Tuesday, May 4, 2021

remembering the cold war

I was reading historical accounts of the earlier decades of the Cold War, and remembering what it was like to live through it.

We really did have drills at school in which we huddled on the floor underneath our desks for a specified period, 60 or 90 seconds, while our teacher patrolled the room to ensure we were doing it properly. I doubt that, as a small child, I really understood what it was for, but in retrospect to protect yourself from the Bomb that way seems pathetic. I suspect it was drills of that sort which generated the exchange in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,
'I thought,' he said 'that if the world was going to end we were meant to lie down or put a paper bag over our head or something.'
'If you like, yes,' said Ford.
'Will that help?' asked the barman.
'No,' said Ford.
Of course, what we were afraid of, that might bring these bombs, was Communism. So what was Communism, and why was it bad?

We were told that Communism imposed totalitarian control over life, and that specifically it was a politico-economic system that abolished private property.

This was perhaps a misleading way of explaining it to a small child. I knew that our house was my parents' property, but the only form of private property I was actually familiar with was my own, which consisted of my clothes, and my toys and books. If Communism abolished private property, it therefore seemed to me that, under it, I would have to live in some sort of dormitory with strange boys, and we would get all our clothes out of a communal drawer. Yech!

I had never had to share my clothes - as the oldest child in the family, I never even wore hand-me-downs, though my brothers did - but I had lived, at camp, in dormitories with strange boys, an experience I found utterly unappealing. So I was firmly anti-Communist.

Which reminds me that I had read somewhere that Barry Goldwater supported making school year-round. I was 7 years old, so that was enough that I was opposed to Barry Goldwater too.

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