In 1915 Art Young, the most important radical cartoonist of the Haymarket Generation, drew a simple image for The Masses of a gigantic man laden with weapons striding across the earth, captioned “Looking for Peace.” This image, appearing between the Ludlow massacre, the U.S. military intervention in the Mexican Revolution, and the growth of Preparedness campaigns before the U.S. entry into World War I, represents a new character in the visual culture of American popular radicalism: the figure of the Militarist. Far from being reductive or simplistic, this cartoon represents a complex critique of American militarism as it appeared to Young, Jack Reed, and the artists and intellectuals associated with The Masses, who rose in opposition to this violent new political enemy. Through a close reading of this image and its place in the visual culture of early-twentieth-century radicalism, I argue that by combining the corpulent physicality of J. P. Morgan the Plutocrat, the aggressive gesture of the Rooseveltian Imperialist, and the costume of Uncle Sam, Young's Militarist mapped the emergent political economy behind American militarism. This gave a visual, allegorical, and highly influential presence to the anticapitalist Left's newest and greatest enemy in the early twentieth century.
Michael Cohen; Imagining Militarism: Art Young and The Masses Face the Enemy. Radical History Review 1 January 2010; 2010 (106): 87–108. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-2009-022
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