and there is a seediness, an ebb of life, a philosophy of taking rather than giving, a bitterness and brutality about right-wing writers now which was absent in those other days, in seventeenth-century Churchmen or eighteenth-century Tories...'
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise (1938)
'Goodbye to Berlin is not … about the failure of liberal
leadership, but … the failure of feeling in an impoverished,
demoralized, bankrupt city. There are no public figures in
the book …Hitler never appears …. There are only the Lost –
the poor, the weak, the neurotic, the lonely and unloved,
living their sad private lives. Together they composed the city
in which fascism was possible...'
Samuel Hynes, The Auden Generation (1976) on
Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin (1939
'Either we serve the Unconditional
Or some Hitlerian monster will supply
An iron convention to do evil by.'
W.H. Auden, ‘Christmas, 1940’
'We are not the doctors. We are the disease.'