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The Roaring 20’s: Modernism vs. Traditionalism

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The 1920’s were a time of great change in the United States of America. New ideas of how things should work socially, politically, and economically were taking shape as older, more traditional ideas struggled to maintain their foothold on the American people. Newly established ideas and institutions such as mass advertisement and organized crime were a manifestation of the conflict between modern and traditional ideas, as well as the cause for much tension between the two opposing sides of the issue. As time went on, things for people in the 20’s definitetly changed, despite the traditionalist efforts to maintain their values in a newly isolationist society after World War I.

After “The War to End All Wars” had come to its end, the United States of America stood as a nation that seemed quite pleased with itself. The people of this country turned inward, and these new ideas of isolationism began to creep in. All american citizens, however, did not think these new ideas to be best for their country. They felt that their morals were being threatened greatly by these new ideas and ways of life, and one of the main causes of their distrust in the ideas of modernism was the amazing amount of advertising that sprung up in the 20’s. New products and improvements to old products were a large part of that time, and while improving the lives of many people, some felt threatened by these new products and ways of life that became evident. As more new products and ways of life came up and were strongly advertised in the media, more and more arguments and discontent arose between the modernists and traditionalists. As the decade went on, traditionalists tried to put laws to restrict the modernist activities, such as prohibition, without realizing that it would only escalate the problems and bring on an incredibly modernist phoenomenon: Organized Crime.

As prohibition, a traditionalist idea, came into effect in the United States, modernists began to find new ways to bypass and challenge the new law, the most signifigant of which being organized crime. Bootleggers found ways to sneak liquor past officials and making massive sums of money, all outside the boundaries of the law. Without question, this was one of the largest sources of tension and conflict between the modernists and traditionalists, and was definitely one of the most signifigant social aspects of the 1920’s.

The changes that occurred in the “roaring 20’s” had a huge effect on the united states and the way it functions. The clashes between modernists and traditionalists during this time dominated nearly every aspect of life, and were manifest through things such as Organized Crime and advertisements. Had these clashes of ideas never occurred, we would not be where we are today, and our country would never be the same.

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