Contemporary History Assignment: The Cold War and the Struggles for Freedom and Equality

Question 1: The Cold War and the United States:

How did the Cold War affect the political and social climate in the United States during the 1950s? In particular, how do you explain McCarthyism and the Red Scare? Can you think of any parallels to these events in today’s society? Elaborate.


The Cold War which did not involve direct military confrontations between United States and the Soviet Union had significant political and political effects on America. It was a fight between communism and capitalism (Goff, 2008). The Cold War involved political tensions between the one-party state of the Soviet Union and the capitalist state of United States. One of its political effects was that the United States became a strong capitalist power in the world after the defeat of the Soviet Union (Walker, 2011). Democracy improved as the country stood on political democracy and capitalism across the world. Socially, the Cold War caused the popular culture in United States. For instance, the themes of espionage in the media were influenced by the Cold War. It inspired popular films such as James Bond series film. It also caused ethnic and civil conflicts that disintegrated social groups in America.

The Red Scare and McCarthyism are some of the effects of Cold War in United States. The Red Scare refers to the hysteria which developed during the Cold War due to the fear that communism would infiltrate into United States (Walker, 2011). People in United States feared that communism would affect every aspect of their lives, socially and politically. McCarthyism was the act of trying to reduce the threat of communism by the means of accusation and detention of those who posed threat of disloyalty to the United States due to the influence of communism (Walker, 2011). Protection of United States from communism in this manner caused a lot of social and political tension. Its parallel ideology in the modern era is the fear of terrorism and religious extremism that has led to targets of United States by terrorists in the recent past.

Question 2: Struggles for Freedom and Equality

Compare and contrast the goals and the tactics of Dr. Martin Luther King with those of Malcolm X in effecting change in America in the 1960s. Whose tactics were, ultimately, more successful? Elaborate!


The approaches used by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King in effecting changes in America in 1960s were different due to their different backgrounds. Malcolm X was raised in a very harsh background without education, and his father was murdered by fire. On the other hand, Martin Luther King was raised in a middle class family who valued education and protected their child from racism (Goff, 2008). One great similarity between them is that they were great African Americans who influenced black Americans and led them to fight against racism. They both articulated their goals and tactics through powerful and emotional speeches.

In terms of differences, Martin Luther King was more positive than Malcolm X, and expressed the i\optimism of black Americans being treated equally one day in America. He proposed peaceful demonstrations and arguments as the basis of fighting for the freedom of African Americans. King advocated for integration so that the Whites and Blacks can live together peacefully. On the other hand, the bitter past of Malcolm X led him to become angry and pessimistic. He argued that Whites did not have any conscience, so equality was impossible. he believed in separatism and nationalism. He also advocated for forceful mechanisms and revolution to promote the ideals of the black Americans (Goff, 2008). King’s approach was more successful because it would achieve peace without people shedding blood or losing more lives. Force would only achieve temporary solutions, but peaceful approaches suggested by Martin Luther King would bring permanent coexistence and peaceful interactions between Blacks and Whites.


References List

Goff, R.D. (2008). The twentieth century and beyond: A brief global history. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Walker, W.T. (2011). McCarthyism and the Red scare: A reference guide. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

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