The Culture of the Cold War
After world war one peace looked inevitable. Everyone was wrong about this because a few years later world war two erupted. This great war was supposed to be the war to end all wars. In this war it was crystal clear who was the good side and who was the bad side. Almost everyone figured that if the bad side was defeated then peace couldn’t possibly escape us again. We defeated the evil Axis powers, but of course another serpent would rear its ugly head from behind the curtains. This period of a “cold war” after world war two has become one of the most complex and studied eras since America’s birth. This state of paradoxes, paranoia, and public disorientation has only ended a few years ago, but its consequences will probably stretch on into the distant future. Stephen Whitfield exhibits flawlessly how the culture that has arisen from this extraordinary era is truly a marvel of the psychology of the human mind.
During the era after the war a truly devastating “specter”, as Whitfield puts it, was present. This monster’s birth came from the writings of Karl Marx whose views were almost completely opposite from all of our capitalistic views. With these teachings Vladmir Lenin had taken over the entire country of Russia. This revolution spread to a few other countries so many figured that it could quite possibly happen here. All those with any sort of power or holding in these present state of affairs would stop at nothing to keep halt a new sort of reign. These people, according to Whitfield, were politicians of all kinds, businessmen, clergy, almost everyone. By communism infringing on sacred trysts of American ideals it became more hated then almost any crime during this time.
There was a real reason that communism was so loathed and it was that in a pretty literal sense the communism being practiced was “evil”. The countries using “communism” as their ideology were not really practicing the socialist ideas of Marx. In the fifties what America and the other democratic nations were beginning to learn about these places is that they were the most abhorrent strippers of human values and rights. Especially the paranoid dictator Joseph Stalin who took the “kill first and ask questions later” approach to problems. Stalinist Russia had some of the worst of the world’s slave labor camps known as the Gulag Archipelago. Whitfeild showed where our fears were manifested the best by giving credit to Stalinist Russia for “the largest killing fields of the twentieth century.
Nazism sympathy never quite spread over here like Stalinism did. In its pure form it stressed the brotherhood of the common people that made up the land. These thoughts were easily appealing to many people. Before the war communist and socialist ideas were quite on the rise here because the depression emphasized capitalism’s push towards the lonely individual and how free enterprise basically failed. Whitfeild refers to these communists who feel that...