Daniel Sargent / History 186 / Lecture 10 – The Cold War and Decolonization

Nikitia Krushchev inspects a cow in Beltsville, Maryland, 1959. Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson and U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Henry Cabot Lodge look on.

Last lecture covered the capitalist world in the era of managed/Keynesian capitalismm from WW2 through late 1960s. Today, we will cover the socialist world. Will not include China, but Soviet Union and East European allies.

How was growth produced in the Eastern Bloc? 1953, Stalin dies. New phase.

But what was the Soviet Union like under Stalin? Power resided in Stalin. Secret police. Terrorized even the elite. Purges. Antisemetic purges. “Doctor’s plot” 1952, paranoia vs. conspiracy of Jewish doctors.

After Stalin, Malenkov, Krushchev becomes dominant figure. Begins dismantling gulag. Who was Krushchev? Believed socialist dogma, and Communism. 1st and only reformer of the Soviet Union. Stalin de-escalated repression during WW2, then re-escalated afterward. February 1956, Krushchev delivers “The Secret Speech” to party elite. Denounces crimes and excesses of Stalin, 3 years after Stalin’s death. Does not denounce Lenin/Marx. Krushchev boasted Soviet Union would achieve Communism and surpass west by 1970. Krushchev changed from 1930s, 40s heavy industries to light consumer goods, following Malenkov. Krushchev wanted to expand agricultural production, but treat peasants better than Stalin’s collectivization. “New Lands” program fails because production is not incentivized enough. School cost down. Prestige programs, Soviet space program. 1957, 1st artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. Metal ball, beeps. Americans can listen to the beep on transistor radio. Launch Laika the dog, causing international protest. 1959, moon landing, unmanned. 1966, first moon orbit. 1968/9, United States lands 1st man on moon. Neal Armstrong.

Krushchev’s legacy for Eastern Europe? Read the rest of this entry »

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Walter Arnstein / “19. Social Security and International Security” / Britain Yesterday and Today / 1983 (1st ed. 1966)

Clement Attlee with Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, 1945.

1945, end of WW2 vs. Germany and Japan. United Nations. Deaths of Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt. 1st atom bomb detonated. Foundations of Cold War. British General Election–> welfare state.

THE GENERAL ELECTION of 1945. Churchill returns from Potsdam, 3rd and final Big Three conference. Discovers election results: Labour went from 41% (1935) to 50% of the popular vote (1945). Conservative went from 55% to 40%. Churchill resigns at Buckingham Palace, departs in chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. Clement Attlee drives to Buckingham Palace in small family car to become Prime Minister. Labour criticized Conservatives: 1930s, they did not beat unemployment, or prevent war. July 26, 1945, 1st time among major democratic nations and British history, that professed socialist party won Parliamentary majority. 8 of 37 MPs had been coal miners. 11 had been trade-union leaders. Labour MPs once sang “The Red Flag” in House of Commons.

NATIONALIZATION and SOCIAL SECURITY. For generation, Labour party had pledged to nationalize. Nationalization meant industry operated by public corporations, like United States’ Tennessee Valley Authority. New motive: public service, rather than profit. 1946, Bank of England nationalized. 1946, coal mining industry nationalized: 800 private coal companies become 1 National Coal Board. 1946, aviation industry mostly nationalized. Nationalized island transport, docks and canals: largest nationalization, 888,000 employees. Overall, 80% British economy still private. According to one staunch supporter of nationalization, 10 years later, the most notable failure was “their inability to evoke a new kind of response from the workers whom they employ.” 1946, National Insurance Act, National Health Service Acts providing universal health care, pillars of postwar welfare state, with big effect on average peoples’ lives. Unemployment insurance. No large-scale unemployment til 1970s. Infant mortality from 14.2% in 1900, to 6.1% in 1940, to 1.8% in 1970. Read the rest of this entry »


Walter Arnstein / “18. The Age of Churchill” / Britain Yesterday and Today / 1983 (1st ed. 1966)

Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin at the Yalta Conference, 1945. At the Yalta Conference, Feb 4-11, the Big Three discussed the fate of postwar Europe.

Neville Chamberlain is PM when war begins. Appoints Churchill to First Lord of the Admiralty, same post he held in 1914.

THE “PHONEY WAR.” Post-declaration let down. Evacuation of major British cities. French fortify border and wait. Americans called it the “phoney war.” Meanwhile, Northern Europe: Russia took 3 Baltic States: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. “Phoney war” ends April 9, 1940: Germany attacks Copenhagen, Denmark, and all major Norway ports. Here, Britain fights Germany.

CHURCHILL BECOMES PRIME MINISTER. Very low Chamberlain approval. May 10, 1940, the day Germany attacks Holland, Belgium, and France, Chamberlain resigns. George VI asks Churchill to form new government. Churchill, age 65, has repeatedly denounced appeasement and Hitler, as early as 1932: Hitler’s demands would “shake to their foundations every country in the world.” Later, John F. Kennedy: “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

THE BATTLE of BRITAIN. Britain has no European allies left. Churchill declared they would never surrender, and would not announce defeat. [Why not?] Hitler made plans for “Operation Sea-Lion,” amphibious assault on Britain. 1st, had to secure air power–> “Battle of Britain.” Nightly bombing, as many as 1,800 planes. British countered by bombing Berlin. Enraged Hitler, bombed London more so than strategic targets like airfields. [See England Can Take It, Humphrey Jennings.] Landing barges gathered in northern France. English removed all directional signs from roads in Southern England. Germany couldn’t get air superiority over English channel. Read the rest of this entry »


Walter Arnstein / “16. The False Dawn and the Great Depression” / Britain Yesterday and Today / 1983 (1st ed. 1966)

Stanley Baldwin, Conservative British PM, 1924-9. Treaty of Locarno, Kellog-Briand Pact, Pensions Act, enfranchisement of women over 21, UK General Strike 1926

UC Berkeley historian James Vernon pairs this reading with his lecture, Rebuilding “Middle England.” Here is Vernon’s syllabus. The lecture is available on iTunes University.

Stanley Baldwin’s second ministry, 1924-1929, gave people impression that postwar boom and bust would give way to stability. This was false. Depression would give way to the Nazis in Germany, and WW2. Churchill, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, put Britain back on gold standard at prewar rate.

THE GENERAL STRIKE and AFTER. May 1926, only General Strike in British history. Previously, 1921, coal industry went on strike when mines were returned to private ownership. Demand for coal down in 1926 (oil cheaper), causing industry trouble. Strike stopped trains, trams, buses, newspaper presses, docks, steel mills. No one died. Bloodless and “peculiarly English.” Lloyd George outlined similar dilemma in 1919, to strike leaders: “…you will defeat us. But if you do so have you weighed the consequences? The strike will be in defiance of the government of the country and by its very success will precipitate a constitutional crisis of the first importance. For, if a force arises in the state which is stronger than the state itself, then it must be ready to take on the functions of the state, or withdraw and accept the authority of the state. Gentlemen– have you considered, and if you have, are you ready?” Strike lasts 9 days. Miners eventually went back to work without their demands met. 1928 Reform Act gave vote to women.

THE SPIRIT of LOCARNO. Locarno Treaties were 7 postwar territory settlement treaties signed in Locarno, Switzerland, by postwar states. Late 1920s, relative domestic and international tranquility. 1926, Imperial Conference, defined dominions as henceforth “autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status… united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”1928, Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed by France, United States, and 12 other powers, “outlawed war as an instrument of national policy.”

THE SECOND LABOUR GOVERNMENT. 1929 election. Conservatives ran on slogan, “Safety first.” Labour party pledged “to end the capitalist dictatorship in which democracy finds everywhere its most insidious and most relentless foe.” Liberal party under Lloyd George proposes means for reducing unemployment. Ramsay MacDonald’s Labourites emerged as largest parliamentary party. Within months, U.S. stock market crashes, May 1929. Collapse of international financial structure of 1920s. 1929-1933, total value of British exports down half, as was production of steel and iron. Percent unemployed rose from 10.4 to 19.9 (nearly 1/4 the population). Depression destroyed Liberal notion of self-correcting markets. Labour government attempts to deal with crisis relatively weak because 1) MacDonald’s was minority government 2) Many Labour leaders financially orthodox. Parliamentary leaders split from their parties. Read the rest of this entry »


Geoffrey Macnab / “Introduction” and “1. Of Knights and Clowns” / Searching For Stars: Rethinking British Cinema / 2000

Sir Herbert Tree, father of Carol Reed, in Macbeth, 1916.

INTRODUCTION. “British film star” is seen as oxymoronic. This book will cast light on a few forgotten faces, consider industry’s faltering attempts to nurture its own stars, assess link between British stars and genres, assess music hall and West End stage’s influence on acting, look at stock types, and track a few careers from 1905 to 1960, when contract system collapsed.

OF KNIGHTS and CLOWNS.

FILM and DIGNITY. American and French perception of lack of dignity of film vs theatre. 1914, Sarah Bernhardt, French actor: “From a theatrical point of view, it remains as far way from beauty and dramatic grandeur as ever” (Bioscope) Washington Times, 1909: “The moving picture machine has only one opponent in this country, and that is the actor.” American debate, “whether or not an actor impairs his ‘dignity’ by working in front of a moving picture camera,” same year. Gladys Sylvani, by late 1911, was Britain’s first film star. Sylvani magazine profile: “There is no-one who can give so thoroughly a delightful portrayal of the ‘English girl’ as Miss Sylvani, and, added to her facility for being sweet and fresh and charming, she has a reserve or restrained force.” [Note emphasis on ENGLISHNESS and RESTRAINT.] “Her manner is absolutely free from all stage artifice… she does not go through the gesticulating ritual, so indispensable a part of some actresses’ creed,” review of A Girl Alone (1912). Hepworth films at beginning WW1: “Hepworth’s films are almost almost always beautifully ‘balanced,’ and by skillful direction he has accentuated or toned down individual performances, til each bears a harmonious and perfectly adjusted relation to the whole” (Bioscope 1912) [FORM and CONSENSUS]. Sylvani set template. Melodramatic theatre -> “realist.” Hepworth direction: “Do it simply, naturally, just like you would at home.” [naturalization, shift of performance to private rather than public style.] Hepworth and DW Griffith similar style, both admired Dickens. Naturalize acting with detail. Hepworth stars seldom wore makeup (he disapproved makeup). Bioscope re Tilly and the Dogs, 1912: “What perfectly delightful young persons the Tilly girls are, as presented by Chrissie White and Alma Taylor! Positively it does one as much good to watch them as a draught of the Moorland breezes. They are so refreshingly young, and real, and full of life. There is nothing theatrical or picture-postcardy about them.” [language of rational recreation movement, “doing one good.” Theatre vs reality dialectic.] Hepworth fan magazine: Stewart Rome, colonially produced lead, effete Englishman hardened in Australia, where “the hardships of rough life in a new country taught him the ways and motives of a powerful man that a colony produced.” Hepworth’s Hamlet, quintessential British heritage film. Silent film, so stage actor Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson compensates: “He grimaces, rolls his eyeballs, and pounds the skies with his fists, accentuating every movement on the hope that his sheer animation will compensate for the deadly quiet that accompanies his soliloquies.” [compare with oft-cited “rolling eyeballs” of Robert Newton] 1992, Roberta Pearson noted: 1909-1912, “actors moved from a performance style heavily influenced by theatrical melodrama to a style allied to ‘realist’ movements in literature and theatre.” Theatrical style was a “conscious system of conventional signs for portraying characters’ emotions.” [What does the rolling eye signify? See Roberta Pearson, Eloquent Gestures: The Transformation of Performance Styles in the Griffith Biograph Films, 1992.] Contemporaries blasted “stagey”/theatrical acting in print. Sir Herbert Tree played Svengali in Trilby, very unsubtle role, looks exactly like Fagin in Lean’s Oliver Twist. Tree plays it grandiloquently, “rolling his eyeballs.” Forbes-Robertson obituary, 1937: “A fore-destined hero of romance. But an artistic temperament, in the true sense of that over-worked and much abused phrase, saved him from being merely a darling of the public.” Herbert Tree is Carol Reed’s father. [!!!; see Odd Man Out. Parallel Algernon Newton and Robert Newton with Herbert Tree and Carol Reed.] See Orwell essay, “The Art of Donald McGill,” North versus South, working men’s clubs and music halls versus genteel theatre, comedy versus drama, earthly physical humor versus cerebral wit.

DRINK and CELEBRITY CULTURE. Look for roots in Music Hall tradition, 1850-1860. George Leybourne, the original “Champagne Charlie.” Tails, top hat. Former engine fitter, turned clog-dancer. Contract: travel by horse and coach. Wine merchants stocked him with free champagne, and insisted he make a show of drinking, see Bratton 1985, Music Hall: Performance and Style [Making a show of drinking – see Newton.] Died early death.


Jeffrey Richards / “7. Censorship in Operation: Foreign Policy” / The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in Britain, 1930-1939 / 1984

Freedom Radio (A Voice in the Night) 1944. Proposal rejected before WW2, approved afterward.

POLITICAL FILM CENSORSHIP and FOREIGN POLICY. The Board banned “subjects which are calculated to wound the susceptibilities of foreign peoples.” What would the Chinese, the Tibetans, the Turks think? Approved The Last Barricade, a “quite harmless love story. The setting, though purporting to be Spain, might just as well be Ruritania [LINK], for all the political significance it possesses.” Re Balkan espionage drama The Chinese Fish: “Quite harmless melodrama, with no flavor of real politics or identification with any state.” The Forty Days of Musa Dagh banned because it graphically depicted 1915 Armenian genocide. Censor Colonel Hanna: “Personally I think there is nothing to be said in favour of trying to revive all the horrors of a particularly ugly page in history. There are many hardships, many horrors, many grievous errors in war but a merciful providence in time softens one’s recollections of these things and it is not kind to arouse old animosities.” [See Blight on memory, Race and Reunion] Antiwar and pacifist films regularly banned. Portrayals of fictional arms dealers, with unnamed countries, sometimes made it through. After 1937, no more pacifist film projects.

POLITICAL FILM CENSORSHIP, HITLER and the NAZIS. No overtly anti-Nazi films permitted. Infamous appeasement. 1933, Hitler comes to power-> burst of anti-Nazi proposals. A German Tragedy, about a Jewish doctor in Germany who loses job and family because of anti-Jewish persecution. Colonel Hanna: “In my opinion the public exhibition of this picture in England would give very grave offence to a nation with whom we are on terms of friendship and which it would be impolitic to offend […] The cinemagoing public in England seek amusement, not political guidance from the screen.” Read the rest of this entry »


Jeffrey Richards / “5. The Aims and Principles of Censorship” / The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in Britain, 1930-1939 / 1984

Topic is British film censorship, 1930-9.

POLITICAL CENSORSHIP and the WORKING CLASS. 1937, Graham Greene: “You may say with some confidence that at the present stage of English culture, a great many serious subjects cannot be treated at all. We cannot treat Human Justice truthfully as America treated it in I am a Fugitive from the Chain Gang. No film which held the aged provincial J.P.’s up to criticism or which described the conditions in the punishment cells at Maidstone would be allowed. Nor is it possible to treat seriously a religious subject or a political subject.” British Board of Films Censors (BBFC) pamphlet Censorship in Britain, re influencing the working class: it said it was guided by “the broad general principle that nothing will be passed which is calculated to demoralize the public… Consideration has to be given to the impression made on an average audience which includes a not inconsiderable proportion of people of immature judgment.” Ivor Montagu, leading light on intellectual Left, and prominent film critic of 1930s, wrote paternalistically in The Political Censorship of Films. Theatre vs. film, with theatre doing things that would be censored in film. [See Newton’s overtly theatrical => film]

STRUCTURE of BRITISH FILM CENSORSHIP. Unlike that of other countries, Britain’s censorship was not State controlled. Read the rest of this entry »