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Capitalism vs. communism were two philosophies that fueled violent tensions between the US and the Soviet Union, culminating in the cold war. The US supported the capitalist system, while the Soviet Union advocated communism. Notably, The Fountainhead film depicts capitalism and communism and how they influenced the evolution of the cold war. This film is inspired by social and political experiences in the current social situation in the United States. According to the films, the lead, Ayn Rand, was born into a middle-class Russian family. She witnessed the business of her father being seized after the Bolshevik Revolution which led to the establishment of the communist government.
Rand later travels to the US, and here, she passionately embraces the idea of capitalism. She even mentions that any interference with the business from the government was a detrimental factor to the health of the economy. This was one of the underlining factors promoted by the capitalism ideology. The movie also shows that in the 1940s, many individuals in America developed fears that communists supported by money from Russia were infiltrating the US government. For this reason, the US viewed that communism clearly manifested its intentions to destroy the American government (Warner Bros. Entertainment). Rand in the Movie provides examples of how she imagines that communism and socialism will become a danger to the US. She sees that communism will end up impacting negatively of the businesses of people and deny them their freedom. Certainly, Rand gives The Fountainhead movie a climate of capitalism and communism that drive many of its scenes. She also reveals to the viewer how the two ideologies worked towards the development of the cold war and devote herself in opposing communism. In the 1950s, Joseph McCarthy conducted an extensive search for people he suspected to be communist and worked as spies for the Russian government.
Capitalism ideology elucidated that the system of the government was democratic, the property was to be privately owned and driven by free enterprise. It also called for uneven distribution of wealth and distinction of the society basing on classes including the upper, middle, and the working classes. Hence, capitalism indicated that people need freedom and that the “government should not interfere with the rights of the individual but allow them to make their living” (Zake 7). From the movie, Rand evidences this when he views that the government should not interfere with the businesses of people. On the other hand, the communist ideology denoted a system of the government that was totalitarian, postulated that the property was to be owned by the state, and thus no free enterprise was owned by an individual. It also alluded that every person in the society was equal and no division of classes as well as focused on the progress of the whole community. With communism, people needed one another to succeed and that the government had to ensure that the needs of all people in the society are met. Evidently, the idea of communism ignited fear in the American government and this is evidenced when McCarthy developed a list of people he suspected to be communist members.
The reasons that culminated into cold war has been a popular debatable topic among many historians. The movie vividly represents how communism and capitalism caused cold war. The cold war was a period of a great rivalry, hostility, and tension which lasted 1945 to 1991. This was based on the two conflicting ideologies between the US and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) superpowers. The US called for capitalism rule while the USSR promoted communism. The two superpowers sought for international influence and dominance. The communism rule established by Stalin as the movie showcases was a form of socialism that resulted into the bloodiest form of government. The communism rule enslaved people and did not promote free trade. On the other hand, capitalism called for individual rights, and it politically symbolized freedom. It economically called for freedom in broad spheres of production and free-market.
Stalin had a desire of dominating the world through his communist rule. His move to take over the Eastern Europe was the initial cause of the development of the cold war. Notably, the USSR sought to expand to being a superpower, and it began its influence in the Eastern Bloc, Vietnam, Cuba, and Korea. Furthermore, USSR had a huge influence in People's Republic of China (PRC) and Afghanistan. Kraus notes that that in the closing months of the World War II in the 1940s, the Soviet Union established the communist regime in the Eastern Europe which saw the creation of Eastern bloc. It ended up creating its government called “Soviet-controlled Marxist–Leninist” in the eastern bloc which had a political influence that significantly resulted in USSR’s expansion in this region (Kraus 13). The Soviet Union was able to take control, and the communist administration party propelled in the region. Its influence was also evident in PRC where the USSR signed a mutual defense and assistance treaty in Moscow. The treaty terms ascertained that the USSR was to give $300 million credit to China and mandated the Soviet Union to take control of the major railroads and port cities in China. In the early 1950s, the Soviet Union began to offer assistance to Afghanistan and further expanded its influence. This assistance was in the form of building of pipelines, roads and carrying out irrigation activities. Later on, the USSR managed to overthrow the monarchy rule in the 1970s and established communism, and in 1979, it managed to take control of the Kabul capital gaining full control of the region and people.
During the Korean War, USSR played a significant role in the conflict which led to its influence. The Korean War occurred in 1950-1953, and the USSR provide assistance to the nation through offering medical services, provision of aircraft and even pilots. Zake reports that the MiG 15 fighter jets area termed to be among the notable assistance that was directed fight against the US forces (Zake 5). When the Korean War ended, the USSR built its headquarters at Pyongyang in Northern Korea. Soviet’s soldiers were instrumental in the development of “North Korean People's Army and Korean People's Air Force” (Kraus 17). Additionally, the Soviet Union led to the formation of Northern regime in Korea and thus the establishment of communism leadership in Korea. The communist regime was also established in Vietnam during the Vietnam War after the USSR supported Vietnam through its troops and economic aid. The USSR troops massively killed the US soldiers, and Soviet led to the development of the missile war that greatly intensified tensions of cold war between the two superpowers. There was also the development of diplomatic ties between the USSR and the Cuban nation in 1950, and as a result, Cuba became dependent on the Soviet Union’s military together aid and ended up joining forces with the USSR during the cold war. Zake further reports that the relationship between the two led to the development of the Cuban missile crisis which significantly impacted o the cold war and further melted the U.S.-Soviet relations (Zake 10).
The movie shows that the idea of capitalism was promoted by the US and the stern opposition it had for communism led to the development of McCarthyism. This was a campaign carried by McCarthy in 1950-1954 against the spread of communists in the US. Insinuations of disloyalty was significantly convincing to the US officials that their government had spies and traitors with a growing danger of American communism. The campaign pursued to expose suspected communist members, and as a result, many people were aggressively investigated and questioned before government panels in the 1950s. ‘McCarthyism’ saw the destruction of many lives and careers as well as exposed political repressions in the hyper-suspicious atmosphere of the Cold War.
The movie The Fountainhead highlights that capitalism and communism were the underlining factors that created tension that resulted to the outbreak of cold war. The Soviet Union under Stalin’s rule wanted to establish a Soviet empire through world influence. The objectives of the USSR to build an empire and create communism regime escalated the rivalry between the USSR and the American government and thus the development of the cold war. The Soviet Union managed to influence many religious with the communist ideology including the Europe eastern bloc, Vietnam and China. Undisputedly, the movie will remain to be educative and informative as it is rich in concepts of capitalism and communism that profoundly shaped cold war.
Kraus, Michael. "The Cold War And East-Central Europe, 1945–1989". Journal of Cold War Studies 19, no. 2 (2017): 158-214.
Warner Bros. Entertainment. The Fountainhead. YouTube. 1949. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M83deqmHuAU. (Accessed on 11 October, 2017).
Zake, Ieva. "Soviet Campaigns Against Capitalist Ideological Subversives During The Cold War”. Journal of Cold War Studies 12, no. 3 (2010): 91-114.
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