F.D.R. Proposes a Second Bill of Rights: A Decent Job, Education & Health Care Will Keep Us Free from Despotism (1944)

It’s difficult to appraise the complicated legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt. His New Deal policies are credited for lifting millions out of destitution, and they created opportunities for struggling artists and writers, many of whom went on to become some of the country’s most celebrated. But Roosevelt also compromised with racist southern senators like Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo, and underwrote housing segregation, job and pay discrimination, and exclusions in his economic recovery aimed most squarely at African-Americans. He is lauded as a wartime leader in the fight against Nazism. But he built concentration camps on U.S. soil when he interned over 100,000 Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor. His commitment to isolationism before the war and his “moral failure—or indifference” to the plight of European Jews, thousands of whom were denied entry to the U.S., has come under justifiable scrutiny from historians.

Both blame and praise are well warranted, and not his alone to bear. Yet, for all his serious lapses and wartime crimes, FDR consistently had an astute and idealistic economic vision for the country. In his 1944 State of the Union address, he denounced war profiteers and “selfish and partisan interests,” saying, “if ever there was a time to subordinate individual or group selfishness to the national good, that time is now.”




He went on to enumerate a series of proposals “to maintain a fair and stable economy at home” while the war still raged abroad. These include taxing “all unreasonable profits, both individual and corporate” and enacting regulations on food prices. The speech is most extraordinary, however, for the turn it takes at the end, when the president proposes and clearly articulates a “second Bill of Rights,” arguing that the first one had “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.”

Roosevelt did not take the value of equality for granted or merely invoke it as a slogan. Though its role in his early policies was sorely lacking, he showed in 1941 that he could be moved on civil rights issues when, in response to a march on Washington planned by Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, and other activists, he desegregated federal hiring and the military. In his 1944 speech, Roosevelt strongly suggests that economic inequality is a precursor to Fascism, and he offers a progressive political theory as a hedge against Soviet Communism.

“We have come to a clear realization,” he says, “of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident.” In the footage at the top of the post, you can see Roosevelt himself read his new Bill of Rights. Read the transcript yourself just below:

We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; 

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

Roosevelt died in office before the war ended. His successor tried to carry forward his economic and civil rights initiatives with the "Fair Deal," but congress blocked nearly all of Truman's proposed legislation. We might imagine an alternate history in which Roosevelt lived and found a way through force of will to enact his “second Bill of Rights," honoring his promise to every “station, race” and “creed.” Yet in any case, his fourth term was nearly at an end, and he would hardly have been elected to a fifth.

But FDR's progressive vision has endured. Many seeking to chart a course for the country that tacks away from political extremism and toward economic justice draw directly from Roosevelt’s vision of freedom and security. His new bill of rights is striking for its political boldness. Its proposals may have had their clearest articulation three years earlier in the famous “Four Freedoms” speech. In it he says, “the basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Guaranteeing jobs, if not income, for all and a "constantly rising standard of living" may be impossible in the face of automation and environmental degradation. Yet, most of Roosevelt's principles may not only be realizable, but perhaps, as he argued, essential to preventing the rise of oppressive, authoritarian states.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Clem Albers & Francis Stewart’s Censored Photographs of a WWII Japanese Internment Camp


Image by Ansel Adams

In places where atrocities or widespread human rights violations occur, we sometimes hear ordinary citizens later claim they didn’t know what was going on. In the case of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, this would be almost impossible to believe. “120,000 people,” notes Newsweek, “lost their property and their freedom,” rounded up in full view of their neighbors. Every major publication of the time reported on Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 Executive Order. Newsweek wrote "that people in coastal areas ‘were more anxious than ever to get rid of their aliens after rumors that signal lights were seen before submarine attacks'" off the coast of Southern California. There were many such rumors, the kind that spread xenophobic fear and paranoia, and which people used to vocally support, or tacitly approve of, sending their neighbors to internment camps because of their ancestry.


Image by Francis Stewart

Other reactions were less than subtle. The West Seattle Herald confronted readers with the blunt headline “GET ‘EM OUT!” Nonetheless, Newsweek’s Rob Verger writes, “the policy was by no means greeted with unanimous support,” and a vigorous public debate played out, with opponents pointing to the blatant racism and violations of civil rights. Two-thirds of the internees were American citizens. Yet all Japanese Americans were repeatedly called “aliens,” language consistent with the virulently anti-Japanese propaganda campaigns emerging at the same time.




Once the camps were built and the internees imprisoned, however, a massive propaganda effort began, not only the sell the camps as a necessary national security measure, but to portray them as idyllic villages where the patriotic internees patiently waited out the war by farming, playing baseball, making arts and crafts, running general stores, attending school, waving flags, and running newspapers.


Image by Clem Albers

Much of that information was conveyed to the public visually by photographers hired by the War Relocation Authority to document the camps. Among them were Clem Albers, Francis Stewart, and Dorothea Lange—well known for her photographs of the Great Depression. All three visited the camp called Manzanar in the foothills of the Sierra mountains. Another famous photographer, Ansel Adams, gained access to Manzanar by virtue of his friendship with its director, Ralph Merritt.


Image by Dorothea Lange

Their photographs, for the most part, show busily working men and women, smiling schoolchildren, and lots of patriotic leisure activities, like Stewart’s photo of sixth grade boys playing softball, further up. The photographers were strictly prohibited from photographing guards, watchtowers, searchlights, or barbed wire, and the heavy military presence at the camp is nearly always out of frame, with some very rare exceptions, like Albers’ photograph above of military police.


Image by Ansel Adams

Adams worked under these prohibitions as well, but his photos captured camp life as honestly as he could. The stunning landscapes sometimes compete, even in the background, with the real subject of some of his images (as in the photo at the top). But he also conveyed the harsh barrenness of the region. He tried to intimate the oppressive police apparatus by capturing its shadow. “The purpose of my work,” he wrote to the Library of Congress in 1965 upon donating his collection, “was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, business and professions, had overcome a sense of defeat and despair [sic].” His images often show internees “in heroic poses,” writes Dinitia Smith, as above, in order to ennoble their conditions. Lange’s photographs, on the other hand, like that of a young girl below, “seemingly unstaged and unlighted… bear the hallmarks” of her “distinctively documentary style.” Her pictures “compress intense human emotion into carefully composed frames.” Some of her photos show smiling, relaxed subjects. Many others, like the photograph of a barracks interior further down, show the faces of weary, uncertain, and despondent civilian prisoners of war.


Image by Dorothea Lange

Perhaps because of her refusal to sentimentalize the camps, or because of her left-wing politics and opposition to internment (both known before she was hired), Lange’s work was censored, not only through restricted access, but through the impoundment of over 800 photographs she took at 21 locations. Those photos were recently published in a book called Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment and hundreds of them are free to view online at the Densho Digital Repository’s Dorothea Lange Collection. The National Park Service’s collection features 16 pictures from Lange’s visit to Manzanar. At the NPS site, you’ll also find collections of photographs from that camp by Adams, Albers, and Stewart. Each, to one degree or another, faced a form of censorship in what they could photograph or whether their work would be shown at all. What most ordinary people saw at the time did not tell the whole story. For all practical purposes, writes Oberlin Library, “life at a Japanese internment camp was comparable to the life of a prisoner behind bars.”


Image by Dorothea Lange

h/t @Histouroborus

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

25,000+ 78RPM Records Now Professionally Digitized & Streaming Online: A Treasure Trove of Early 20th Century Music

Every recording medium works as a metonym for its era: the term “LP” conjures up associations with a broad musical period of classic rock ‘n’ roll, soul, doo-wop, R&B, funk, jazz, disco etc.; we talk of the “CD era,” dominated by dance music and hip-hop; the 45 makes us think of jukeboxes, diners, and sock-hops; and the cassette, well... at least one subgenre of music, what John Peel called “shambling,” jangly, lo-fi pop, came to be known by the name “C86,” the title of an NME compilation, short for “Cassette, 1986.” (Readers of the magazine had to clip coupons and send money by postal mail to receive a copy of the tape.)

Soon, however, fewer and fewer people will remember the age of the 78rpm record, the preferred vehicle for the music of the early 20th century. From classical and opera to blues, bluegrass, swing, ragtime, gospel, Hawaiian, and holiday novelties the 78 epitomizes the sounds of its heyday as much as any of the media mentioned above.




While cassettes recently made a nostalgic comeback, and turntables are found in every big box store, we’re generally not equipped to play back 78s. These are brittle records made from shellac, a resin secreted by beetles. They were often played on appliances that doubled as quality parlor furniture.

Thanks now to the Internet Archive, that stalwart of digital cataloguing and curation, we can play twenty five thousand 78s and immerse ourselves in the early 20th century, whether for research purposes or pure enjoyment. Previous efforts at preservation have “restored or remastered… commercially viable recordings” on LP or CD, writes The Great 78 Project, the archive’s volunteer program to digitize musical history. The current effort seeks to go beyond popularity and collect everything, from the rarest and strangest to the already historic. “I want to know what the early 20th century sounded like,” writes Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, “Midwest, different countries, different social classes, different immigrant communities and their loves and fears.”

You can hear several selections here, and thousands more at this archive of 78s uploaded by audio-visual preservation company, George Blood, L.P. Other 78rpm archives from volunteer collectors and the ARChive of Contemporary Music are being digitized and uploaded as well. You’ll note the recordings are often submerged in crackle and hiss, and generally lack bass and treble (most playback systems of the time could not reproduce the lower and higher ends of the audible spectrum). “We have preserved the often very prominent surface noise and imperfections,” the Archive writes, “and included files generated by different sizes and shapes of stylus to facilitate different kinds of analysis.” Different playback systems could produce markedly different sounds, and the recordings were not always strictly 78rpm.

These conditions of the transfer ensure that we roughly hear what the first audiences heard, though the records’ age and our penchant for 7 speaker audio systems introduce some new variables. None of these recordings were even made in stereo. The 78 period, notes Yale Library, lasted between 1898 and the late 1950’s, when the 33 1/2 rpm long-playing record fully edged out the older model. For approximately fifty years, these records carried recorded music, sound, and speech into homes around the world. “What is this?” Kahle asks of this formidable digitization project. “A reference collection? A collector’s dream? A discovery radio station? The soundtrack of the early 20th century?” All of the above. To learn more about The Great 78 Project, including the technical details of the transfer and how you can carefully package up and mail in your own 78rpm records, visit their Preservation page.

h/t @Ferdinand77

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Discover Langston Hughes’ Rent Party Ads & The Harlem Renaissance Tradition of Playing Gigs to Keep Roofs Over Heads

Both communities of color and communities of artists have had to take care of each other in the U.S., creating systems of support where the dominant culture fosters neglect and deprivation. In the early twentieth century, at the nexus of these two often overlapping communities, we meet Langston Hughes and the artists, poets, and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes’ brilliantly compressed 1951 poem “Harlem” speaks of the simmering frustration among a weary people. But while its startling final line hints grimly at social unrest, it also looks back to the explosion of creativity in the storied New York City neighborhood during the Great Depression.

Hughes had grown reflective in the 50s, returning to the origins of jazz and blues and the history of Harlem in Montage of a Dream Deferred. The strained hopes and hardships he had eloquently documented in the 20s and 30s remained largely the same post-World War II, and one of the key features of Depression-era Harlem had returned; Rent parties, the wild shindigs held in private apartments to help their residents avoid eviction, were back in fashion, Hughes wrote in the Chicago Defender in 1957.




“Maybe it is inflation today and the high cost of living that is causing the return of the pay-at-the-door and buy-your-own-refreshments parties,” he said. He also noted that the new parties weren’t as much fun.

But how could they be? Depression-era rent parties were legendary. They “impacted the growth of Swing and Blues dancing,” writes dance teacher Jered Morin, “like few other periods.” As Hughes commented, “the Saturday night rent parties that I attended were often more amusing than any night club, in small apartments where God-knows-who lived.” Famous artists met and rubbed elbows, musicians formed impromptu jams and invented new styles, working class people who couldn’t afford a night out got to put on their best clothes and cut loose to the latest music. Hughes was fascinated, and as a writer, he was also quite taken by the quirky cards used to advertise the parties. “When I first came to Harlem,” he said, “as a poet I was intrigued by the little rhymes at the top of most House Rent Party cards, so I saved them. Now I have quite a collection.”

The cards you see here come from Hughes’ personal collection, held with his papers at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Many of these date from the 40s and 50s, but they all draw their inspiration from the Harlem Renaissance period, when the phenomenon of jazz-infused rent parties exploded.  “Sandra L. West points out that black tenants in Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s faced discriminatory rental rates,” notes Rebecca Onion at Slate. “That, along with the generally lower salaries for black workers, created a situation in which many people were short of rent money. These parties were originally meant to bridge that gap.” A 1938 Federal Writers Project account put it plainly: Harlem “was a typical slum and tenement area little different from many others in New York except for the fact that in Harlem rents were higher; always have been, in fact, since the great war-time migratory influx of colored labor.”

Tenants took it in stride, drawing on two longstanding community traditions to make ends meet: the church fundraiser and the Saturday night fish fry. But rent parties could be raucous affairs. Guests typically paid a few cents to enter, and extra for food cooked by the host. Apartments filled far beyond capacity, and alcohol—illegal from 1919 to 1933—flowed freely. Gambling and prostitution frequently made an appearance.  And the competition could be fierce. The Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance writes that in their heyday, “as many as twelve parties in a single block and five in an apartment building, simultaneously, were not uncommon.” Rent parties "essentially amounted to a kind of grassroots social welfare," though the atmosphere could be "far more sordid than the average neighborhood block party." Many upright citizens who disapproved of jazz, gambling, and booze turned up their noses and tried to ignore the parties.

In order to entice party-goers and distinguish themselves, writes Onion, “the cards name the kind of musical entertainment attendees could expect using lyrics from popular songs or made-up rhyming verse as slogans.” They also “used euphemisms to name the parties’ purpose,” calling them “Social Whist Party” or “Social Party,” while also slyly hinting at rowdier entertainments. The new rent parties may not have lived up to Hughes’ memories of jazz-age shindigs, perhaps because, in some cases, live musicians had been replaced by record players. But the new cards, he wrote “are just as amusing as the old ones.”

via Slate

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

3D Scans of 7,500 Famous Sculptures, Statues & Artworks: Download & 3D Print Rodin’s Thinker, Michelangelo’s David & More

Last week we featured the British Museum's archive of downloadable 3D models of over 200 richly historical objects in their collection, perhaps most notably the Rosetta Stone. But back in 2015, before that mighty cultural institution put online in 3D the most important linguistic artifact of them all, a project called Scan the World created a model of it during an unofficial community "scanathon," and it remains freely available to all who would, for example, like to 3D print a Rosetta Stone of their very own.

Or perhaps you'd prefer to run off your own copy of a world-famous sculpture like ancient Egyptian court sculptor Thutmose's bust of Nefertiti or Auguste Rodin's The Thinker, both of whose 3D models you can find on Scan the World's archive at My Mini Factory.




There the organization, "comprised of a vast community of 3D scanning and 3D printing enthusiasts," has amassed a collection of 7,834 3D models and counting, all toward their mission " to archive the world’s sculptures, statues, artworks and any other objects of cultural significance using 3D scanning technologies to produce content suitable for 3D printing."

Scan the World hasn't limited its mandate to just artifacts and artworks kept in museums: among its models you'll also find large scale pieces of public sculpture like the Statue of Liberty and even beloved buildings like Big Ben. This conjures up the tantalizing vision of each of us one day becoming empowered to 3D-print our very own London, complete with not just a British Museum but all the objects, each of which tells part of humanity's story, inside it.

As much of a technological marvel as it may represent, printing out a Venus de Milo or a David or a Leaning Tower of Pisa or a Moai head at home can't, of course, compare to making the trip to see the genuine article, especially with the kind of 3D printers now available to consumers. But as recent technological history has shown us, the most amazing developments tend to come out of the decentralized efforts of countless enthusiasts — just the kind of community powering Scan the World. The great achievements of the future have to start somewhere, and they might as well start by paying tribute to the greatest achievements of the past.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Oldest Unopened Bottle of Wine in the World (Circa 350 AD)

Image by Immanuel Giel, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s an old TV and movie trope: the man of wealth and taste, often but not always a supervillain, offers his distinguished guest a bottle of wine, his finest, an ancient vintage from one of the most venerable vineyards. We might follow the motif back at least to Edgar Allan Poe, whose “Cask of Amontillado” puts an especially devious spin on the treasured bottle’s sinister connotations.

If our suave and possibly deadly host were to offer us the bottle you see here, we might hardly believe it, and would hardly be keen to drink it, though not for fear of being murdered afterward. The Römerwein, or Speyer wine bottle—so called after the German region where it was discovered in the excavation of a 4th century AD Roman nobleman’s tomb—dates “back to between 325 and 359 AD,” writes Abandoned Spaces, and has the distinction of being “the oldest known wine bottle which remains unopened.”




A 1.5 liter “glass vessel with amphora-like sturdy shoulders” in the shape of dolphins, the bottle is of no use to its owner, but no one is certain what would happen to the liquid if it were exposed to air, so it stays sealed, its thick stopper of wax and olive oil maintaining an impressively hermetic environment. Scientists can only speculate that the liquid inside has probably lost most of its ethanol content. But the bottle still contains a good amount of wine, “diluted with a mix of various herbs.”

The Römerwein resides at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, which seems like an incredibly fascinating place if you happen to be passing through. You won’t get to taste ancient Roman wine there, but you may, perhaps, if you travel to the University of Catania in Sicily where in 2013, scientists recreated ancient wine-making techniques, set up a vineyard, and followed the old ways to the letter, using wooden tools and strips of cane to tie their vines.

They proceeded, writes Tom Kingston at The Guardian, “without mechanization, pesticides or fertilizers.” Only the organic stuff for Roman vintners.

The team has faithfully followed tips on wine growing given by Virgil in the Georgics, his poem about agriculture, as well as by Columella, a first century AD grower, whose detailed guide to winemaking was relied on until the 17th century.

Those ancient winemakers added honey and water to their wine, as well as herbs, to sweeten and spice things up. And unlike most Italians today who “drink moderately with meals,” ancient Romans “were more given to drunken carousing.” Maybe that’s what the gentleman in the Speyer tomb hoped to be doing in his Roman afterlife.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

When Soviet Artists Turned Textiles (Scarves, Tablecloths & Curtains) into Beautiful Propaganda in the 1920s & 1930s

Americans swim in propaganda all the time, even those of us who think the word refers to some exotic form of foreign authoritarianism rather than our own good ol’ home-cooked variety. But the sad fact—admittedly very far down the list of rather tragic facts—is that U.S. propaganda is particularly crude, obnoxious, and unappealing. Contrast, for example, the symbol of the pantsuit, or the casual racism, misogyny, and homicidal fantasies on trucker hats, t-shirts, and beach towels with the alarming pageantry of Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, or name-your-showy-totalitarian-regime.

In the early days of the Soviet Union, state propaganda received a special boost from a cadre of eager and willing avant-garde artists, including poet, actor, director, etc. Vladimir Mayakovsky, who wrote Soviet children’s books, and a number of Russian Futurists who seized the opportunity to promote the new order with totally incomprehensible poetry and art.




In no way regimented or standardized, as were later Socialist Realists, early Soviet propagandists used politics as another material in their work, rather than its primary raison d'être.

These pioneers were joined by experimental composers, filmmakers, and even textile designers, who had a brief moment under the shining Soviet star between 1927 and 1933, when, as one publication from a wealthy collector notes, “a fascinating experiment in textile making took place in the Soviet Union. As the new nation emerged and the Communist party struggled to transform an agrarian country into an industrialized state, a group of young designers began to create thematic textile designs.”

Their designs—adorning tablecloths, sheets, curtains, and scarves and other items of everyday, off-the-rack wear—showcase bold, striking patterns, many, writes Dangerous Minds, “thematic of classical Russian art: you see lush color, dense scapes and even the odd Orientalist trope.” They are also filled with “delightfully propagandist imagery,” notes Marina Galperina at Flavorwire, “of revving tractors, smoke-pumping factor pipes, and babushka-clad women taking a sickle to wheat… woven in between opulent florals and pretty, constructivist squiggles.”

Factory gears, war machines, athletes, and scenes of industry were popular, as were the expected state symbols and iconography—as in the Lenin linen at the top, framed at the top by Marx and Engels; Trotsky at the bottom left has been purged from the textile record. See many more examples of early Soviet textiles at io9, Flashbak, and Messy Nessy.

via English Russia and @TedGioia

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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