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Chapter 28: Europe and the Western Hemisphere since 1945

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Jason Holloway

on 21 November 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 28: Europe and the Western Hemisphere since 1945

Chapter 28: Europe and the Western Hemisphere since 1945
I. Recovery and Renewal in Europe
The nations of Europe were absolutely devastated by the war.
Between 1945 and 1970 there was an enormous recovery assisted initially by the Marshall Plan.
Though out of politics briefly after the war, Charles de Gaulle returned as head of state of France during the Algerian Crisis in 1958.
He sought to remake France as a global power again and it became a nuclear power in 1960.
Ongoing economic concerns in the 1960s developed due to nationalized industries.
In 1968 student protests began that soon spread elsewhere.
The socialists came to power under Francois Mitterand in the 1980s and enacted radical reforms such as a 5th week of vacation and a 39 hour work week.
In the 1990s and early 2000s Jacques Chirac represented a more conservative government.
During this period there was much anti-immigration sentiment which in many ways contributed to large riots in Paris and other French cities.
In 2007 Nicholas Sarkozy became the French president.
II. Emergence of a Superpower: The United States
The United States is one of two superpowers until 1990 and afterwards is the world’s preeminent power.
Between 1940 until 1975 the government drastically expands its influence in society continuing in New Deal directions.
The long economic boom after the war created the myth of the American Dream and way of life as real wages consistently increased.
Problems did begin to emerge in the 1960s.
JFK was assassinated and his successor Lyndon Johnson attempted to expand the New Deal ‘War on Poverty’ but did so with little success as involvement in Vietnam grew.
There was also the Civil Rights Movement spiritually led by Martin Luther King Jr.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 put an official end to segregation and legal equality was now federally enforced for African-Americans.
Throughout this period there were frequent race riots in the cities and eventually MLK Jr. too was assassinated.
In the late 1960s the anti-war movement grew and protested U.S. involvement in Vietnam, at Kent State University many students were shot.
III. The Development of Canada
Canada experienced a long period of post-war prosperity after the war.
The Canadian welfare system is created similarly to that in the United Kingdom.
There are ongoing political disputes in the province of Quebec eventually leading to a failed referendum for independence in 1994.
Between 1993 to 2006 Jean Chretien, a liberal, led the government until a number of financial corruption scandals brought the conservatives back into power under Stephen Harper.
IV. Latin America since 1945
The Great Depression caused dictatorships to rise in Latin America.
Due to the depression and the war economic patterns changed substantially and most countries were forced to undergo some industrialization.
After the war dependent positions are reasserted as more advanced industries required more advanced parts that could only be acquired from Western powers.
Large poverty rates further limited economic growth.
Military dictatorships in the 1960s were very harsh.
The major model for development, import substitution industrialization (ISI), led to major problems with foreign debt by the 1970s.
In the 1980s the debt crisis collapsed many economies in the region.
V. Society and Culture in the Western World
Since 1945 extreme diversity has characterized Western culture.
The postwar period is marked by large technological and economic growth radically changing society.
A consumer society has strongly emerged as there is a large growth in the middle class.
There is also a shift as many of the lower classes move from rural areas to the cities and as a service economy is created.
Large growth in wages encourages the lower classes to spend freely benefitted at times by variations of installment plans.
From 1900 to 1980 the average number of work hours decreases from 60 to 40 and there is much more time for leisure activities as a result.
Postwar educational changes also opens up higher education to new groups and removes its exclusivity to the upper classes.
Problems exist in this adjustment though as in combination with the anti-war movement large student protests occurred in 1968.
These revolts also dealt with other perceived issues such as materialism, consumerism, etc.
In Germany Konrad Adenauer became the founding father of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, between 1949 to 1963.
The period of the 1950s was defined by the Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle, where unemployment had been reduced to 0.4% and despite being 52% smaller had the same size economy as the prewar state.
Willy Brandt in the 1970s advocated Ostpolitik.
Helmut Kohl was at the head during the reunification of Germany in 1989 and 1990.
Newly reunited Germany was far and away the most powerful country in Europe economically, a position it still holds.
There were and are a number of difficulties in reincorporating and revitalizing formerly communist East Germany.
Angela Merkel is the current German Chancellor.
In Eastern Europe the countries there overthrew communism and sought to establish democratic, capitalist systems.
Many joined NATO and the E.U. in the years following 1990.
There are concerns though of overdependence on Western Europe.
One major concern of the 1990s was the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
The wars there began in 1991 as Serbia attempted to prevent the succession of various member states and/or incorporate ethnic Serbian areas into their state.
In Bosnia the fighting was particularly fierce and ethnic cleansing began to occur in many locations.
By 1995 the U.S. and the E.U. have intervened establishing a fragile ceasefire.
A similar circumstance occurred in Kosovo in 1999 and again the U.S. involved itself until a peaceful revolution removed Milosevic from power in 2000.
Neither situation is resolved completely though they both have been largely peaceful since then.
In 2006 Montenegro became independent which represented the succession of the last non-Serb republic of Yugoslavia.
Due in large measure to the destruction of two world wars Europe began to unify in 1957 by signing the Treaty of Rome.
This treaty eliminated custom barriers and created a free trade zone.
More and more European nations joined the eventual European Union over the decades.
In the year 2000 the E.U. had 370 million people and 25% of world commerce.
Further economic and monetary reforms continued in the early 2000s as the euro is adopted in 1999 replacing most national currencies in Western Europe by 2002.
Despite recent misgivings, yet more countries are scheduled to adopt this pan-European currency.
As a result of the E.U. there is an opening of travel and work opportunities for Europeans.
The European Union is not a full one though as countries are chiefly still independent with almost completely separate military and foreign policies.
The E.U. expanded in the early 21st century into South and Eastern Europe which were much poorer regions and as a result required extensive alterations to qualify for entrance.
Some of these changes were things such as fully democratic governments, market economies, respect for minorities, etc.
With one of the latest expansion in 2007 the E.U. now contains more than 500 million people.
VI. Conclusions
Western Europe became a new place in the 1950s and 1960s with shared political and economic fortunes.
Some problems arising in the 1990s and early 2000s showed that issues still exist though in terms of ethnic conflict.
North America largely followed similar growth patterns to that of Europe.
In Latin America there were enormous problems with dictatorship and political instability that only started to be resolved in the 1980s.
World relationships in Latin America changed overtime and created new linkages to the U.S. while at the same time Europe decolonized its empires creating a new non-Western world.
Richard Nixon ultimately won office in part on a ‘law and order’ platform in 1968 and shifted politics back to the right.
In large measure he relied on a Southern strategy to win election.
Nixon’s paranoia overtime led to the Watergate scandal that caused the first resignation of a U.S. president from office.
In the late 1970s a number of severe economic problems presented themselves under Jimmy Carter as there was a high rate of inflation, a decline in wages and problems presented by a gas boycott.
The Iranian hostage crisis made Carter look like a weak leader and contributed to his loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The Reagan Revolution made huge social cuts, radically increased military expenditures and in general augmented government debt.
Bill Clinton won office in the early 1990s by adopting many of the ideas of the new right of Reagan and presided over a long period of economic success only tainted by the Lewinsky affair.
George W. Bush replaced Clinton in 2000 after a controversial election facing during his administration the war on terror, a war in Iraq, a period of tax cuts, Hurricane Katrina, etc.
Barack Obama became the first African-American president in 2008 on a campaign promise of change in the middle of the Great Recession and began to push a number of initiatives such as Obamacare.
At the same time though there was a movement towards greater democratization.
By the year 2000 democratic regimes existed everywhere other than Cuba.
Also around the same time a growing number of left-win governments were elected, the so-called Pink Tide.
Much earlier beginning in the 1920s there was often the perception of the U.S. as a neo-imperialist power due to their economic, political and military clout in the region.
‘Banana republic’ was a popular concept representing the influence of some American companies such as the United Fruit Company in various nations.
An attempt to change that perception in the 1930s led to the establishment of the Organization of American States (OAS).
During the Cold War these lofty goals and support of democratic regimes gave way to aid given to any and all anti-communist regimes.
Cuba was essentially a neo-American colony under Fulgencio Batista and Amercian investors were incredibly powerful there.
Fidel Castro began to lead an armed resistance movement in a guerrilla war in the late 1950s.
The brutality of the regime caused it to lose popular support and the government ultimately fell on New Year’s Eve 1958-1959.
U.S. – Cuban relations quickly deteriorated and by October 1960 the embargo was in effect.
Cuba slowly tilted towards the Soviet camp as a result and even diplomatic relations were cut in early 1961.
The American backed Bay of Pigs invasions failed famously that same year and threatened Cuba firmly turned toward the Soviets for protection.
The Soviets sent troops and nuclear weapons thus starting the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In exchange for the removal of these arms the United States pledged not to invade Cuba.
The Cuban Revolution had mixed success domestically but more so in terms of healthcare and education.
Economically Cuban plans to industrialize fail to materialize and the island is forced to subside on large Soviet subsidies to the sugar industry.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s Cuba is forced to endure an incredibly difficult period of adjustment but the regime miraculously survived.
Only in 2008 did Fidel Castro relinquish power and he was succeeded by his also elderly brother Raul Castro.
The Threat of Marxist Revolutions: The Example of Cuba
Nationalism and the Military: The Example of Argentina
The Mexican Way
The military was frequently the main power broker in Latin America.
In Argentina the military had typically backed the traditional oligarchy but by 1943 they intervened and overthrew the government.
One figure in the new military regime, Juan Peron, used his labor position to curry support amongst the workers eventually becoming president in 1946.
In this position he continued to advance the policies of industrialization but also tried to end foreign economic influence in the country.
Peron utilized authoritarian, neo-fascist techniques to hold onto power as he and his wife resorted to populist political messages.
Growing corruption within his administration and social dissent brought about another military coup d’état in 1955.
Nonetheless he continued to maintain a strong base of support in Argentina that brought him back from exile in 1973.
Shortly afterwards he died and his wife became president whose inefficient governance led to military intervention in 1976.
This new military regime was incredibly brutal and killed at least 6,000 during the so-called ‘dirty wars’.
The growing and continuing economic problems in the country persuaded the military to invade the Falkland Islands in early 1982.
The United Kingdom responded definitively and crushed the Argentine invasion also causing the government to collapse there.
In 1983 a new democratic government has been reestablished and the old Peronist party will become most influential again.
Peaceful transitions of government in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s ensured a democratic path of governance.
Around the year 2000 Argentina experienced a number of severe debt crises though the Kirchners, elected in 2003 and 2007, temporarily halted these.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled Mexico unabatedly from the 1930s until 2000.
In the 1950s and early 1960s there was almost non-stop economic growth and it looked like this was a golden age in Mexican economic history.
In 1968 student protests in Mexico City against the one party state led to hundreds of deaths.
The regime began to introduce slow political reforms with new parties and lessened free speech restrictions introduced in the 1970s allowing greater political diversification.
There also was though growing Mexican dependency on oil exports which reached a breaking point in 1982 as Mexico was forced to default on their loans due to lessened revenues.
Economic problems almost cost PRI’s candidate the election in 1988 and by 2000 the first non-PRI president since the Mexican Revolution was elected in the form of Vicente Fox.
Fox’s government had major problems in dealing with corruption that continued to be dealt with by the successor government of Felipe Calderon who also engaged in a full-blown drug war.
The Permissive Society
Women in the Postwar World
The Growth of Terrorism
The Environment and the Green Movements
Critics label the new society emerging as a permissive society.
Sweden led a sexual revolution in the 1960s which included an increase in sexual education and a decriminalization of homosexuality.
There was a breakdown in traditional family structures and divorce became more common.
Drug culture and use emerged strongly with use of ones such as Pot and LSD.
Sex, drugs and music were all big elements of a strong young rebellion of the late 1960s.
After the war women were removed from jobs for the returning men and traditional practices briefly returned.
Rising birthrates created the so-called Baby Boom up until they declined in the 1960s through new birth control measures such as the pill.
The lessened need to raise children contributed heavily to rising female employment in the second half of the 20th century.
Many women received less money for their work and had in effect two ‘jobs’.
These ongoing inequalities gave rise to the feminist movement which had dissipated after women won the right to vote following World War I.
By the mid-1960s demands grew again for equal rights and female liberation movements started after such theoretical texts as Simon de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex detailing the second class status of women.
After the 1960s in Europe the birth rate declines below the replacement rate of 2.1% and its population has been shrinking in terms of natural births with immigration supplying the difference.
The percentage of women in the workforce continued to increase though salaries are often still unequal.
Women find it more difficult to achieve promotions and higher rankings.
In the 1970s and 1980s women rights movements demanded control over their bodies leading to the legalization of abortion in most developed countries.
Women rights movements often included in their activism support for other movements.
More recent international women’s conferences have emphasized the differences in desired rights between western and non-western women.
Starting the 1970s and particularly strong in Europe was the environmentalist movement.
By this time the effects of pollution have become very apparent in most world cities.
In 1986 the Chernobyl disaster further sparked calls for change.
After 1989 things were discovered to have been exceptionally bad in Eastern Europe and much help was needed to improve conditions there.
New regulations are pushed through Western legislatures into law by new Green parties.
These Green parties continue to growth in size and clout, amongst the most influential are those in Germany.
Western Culture since 1945
Trends in Art
The Explosion of Popular Culture
The World of Science and Technology
Many World War II inventions later played a role in technological advancements such as radar and the computer.
Nuclear weapons and technology played a key role as well in the Cold War period.
The fast pace of technological change becomes a common element of present day life.
Computers continually advanced but not until 1971 did the microprocessor make them commonplace.
The development of the internet further transformed the world.
There are those that criticize some of these new developments such as modified foods for example.
The present day world is truly experiencing a technological/informational revolution at the moment unlike any other excepting the agricultural and industrial revolutions before it.
After the war, the U.S. dominated world art similarly to other cultural aspects.
New York replaced Paris as the world art capital.
The abstract expressionism of New York is seen in artists such as Jackson Pollack.
Post-modern architecture merges tradition with modern styles.
Marketing and advertising enter the art world and assist in narrowing the line between art and economic value.
Neo-expressionism is yet another new style in works such as Anselm Kiefer’s departure from Egypt.
Western Culture becomes very diverse and innovative.
Since the 1970s there has been talk of a postmodern era.
The theater of the absurd was early element of this period and reflected the disillusionment of people with fixed beliefs, political religions, etc.
Existentialism is very similar and viewed in works by authors such as Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre.
In these works the idea is that God is dead and the world is ultimately absurd and meaningless.
This depressing reality is improved by the fact that people have one source of hope, themselves.
Postmodernism is the dominant stylistic genre and rejects modern Western beliefs in an objective truth instead focusing on the relative nature of things.
Poststructuralism/deconstruction pushes the same ideas in a cultural sense that there is no fixed truth or universal meaning.
Michel Foucault is amongst the most influential of these philosophers.
The idea of the act of teaching and the transference of ideas and power struggles are all major themes of his works.
So is the idea that nouns are culturally produced.
His and other postmodern ideas are likewise reflected in the literature of the period.
In the United Kingdom Winston Churchill was defeated in elections as the war came to an end.
The new government of the Labour party under Clement Attlee promoted the creation of a ‘welfare state’.
In 1946 this social security program was adopted and later spread throughout Europe.
The recovered from the war by the 1950s but were still in relative decline to the U.S. and the Soviets and were no longer a true first rate world power.
British economic issues turned around in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, and her reforms.
In these new reforms some areas benefited more than others.
By 1997 Tony Blair won a landmark election and in many ways was defined by his close relationship with the U.S. government.
In 2007 Gordon Brown replaced him briefly as Prime Minister.
The post-Soviet Union Russian Federation under Boris Yeltsin undertook reforms to become a democratic state and a market economy.
Vast inequality and corruption in the process tarnished the process as the tycoon capitalism of the oligarchs took hold.
A succession of wars in Chechnya caused problems for Yeltsin’s government and humiliated the Russian army in their inability to manage them.
In 1999 Vladimir Putin became President and immediately started to strengthen central authority.
He dealt more forcefully with Chechnya, invading and pushing the resistance movement underground.
He reasserted Russian influence as a global power.
There is a growing authoritarian streak in government and society.
Russia is very economic successful at times due mostly to large oil reserves.
Putin briefly switches office with Dmitri Medvedev but this change is illusionary.
Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s small groups start to create terroristic acts for considerable media attention.
The movements and ideologies of these terror groups are quite varied as the IRA and al-Qaeda are good examples.
In the 1980s much ideological terrorism declined, particularly in Europe, but internationally others continued.
Palestinian terrorism existed against Israel in many locations.
Iran, Libya and Syria all sponsored terrorist attacks such as the 1988 Lockerbie airplane explosion.
Perhaps the most notable attack though was the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the U.S. capital.
Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were behind this attack and were shortly afterwards forced out of Afghanistan alongside their Taliban allies.
The new post-Taliban Afghan government faced many problems and Taliban resistance still continues.
Popular culture has now become linked with mass consumer society following the Second World War.
The U.S. is the most influential country in the West and the world.
Movies, music, tv, ads, etc. all spread the consumer message and its values worldwide.
Movies are the first visual medium but TV increases overtime and after the 1960s is more widespread.
American music is also incredibly dominant nearly everywhere and most of it is heavily influenced by African-American culture.
The creation of the music video and MTV changed the industry and made image equally important in production.
Sports are also a more popular and major leisure activity.
Fans now enjoy their teams anywhere as they are broadcast worldwide, football, soccer and the Olympics are just a few examples of that.
Professor Jason R. Holloway
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