In the Cold War, what were the 'sides' and what did they mean and represent OTHER THAN their political nature?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The phrasing of the question is an interesting one.  I think that the way Kennedy ended up phrasing the paradigm during the historic presidential debate with then Vice- President Nixon might help explain this:

In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said the question was whether this Nation could exist half slave or half free.  In the election of 1960, and with the world around us, the question is whether the world will exist half slave or half free, whether it will move in the direction of freedom, in the direction of the road that we are taking, or whether it will move in the direction of slavery.

Kennedy might have oversimplified the issue, but this was the fundamental debate regarding the Cold War's implications outside of the realm of politics.  Human freedom and individual expression lay at the heart of this paradigm.  The Soviet Union and Communism, in general, stressed that human freedom had to be viewed in a public and collective nature.  The freedom of the individual was useless if the social element could not enjoy it.  This idea of collectivity lay at the heart of Communism and how it viewed individual identity, the distribution of resources, as well as how it defined itself against the West.  Liberal democracy, evidenced in nations such as the United States and England, was poised in a different light.  Garnering its strength from the individual and the private pursuit of happiness and self interest, the nature of freedom was seen as an endeavor that lay outside the realm of the public.  These philosophical viewpoints helped to garner what each side represented outside the realm of politics.  Each side viewed the other as "half slave" and both staked their ideological ground with this in mind.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "sides" in the Cold War were the United States and its allies and the USSR and its allies.  The main US allies were in Western Europe, but there were others around the world.  The main allies of the Soviets were in Eastern Europe, but there were others, notably China, that were more or less allied with the Soviets.

As far as what they represented, this answer depends some on what you mean by their "political nature."  Other than communism and democracy, the two sides represented authoritarianism and freedom, respectively.  But that seems like the same thing a the communist-democratic split.

They also represented two different economic approaches to the world.  The Soviets were a command economy while the US was largely a market economy.  I don't know if that is political in your mind -- it is clearly a mix of political and economic.

The US stood, to a large degree, for a cooperative international system.  They tried to create a world in which countries cooperated to achieve peace.  The Soviets were more interested in dominating others.  But is that something other than their "political nature?"

You could argue that the US stood for more of the status quo in the world while the Soviets were trying for change.  The US was an outgrowth of the old Western European dominance while the USSR was something new.

Perhaps you could elaborate on what you mean by "political nature..."

ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the Cold War, the two opposing "sides" were Communist countries, particularly the Soviet Union and China, and the United States and other democracies.  While the Cold War manifested itself primarily in political terms, the terms and foundations of the conflict transcended politics.  Fundamentally, the two "sides" represented different ideological outlooks, particularly in the opposing economic systems of communism and capitalism. 

Much of the tension in the relationship between the two "sides" derived from their antithetical economic outlooks - the collectivist mentality of communism in which all economic efforts were made to further the interests of the state, and the more individualistic capitalist view.  The Soviet Union and the United States did not trust one another largely because they did not understand (or want to understand) the political and economic systems that grew from this perspective.

fernly2 | Student

In the cold war the 2 opposing sides were monetarism and communism with the constitutionally mandated American system of economy obviated in favor of the imperialistic system which included great central banks to which governments lost their sovereignty.  Only during the American Revolution was this issue addressed succinctly and creatively to enable citizens to take charge of an industrial and agricultural productivity designed to provide food, shelter and education for themselves denying the validity of Smith's Wealth of Nations, a fraudulent Ponzi scheme of  central banks,  and espousing a science driven economy.  The science of economics is not the Malthusian junk of dismal conservation and population reduction.  Real science of economics includes the introduction of technology for the increase of energy flux density to make it possible for people to live abundantly in not a 'sustainable' environment but a continual renewing of energy platforms as new ideas are developed.  

cruven | Student

Sorry what I ment by Politcal nature was other factors besides the part of them being democratic and communist. Thank you, you answered my question very well. Starting to love this site!!

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