Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    02 Jan '13 14:13
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written in 1900, is thought by some to be a parable for the Populist campaign of William Jennings Bryan, who ran for president on the 'Free Silver' platform (first in 1896) - vowing to replace the gold standard with a bimetallic system that would allow for currency to be backed by silver as well as gold at the rate of 16 ounces to 1. The idea was to increase the money supply to help alleviate the burden on debtors. The measure was opposed by creditors who wanted to maintain a tight money supply.

    The theory was first proposed by Harry Littlefield in the 1960s and although it is certainly open to dispute the argument is an interesting one. The main elements are as follows:

    • The cyclone at the beginning represents the Populist political movement which swept over the US in the 1890s.

    • Dorothy represents the Midwestern farm families that were facing a massive wave of foreclosures following the panic of 1893.

    • The Scarecrow represents farmers (who didn't have the brains to avoid the debt trap).

    • The Tin Man represents industrial workers (who didn't have the heart to act in solidarity with the farmers).

    • The Cowardly Lion represents either the political class (who didn't have the courage to intervene), or William Jennings Bryan himself, who was ridiculed by Republicans as being indecisive and cowardly.

    • The Yellow Brick Road represents the gold standard.

    • The Silver Slippers (they were silver in the book, not ruby) represents the Free Silver movement.

    • The Wicked Witches of the East and West represent the evil railroad and oil barons of the West and the banking interests of the East.

    • The Good Witches of the North and South represent Southern farmers and Northern industrial workers.

    • The Wizard represents the President (not a very good wizard).

    • Oz, of course, is the standard abbreviation for ounces, as in 16 oz. of silver to 1 oz. gold in the proposed bimetallic system.

    • The poppy fields represent the anti-imperialism of William Jennings Bryan, which threatened to distract him from the Free Silver platform.

    • Following the road of gold leads eventually only to the Emerald City, which may symbolize the fraudulent world of greenback paper money that only pretends to have value.

    So there you have it. Who knew that this seemingly simple tale possibly contains a nod to the Populist rabble rousing of the 1890s?
  2. 02 Jan '13 14:54
    Originally posted by rwingett
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written in 1900, is thought by some to be a parable for the Populist campaign of William Jennings Bryan, who ran for president on the 'Free Silver' platform (first in 1896) - vowing to replace the gold standard with a bimetallic system that would allow for currency to be backed by silver as well as gold at the rate of 16 o ...[text shortened]... seemingly simple tale possibly contains a nod to the Populist rabble rousing of the 1890s?
    That's a very interesting take on a very popular story.

    I would never have thought about linking up that story
    with the free silver theory.

    So do you reckon so?

    There are probably other stories out there with an Owellian take.

    That is a story written like a fairy tale, but attempting to represent
    something else that is going on in society.

    Stories like Animal Farm or A Clockwork Orange.
  3. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    03 Jan '13 03:26
    Originally posted by johnnylongwoody
    That's a very interesting take on a very popular story.

    I would never have thought about linking up that story
    with the free silver theory.

    So do you reckon so?

    There are probably other stories out there with an Owellian take.

    That is a story written like a fairy tale, but attempting to represent
    something else that is going on in society.

    Stories like Animal Farm or A Clockwork Orange.
    From what I've read, the theory has fallen out of favor in recent years. It seems probable that Baum did intend some kind of subtle political parable, but there seem to be various interpretations over what that may have been.

    Books like Animal Farm were a little more overt in their symbolism, and I haven't read Clockwork Orange.
  4. 03 Jan '13 07:11
    Very interesting
  5. 03 Jan '13 16:00
    Originally posted by rwingett
    From what I've read, the theory has fallen out of favor in recent years. It seems probable that Baum did intend some kind of subtle political parable, but there seem to be various interpretations over what that may have been.

    Books like Animal Farm were a little more overt in their symbolism, and I haven't read Clockwork Orange.
    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess.

    Made into a movie in 1971.
    Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
    Starring Malcolm McDowell.

    Very violent picture set in a futuristic Britain.

    Have a look at the movie, I won't spoil it for you.
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    04 Jan '13 04:34
    Originally posted by rwingett
    • The Yellow Brick Road represents the gold standard.

    -snip-

    • Following the road of gold leads eventually only to the Emerald City, which may symbolize the fraudulent world of greenback paper money that only pretends to have value.
    Isn't that the same road? How does the road both symbolize the gold standard and useless greenback money with no value?
  7. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    04 Jan '13 11:26
    Originally posted by sh76
    Isn't that the same road? How does the road both symbolize the gold standard and useless greenback money with no value?
    The yellow brick road is the gold standard. The Emerald City is greenback money.
  8. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    04 Jan '13 13:13
    Originally posted by rwingett
    The yellow brick road is the gold standard. The Emerald City is greenback money.
    So why does the gold standard lead to paper money?
  9. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    04 Jan '13 13:41
    Originally posted by sh76
    So why does the gold standard lead to paper money?
    I'm not really sure. I'm only quoting from one of the websites I visited.

    It might be that trading gold itself is too cumbersome and that it inevitably leads to a paper currency being used as a stand in. But I'm only speculating.