Cold war4

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cold war4

The Culture of the Cold War: by Stephen J. Whitfeild

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

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 they are progressives as Stalinists because they stand for ending American
civil liberties that they saw as only for the upper class. So Whitfield argues that it is
wrong to extend much sympathy to these American communists as their rights were wrongfully
stripped away because this stripping of rights is what they aspired for everyone in the
end. This new war grew out of the last war where we fought for the pure practices known as
the Four Freedoms. Russia was our ally here and fought with us to protect these ideals of
basic freedoms. To protect our self from the infiltration of these evil policies the
United States wound up ending the freedom of speech and the freedom of fear. Whitfeild
feels that America violated what we stood for during this time.

This “Red Scare” of communist infiltration was an invisible foe which, according to
Whitfeild, made it quite aware to political leaders that finding the source and ending it
was impossible. The general consensus by many leaders was that Moscow was pulling the
strings so we could not let them get away with anything and we could use any force for the
preventive action. Any force also constituted nuclear military engagement in the minds of
many public servants. As Truman announced to America that the Russians also had the bomb
many realized how catastrophic a full-blown war with the communists could be. Whitfield
writes about how the threat of complete annihilation didn’t scare everyone within the
military power system, and how some like the chairman of the congressional committee on
Atomic energy felt that the only way to save ourselves was through a preempted attack with
full force upon the communists and completely obliterate them. Many agreed with thoughts
like this and other such outrageous plans with no concern for the consequences like using
total nuclear force on the Korean communists during the war because it would be cheaper.
Probably the closest we ever got to dropping the bomb, according to Whitfield, was in a
little Asiatic territory known as Vietnam. Some key military personnel like Nixon and John
foster Dulles tried to convince Ike that we needed to drop the bomb to help the French.
Eisenhower of course refused, but Whitfield feels that if Congress and the Western allies
fighting had agreed then Ike would have went along with the proposal.

All of this nuclear foreboding stemmed from the Republican doctrine introduced during the
cold war that we would engage any Marxian movement with “massive retaliation”. Many felt
that this idea of striking terror into the enemy would work to avoid real conflict. This
doctrine though quickly clashed with sanity. Most of Washington soon realized the
magnanimity of our proposition and it was never thankfully instituted. John Foster Dulles
the secretary of state had been the main proponent behind this idea and Whitfield feels
that he scared America with his ideas more then he did the Russians. The proof that we
weren’t going to fight as such ultra conservatives like Dulles and Nixon promised was when
we didn’t back up uprising East Berlin workers in 1953, or either of the uprisings of 1956
by the Hungarians and the Poles. Since we showed that rolling back communism wasn’t
probably going to occur, anti-communistic movements grew vastly in the States. Whitfeild
states that many felt that though the Korean war ended in just a stalemate that maybe the
war here could be a complete victory.

Communism was such a horrible evil entity since it really was almost impossible to pin
down, and anything at all that could be seen as remotely positive for it brought about
swift and usually merciless persecution. Whitfeild feels that the American culture at this
time because of these facts became “politicized”. Censorship and boycotting ran rampant
through the streets of America condemning almost everything the least bit suspicious. This
wasn’t enough to keep our country safe from the read monster so FBI started compiling huge
dossiers and files on those who took part in these supposed seditious acts like novelists.
To purge this invisible beast and all its forms that were so vaguely defined was the House
Un-American Committee. This committee was founded years ago but working overtime now to
look for and act upon anything “un-American”. If you were not a hundred percent with this
committee and its ideals you were against it and subject to all sorts of prosecution where
you may not have done anything illegal, but your name would forever be ostracized as

Our country was putting political standards on our arts and entertainment, our
expressionism. We were instituting various immoral political tests on loyal US citizens.
Our government was completely violating one of if not the most important God given
freedoms that this country was based on, the freedom of speech. And the sorriest part of
all of this is that the people in general went along with all of this because they were
scared. The government scared them with their bogeyman and now they were paranoid enough
to fear and hate things that there was no reason to fear or hate. Whitfeild feels that it
is due to these facts that it is wrong to say that the culture of 1950’s America directly
coincides with the cold war. The society that the American people dwelled in at this time
was relatively free, but the political system of this time teetered on the brink of
totalitarianism. We manipulated the thoughts of our free people of this land and had them
changed to things more suitable so no one would get into trouble. In aspects like these we
were no different from our foe. Yet one of the major differences between the Stalinists,
according to Whitfield, and us is that we did value to at least some degree the
preservation of human life. When you went against the system here the most that usually
happened was that you got ostracized socially and economically. When you went against
Stalin you were extremely lucky if you weren’t killed or stuck on a tundra prison lifting
rocks for the remainder of your life.

Republicans jumped on this movement of super anti-communism much stronger and faster then
the democrats; this was almost a fatal mistake for the democrats. The movement of this era
under the paranoia of “socialist tendencies” was that if you weren’t in the fight to kill
the beast you were probably helping it or “sympathetic” to its cause. The conservative
republicans were completely gung-ho to fighting communism. Liberalism, which has always
generally been linked completely to the Democratic Party, began to be seen as soft in the
eyes of money because of actions like their ability to ruthlessly fight invisible
communists like Barry Goldwater republicans. These liberals and democrats in general who
tried to institute progressive plans to help the working class were seen as “pink”.
According to Whitfield, Pinks were those who wanted to socialize America in some Marxian
way. These people were different from the “Reds” who wanted to take over America and the
world and make Russia the world leader. Richard Nixon outwardly accused the Democratic
Party of being socialists who used the guise of liberalism. New dealers and progressives
stated to look traitorous to the American public.

The manifestation of these paranoid ravings came about with the trial of democratic
congressman Alger Hiss. Richard Nixon was sure that Hiss, a brilliant and highly revered
politician, had given away government secrets to the enemy. Whitfeild feels that there was
substantial evidence against him to merit such a trial and that he was probably guilty,
but Hiss only got convicted of perjury. According to Whitfeild the magnanimity of this
trial is so great because if a highly ranked politician could be accused then so could
anyone. The next bombshell came with the Rosenburg trial. Julius and his wife Ethel
Rosenburg were both executed for giving secrets away to the communists. This now showed
that the government was not fooling around at all and that you could have your life ruined
or even taken away for your past follies. What the judge who presided over this case said
at the reading of the verdict truly mimicked the feeling of the American public at this
time, according to Whitfield. Was that traitorous or even sympathetic actions to benefit
communists in any way was a crime ”worse then murder”.

The fears of being caught if you failed to “act right” were savagely executed the best by
republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. Joe McCarthy was a virtually unknown senator looking
for a niche to make his mark. By the summer of 1951, communism is going strong all over
the world and it looks to be spreading. How could we the most powerful country in the
world be letting this happen. The answer must be that dissension among the American people
is running amuck. No one, even the president or the military, is beyond suspicion of being
“un-American”. And gut feelings and hunches are enough to persecute any possible suspects
because we must get them before they get us. According to Whitfield, this is the paranoid
world where the senator resides. Joe McCarthy felt that there was a dark conspiracy of
ignominy that existed that was much more vast then anyone realized and that there should
be nothing to stop the search of justice, even the truth.

This contemptuous cur of a man used anything at his disposal including lies, and slander
to get what he wanted. Joe McCarthy created his image as some invincible “demagogue”
according to Whitfield. The senator on his own never truly found a single communist. There
was a lot of dissent against him and his practices, but everyone, including even the
military, were afraid to speak out against him for fear of losing their credibility for he
never had enough information to actually prosecute. Over the course of the early fifties
Senator McCarthy along with HUAC and McCarthy’s personal staff of lawyers, or cronies,
including Roy Cohn and G. David Schine destroyed the careers and devastated the lives of
many innocent individuals who made any slight mistake that caught McCarthy’s attention.
With the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover helping him along McCarthy became unstoppable during the
end of Truman’s term and the beginning of Eisonhower’s, but there were a lot of people who
hated him including powerful foes like the president and the military. This is what
eventually abdicated Joe from his throne of power. As the president began to ignore him
and the military released news of McCarthy’s attempt to stop Schine from going to the
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