1952, 2008: what’s the difference?

April 27, 2008 at 3:14 am 4 comments

Some of you might have been around in 1952 (no, I wasn’t!). Seems like it was a pretty interesting year. In 1952, these things happened:

  • King George VI of England snuffed it and the present Queen Elizabeth stepped up to the throne
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower became US Prez
  • Stalin ruled the former USSR with an iron fist
  • the hydrogen bomb was detonated for the first time
  • and…in Washington….the sniffer out of “reds under beds” – Senator Joseph McCarthy, Republican from Wisconsin – whipped up a frenzy by exposing communists in government and even in the entertainment industry. A wave of anti-communism, known as McCarthyism, swept the US and even Australia. I seem to remember my father carrying on about Dr Jim Cairns and whether he had “connections” with Russia and the KGB (I never bothered to check out if he did or not!).

And what I believe is happening is that there is a new wave of McCarthyism threatening to engulf us. Consider this very famous quote by Adlai Stevenson from 1952 (US politician):

The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak, of anti-communism.”

Now, just strike out “anti-communism” and replace with “war on terror”. I was reading a book about US history that covered the McCarthy era and it struck me that there’s not much difference between 1952 and 2008: fear of Communists has simply been replaced by fear of terrorists.

Entry filed under: History, Reflections, Surveillance society.

Lest we forget Hello? ET, are you there?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brad  |  April 28, 2008 at 9:58 am


    Couldn’t agree more. To add to your reading and to re-emphasise your analysis of government’s use of fear, try Richard J. Evan’s book: The Third Reich in Power 1933-1939. You will see how Hitler’s Germany used fear and propaganda to win the minds of the citizenry, something those US neo-cons would be proud of.


  • 2. thinkingshift  |  April 29, 2008 at 12:29 am

    thx for the reading tip Brad, I’ll get it from Amazon on super speed express! I recall from my Uni days reading many a book on the use of fear within the Third Reich, but this book will serve as a nice update.

  • 3. Brad  |  April 29, 2008 at 11:33 am


    The book is a good read and should keep you company for some time – it’s quite a tome!

    Something quick and free is this recent blog post from Ross Mayfield where he muses over information and privacy – declaring it’s all about how the information is used rather than it being collected: secure what people do, because information doesn’t do.

    See http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2008/04/secure-what-peo.html


  • 4. thinkingshift  |  April 30, 2008 at 2:42 am

    I saw Ross’s post actually, which has me thinking. Another blog post soon! thx Brad.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Search ThinkingShift

   Made in New Zealand
     Thinkingshift is?

Flickr Photos

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

ThinkingShift Book Club

Kimmar - Find me on Bloggers.com

%d bloggers like this: