Outline of the Age of Populism

Some call it the Age of Anxiety or Zenith of Modernism. Others call it the Beginnings of the People’s Century, when regular people got more political power. This post covers history, philosophy and religion, literature, art and architecture and goes from WWI to WWII. Genealogical tables are included here, to help sort out the national rivalries.

If you’re in a hurry, use the ctrl-f search to find your key term.

Click on the corresponding post the Timeline of the Age of Populism for more information.

I. Introduction

A. Timeframe:

1. 1914: Outbreak of WWI

2. 1945: End of WWII


I. World War I (1914-1918)

A. Origins

1. Balance of Powers

2. Crisis in the Balkans

B. Allies

1. France

2. Britain

3. Russia

4. Then U.S. (April 6, 1917)

5. Italy

6. Serbia

7. Greece

8. Portugal

9. Montenegro

10. Albania

C. Central Powers

1. Greater Germany

2. Austria-Hungary

3. Croatia

4. Bosnia

5. Transylvania

6. Bulgaria

7. Ottoman Empire (Turkey plus)

8.  Poland (swallowed up by Russia and Germany)

D.  Aftermath

1. League of Nations

2. National Divisions

3. Reparations from Germany

4. Deaths

a. 750k British

b. 1.385 million French

c. 1.8 million Germans

d. 1.7 million Russians

II. Russian Revolution (1917-1921)

A. Causes

1. Czar Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917)

2. Economic Hardship

B. Bolsheviks

1. Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924)

2. Left-wing socialists

3. Controlled Red Army (as opposed to Czarist army)

4. Soviets:  Local Councils of Workers and Soldiers

5. Brest-Litovsk Treaty (March 3, 1918)

a. Russia withdraws from WWI in 1917; then signs treaty, yielding Poland and Baltic states and Ukraine and pays War indemnity

C. Civil War

1. Red army v. White army

2. In 1921 Lenin in control

III. The 1920s

A. America

1. Prosperity

2. “Roaring” Twenties

B. Europe

1. Uneasy peace

2. Rise of dictators and Fascism

C. Church

1. Liberalism

a. Shailer Matthews

(1) The Faith of Modernism (1924)

2. Fundamentalism-Orthodoxy

a. J. Gresham Machen

(1) Christianity and Liberalism (1923)

(2) The Virgin Birth of Christ (1930)

b. Scopes Trial (1925)

3. Neo-Orthodoxy

a. Karl Barth (1886-1968)

(1) Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1919)

4. Revivalism

a. William (Billy) Ashley Sunday (1863-1935)

IV. The 1930s

A. Great Depression

1. Origins

a. Inflation

b. Reparations imposed on Germany

c. Bad Investments

d. October 29, 1929

2. Aftermath

a. Unemployment

b. Inflation

c. Lack of Confidence

d. In America, the need for big gov’t.

e. FDR’s New Deal, which bankrolls many artists

B. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal (1933-1945)

C. Fascism

1. Adolph Hitler (1889-1945)

a. Selected Chancellor by Hindenburg in Jan 30, 1932

b. Pop. among, farmers, vets, and young

c. Feb. 27, 1933 Reichstag on fire

d. Blaming Communists, and under Art. 48 in Constitution Hitler issued emergency decree, suspending civil liberties

e. In early Mar. 1933, Hitler’s party, the Nazi’s, win 288 seats in Reichstag and control it

f. Reichstag passes Enabling Act on Mar. 23, 1933, which permits Hitler to rule by decree

g. Hitler removes more opposition

h. Hindenburg dies Aug. 2, 1934; now Hitler Pres. and Chancellor, sole ruler

2. Benito Mussolini (1883-1945)

a. He and 34 members of his party, the Fascists, elected to Chamber of Deputies

b. Dressed in Black, they begin March on Rome

c. King Victor Emmanuel III (r. 1900-1946) does not sign decree to have army stop them

d. King offers Prime Ministership to Muss.

e. Fascism generally:  Anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-Parliamentarian, and anti-Semitic

3. Francisco Franco (1892-1975)

D. Communism

1. Joseph Stalin (1879-1953)

a. Clerk in party

b. Secures power base and takes over in 1924 when Lenin dies

c. Prosperity:  Industrial production rises 400% from 1928-1940

d. Repression

E. Church

1. Pope Pius XI (1922-1939)

a. Concordat (1933)

b. Mit Brennender Sorge (with deep anxiety) (1937)

c. Divini Redemptoris (1942)

2. German Church

a. German Evangelical Church (1933)

b. Confessing Church and Barmen Declaration (1934)

3. Socialism and Protestantism in America

a. H. Richard and Reinhold Niebuhr

V. World War II (1939-1945)

A. Origins

1. Totalitarianism

2. German Resentment

3. Economic troubles

B. Allies:

1. Great Britain

2. France

3. Russia

4. Then U.S. (Dec. 7, 1941)

C. Axis:

1. Greater Germany and Austria

2. Italy

3. Axis Allies in Europe:

4. Hungary

5. Yugoslavia

6. Romania

7. Bulgaria

8. Japan

D. Aftermath

1. 15 million in battle

2. 25 million by disease, hunger or other causes

E. Church

1. Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958)

2. American Council of Christian Churches (1941)

3. National Association of Evangelicals (1943)

4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)


I. Existentialism (1930s-1950)

A. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) (“Existentialism and Humanism” [1947])

1.  Existence Precedes Essence

Man exists and afterwards defines himself;

“Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself”

2. Anguish

“I also [like Abraham] am obliged to perform actions that are examples.”

3. Abandonment

“. . . we only mean to say that God does not exist, and that it is necessary to draw the consequences of his absence right to the end.”

“You are free, therefore choose– that is to say, invent”

4. Despair

We rely on what is within our wills

5. Optimism

“. . . no doctrine is more optimistic, the destiny of man is placed within himself”

See Outline of Sartre’s “Existentialism and Humanism”

B. Albert Camus (1913-60) “Myth of Sisyphus” (1940)

1. Absurdity

2. Sorrow

3. All is well because fate is in my hands

4. Happiness


Click on the corresponding post the Timeline of the Age of Populism for more information.

I. Zenith of Modernism (1914-1945)

A. Experimentation

1. Time

2. Unconscious

3. Point of View

B. Experimenters

1. Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

2. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

3. James Joyce (1882-1941)

4. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

5. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

6. Tristan Tzara (1896-1963) (dada)

C. Harlem Renaissance (1920s)

1. Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

2. Zora Neale Hurston (?1901-1960)

D. Drama

1. Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

a. Epic Theatre

II. Russia

A.  Realism

1. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

a. Notes from Underground

b. Brothers Karamazov

2.  Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

3.  Anton Chekov (1860-1904)

a. The Cherry Orchard (1904)

B.  Literature of Dissent (Post-Revolution)

1.  Boris Paternak (1890-1960)

a. Doctor Zhivago

2.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn (b. 1918)

a. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Visual Arts

I. Painting

A. Dada (ca. 1917-1925)

1. Hans Arp (1886-1966)

2. Marcel Duchamp (1883-1968)

3. Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)

B. De Stijl (a.k.a. Neo-Plasticism) (ca. 1917-1933)

1. Piet Mondrian

C. Surrealism (1930s-1940s)

1. Automatism and Freud

2. Joan Miro (1893-1983)

3. Salvador Dali (1904-1989)

II. Sculpture

A. Abstraction (1919-1940s)

1. Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)

2. Henry Moore (1898-1986)

3. Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

4. Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)

III. American Modernism (1910s-1920s)

A. Photography

1. Farm Security Administration (FSA)

2. Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)

3. Walker Evans (1903-1975)

4. Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)

B. Painting (1920s-1930s)

1. Georgia O’Keefe (1887-1986)

2. Charles Demuth (1883-1935)

C. American Regionalism in Painting (1930s-1940s)

1. Edward Hopper (1887-1967)

2. Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)

3. Jacob Lawrence (b. 1917)

IV. Architecture

A. Bauhaus (1919-1933)

1. Walter Gropius (1883-1969)

B. International Style (1932-1970)

V. Russian

A. Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935)

B. El Lizzitsky (Lazar Markovich) (1890-1941)


I. New Trends

A. Atonality

1. Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

B. American Sounds

1. Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

2. George Gershwin (1898-1937)

II. The Jazz Age

A. Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

1. Syncopation

B. Louis Armstrong (1900-1971)

1. Scat

C. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1971)


Western world, a certain percentage of you messed up. Now wake up and reclaim your good heritage, like your true Christian faith, and move past your bad past.

This is the Modern Age. Even art, which can appear so wild, has a right to thrive. Don’t let communism or socialism or Islamism erode your liberty. You fought for liberty. Now live in it!

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