Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Apogee of Super modernity (1920s-1960s) : 1939-1940 New York World's Fair

Once upon a time, forces long thought to be in hot opposition to each other made a common bed together.

Political/economic elites united with scientific elites - and the two united in both private enterprise and in command economies such as Nazi Germany and the USSR.

They all shared a common vision and the few individuals opposed to that vision (for to claim the critics as 'forces' would greatly exaggerate their strength and unity of purpose) found little foothold among the public to share their reasoned opposition to that vision.

Huge, highly expensive and risky super-projects would be undertaken by the scientific elites, paid for by monies raised diverted by the political and economic worlds.

The rare unity across CP Snow's cultural divide  and the even rarer willingness to divert monies into wild and wooly schemes happened because these super projects were judged essential for a nation-state's very survival, let alone also ensuring it remaining as a super nation in an age of super modernity and super men.

The apogee of this super or hyper modern faith in scientism was the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940.

My cohort (those born between 1940 and 1956) , the transitional cohort between modernity and the times after modernity, never knew first hand of the excited expectations thrown up by this famous fair.

But our parents, teachers and employers did ....

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