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Mountain of Paradise

Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization


Josef Chytry

Mountain of Paradise challenges conventional taxonomies of world civilizations by introducing a new and formidable candidate: the civilization of Greater California presently incubating as the evolution of California into a veritable «nation-state» or «world commonwealth» according to contemporary commentators and scholars. Through a series of reflective essays it clarifies the momentous implications of this claim by a thorough account of the genealogical origins of «California», permutation into its speculative moment of self-identity thanks to prolonged creative interchange with European thought and philosophy, advancement to status of a socio-economic powerhouse by the 1950s and 1960s, invention of distinctly Californian variants of political economy by the 1970s and 1980s, and present domination over regions formerly classified as «Greater California». In its range and originality Mountain of Paradise constitutes a robust contribution to current political, social, economic and global thematics.


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Chapter 4. Golden Age? The California Fifties as Watershed


119 Chapter 4 A Golden Age? The California Fifties as Watershed1 California in the Fifties – for many observers this was the spectacular, the “golden” moment of California “civilization.” As never before, California seemed to have found the secret to the “good life,” and increasingly the rest of America, as well as the world, began to pay serious attention to what was “going on” in California. All the more significant then is the appearance of Kevin Starr’s appropriately titled Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance 1950–1963 (2009), the book that fans of his epic venture Americans and the California Dream have long awaited.2 As far back as 1973 Starr came out with the highly regarded Ameri- cans and the California Dream which covered the period 1850–1915 in Califor- nian history. For the occasional reader, there was no clear indication at that time that it was to be the start of a long narrative road. Even what became the second volume in the series, Inventing the Dream (1985), which shifted to the Califor- nia Southland for roughly the same period, seemed more by way of rounding out Starr’s account for both parts of California, North and South. However, with Material Dreams (1990), which extended the theme to 1920s Southern California, Starr was off and running, eventually demarcating the distant 1950–1963 period as his final arrival point for the celebration of a California that, as underscored by its permanent ascension around 1962 to the most populous state of...

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