Several generations grew up faced with the prospect of total nuclear annihilation every waking moment. Many of their first memories might be the fear in their parent’s eyes, even if they grew up in the idyllic 1950s-60s. (Well the white people did, minorities in this time were facing incredible challenges alongside the idea of total nuclear annihilation.)
Children hid under desks, parent’s dug bunkers, and people whispered of communist infiltrators in the media, their governmental institutions, and neighborhoods. This all began to shape the way people saw the world and themselves.
Many people turned inwards to the world of symbols. They clung tighter than ever to the idea of salvation, damnation, and rapture. In the face of death the coming to god, in this case the Judeo-Christian one, was common, but the rise of many cults in the 1950-1990s was in my approximation no coincidence. Cult leaders simply tapped into the running vein of low level anxiety that religion soothes, and replaced the relatively benign ideas of salvation with one rooted in the capitalist system, the extraction of money from the most venerable.
Many turned towards the procurement of wealth now, at the cost of the future generations. Hyper-Capitalistic patterns emerged, and a zero- sum game mentality evolved. Salaries for those at the top ballooned, while workers at the bottom began to see their wages shrink in the face of inflation. In it’s place advertisers worked to promote debt as the healthy alternative. Sure, all of this was bad for the long term health of the economy, but if you are a wallstreet trader and have no idea if the world will blow up, who cares.
Many turned towards spiritual enlightenment and later escape using various chemical substances. Though many drugs were developed for noble goals, such as LSD, their prolonged and public use became little more than a dulling agent. The pain they dulled was the sudden abandonment of the future that the world collectively decided.
The Vietnam war stands as the nail to the proverbial coffin. To a cause that few but the hyper-capitalistic military industrial complex could support hundreds of thousands of young able bodied men only to be returned corpses or walking corpses. Broken men who saw no real sense to their sacrifice, and who were hated for simply following the rhetoric of nationalism.
To these returning victims of capitalism’s bloodiest expense report, what were they to do? Many turned to drugs, tuning out the pain of what they were made to do, while many more turned back and doubled down on the system that chewed them up.
So the system toiled under its own weight, until one day, the old adversary. The godless communists to the east simply fell apart. Leaving the massive cultural ideas, military production, and hyper-capitalistic infrastructure of the system build in the shadow of the enemy, high and dry.
Continued in Part 4: