Culture Behind the Curtain Essay

Culture Behind the Curtain Essay

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Francis Fukuyama, in The Origins of Political Order, suggested that nation-states are mountain ranges. No sooner do they begin to rise, does erosion begin to immediately tear them down. It is a tragic paradox: as nation-states become more powerful they become more fragile, as beneath the formal structures of state bureaucracy there exist populations connected by informal relations and cultural constructions. If at any point these relations or constructions shift political order is lost. In the late 1980s the USSR was eroding: slow economic growth, broken living standards, corrupt political systems, lagging innovation, and shortages of consumer goods were a prominent reality. Communism was being quashed by the reality of costs associated with what it required, and people were jaded by Soviet culture. Within this paper, I will explore how Soviet populations identified with American jazz and rock music, television and cinema programs, fashion, and consumerism, and will identify this influx of Western capitalist culture as not only one of the many factors that led to the collapse of Soviet Russia, but also a major reason that the West won the Cultural Cold War.
Ronald Reagan made it clear in his “Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate” that the most blatant difference between communism and Western democracy is the prosperity that ascends from freedom. He asserted that Western radio broadcasts, television programming, print media, and even geographical proximity had made clear to those living behind the Iron Curtain that there was abundance in the West. He believed that even the Soviet leaders themselves were beginning to understand the importance of freedom, and that such an understanding was imperative in containing and dismantling Commun...


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Starr, Frederick. "The Rock Inundation." The Wilson Quarterly. no. 4 (1983): 58. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40257510 (accessed April 1, 2014).

Von Eschen, Penny. Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Whitton, John. "Cold War Propaganda." The American Journal of International Law. no. 1 (1951): 151-153.

Willis, Conover. "VOA Information Series." The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, August 08, 1989. April 1, 2014. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mfdip.2010con01 .

Wilson, John. "Who is Conover? Only We Ask." New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1959.

Zhuk, Sergei. Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, and Ideology in Soviet Dnepropetrovsk, 1960-1985. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

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