John Dewey Primary Source Essay

With the progressive movement underway and the impending entry into the “Great War”, John Dewey forecasted many positive social possibilities. Dewey argued for democracy within a federation and public property as opposed to private property. This particular view of socialism began to ring true little by little in the years that were to come.

Industrialization in the late nineteenth century provoked change in the culture of the United States of America. Immigrants flooded in from all parts of Europe and other countries. Their arrival coincided with expansion of the US railway system. While the rising employment of immigrants in industry was sweeping the nation, underlying issues remained. Fair wages, child labor and management structure were among the issues that were to be reformed in the progressive movement. Industry needed more managers who knew what they were doing when it came to operating with efficiency. However, in order for the laborers to become managers they would need to be educated and trained.

In company with labor unions struggling to obtain fair pay, the women in American society were entering the education system. Society expected women held the responsibility for educating the next generation of leading men in society. Dewey had an ideal view of what students should be learning and how they go about learning it. Dewey emphasized the intellectual mind and creative thinking. He thought that students would benefit more from universal teaching of “learning by doing” and gain a better understanding of the present world. (ushistory.org 42a.)

Amidst all the progressive change in labor and education within the United States, Europe became engrossed in their own. With the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Austria-Hungary and the subaquatic attack made by a German submarine on a U.S. ship, The Great War had begun. Dewey estimated two outcomes as a result of America’s participation in the Great War. First, the consolidation of the U.S. and quite possibly other participating countries. While the progressive movement brought positive change to some, it was disputed by others. This led to a divide in American politics amongst Democratic, Republican and Socialist parties. Dewey believed that the war could amend this division and establish a federation in which the individual states would govern themselves. He also suggested a congruent idea that countries themselves would make up a federation and serve as a union to keep each other country in check as far as power is concerned. Second, with the war, the nation as a whole comes before individual concern. Therefore his second ideal was to dispose of the idea of private property or control in general. This ideal form of society is characteristically socialist.

Dewey’s socialist ideal did not occur absolutely however, the U.S. government began to implement tactics and divisions in attempts to remain unified. Such divisions as the Committee of Public Information, the Food and Drug Administration and the war draft are examples of the kind of unification that Dewey hoped would be established. The draft into the war required that any boy or man of a certain age or older must fight in the war. While this is a decision most argued to be poor as how it sacrifices the lives of Americans against their wills, Dewey saw it as a sacrifice for the good of the whole.

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