Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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The Seventies had been a time of confusing transition for all Americans. Expectations of greater economic and cultural freedoms had begun to clash with new economic and ecological realities. The women's rights movement gained further strength during the Seventies. Women wanted to have the same kind of job opportunities as men did and they wanted equal pay for equal work. At the beginning of the decade women earned about 57 percent of what men earned for the same work. American feminists came to believe that a new law was needed to protect women's rights and to end discrimination. The struggle for congressional passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to ensure that the rights of working woman were protected failed however to become law. Still, women made gains in the struggle for legalized abortion during the Seventies despite strong conservative opposition from many parts of the country.

America was slowly breaking up into three major groups. Conservative Americans from the rural areas and small towns reacted negatively to the cultural changes that had occurred in America during the Sixties and Seventies. These conservative groups had strong roots from the First Wave era in America when most Americans lived outside the big urban industrial or Second Wave areas. As the Seventies progressed these conservative groups would be joined more and more by religious fundamentalists who were reacting not only to the emergence of the counter-culture, but also the blatant materialist and commercial philosophy of America's corporate culture.

A commercial philosophy that would start a new era of debt-driven consumption in America for the rest of the century. A kind of consumption that would be different from other American historical periods. During the Seventies, America's multinational corporations began to also finally go totally global. This new trend would take away many secure Second Wave jobs from Americans as American corporations looked for cheaper labor markets in other parts of the world. America would ultimately become a nation filled with service jobs. Jobs which often paid less and which were usually temporary.

The baby boomers would provide many of the numbers for the emerging second group in America. This new group was ecologically conscious and culturally more open to new kinds of thinking both materialist and non-materialist. This second group clashed not only with the old and new conservative movements that were rising in America, but with the old materialist groups that saw all modern progress as economic and material. This old Second Wave philosophy was the dominant thinking in many urban and corporate centers of America where most of the power still was.

African Americans who had made political gains during the Sixties would see many of these gains ultimately lost, even though a minority of African Americans did join the white middle class during the Seventies. A middle class that would come under great strains in the decades ahead. African Americans won political office in many of America's largest cities, but this new political success would not immediately translate into economic success for the majority of African Americans. The legacy of African American slavery which haunted American culture would continue to hover in the background, despite a television series called " Roots " that was shown in America during the Seventies. A television drama that high-lighted the slave trade between the old and new worlds and which for many Americans was the first time they received serious exposure to this hidden legacy of slavery.

During the Seventies serious demographic shifts continued to occur in America. During the industrial era most of the population was concentrated in the North-east and mid-west. This was where most of the Second Wave industrial production was. By the Seventies huge migrations to the South and West of the country were in full force. The weather was warmer in these regions and new service jobs were springing up quickly in this new " America. ". California was the chief magnet for many Americans on the move. Retired Americans, young Americans, African Americans and many other groups went to the sun-belt in search of a better life. Even as new immigration patterns from abroad began to change the ethnic face of America.

In the past, during the early colonial era, most Americans came from England and the rest came as slaves from Africa. By the early 19th century, waves of German, Scandinavian, and Irish immigrants flooded the country looking for work and cheap land. Then in the early 20th Century Southern and Eastern Europeans followed in huge numbers. By the Seventies, huge amounts of Asians and Hispanics were now entering America as the latest group of immigrants. America was now rapidly becoming a world nation.


American culture started to become more diverse during the Seventies as a result of the cultural revolution of the Sixties, but on other levels diversity was shrinking. Everything that had to do with mass culture became an even bigger business. Sports like baseball, basketball, and football became not only big business, but also big entertainment. Sports stars were beginning to resemble movie stars who received big incomes. Indeed, television and sports where becoming a new kind of religion for many Americans. Not only a new kind of religion, but an escape from the big pressures of daily life.

Theme parks like Disneyland were also becoming big business. All over America theme parks began springing up that offered American families, thrilling rides, games, shows, and instant transportation into carefree and fantastic worlds. Entertainment was rapidly becoming the major business of America. Eventually, it would become one of America's biggest exports as well.

Small bookstores were also disappearing as they became replaced by huge bookstore chains that offered less serious literature in a society that no longer had time to really read. Newspaper circulations also declined. More sex and violence was flooding into the daily television programs too as Americans watched on average six hours of television per day.

Americans were also obsessed with running and keeping fit. Exercise was becoming a new fad. Dieting also. Americans were eating too much and too much of their diet was fast food which was of dubious nutritional value. Americans were also under so much psychological stress that the legal drug industry began to boom like never before. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs became another big business.

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All contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg