The Cold War and Civil Liberties - The Center for Teaching and

The Cold War and Civil Liberties
The Struggle to balance national
security and civil rights
Meg Gorzycki, Ed. D.
San Francisco State University
Center for Teaching and Faculty Development
Define Cold War
• Ideological contest between communism and
capitalism, 1945-1991
• Conflict between USA and USSR over which
would influence development of other nations
• Space race and as example of competition
between USA and USSR to dominate
development of new technology
• Arms race to ensure military dominance
Seeds of Socialism: 19th Century
• Industrial
• Child labor
• Poor wages
• No health care
• No pensions
• Unregulated
• Unregulated
Seeds of Socialism: 19th Century
• Unions created
• Reforms demanded
• New political theories
including anarchism and
Roots of Cold War: World War I
• Germany brutally defeats Russia on Eastern Front
• Espionage Act, 1917 amended many times to
prosecute traitors, pacifists and socialists in US
Roots of Cold War: Vladimir Lenin
• Lenin led revolutionaries to overthrow the Czar
• Lenin taught Russians the war was a capitalist venture
• Lenin consolidated state control of the economy
Roots of Cold War: Joseph Stalin
• Stalin ruled the Soviet Union from 1927-1953
• Conducted purges during 1930s
• Collectivized farms and proliferated industrialization
Roots of Cold War: Anti-Bolshevism
Red scare 1920s and 30s
Fear of labor unions
Fear of immigrants
Propaganda against socialism
Roots of Cold War: FBI &HUAC
• Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) fights
labor unions
• J. Edgar Hoover
(Director) 1924-1973.
• 1938 House Committee
on Un-American
Activities (HUAC)
Roots of Cold War: World War II
The United States and the Soviet
Union were allies in World War II
Cold War: Soviet Victories
• Soviets take Berlin, 1945
• Soviets consolidate control over Eastern Europe
Cold War: Containment
• 1947 National
Security Act (CIA
and National
Security Council)
• Containment policy
• Marshall Plan
• Atomic proliferation
• Loyalty oaths
Cold War: Blacklist
• 1946 Blacklisting begins in Hollywood
• Hollywood Ten called before HUAC
• 1957 non-cooperation begins with
• HUAC divides entertainment industry
Cold War: Target Writers and Artists
Jane Adams
W.E.B. Dubois
Lillian Hellman
Ray Bradbury
Allen Ginsburg
Charlie Chaplin
James Baldwin
Ernest Hemmingway
Joseph Alsop
Bertolt Brecht
Pearl Buck
Truman Capote
Margaret Chung
Paul Goodman
Rock Hudson
Jerome Robins
Paul Robeson
Gore Vidal
Tennessee Williams
Andy Warhol
Walter Winchell
T. S. Elliot
Ezra Pound
Upton Sinclair
James Joyce
Marianne Moore
Lorraine Hansberry
Langston Hughes
Leonard Bernstein
Norma Mailer
John Lennon
Groucho Marx
Christopher Isherwood
Danny Kaye
Georgia O’Keefe
Cold War: Homophobia
• Gay men and women
were thought especially
dangerous to national
• They were especially
vulnerable to blackmail
Cold War: Propaganda
• God was on capitalism’s side
• Communism was the devil’s work
• Communists subverted the family
Cold War: Cinema
Cold War: Academia
• Cold War
challenged limits of
academic freedom
• Campuses became
research centers for
projects including
Cold War: Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights advocates frequently accused of being
communist in order to discredit their demands and
critique of American society
Cold War: Anti-War Movement
Stereotype: “Peaceniks” are
anti-American, lazy,
ignorant, college kids,
bums, and communists
Reality: Opponents of the
war include veterans,
religious ministers, and
working citizens of all ages
and parties
Cold War: Challenged
• 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, veteran and Rand analyst
disclosed secret files about U.S. agenda in Vietnam
• 1971, New York Times Co. v. United States: Supreme
Court ruled Nixon could not impose prior restraint on
newspapers carrying Pentagon papers
Cold War: Détente 1972-1979
• Arms negotiations
• Cultural exchanges
• Complicated by
wars in Vietnam and
Middle East
• Soviet invasion
Afghanistan, 1979
Cold War: Ends
• Mikhail Gorbachev
Communist General
Party Secretary, 19851991
• Glastnost & Peristroika
• Strategic Defense
• End Breshnev Doctrine
• Berlin Wall 1989
• End Afghan War, 1989
• Dissolve USSR 1991
National Security: Since 9-11
• Islamic
fundamentalism as
the new menace of
the free world
• Sustained investment
in weapons
• Patriot Act restricts
civil liberties
National Security State: Business
Good Communists
Bad Communists
Red-Baiting in 21st Century
What do these labels
really mean?
Review and Discussion
1. What was the Cold War’s impact on civil liberties?
2. How did the state justify the restriction of liberty?
3. What role did the media play in the conflict between
national security and civil liberties?
4. Why did some people support authorities who enforced
strict national security laws and why did some not?
5. What is the citizens obligation relative to national security?
6. What are some things that complicate the citizen’s
obligation to protect national security?
7. In what ways are current American values and attitudes
towards the world similar to the those of the Cold War, and
what does this indicate about civil liberties?
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Princeton university press.
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Hoffman, D. E. (2009). The dead hand: The untold story of the cold war arms race and its dangerous legacy. New
York, NY: Anchor books.
Katzenstein, P.J. (Ed.) (1996). The culture of national security. New York, NY: Columbia Press.
Kuznick, J. & Gilbert, J. (Eds.) (2001). Rethinking Cold War culture. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Books.
McCumber, J. (2001). Time in the Ditch. American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era. Northwestern University
Painter, D. S. (1999). The Cold War: An international history. New York, NY: Routledge.
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Seldes, G. (1940/2012). Witch hunt: The techniques and profits of red-baiting. CreateSpace Independent
Publishing Platform.
Stouffer, S. A. (1955/2009). Communism, conformity and civil liberties: A cross section of the nation speaks it
mind. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Archival information about national security may be found at: They may
also be located at the CIA website:
De-classified material pertaining to the cold War may be found at
Film clip form documentary about Hollywood Ten (1950)
Anti-communist propaganda cartoon :

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