Cold War Files: All Units: Activities: Ideology (Understanding and Contrasting Cold War Ideologies)

Ideology (Understanding and Contrasting Cold War Ideologies)

Accompanying Materials:
Primary Source Documents on Ideology
Secondary Source Definitions of 1) Soviet Communism/Marxism and 2) Western Liberalism (Democratic Capitalism)
Graphic Organizer (Matrix of major tenents of each ideology)
Excerpts from speeches and other primary source documents containing references to ideology

Activities: Contrasting Ideologies – Soviet Communism/Marxism vs. Western Liberalism
Debate the proposition that the foreign policies of the United States and the USSR were driven more by ideology than by strategic interests.
Focus: Clarifying/contrasting the essential tenets of the two ideologies, defining the role that ideology played in the Cold War and contrasting ideology and strategic interests as driving forces behind the two superpowers’ foreign policies.
Technology:Overhead projector
Teacher Role: Guide students in classification of excerpts from speeches and other primary source documents, Referee debate between student groups assigned to develop arguments affirming and opposing the proposition.
Teaching Aides: Graphic Organizer (Matrix) for listing essential tenets of the two ideologies and classifying ideas contained in speeches by Western and Soviet leaders and other primary source documents of the Cold War era.

Student Activities:
1) Assign readings containing excerpts from primary source documents: Stalin’s Feb. 9, 1946 Election Speech, Khrushchev’s Feb. 14, 1956 Peaceful Coexistence Speech, Churchill’s March 5, 1946 “Iron Curtain” Speech, Truman’s 1947 “Truman Doctrine” Address to Congress, Truman’s Korean War speech (June 1950), and Eisenhower (January 1953) and Kennedy's (January 1961) Inaugural Addresses.
2) Provide students with Graphic Organizer(Matrix) with pre-sorted headings: Communism and Liberalism.
3) Display on overhead projector the major tenets of the two ideologies (see below) and have students use them to fill in the Graphic Organizer.
4) Based on their primary source readings, have the students classify each of the primary source excepts under one or more of the pre-sorted headings.
4) Divide the class into small groups (2-3) and assign each group to prepare a 250-word typed position paper, either affirming or opposing the above proposition.

1) What are strategic interests and how do they differ from ideology?
2) During the early 1950s, what role did ideology play in Stalin’s decision to approve North Korea’s plans to reunite Korea? In Khrushchev’s decision to intercede militarily in Hungary in 1956?
3) What role did the two superpower’s strategic interests play in making the Korean War a conflict that was limited in terms of territory affected and weapons employed?
4) To what extent were the actions of the two superpowers in Korea (1950-53), the Soviet intercession in Hungary (1956), and the US escalation in Vietnam (1964-1965) consistent with their ideologies?

Teacher evaluation of position papers
Teacher/Peer evaluation of debate presentations

Definitions and Major Tenets

Communism - an ideology based on an economic interpretation of history e.g., the idea that economic conditions determine the course of history). As a form of socialism, Communism says that history is the result of “class struggle” between the proletariat (urban workers who are paid wages in return for their labor) and the bourgeoisie (capitalists who own the means of production and distribution). Karl Marx (1818-1883) borrows the idea of the “dialectic” from philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and uses it to explain history in terms of the economic struggle between classes. The triumph of proletarian socialism, according to Marx, would emerge first in industrialized nations. A “classless” society would then emerge and the state would eventually wither away. In this resulting society, work would be directed by, and performed willingly in the interests of, the community as a whole.

Major Tenets of Communism:
1) Communism is universal: the main factor underlying all human behavior everywhere is the individual’s relationship to the means of economic production. Class interests, therefore, supersede national, ethnic, religious and all other interests. The universal concern of all workers, regardless of nationality, is known as proletarian internationalism, and it trumps all other interests.
2) The capitalist system is pernicious and leads to the exploitation of the work class.
3) Capitalism will inevitably give way through violent revolution to the power of the working class.
4) Imperialism, the final phase of capitalism, leads inevitably to war and revolution. However, because the universal proletarian revolution failed to occur as a product of the Russian Revolution, international relations must be seen as a reflection of the class struggle in which socialist countries represent the working class and capitalist countries represent the exploiting class.

Liberalism - a political ideology derived from the Enlightenment that emphasizes individual freedom, the civil rights of citizens, representative government, and the protection of private property. The individual -- and not the state, society or any other grouping – is of supreme importance.

Major Tenets of Liberalism:
1) The “rule of law” on an impersonal and impartial basis
2) The creation and amendment of laws on principles of rationality
3) The limitation of state power to the minimum necessary for the preservation of civil order
4) The safety of the state and the achievement of the social conditions necessary for a liberal society
5) The free choice of governments through fair and universal elections
6) An economy based on free choice and free exchange
7) The unhindered international exchange of goods
8) The explicit statement of and protection of civil rights
9) The abolition of unwarranted social, political and economic privilege
10) A pluralistic social order based on the free creation and operation of groups.

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