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Cold War Culture

LM Freer/ EN272

Origins of the Cold War


U.S. unease over communism in the 1920s and 1930s rise of organized labor in the 30s)
Potsdam conference (July, 1945) control over Germany vs. creation of the Eastern Bloc

The Long Telegram & The Sources of Soviet Conduct (George F. Kennan)
containment & domino theories creation of NATO competing atomic weapons testing programs

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 Sofia, 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 influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Winston Churchill

The Evolving Pledge of Allegiance


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 flag 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 flag 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.

Suburbia
Postwar housing crisis Greater access to home loans for veterans Upward mobility for middle classes Growth of car culture: Interstate highway system built (See the USA in your Chevrolet) Focus on the nuclear family unit (Less emphasis on extended family/local community)

Little Boxes (conformity)


Levittown aerial photo, 1948

suburban geography both mimics and shapes post-war cultural values


Insularity, reified gender roles, consumerism, anti-communism

Consumerism
After total war can come total living (housing as consumable good; selling a new American lifestyle) Proliferation of shopping centers increases access to goods; reorients consumer away from Main Street Mass consumption: middle class starts to have access to the same goods cross-country Private space replaces public space Television becomes a common feature in most American homes (rise of mass media) Nixon & Khrushchevs Kitchen Debate, 1959

Nuclear Ambivalence (+ / -)
Emphasis on Increased science education weapons testing Space race and moon landing Our Friend The Atom Nuclear power plants Actual nuclear near-misses Duck and Cover Growth of the military-industrial complex

Atoms for Peace 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 atomic Genie


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 finished. 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 usefor 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

scientific progress shaped the lives of every day families


"In the 1950s Americans reaped the benefits of an unprecedented number of new 'wonder drugs.' During World War II pharmaceutical companies had enlarged their research and production facilities to meet the military demand for the new antibiotic, penicillin. Even before the war's end, enough penicillin was available to begin distribution to civilians in 1945. Streptomycin, tetracycline, aureomycin, and other new antibiotics soon followed. By 1958 antibiotics had saved an estimated 1.5 million American lives.
Another major advance of this era was the elimination of polio from the United States. By 1950 nearly 40,000 polio cases every year were leaving thousands of children and young adults permanently paralyzed. Early attempts at immunization using a live polio virus failed, but a breakthrough came in 1953 when Jonas Salk first tested a vaccine using an inactivated form of the virus. In 1961 Albert B. Sabin developed a successful live oral polio vaccine. With these two vaccines, the menace of polio all but disappeared.

The Lavender Scare


D.C. as an early gay community
WWII accelerated the urbanization of D.C., brings in 1000s of government workers. Local anything goes mentality: bar culture, men cruise for sex in Lafayette Park across from WHouse Postwar fears of American moral decline Kinsey reports of 1948 and 1953 (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male; Sexual Behavior in the Human Female) ramp up this fear Congress and D.C. police crack down on emerging gay communities.

Commies and Queers


Government workers thought to be homosexual were regularly targets of Sen. McCarthys infamous hearings of the supposed communist infiltration 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 conflated 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.

Youth Culture
Greater attention paid to adolescence and young adulthood Fear of sexual promiscuity among youth, exacerbated by rock-and-roll: Elvis Presley on the Milton Berle Show, the Beatles on American Bandstand

Beginning of the teen consumer: emphasis on individualism (within conformist framework)


1950s: First generation of teenagers with regular access to automobiles Beat poets emerge on the West Coast in the early 50s. Explicitly reacting against conformity; questioning authority. Interested in Eastern religions, hallucinogenic drugs. Precursors to larger, more organized movements for social change (but with different values)

civil rights movement & the 60s: timeline


1954: Brown v Board of Education
1955: Montgomery bus boycotts 1960: Woolworths lunch counter sit-in

1964-65: Civil Rights Acts passed


1964-67: urban violence/race riots (Watts, LA, 1964) 1964: Gulf of Tonkin resolution 1965: Malcolm X assassinated; over 100,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam 1968: Tet Offensive causes great increase in antiwar sentiment, assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and RFK, Democratic Convention riots in Chicago,

1961: freedom rides begin


1963: demonstrations in Birmingham (Letter from a Birmingham Jail), church bombing, murder of Medgar Evers, march on Washington (I Have a Dream), assassination of JFK