Way back during the cold war the US developed particular patterns of thinking. These patterns reflected the times and the situation of the times. They were relevent then and had a truth, at least from the American point of view. The problem is that many of these mentalities are no longer relevent but yet they are being continued. To me it gives the US the quality of not being with the times.
These mentalities were created in a time when the US was developing its sense of pride and developing as a nation. In many ways, it helped define the country and what it is for many people. As a result, they have become deeply ingrained in the American character and their identity. But many of these viewpoints were created at a specific time in US history and in response to a unique situation. The cold war was, in many ways, a very unique and unusual situation, unlike anything we’ve seen before. As a result, it created unique responses and points of view to deal with it. As a result of its uniqueness these points of view are only relevent for that situation. Since the cold war is over and we are moving farther from it, many of these points of views are seemingly more odd and out of place than ever. But, being a part of national identity, they are not going to disappear easily.
Much of cold war thinking is taking America’s beliefs and principles farther than they needed to go, even to the point of ridiculousness and absurdity. Many of the beliefs of the US, I think, are good as a principle but when they are taken to the letter it creates a warped way of looking at things. One of the failures, I believe, of the American point of view is that they took a political point of view (which is all it is) and tried to make a whole life based on that. This point of view, though sounding good politically, is not sufficient nor extensive enough to create a lifestyle out of it . . . but, yet, that has what they have done. The cold war mentality, which is rooted in emphasizing American political values, gave a reason to further this limited perspective and point of view of life. Freedom, democracy, rights, and the principle of the people were taken to unbelievably ridicuous proportions and distortions. This created a lot of weird warped ways in American society that pursist even to today.
Its interesting that there is a ‘look’ that is very unique to some guys brought up in this era. I call it the ‘cold war look’. It’s usually has a quality of someone with a intense, hard, and concentrated stare. His face is somewhat tense and his lips are often pursed-like together. The basic impression I get from this look is a ‘Mr. American whose going to get the job done at all cost because he’s being threatened.’ These guys tend to have big egos, are arrogant and cocky, and think they are right in everything. In many ways, this reflects some common qualities in the cold war mentality: arrogance, self-righteousness, cockiness, and the idea that what he thinks is the only thing that matters.
Being that there is a competition with a rival political/economic system there is a tendency to glorify their political/economic system to no end. They think their system is the best and find every means to make it so, even at the expense of downplaying and ridiculing other peoples political/economic system.
Because their political/economic system is ‘right’ there is a tendency to villainize other peoples political/economic system. They are quick and eager to find fault with other peoples viewpoints and problems. I can still remember how any problem in the world, no matter what, was used to show that their system was flawed and ours was right.
There is also a tendency where they think they need to ‘convert’ the world to their political/economic point of view. This ‘conversion’ can and has been violent in its manifestations. They seem to think that if everyone is like them they’ll be happier.
The cold war thinking tends to be self-righteous and arrogant. Many Americans, even today, seem to think they are the only ones who know how to run a country. They also have become self-proclaimed representatives of the people and what the people want. I’ve seen quite a few who seem to think they are the only ones in the world who knows what the people want.
Because the cold war is rooted in a threat they are eager to find ‘enemies’ in the world. I was often stunned how easily many people saw threats and enemies everywhere. I recall how many Americans would jump on any reason to turn some country into an enemy. I’ve seen many Americans who, if someone criticized them, they’d turn them into these horrible enemies and threat.
And if anyone did pose a threat then Mr. American would turn it into a threat to his ‘way of life’, even though it had nothing to do with it. They acted like any threat was a threat to their wonderful political/economic system. I’ve heard Americans remark that the world was jealous of them, because their political/economic system is so good, so people wanted to destroy us . . . there’s a ‘world plot’ to destroy our ‘way of life’ and government. What arrogance! What paranoia! That’s so . . . cold warish.
Also because there was a threat they were quick to get revenge. Remember, though, that nothing really happened in the cold war. There was no ‘war’, as such, only a possible threat. Many cold war Americans wanted revenge for something that never happened, that was in their own minds. This shows how a lot of cold war thinking was a situation not based in actions but in a persons mind. In effect, the US was fighting a ‘phantom enemy’.
Because everything was in their minds, there was a tendency for them to, in a way, ‘make up’ all this stuff going on which has no basis in anything. Cold war thinking was always based in a mental fabrication of what ‘might happen’ or what ‘could happen’. Very seldom was it looked at from the point of view of what is actually happening (which, actually, was nothing much).
Because the cold war is rooted in fear there is a great tendency to fear everything and be paranoid about everything. This expanded out beyond the cold war themes and into everyday life. Anything that could be construed as a ‘threat’ was often blown out of proportion and exagerated.
Since the US was glorifying its principles and beliefs, which are rooted in law and the constitution, they became used to accentuate certain aspects of the law. This caused horrible distortions and abuses in the legal system. Though they were good principles they were exaggerated and distorted beyond belief to the point of ridiculousness. This generally included principles of equality, rights, and themes involving the people. Now about all you have to do is yell these themes and you’ll get your way . . . by law! Whether its right or wrong it doesn’t matter.
Because the cold war mentality is emphasizing Americas principles its almost like various groups tried to reenact the American war of Independence, stating similar themes and similar situations. This would include the blacks and all the commotion about racism and civil rights. This was also used by the females and feminism. In some ways, all the hippi stuff and adolescent rebellion in the 60’s has root in this same line of thought. Think of it . . . an endless war of independence . . . I wonder who will seek their independence next? And whose going to be the oppressors? Someone has to be to fit this point of view . . .
There developed what I often call the ‘hate myth’. In the cold war, there is a belief that a lot of the problems of the war were created by hatred. This point of view was seen especially in the late 60’s with all its emphasis on ‘love’. This emphasis on ‘love as a solution’ no doubt originated from Christianity which preached loving your enemy and love in general. Remember that most of the common people were Protestants at that time. Its only natural they’d take Christian principles and use it to interpret what was going on. As a result, this point of view became quite common during this era. In a way, it became a ‘common persons interpretation’ of what was going on, as it was often held by common everyday Protestant people. How many times have I heard it said that if we all just ‘loved one another’ all the problems would go away? The problem is that the cold war, and its problems, had nothing to do with ‘love’ and ‘hate’. It was purely political and related with policies. The threat of nuclear war was not because people hated each other. This point of view created a whole erronous way of looking at things and interpreting what was going on. With this point of view, a lot of problems are all created as a result of hate. Any form of what appeared to be hatred was viewed horribly bad. In some ways, the idea of hatred changed as a result of the cold war. It became associated with horrible destruction, damage, and death (which it seldom did). I’ve seen it where hate was viewed like WWIII (as, remember, this point of view tends to see hatred as causing it). Because of this, there became a fear of any hatred and a distortion of what it was. As a result, a person can be convicted of things like ‘hate crimes’ and such.
There developed a very strong tendency to attack authority. In many ways, they became anti-authority. Any authority was blamed for the cold war and any other problems. This began a slow undermining, really, of the whole American society that continues to this day.
The government became viewed as oppressive. Because of the emphasizing of American values and beliefs, as well as trying to reenact the War of Independence, it was only natural that, with this way of thinking, the government would have to become oppressive (whether it was or not). Remember that the whole US point of view of things is that the government oppresses the people. In order to maintain their principles (and, subsequantly, their pride) they have to maintain this point of view . . . and this they did.
This shows that a major flaw in the American way of looking at things is that it is, basically, anti-government or, rather, it is paranoid of the government. This, oftentimes, turns into nothing but a blind attack of any authority. As a result, any time American values are called up there must be some form of authority (government, politicians, morality, etc.) that must be attacked. This means that a major flaw in the American point of view is that it is inherently undermining and debasing. Without these ‘authorities’ a community of people cannot survive. Unstead of supporting authority they spend all their time in debasing it. This makes the American point of view an undercutting point of view, something like pulling the carpet from underneath your own feet.
Since authority is associated with the male there became a tendency to be anti-male. As a result, many male things are often looked at in a bad way. A male cannot get mad, punish, fight, spank his kids, etc. Not only that, our authority seems like its being perpetually wittled down. Remember that we are the ones who oppressed the females, enslaving them in the kitchen (my God, we are oppresive tyrants)! Many times I’ve seen us debased and undermined . . . and usually just to fit that stupid American point of view.
The cold war mentality created what to me is a weird, absurd, and out dated way of looking at oneself and the world. These points of view, really, no longer have much relevence nowadays. The cold war is over. Things have moved on. We are now dealilng with a whole new situation in life. These points of view, antiquated and out of place, do not have a place in the current times, I believe. America, really, needs to find new ways of looking at things.
I have repetetively emphasized, over the years, that we need to move on beyond the cold war. I still feel that if the US does not do this it will be lagging behind other countries in the world. There is proof that this is so.