ColdWar in the United States
ColdWar is a historical state of tension that resulted from political,social, economic, and cultural conflicts between the Soviet Union andthe Western bloc. Initially, the Cold War resulted in the fear of thenuclear war given that the members of the Soviet Union (such asRussia) had developed nuclear weapons that could destroy the entireworld (Mueller 621). However, it later became clear that the Cold Warwas an ideological battle that emerged when the western bloc (Americaand Europe) perceived that the Soviet Union had adopted a threateningexpansionary ideology (Mueller 610). The U.S. reacted to thisideology mainly through the formulation of domestic policies in orderto prevent the spread of communism. This paper will focus on how thecold war changed the U.S. domestic policy and culture and how theU.S. culture changes the culture of the world.
Impactof cold war on U.S. domestic policy
Thelate 1940s marked the beginning of significant change in the Americandomestic policy. The Second World War had just ended, where Europetook most of the damages. However, the fear of expansion of communismand their ideas in the world (including in America itself), theUnited Stated had to take a risky stance that plunged it into theCold War. The U.S. domestic policies started changing when JosephMcCarthy, a U.S. senator representing the Wisconsin, started thewitch-hunt program that aimed at containing the issue of progress ofcommunism in the United States (Randolph 121). The with-hunt programcreated what came to be known as McCarthyism, which a practice thatinvolved the use of accusations of treason or subversion againstpeople who communists or sympathizers of communists. The governmentpolicies of the time were directed towards fighting the spread ofcommunism in the United States.
HouseCommittee on Un-American
Althoughthe Cold War raised suspicion that a military engagement would occurin the future, the main fear Americans was not the potential impactof the physical war, but the fear of one being suspected to be acommunist of a sympathizer of communists. This resulted in the redscare, which was a critical tool that the government used to scareAmericans away from adopting communist ideologies (Tirman 3). Inaddition, the U.S. parliament for a special committee referred to asthe House Committee on Un-American practices. The primary duty of thenew committee was to investigate Americans who were suspected ofpracticing un-American activities. The term un-American activities inthis context referred to the practice of communist ideologies. Thisconfirms that that war against communism was at the heart of the U.S.government.
Theloyalty review program was a reaction to criticism raised against thegovernment for the manner in which the war against communism wasbeing conducted. The policy was issued by President Harry Trumanunder the Executive Order number 9835 in 1947. The objective of thepolicy was to set up the Loyalty Review Board that would assess anddetermine the government employees who were not loyal to thegovernment in a formal and fair way (Randolph 122). PresidentEisenhower Dwight extended the loyalty review to the private sector,where employees were required to go through a review to determine ifthey were upheld communist ideologies. Robert Oppenheimer is one ofthe top government officials who underwent the loyalty review.Oppenheimer served as Manhattan Project’s director during thedevelopment of the initial lot of atomic bombs and latter served asconsultant on the Atomic Energy Commission (Hijiya 126). Oppenheimerreceived a secret clearance in the year 1947, but was refused theclearance in the year 1954. The harsh and strict policies formulatedby the government resulted in the loss of jobs and discriminationagainst Americans who upheld communist ideologies.
FBIand anti-communism in America
FederalBureau of Investigation is one of the major agencies that thegovernment used to pursue its goal of containing the spread ofcommunism during the era of the Cold War. The Edgar Hoover, theformer director of the FBI was a strong anti-communist who played akey role in the formulation and the implementation of domesticpolicies that helped the government fight communism. For example,Hoover designed the Truman’s program known as the Loyalty Securitythat facilitated the investigation of government employees, wherethousands of them lost their jobs (Hijiya 122). The FBI alsoimplemented the government policies against communism by implementingthe responsibility program that facilitated the identification ofcommunist affiliations among layers, teachers, and other professions,where these employees were terminated without detailed investigations(Reese 9). In essence, the fear of the spread of communism during theCold War prompted the government to formulate harsh policies thataffected many Americans in negative ways.
Impactof Cold War on American culture
TheCold War imparted significant effects on the American culture betweenthe 1950s and 1960s when the fear possible nuclear attacks and thedominance of communism were at their climax. The film industrychanged its focus from the common themes (such as the history andfreedom of America) to themes that indicate the fear of nuclear warand the spread of communism. Security agencies managed to convincethe Hollywood stakeholders to produce anticommunism films in aneffort to sensitize Americans on the wrong side of the communistideologies (Rand 86). Other films warned and informed Americans onhow to protect themselves in case they were attacked using nuclearweapons. For example, the movie illustrated how Americans feared thecommunist takeover and their attempts to demonize it using allavailable media. The increase in the number of dystopian themes inthe American literature, movies, and TV programs indicates that ColdWar shifted the American culture from its core pillars (such asfreedom of expression, secularism, modernism, consumerism, andindividualism) to unique elements that limited the freedom of beliefand expression. Individualism was replaced by a perceived sense ofidentity and unity while the American practice of justice wasreplaced by force allegations and unfair investigations. Those whobelieved in communism could not proclaim it in the public becausethey feared losing jobs and being prosecuted.
Countercultureand the impact of the American culture in the world
Countercultureemerged in the 1960s, when the young Americans started diverting awayfrom long-held norms and values of the American culture. The newpractices spread fast and influenced culture in other countries. TheAmerican culture influenced the world culture in any ways, but threeof them are the most common. First, sexual freedom created anenvironment for sexual practices (such as homosexuality andpromiscuity) to thrive in the United States before spreading to othercountries (McNamara 76). These practices were mainly supported bysexual revolution, which was a sexual movement that that was formedto challenge traditional norms and codes of behavior that related tosexuality. Currently, homosexuality is a controversial issue innearly all continents.
Secondly,American Hippies played a key role in changing the lifestyle of manyyoung people in the world. Hippies were New Left members who had nopolitical drive. Some of their influential practices included wearingjeans, long hair, sandals, tie-dyed hair, and leading a lifestylethat promoted the use of recreational drugs and sexual promiscuity(McNamara 76). Some of these practices are the major caused of socialissues (such as substance abuse and the spread of sexuallytransmitted diseases) affected the society globally.
Third,the concept of feminism gained popularity in the United States beforespreading to other countries. Feminist of the 1960s aimed atcountering outdated cultural beliefs that considered women ashomemaker. The major contributors of the success of feminism (such asBetty Friedan, which wrote the book “The Feminine Mystique”)encouraged the young generation to expand and endorse the concept offeminism (Kennedy 2). Currently, the entire world is working towardsthe empowerment of women to help them participate in professionalroles in national development.
Thefear of the outbreak of nuclear war and the takeover of the Sovietplayed a critical role in changing the U.S. domestic policies and theAmerican culture during the Cold War. The government focused on theformulation of policies that could prevent the progress of communismin the United States. The policies were, in most cases, implementedthrough unfair investigations and allegations that resulted in manyAmericans losing jobs. The U.S. senate and executive joined hands tocreate and implement laws that could help the government showAmericans that they had acquired a common enemy, which was communism.This gave the executive, especially the presidents, the capacity togalvanize and marshal public support for all initiatives that thegovernment made to keep the common enemy at bay. The Cold Warexperiences changed the American culture, but the emergence of thecounterculture in the 1960s, gave the U.S. an opportunity toinfluence the world culture in both negative and positive ways.
Hijiya,A. “The Gita of J. Robert Oppenheimer”. Proceedingsof the American Philosophy Society144.2 (2000): 123-167. Print.
Kennedy,G. BettyFriedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” (1963): Myth or reality?Nottingham: University of Nottingham, 2011. Print.
McNamara,L. Waysof knowing about weapons: The Cold War’s end at the Loa Alamosnational laboratory.Washington, DC: Georgetown University, 2001. Print.
Mueller,J. “What was the Cold War about? Evidence from its ending”.PoliticalScience Quarterly119.4 (2004): 609-631. Print.
Rand,A. “Communism and anti-communism in 1940s Hollywood” Journalof Libertarian Studies19.4 (2005): 83-96. Print.
Randolph,W. “Homo-hunting in the early Cold War: Senator Kenneth Wherry andthe Homophobic side of McCarthyism”. NebraskaHistory84 (2003): 119-132. Print.
Reese,M. TheCold War and Red Scare in Washington State: A curriculum project forWashington School.Washington, DC: University of Washington.
Tirman,J. Thewar on Terror and the Cold War: They are not the same.Cambridge, MA: Center for International Studies, 2006. Print.