Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Go back to Russia!

Among my many obsessions, which include shoes, scooters, convertibles and dive bar rock shows, is MST3K. For those unfamiliar, it's a show from Minnesota where puppets make fun of bad movies. Trust me. It's good.

Well, I have taken to ordering DVDs of the show from eBay, and sometimes the people who sell them (people far more obsessed than I) will throw in extra goodies with your order. I have a couple DVDs of bizarre 1950s and 1960s sex ed shorts as well as several short films produced by the U.S. Government that detail the threat of communism.

Well, I'd never really watched the Red threat ones until earlier this week, and I have to say it was an eye opener. Although the main thrust of these vignettes seem to be that communism means death to individuality, there is also the tangle of bureaucracy so feared by Americans in general. A permit to make a phone call? A permit to send mail? Communism is damned inconvenient!

But here's something else- Baby Boomers were raised on this kind of attitude. They were raised that the biggest threat to freedom, justice and the American way was a society in which all of your actions are monitored, all of your beliefs homogenized, all of your individuality stifled.

And yet, they- and what's more, their parents- are the very kinds of Americans that are defending the actions of a government that spies on its own people, stifles dissent, and manufactures propaganda.

How did this happen? How did we go from our fear of the commie "other" to our acceptance of facist tactics? How did the fear of terrorism become so pervasive that it overtook our fear of losing the so-called "American Way?"


  1. i think there's always been a nascent strain of authoritarianism in america; indeed, all nation-states - for example, nixon ("if the president does it, it's not illegal") and his silent majority, and the COINTELPRO work against the civil rights movement and anti-war movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

    prior to the militarization of the country in the 1950s, the south and certain cities were essentially police states if you were a color.

    you pose an interesting question. it's not like today's troubles are "nothing new," but the openness and willingness to subject such a vast number of the population to police state tactics is. perhaps. i could be wrong.

    and i can't find posts, that go back that far, btw.

  2. There's more than one reason why neo-cons have been called, among other things, the new Stalinists.

  3. Didn't you just love the banner those kids held in front of Atty. Gen. Gonzales onto which they had written that famous quote from Benjamin Franklin about "Those would would trade freedom for security deserve neither," (or something like that). Not all of the old guard has surrendered, sugah. Some of us are still fighting the good fight.

  4. Vespa, find yourself a copy of "Atomic Cafe", circa '82 or '83. Full of clips from films from that era, all serious.

    I was in my early 20s, and we all saw it as comedy, but our parents or older siblings grew up with it, and it was a scary time.

    Think about all the '50s horror films - our subconscious dealing with the scary nuclear holocaust possibilities.

  5. Anon-
    I've actually watched Atomic Cafe a couple of times. When I saw it the first time, though, it was pre-911 and I thought it was pretty funny, too. Not so much now. The paranoia is much the same and I just hope that we'll look back on this period someday as a dark but ridiculously paranoid moment, rather than the dawning of an era.

  6. Anon -- Sorry, but I was still scared of MAD in the 80s.

    But then I was a freakish tyke.