alright, anon, here’s what i think:
- steve grew up in the 30s and 40s - right smack in the midst of the great depression.
- he was the child of a poor, single, working mom who was also an irish-catholic immigrant - a group that was viciously persecuted and discriminated against at that time.
- he had a variety of severe medical conditions that likely went untreated due to lack of health-care, and his mother died of pneumonia because of the same lack of health-care.
- he was frequently beaten up and bullied because he stood up for himself and others when no one else would.
- he volunteered to serve during the war because he so fervently believed in the cause he was fighting for and the people who needed his help and protection.
and then there’s stuff like this:
(from “man out of time” #3)
so basically, anon, i don’t agree with you at all.
he’s got his flaws, yeah, but steve would NOT be politically conservative. he would NOT be aligned with modern republican ideals, and he CERTAINLY would not be ignorant or insensitive to oppression, discrimination, inequality, or injustice.
in my opinion, anyone (or any narrative) that believes otherwise is completely missing the whole damn point of steve rogers.
FUCKING THANK YOU! I’m going to bookmark this to shove in people’s faces when they assume Steve would be conservative (hi, I have strong feelings about this). Also READ THIS ESSAY: "Steve Rogers Isn’t Just Any Hero" by Steven Attewell. Attewell grounds Steve Rogers in the political and social context of 1930s/40s America, making a flawless argument as to why Steve would be socially liberal.
Maybe it’s my upbringing that makes me think the whole idea of Steve being conservative is inaccurate and weird. My grandmother was a teenager during the Great Depression and a coal miner’s daughter. She’s a Democrat, in favor of government aid, and pro-union. Don’t assume that everyone from that time period is/was a raging conservative. Also, understand that the definitions of conservative and liberal have evolved drastically since the 1940s; however, I think it’s 100% accurate to claim that Steve Rogers would be a liberal by today’s standards.
No idea whether Steve voted in the 40’s (a lot of career military men of his generation *didn’t* until they retired since the military is under civilian control - and yes, that included General (later President) Eisenhower), but it’s canon that he supports gay rights (his best friend growing up was gay), same-sex marriage (he defends said best friend’s relationship with his partner as every bit as valid as his relationship with his girlfriend), civil rights, interracial/interspecies marriage, is proposed to by his girlfriends (who are uniformly strong, smart, and competent, not wilting little flowers), has a black superhero partner, has no animus against Communists, worked for the Federal Arts Project as an artist in the late 1930’s, and has repeatedly clashed with hard-right presidents and politicians (see also: his resignation over the Marvel equivalent of Watergate, the Civil War, etc.).
Not only, but the one time that Captain America DID support right-wing causes, it wasn’t Steve Rogers. It was William Burnside, the Captain America of the 1950’s, a fervent McCarthyite who took up the role while Steve Rogers was in the ice. Even better, Burnside, who’d used a variant of the super soldier serum, went crazy, started attacking civil rights workers, and was yanked from the field.
My bet? Captain America is not only a Democrat, he privately belongs to the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the party. He doesn’t publicize this (“I’m supposed to symbolize the whole country, not just one party or group”) but when he goes into the voting booth in 2012, he votes straight ticket Democrat.
I think part of the reason that people have this image of “conservative Steve Rogers” is because the political make-up of the US changed drastically just after WWII. After the War, the “Threat of Fascism” was all but eradicated, and the new political enemy became the “Threat of Communism.” Prior to this shift in political enemies, communist and socialist political parties were fairly strong minor parties, and it was not uncommon for people to know (or be) members of one or the other. It’s not until after the War that Communism really became a “threat” to the American way of life.
And that’s history that Steve missed, because he was under the ice when that went down. He slept through the entire Cold War, which includes the division of Germany between East and West, the Iron Curtain, McCarthyism and the Red Scare, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Iranian Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and of course, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the fall of the Iron Curtain. He has absolutely zero frame of reference for any of these events, because they occurred after he went down and before he woke up. The world changed significantly in those seventy years, not just in terms of technology and culture, but in politics and international relations.
And that, I think, is at least part of what he’s getting at when he tells Fury, “They say we won the war — they didn’t say what we lost.”
That may be why he seems to get along so well with Natasha, who after all is Russian, and why he doesn’t seem to have any problems at all with non-whites despite blatant and widespread racism in the United States when he was growing up. He moved in liberal circles, probably knew anti-lynching and anti-racism advocates, and despite his hideous attempts at flirting with Peggy Carter, almost certainly knew feminists and women who did more than just stay home with the kids.
Plus “staying home with the kids” is luxury only the middle class and up can afford, and even then it’s mostly a post-WWII 1950s affectation. Steve Rogers’ working class background and circle would not have been able to pass up a second income. All of the women he would have come in contact with prior to his big sleep would have worked.
Not to mention that his MOTHER worked. Thanks for pointing that out.
Adding to this, I don’t know much about specifically New York,for Steve Rogers context, but I have more on the relationship between the US and Communism/Marxism/Socialism during this time period. The individuals in power were concerned about Communism, especially immediately post-WWI, when there was actually a little Red Scare. People were alarmed by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and there was a crack down on Union Labor in the US, corresponding to that. It was no where near as extreme as the McCarthyism that would come to characterize the ’50s, but it was present. That said, the ’20s and ’30s is when Labor Unions had their heyday— the most extreme of which was the IWW, or “Wobblies” which had the strongest presence in Seattle, but were nationwide. The Wobblies were absolutely socialists, even if they were more fringe (and also illegal to be a member of) than other union groups, such as the AFL and CIO (which merged into what is known today as the AFL/CIO). During this time, the Unions gained official rights granted by the supreme court, but not before many strikes were violently called to a halt.
The Great Depression had an adverse effect on the power of the Union. With so many people out of work, it was far easier for companies to call in strike breakers, or “scabs”, which were people who were hired to do the work of the strikers. Scabs were unaffiliated with the unions and hired at a lesser wage. They often faced violence from Union workers who had had the jobs that the scabs got. However, because the Unions had been granted legal rights, they were able to fight these anti-union tactics in court. It cannot be ignored that these conflicts helped to exacerbate racial tensions in the time period. Due to systematic racism, African Americans were not permitted in most, if not all, trade unions. Because of this, many of the “scabs” hired were African Americans, who then faced not only the rage of the displaced union workers but also bore the brunt of racially charged violence “justified” by their status as strike-breakers. This is one of the origin points of racial tensions between, most especially, the Irish immigrants/descendants that the Unions favored and the African American population.
During WWII, the Unions took another hit with Roosevelt’s wage-and-price freeze. Part of the purview of Unions is that they attempt to gain better wages for their members. The wage freeze effectively removed their ability to do that for the duration of the fighting. Also during and immediately prior to America’s involvement in WWII, the American propaganda machine became very pro-Soviet. When Hitler broke the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact in June of 1941, America came down on the side of the Soviets. Today, this is billed as a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” tactic. And it was. Kind of. The American government had a dislike for Communism— we had actually sent troops to join the White Army in Russia in an attempt to keep Lenin from consolidating power— but the American government at the time was pro-socialist, even if it was more conservative socialism, and the common people were most certainly pro-socialist. Unions are socialist institutions. For more information on American Socialism in the political sphere, look up the populists of a couple of decades earlier.
Before the end of WWII, America and Russia were on pretty good terms, actually. Those good terms became slightly less genial after Russia refused to help against Japan (they changed their mind in 1945, after Hitler was defeated, but were unable to mobilize quickly enough to actually help), and also became increasingly strained as Britain and the US failed to open up a second front in Europe according to Stalin’s schedule. The divvying up of the land at the Yalta conference in ‘44 didn’t help. But these tensions were unknown, and kept unknown, to the common American on the Home Front. Throughout the war, American cartoonists and propagandists referred to Joseph Stalin as “Uncle Joe” (this astonishing fact comes to you via Stephen E Ambrose’s “New History of WWII”).
tl;dr: Steve Rogers grew up in an America that was very pro Union, and Unions are socialist institutions. Unions of the time had some very troubling racist views, but based on Steve’s interactions with Gabe, Morita, and Sam, he likely did not share these views. He also very likely never thought of Russia as anything but an ally, and probably felt affection for the USSR for helping in the fight against Germany, especially as he was focused on Hydra rather than other covert objectives, which probably involved spying on the Russians. He may have even called Stalin “Uncle Joe”. There is no context for “evil Soviets/Communists” in Steve Roger’s narrative.
ALL OF THE ABOVE. I also would like to add that Steve Rogers and the Commandos fought in France, Italy, Poland, Greece — at least from what I can remember from the Hydra Map we saw in CA: TA in ‘43 and ‘44.
They most certainly, historically speaking, fought with the European resistance, which (especially in Italy) was by and large composed by socialists and communist groups. These men were their comrades, their allies; it is more than likely that Steve (and the Commandos) would’ve befriended these men, whose ideals of equanimity and equality and equal pay and socialism would have resonated a lot more with Steve, the little punk from Brooklyn with a working mom who had to fight for every inch of life allowed to him during a time where eugenics were a thing.
what if one day for 24 hours everyone with a tumblr turned into whatever their url is