Thoughts On the Cold War

From 1950 to 1990, a state of Cold War existed between East and West. At its heart, this simmering tension centred around an ideological question: Who should own capital? The ‘West’ represented US-led ‘free enterprise’ capitalism, and the East Russian-style state Socialism.
From a Western point of view, the Cold War was seen as a struggle to restrain the Soviet Union and hold at bay Communism. It is ironic, then, that the Cold War brought about conditions that helped perpetuate the Communist system. Communist states tend to be highly authoritarian, and such a state is more easily maintained when there is the ever-present threat of an external enemy. Such an external threat provided justification for censorship and restricted foreign travel. Thus, the Cold War provided Communist states with an excuse to suppress information regarding the relative economic success and greater liberty to be had under market-based, democratic countries.
As Alec Nove explained, “the centralised economy, party control, censorship, and the KGB were justified in the eyes of the leaders, and many of the led, by the need to combat enemies, internal and external”.
It is doubtful that the Soviet State could have survived a hot war, as that would almost certainly have involved an exchange of nuclear weapons that would have ended civilisation. The fact that the arms race was nicknamed MAD- for Mutually Assured Destruction- speaks volumes about how unlikely survival would have been for either side if East-West tension had boiled over. But, at the same time, it was the Cold War and the tensions that resulted, tensions that were advantageous to hardliners within Eastern Europe, that helped restrict contact with more prosperous countries in the West- something that Communist states were not equipped to survive.
The Rise and Fall Of Communism by Archie Brown
Introduction To Marxism by Rupert Woodfin and Oscar Zarate

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