Divisions in Europe; Cold War 1945-91 East / West competition, tension, conflict emerges from post-war conferences. East/West ideological binaries solidified: Capitalism, democratically-elected gov., rule of law, market economy vs. Communism (socialism), one-party state, planned economy;
Cold War Time-line: 1945 Yalta 1946 Iron Curtain 1947 Marshall Plan 1947 Berlin Airlift 1956 Budapest; Khrushchev’s secret speech 1957 Sputnik 1961 Berlin Wall 1968 Prague Spring 1969 Salt Talks 1983 Star Wars 1985 Gorbachev 1987 INF 1989 Berlin Wall falls 1990 Reunification of Germany 1991 Soviet Union Collapses Sigmar Polke: Watch Tower with Geese (1987-88)
Totalitarianism (Columbia Encyclopedia) modern autocratic government; state aims to control not only economics and politics, but all facets of society and daily life – attitudes, values, beliefs; citizen’s duty to the state is paramount; goal of state: to build perfect society. Ideologically driven: Communist regimes of Soviet Union and China sought fulfilment of humankind through establishment of a classless society; German National Socialism driven by belief in superiority of so-called Aryan race.
Characteristics of Totalitarianism a single party as mobilizer; dictator; support of system by voting compulsory; party monopoly on (government, police, military), communications, economy and education; dissent suppressed; secret police. Past autocracies have always attempted to control their subjects, but modern technology provides means of pervasive control in totalitarianism; Causes?: chaos after World War I enabled establishment of totalitarian regimes in Europe (Russia, Italy, Germany); modern weapons and communications enabled consolidation of power and control.
Dr Lawrence Britt’s Characteristics of Fascism (= Bush admin.; = 20 th cent. Totalitarian states) Nationalism (e.g. overt displays of flag); Disdain for human rights (arbitrary arrest); Enemies as scapegoats, ‘us vs. them’ mentality; Cult of the military; Controlled mass media; Obsession with national security; Religion and gov. are one, language of religion used; Labour power suppressed; Disdain for the arts, liberal expression; Obsession with crime and punishment, police power is paramount; Cronyism and corruption; Fraudulent elections with the complicacy of the judiciary.
Boris Yeltsin: “Let’s not talk about Communism; it’s just an idea, an experiment.” Marxism – Leninism / Socialism / Communism: A theory of social evolution – “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” the ultimate, inexorable end; demise of capitalism and worldwide revolution its aim (Krushev’s “We’ll bury you”) “Being Defines Conscientiousness” – an attempt to change human nature by creating new social conditions; Single ‘enlightened’ party: Communist; single ‘correct’ philosophy: Dialectical Materialism; Single official art form: Socialist Realism
Life under totalitarianism “You have only to show a whip to a beaten dog.” (Solzhenitsyn); threat of repression sufficient to force compliance; Many toed the line, not for ideological conviction, but to make career, avoid problems; Police state – society of “whisperers” (Orlando Figes); “the walls have ears”; citizens of totalitarian state have acute sense of private and public face, life, conversation (fosters closeness with those you can trust);
E. German writer Martin Ahrends cautioned GDR citizens what they would “lose” “Freedom of the East” – their conditioning advantages them over West…. endows them with “ascetic virtues” and “new forms of freedom … from obsessions with work, tyrannical structuring of time; from colonization of consciousness by marketing industry; freedom to let things take their course, to dream and remain as a child (?) (Cook)
Cold War Culture : Literature: spy novels of John Le Carre, Ian Fleming, Frederick Forsythe; apocalyptic novels: Nevil Shute’s On the Beach Eastern dissident writers: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; Milan Kundera, Vaclav Havel (Czech); Christa Wolf, Stefan Heym (E. Germ.), Czeslaw Milosz (Polish, 1980 Nobel Prize);
Dystopian (anti-utopia) Literary Tradition Evgeny Zamyatin, WE Aldous Huxley, Brave New World George Orwell, 1984. Futuristic dystopian film Blade Runner, Matrix Post-totalitarianism in lit and film – Lives of Others; Good Bye Lenin.