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L.

M. Freer EN272 FIT/SUNY Spring 2013

CULTURAL, POLITICAL, AND MILITARY FLASHPOINTS


THE IRON CURTAIN


From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Soa, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet inuence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Winston Churchill, 1946

1920s-1930s: U.S. unease over communism; rise of organized labor July 1945: Potsdam conference Creation of NATO, expansion of Eastern Bloc, postwar control of Germany Kennans The Long Telegram & The Sources of Soviet Conduct containment & domino theories Competing atomic weapons testing programs

1892: I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 1923: I pledge allegiance to the ag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 1954: I pledge allegiance to the ag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Post-war urban housing crisis & baby boom GI Bill = upward mobility
access to home loans, higher

1950s-60s: interstate highway system built


cars become culture

ed

Forces focus on the nuclear family unit


loss of intergenerational living

Emergence of middle classes & mass culture

both mimics and shapes post-war cultural values:


insularity reied gender roles consumerism anti-communism

Mass or mainstream culture is created through acts of consumption


housing as a consumable good middle class starts to have access to the same goods cross-country new inventions which improve daily life are available for purchase rise of mass media

TV is a common feature in most American homes by the end of the 1950s

Shopping centers proliferate


increase access to goods reorient consumers away from Main Street private space replaces public space

Consumption is evidence of the superiority of American democracy in the face of global communism!

reduces possibilities of free speech & assembly

Emphasis on science education Space race and moon landing Our Friend The Atom Nuclear power plants

Increased weapons testing Actual nuclear near-misses Duck and Cover Growth of the military-industrial complex Anti-communist rhetoric

Atoms for Peace

It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace. The United States would be more than willing--it would be proud to take up with others principally involved the development of plans whereby such peaceful use of atomic energy would be expedited. President Eisenhower addresses the U.N. General Assembly, December 1953

The hands of the Clock of Doom have moved again Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1953

Deep in the tiny atom lies hidden a tremendous force. This force has entered the scene of our modern world as a most frightening power of destruction We all know of the story of the military atom, and we all wish that it werent true. But, fortunately, the story is not yet nished. So far, the atom is a superb villain. Its power of destruction is foremost in our minds. But the same power can be put to use for the welfare of all mankind. It is up to us to give the story a happy ending. If we use atomic energy wisely, we can make a hero out of a villain. The Walt Disney Story of Our Friend the Atom, 1956

Wonder Drugs

1945: Penicillin made available to civilians Other antibiotics soon follow: streptomycin, tetracycline,

Polio Vaccine

aureomycin, etcetera By 1958: antibiotics have saved an estimated 1.5 million American lives
By 1950: 40,000 cases of polio/year in the United States,

crippling or paralyzing children 1953: Jonas Salk develops the rst polio vaccine 1961: Albert Sabin develops an additional, more advanced vaccine. Together, Salk and Sabins vaccines eradicate the polio menace

D.C. = early LGBT community

Local anything goes mentality


WWII accelerates urbanization, brings in 1000s of workers bar culture men cruise for sex in Lafayette Park, across from White House

Postwar fears of American moral decline

Congress and D.C. police crack down on emerging gay communities

anti-communism is tied to a perception of superior morality Kinsey reports of 1948 and 1953 (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male; Sexual Behavior in the Human Female) ramp up this fear

Government workers thought to be homosexual were regularly targets of Sen. McCarthys infamous hearings of the supposed communist inltration of the U.S. government. Homosexuality was seen as a mental illness or a contagiona communicable disease, akin to Communism. Susceptibility to one proved susceptibility to the other. Homosexuals and Communists were often conated in popular media. Both hidden subcultures were considered immoral or Godless at a time when morality and religion were key features of American public life.

Economic stability of the middle classes = greater attention paid to adolescence and young adulthood

Baby boom of the 40s = teenagers of the 50s and 60s Fear of sexual promiscuity among youth, exacerbated by rock-and-roll

Beat poets emerge on the West Coast in the early 1950s


Beginning of the teen consumer: emphasis on individualism (within conformist framework) 1950s: 1st generation of teenagers with regular access to automobiles Explicitly reacting against conformity & questioning authority Interested in Eastern religions, hallucinogenic drugs Precursors to larger, more organized youth movements for social change

Elvis Presley on the Milton Berle Show The Beatles on American Bandstand