The Korean War : An Economic, Social, And Cultural Interregnum

2401 Words Sep 24th, 2016 10 Pages
In the winter of 1954-55 America was in an economic, social, and cultural interregnum. One style of life, one mood — like Victorianism or Edwardianism — was giving way to another. The industrial age based on the mechanical exploitation of coal and iron was giving way to electronics, computers, automation — with all the social and intellectual results such a basic revolution implies — but as yet few indeed understood what was happening.

The country was in a minor economic depression following the end of the Korean War. The Korean War represented a qualitative leap forward in technology and a lag in all other factors. However, morale broke down for a more simple reason. You can fight only one such war every twenty-five years. The Korean War took place within the effective memory of the Second World War. The academic and intellectual establishment, Left, Right, and Center, was shattered, demoralized, and discredited by the years of McCarthyism. Young men by the thousands were returning from the Korean War to the colleges disillusioned and contemptuous of their elders. They said to each other, “Keep your nose clean and don’t volunteer.” “Don’t believe anybody over thirty.” Communication between groups broke down. Only those of the older generation who had remained defiant were respected, listened to, questioned. Just as the Army took years to discover the almost total breakdown of morale in Korea, so the older intellectuals were unaware that a volcano was building up under…
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