Cracks Behind the Lines

These papers were written on May 1, 2000 and May 20, 2000 while I was in 11th grade at Winchester Thurston School for Cold War World with Dr. Michael Naragon.

Cracks Behind the Lines:� The Cold War during the 1960′s

Part I

During the 1960′s, the way in which the United States was waging war in Vietnam caused some Americans to question America’s role in the Cold War.� As a result of this, several groups of Americans challenged the American government by bringing into question the morality of the Vietnam Conflict as well as the Cold War in general.� These groups articulated their beliefs in The Port Huron Statement (1962) by the Students for a Democratic Society, The May Second Movement (1966) by the Progressive Labor Party and the Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam (1967) by Martin Luther King Jr.�

The Port Huron Statement, written in 1962 by Tom Hayden, became the founding statement of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), an offshoot of the League for Industrial Democracy, part of an old liberal trade union movement.� It claimed that the Cold War mentality prevalent in America prohibited the growth of true democracy in America.� It argued that this was because one could easily muzzle another’s freedom of speech simply by accusing him of being a communist.� This has its historical basis in the Red Scare of the 1940′s and 1950′s in which the Cold War had generated a mass communist hysteria in the United States.� This ideology known as McCarthyism criminalized communism.� By 1950, the United States was so adamantly anti-communist that intellectual thought had nearly become impossible.� The SDS also argued that the Cold War was prohibiting the development of true freedom around the world because of all of the countries that were affected by it.�

The SDS decided that it was necessary to end the Cold War in order to free the United States from the intellectual bonds it had created.� They believed that five measures were required to do this.� The first was unilateral nuclear disarmament.� The second was to abandon the policy of rollback as dictated by NSC 68, as this had caused problems in Korea.� The third was to withdraw from NATO.� The fourth was to stop aiding corrupt anti-communist regimes; particularly the one in South Vietnam led by Ngo Dinh Diem.� Lastly, the SDS called for the United States to practice a policy of non-alignment so as to rid itself of foreign entanglements as well as to ensure that small countries are no longer pulled into the problems of the Cold War.� The SDS wanted to shatter the Cold War state of mind so as to break out of the Cold War bonds.� They realized that in order to do this, the United States would need to change its policies as well as its values.�

In 1964, when a naval skirmish erupted in the Gulf of Tonkin, President Lyndon Baines Johnson urged Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.� Although it was quite unclear as to whether or not the battle was provoked or if the Americans had violated North Vietnamese territorial waters, Johnson alleged that the “North Vietnamese regime had conducted further deliberate attacks against U.S. naval vessels operating in international waters”[1].� When Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, it allowed Johnson, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggressions until “the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured”[2].� This “blank check” allowed the President to begin the systematic bombing of Vietnam without declaring war.� This happened in February 1965, the day after many universities had held (established??) anti-war committees.� In response to this, the SDS organized the March on Washington on April 17, 1965.� Twenty thousand attended in order to protest the war.� During the rally, the president of the SDS, Paul Potter, gave a speech in which he argued that the government had placed national values above human values in the Vietnam Conflict.� In this way, the SDS had used the Vietnam Conflict as a magnifying glass in order to demonstrate the problems caused by the Cold War.�

The May Second Movement continued the SDS belief that the Cold War has corrupted the United States and eroded true values.� They blamed the universities for being the root of all the problems.� The May Second Movement argued that because of the “a-historical education” the universities were generating mindless machines to serve the corrupt institutions that waged the Cold War.� They believed that the Cold War was entirely based on lies created by those who stood to gain from it; they believed that war led to good business for the industrializing capitalists.� In this way, they argued, the United States had created a business empire protected by a military empire all under the guise of protecting democracy.� They argued that this in actuality stifled democracy, thus achieving the opposite of what the United States was claiming to achieve.� They believed that the United States become imperialist and was using the Cold War in order to promote Capitalism, not democracy.�

The May Second Movement believed that the only way to return to a more democratic state in the United States was for protesters to adopt an ideology of ideological radicalism.� They believed that the United States’ participation in the Vietnam Conflict had formed a government based on lies and that therefore, it was not enough to oppose the war; it was necessary to oppose the establishment.� By doing this, one will in turn be opposing the war.� They argued that such an ideological shift would be necessary to break out of the bonds created by the Cold War.� They condemned the Cold War system as well as the system that created it.� The May Second Movement proposed a four-pronged attack to re-establish true values in the United States.� First, they proposed the idea of the Free University, such as the Free University of New York (F.U.N.Y), in which students would gather to teach themselves.� They also sought to bring an end to the war by appealing to workers to end the support that they have given to the war through their work in industry, calling for an end to the draft and donating blood to the National Liberation Front (NLF).� Giving blood to the NLF is symbolic of using blood as an ameliorative force rather than a destructive one.�

Like the SDS and the May Second Movement, Martin Luther King showed through his Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam that he believed that the Vietnam Conflict has corrupted American values.� In his speech, he appeals to Americans to remove the Cold War mentality that has blinded them from seeing the truth.� He states several reasons why he is opposed to the conflict in Vietnam.� First, he states, the war is detrimental to the poor of the United States because proposed programs to improve the conditions of the poor were forgotten as the United States concentrated on waging war.� In addition, the poor were exploited as they were drafted in large numbers to die in Vietnam in order to secure liberties that are denied to them in the United States.� King, adamant peacekeeper, also believed that he could not preach anti-violence while the United States government was in the practice of using violence in order to solve their problems.� For these and other reasons, King believed that the Cold War, particularly the Vietnam Conflict, was “America’s soul”.

King also argued that America’s intentions in Vietnam were un-American and at times hypocritical.� Even though Vietnam had declared its independence, the United States refused to recognize them and even aided the French in re-colonizing them.� The United States also encouraged French colonization of Vietnam.� The United States also denied Vietnam the independence and land reform that it sought to achieve through the Geneva Accords.� Instead, the United States supported corrupt governments, which were not based in popular support.� In these ways, the United States had turned its back on its traditional values of protecting autonomous self-governments.� Instead of aiding the Vietnamese, as the United States believed, King argued that they were instead destroying the country through their fighting tactics.� King also agreed that the United States no longer had benevolent intentions in Vietnam, rather they sought to acquire it as an American colony.� In order to reform itself, King, like the other reformers, called for revolution in values.� He believed that this was America’s “best defense against communism.” He believed that the United States should support revolutions against oppressive regimes and eventually, humanity would work towards its own good.

These documents show that while many in the United States supported the Cold War, the Vietnam Conflict caused many Americans to question their countries intentions.� Many people had come to believe that the Cold War had affected the way in which people see things.� These “cold war goggles” in turn corrupted American policy and values.� The solution for many was to end the Cold War by reforming American values as well as the United States government.

[ 1 ] Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1964.� Available online at:��
[ 2 ] United States Statutes at Large, 1964, p. 384 (Gulf of Tonkin Resolution).� Available online at:�

Part II:� The Chinese Cultural Revolution

In 1961, Mao, moved to purify the Communist Party which he believed had been corrupted by capitalists and reactionaries.� To do this, he established the Socialist Education Movement, which consisted of students from universities (not unlike the Students for a Democratic Society).� This movement was dedicated to reviving the class struggle and purifying the revolution.� They did this by singling out individuals and denouncing them publicly.� This method continued to be used when the movement evolved into the Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966.�

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong and his supporters used propaganda posters to sustain revolutionary fervor.� These posters attacked the four old elements, customs, habits, culture and thinking.� Mao wanted to completely replace these elements, which he saw as counter revolutionary, with new revolutionary elements so as to keep the people mobilized for his cause and to maintain a constant state of revolution.� In Mao’s �Talks at the Yan’an forum on literature and art�, he stated that art was a necessary component of the revolution to unify the people and defeat the enemy.� While all the posters contained text messages, they relied mostly on images to put forth their messages.� This was because the posters were partially aimed towards the illiterate laborers and peasants.�

The dominant color in all the posters was red, the symbol of the revolution.� Various hues of red were often used in the background or to accentuate certain parts of the poster.� In addition, skin tones were almost always based in red.� Dark colors were reserved for depicting enemies to the revolution.� This was because the antagonists in Chinese operas wore dark clothing and dark or gray makeup.� In depicting the Chairman Mao, the painters were required to use warm red tones with yellow ochre for accentuation.� They were also forbidden to use blue green or black.� Olive drab was also very often used as it was the uniform color of Mao’s Red Guards that Mao had established to achieve a form of unified support.�

The image of Mao was also prevalent in many of the posters.� In those in which he appears, he is always the dominant figure, either in the background looking over the revolution or leading a crowd.� Several times, he is drawn in place of the sun with rays of light extending outward from him.� In posters with Mao, the other characters are often depicted to be happy, as was often the case with the crowds that swarmed to the Chairman.� Many of the posters also depicted revolutionaries carrying copies of Mao’s works.� They were either waving Mao’s Little Red Book or displaying a copy of Mao’s Collected Works.� These images established Mao as the undisputed father of the revolution.�

The text messages in the posters praise Mao and the revolution.� They also educated the public on how to be a proper revolutionary.� They encouraged the people to fully participate in the revolution by criticizing the internal enemies such as old landlords and factory managers.� These people were portrayed in the dark colors used for the enemies of the revolution.� This also shows how Mao sought to revolutionize Chinese society.� They also encouraged the people to join the military to serve the revolution.

Finally, the people depicted in the posters were students, workers, peasants and soldiers.� It was the proletarians who were the essence of the revolution.

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