The 1950’s

HOME WORK  pgs 779-784  Under Terms and Names do all except Hollywood Ten.  Five lines of explaination for each.



The 1950s is  a decade of  contrasts.

We won the war, but we were fighting the cold war.

We were the land of freedom, yet McCarthy was doing witch hunts

We were the land of equality, yet blacks of the south were segregated.

And in this time we created the model of the best life called “suburbia”, but cultural bubbles of discontent were rumbling in the air.


We’re going to look at three things concerning the 1950s.  1st, the cold war, then Mcarthyism then suburbia and its discontents.

Cold War


After WWII the West still controls almost all of the  world.  Remember imperialism? 

At the end of WWII they have listened to the allies talk about democracy.  They heard that hitler was evil because he didn’t let people vote, but ruled them absolutely.  They said what about us?  How come the west rules us andwe don’t get to run our own countries.    And the West is tired from fighting.


One by one the countries fight their Ex-Western masters off.  To do so they either court backing by the communists or the capitalists.  By the Russians or the US.  Some go each way.  As such, the Superpowers fight it out for world domination without fighting eachother.  That is why it is called a “cold war”.   We superpowers fight without going to battle, directly, with going to war.


During the beginning of this our president was Harry Truman (FDRs vice-president).  Truman was president from 1945-53. Dwight D Eisenhower was 1953 - 1961.


the cold war in grand scope

Draw a map of the world. have them do it too.

Draw areas that had gone commie and areas that hadn’t. Mention the Cuban missle crisis, mention nicaragua, el salvador, cuba, vietnam, cuba.  We already spoke of Arbenz in Guatemala.



PLAY SOME OF ATOMIC CAFE Start with the two worlds or back it to the atomic bomb footage.  Then play 20 minutes.  At half way through there is korea and then mcCarthy and then Rosenbergs in the last 3 minutes of this portion.




The deal after WWII - the division of Germany.   Germany was to be divided and the East portion was to have free elections.    The leader that agreed to this was Stalin. 


But the Soviet Union was very slow in getting its troops out.  And The USSR started supplying arms to rebels in Greece.  And in 1946 Winston Churchill noted that there was an “iron curtain” descending across the continent.


Now western Europe was decimated by the war.  And poor people do crazy things.  In order to stabalize Western Europe, we came up with with “The Marshall Plan”  This 1947 plan was named after secretary of state George C. Marshall.    It was to rebuild the western powers.  Free powers Spain was not invited.


The commies said that this was western imperialism, and some US senators didn’t want to vote for it, but  in 1948, february, commies took over czechloslavakia and in April we voted the first 4 of 12 billion dollars for it. 


It worked.  By the end of 1950 industrial production was up to prewar levels.  And ever since big economic recovery plans have been called “Marshal Plans”


Unfortunately, by leaving Eastern Europeans out of the marshall plan it made them more dependent on the soviet Union.



After the announcement of the Marshall plan being in the lanning stage  Part of this being solid was the coup in Czechloslavakia.


In reaction to this the West announced it would make western germany one.  Then Stalin ordered the Berlin Blockade.


Truman was unwilling to risk war.  So we airlifted food into the city for a year.  Then the Russians backed down and let us use the road and train again.


As a result of this we created NATO.  Nato said that an attack upon one, would be considered an attack upon all.  This was It was 12 countries of western europe and  turkey and greece.  And we commissioned a joint military.


In 1955 the commies created the Warsaw Pact.  This was a pact of 9 Eastern European countries , under the guidance of Russia, that would oppose western imperialism. 


Talk a bit about NATO today and Kosovo.


The soviet unions blockade of Berlin. 

In 1949 Russia explodes a nuclear bomb.



show the 20th century “Mao Tse Tung” segment (it’s 10 minutes)


This led to us supporting the legitimate government which was located in Taiwan.  The russians supported the actual government which was Mao’s on the mainland.  Little chaing kai sheck was recognized on the security councel and russia boycotted in protest.


By the way, our generous treaty with Japan required that they stay out of war forever.  This was to stop them from being militaristic.  It also meant that, if after the commies took china, we were to keep them free we had to supply them with military protection.  This allowed them to put their economy towards industrial pursuits and kicking our asses economically.


Fallout from all WWII in Asia and Europe isw that the US becomes the world military.



After WWII, Korea was divided in two.  It was divided between russia and the united states at the 38th parallel.  The south had elections and elected Syngman rhee.  The north became ruled y the Kim Ill sung family.  The south would have liked to have liberated the north, but we only gave it a defensive little military backup and in 1949 we withdrew our military. 


On June 24th 1950, the North Korean communists attacked south korea.  They caugght us and the south koreans by suprise.  The UN decided to fight back.  Us and 15 other nations formed an army.  It is the first such action by the UN.  We and south Koreans were 91 % of the troops.


Tell fo inchon and the history of General Douglas MacArthur


South and Central America

Tell a little of each war & he may be a son of a ___  but he’s our s o b



Pretty much every place in Africa is fought over.



Steve Early Speaks






We got a little nutty about the concept of communists being everywhere.  The color of communism is Red.  The Societ unions flag was red.


This was the second “red scare”.  In 1919-21 when the communists took Russia we got really scared about communism.   If you remember the woman who whored herself to get a gun to shoot Carnegies’ manager was Emma Goldberg.  She was called “red emma”.  We sent her and lots of eastern europeans back for being communists.


And, of course, during WW II we were friends with the commies.  But that ended quickly.


Two things made us really nutty about communists

1) We “lost” China.


2) Also in 1949 the Russians exploded the atom bomb. 

Think about the implications of this. 

Think of bombs bursting in air.  We were scared of the Commies.  At this point, every home got a bomb shelter.  You had it in your back yard and it had provisions to live for a few years.  They had air raid drills.


But how did they do it so quickly?  There must have been spys.  And we found some.  These were Ethel and Julius rosenberg.  And if they could have done it anyone could have.  They were the people next door.  We found them guilty and fried both.   Julius went quickly. Ethel took two pulls.


The Ball gets rolling

To search for communists in the film industry, in 1938, the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).  The most important head of it was Senator Joseph McCarthy.  They were set up to look for communist.


They would pull you into a big congressional room with tons of audience and your tables facing theirs.  But their tables are above you and then they asked “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”.


McCarthy was judge and jury.  He charged people with non-crimes.  The newspapers were mostly on his side.  They framed it as people being guilty or innocent but not in terms of how could that pig ask such things.


They investigated lots of industries, but the investigation of Hollywood was the most famous.  People feared the Communists would get into films and spread anti american messages. 


Hollywood was vulnerable because during the depression of the 1930s many people in hollywood and elsewhere joined or aided the Communist Party. 


But still and all the whole process was bogus.  What does the first amendment to the constitution say?  It says we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  The whole thing was unconstitutional and Un-American. 


The correct response is, “the first amendment lets me be with whichever group I want to be with.  None of your damned business, and it is basic to america that this sort of ridiculous stuff doesn’t happen.


Unfortunately too many people complied.  Ronald Reagan was the head of the Screen Actor’s Guild and he turned people in. Loius Mayer and Jack Warner and Walt Disney (disney turned in people that were trying to organize a union for disney workers).   


Hollywood fights back

A group of Hollywood starstried to form a defense. They called themselves the Coommittee for the First Amendment (CFA).  Ronald reagan, Groucho Marx, Frank Sinatra, Ira Gershwin, Gene Kelly , Danny Kaye,  Humphry Bogart and Loren Bacall were the most famous.    They didn’t behave themselves in a respectful manner. They were theatric and out gunned.    They didn’t look good defending the suspected subversives.


When their images were being undermined several wrote articles for magazines saying they were wrong and sorry and didn’t like commies.


But the congressional inquisitors and the press started making them loook like commie sympathizers.  They all went home and published apologies to the nation and the hollywood ten were sunk.  Several were thrown in jail for contempt of court.  When they came out of jail they couldn’t get work.


Hollywood falls back

Hollywood started to draw up lists of suspected communists.  They agreed that they would not knowingly employ a communist.   


10 people said I take the fifth amendment, which says that I don’t have to testify in a way in which I will incriminate myself.  Basically saying “I don’t recognize your right to ask me anything”.  They fired the ten. 


Immediately they drew up lists and fired 212 people.    Those who didn’t cooperate and give names were “unfriendly witnesses and never worked again starting immediately.  To get out of it they had to give names.  Once you were on the blacklist you were blacklisted.   Several people killed themselves because their lives were ruined forever.  This went on for years and years. 


Someblacklisted people started to use “fronts”.  That is they worked through with other’s names.


The Motion Picture Association of America made up a code saying that no films mentioning abortion or drugs would be released.  But, Otto Premingers films “the moon is blue” and “The man with the Golden arm” got realeased and though the film was banned in Kansas it was taken to the supreme court.


The End

The President of the McCarthy era was Ike Eisenhower.     He didn’t want to “get down in the dirt with that little man”.  And Ike didn’t stand up to him.  The point at which he went too far was when he took on the military.  He started to say that the military was full of communists and it didn’t fly. 

Edward R. Murrow was a CBS TV guy and he went on TV and said that McCarthy was a worm.

He did so mostly by showing clippings of mCCarthy hearings. 


McCarthy ended up drinking himself to death in just a few  years after this

In 1954 324 people were fired and then HUAC stopped.




1) it can happen here

This disgusting episode reveals that even here in the US we must beware of people that would try to take your rights away.  We must stand up to fascists big and little.


This episode is very very scary.  What would happen if you couldn’t talk without fearing jail.  Then what if the person who wouldn’t let you speak started passing laws that were horrible. Like peole he didn’t like couldn’t be in business.  Would people stand up?  At a point it would be too late.  At a point the whole country is a nightmare and there is no more freedom.


2) Hollywood films became cautious.

Many anti-communist films were made and the codes got taken on

There is a point where the cure is worse than the disease. That is the case often with chemotherapy.

We have a problem in our times with “rap music”  Do you remember there was the album “cop killer”

What about the internet and sex on it?

Do you want children to have that kind of information?


5 lines -What kind of things should not be on TV?

5 lines - Do you think they should be made/kept illegal?


Republicans are more conservative about what should be on TV.  Democrats are more liberal.


Suburbia and its discontents

Suburbia is like paradise -

What is the American dream?  A house and a white picket fence.  Godd neighborhood, good schools.  Barbeques.  People got that after WWII. 


There were the endless tract homes.  There was the Baby boom.  People born at this time are called baby boomers.  These were built by WWII vets.  And thought they all look the same and that is creepy.    Contrast that with the great depression.  Contrast it with countries where so many are poor and starving and the cleen life doesn’t seem so bad.


People make fun of the nineteen fifties as being square.  But contrast it to the depression which had just ended.  People think it was superficial.  These are the people that fought WWII.  That spent years in the mud fighting NAZIs.  Who has a deeper understanding of life, a guy that’s been through war and depression or someone who has only known good times?


But it was a time of good american values when the American Dream was huge and we all kicked ass.  Higher education enrollments doubled.  The average years of schooling in the USA went up to 9.  Research and development spending doubled.  Largely this was due to sputnik.  Machinery became more automated.    Electric  The poverty rate declined.  The poor got richer.  The


The president during this time was “Ike Eisenhower”  He ran on the slogan “I like Ike”.  This is seen as too cute, but after so much war and poverty....   In away amrica thinks its cute and backwards in relation to how rich it has become.  Poor people don’t think having a home is parochial and backwards.


Show the history channel video on the 1950s-


2 forms of Discontent

Write 10 adjectives to describe man. 



Theorists and society now hold, that 1950s man was limited. He was small in scope. 


There are three cracks in the wall of suburbia


1 - Racism

            The south still doesn’t allow black veterans any rights.  The original tract homes didn’t allow black families.

            This is  a rumbling of unahappiness about coming back from WWII and being treated unequally.

This uneasiness of the black situation shows itself in Jazz.   The jazz of the day is BeBop.  It is black pride music.  It isn’t popular.  It isn’t to please the whites.  And it is very complex.  It is art that screams, I am a creative genius, not inferior.


Show thelonious monk video (part) STRAIGHT NO CHASER.


2 - The youth culture

this has two parts-

1) the beat generation


            Show kerouac video and play his tribute to jazz

show how a good economy was necessary for his existence


Write all of the attributes of man, a brainstormed list of adjectives. 

            Which of these attributes


2) Rock N Roll

Show history of Rock video you haven’t found yet

Write 5 lines on how rocknroll undermines the 1950s


Write 10 adjectives that describe man from a youth culture point of view.


Then 5 lines on WHAT are the best attributes of mankind?




Thelonious monk and play some keruoac





Show  history of light, the first 20 minutes of the history of cinematography. 


Lets show a leave it to beaver.  This is the birth of tv. SHOW THE AMERICAN CINEMA VIDEO ON THE ADJUSTMENT TO TV