In the 1960s, there were sharp contrasts in the way people in the United States and the Soviet Union led their lives. These differences were as a result both the political circumstances of the time as well as the prevailing economic ideologies in these two sides. The conditions the citizens of these two sides lived in were a reflection of not only the politics but also the economic ideas of their governments.
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Politically, the soviets believed in a system of government where all the control was in the hands of the government. Democracy was a foreign idea and however opposed the establishment met dire consequences such as long jail terms, exile or even death. These are the ideas the Soviet leadership was trying to market to the world (Porter & Karsh1984, pp.121-123). The regime was considered totalitarian. But the soviet leadership struggled to keep their people in the dark by misrepresenting the American way of life negatively. The Americans on their part embraced democracy with total freedom to the people to question their government whenever they felt dissatisfied.
The economic ideologies between the two sides were also different and these differences affected the lives of the citizens. In the United States, the spirit of capitalism had gained new activism with the rise of McCarthyism wherein whoever was suspected to be sympathetic to the course of socialism or communism was punished. The free market principles of capitalism whereby the equality of opportunity was emphasized led to the appreciation of individualism and the worship of material success (Perlmutter 1997, pp.34-35). On other hand, the Soviet citizens were under communism as their economic ideology which emphasized the collective ownership of property by the state which in turn allowed the people to use.
There were some similarities too in the social life of both sides whereby in the United States racism that was directed at other groups by the European Americans who a fallacious perception of superiority. The African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics were the major targets of this bigotry. In the Soviet side, the social problems revolved around economic deficiency that saw many people wallow in poverty. The government however projected a false sense of plenty with huge show offs in scientific advancement.
Another similarity is the race for scientific and technology superiority between the two sides. Each side wanted to show its power for innovation and inventions; a competition that triggered the famous space race that was a major event in the cold war period. The Soviets made the first space tour, and this made the Americans to work harder to show the American citizenry and a watching world that activity and work as preached by the American democratic system was successful. President J. F. Kennedy played a major role in creating the vision for the space program that saw the US send the fist man who set foot on the moon.
Besides the comparison above, Americans considered communism and socialism in the 1960s a four-letter word, whose connotation was evil, debt and government dictatorship. The reason for this was the campaign that the American government carried out that contained propaganda geared towards the negative portrayal of the Soviet way of life. To some degree, the propaganda had some truth since the soviet system eventually collapsed marking the end of the cold war and the emergence of the United States as the world’s only superpower with hegemonic power (Pearson 1998, pp.89-90).
Pearson, R., (1998). The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York: Macmillan.
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Perlmutter, A., (1997). Making the World Safe for Democracy. Raleigh: University of North Carolina Press.
Porter, B & Karsh, E., (1984). The USSR in Third World Conflicts: Soviet Arms and Diplomacy in Local Wars. New York: Cambridge University Press.