Domestic Containment and “The Illusion of Unity”

In his book Containing Un-American Bodies, Lugo uses passages by other authors to examine conformism and unity during the Cold War: “the illusion of unity resulted from the official and unofficial repression of political belief, the pervasive fear among intellectuals and others of being accused of radical sympathies, [and] the ideological fervor that the rivalry with the Soviet Union produced” (Brinkley, 2001, p.72). This domestic containment of the population and its beliefs is what Chomsky named “population control”.

I find this quote to be very thought-provoking, as it reveals how limited civil liberties, paranoia, and the ideological battle against communism fostered apolitical, conformist behavior during the Cold War. Specifically, this behavior became associated with being ‘normal’ and ‘American’, thereby implicitly also defining what is ‘abnormal’ and ‘un-American’.  Americans were taught to identify and protect themselves from what is ‘un-American’ and suspicious. Thus, the very distinction between ‘American’ and ‘un-American’ reinforced the conditions that caused it, namely paranoia, censure, and fear. I find it interesting how these notions are intertwined and mutually reinforce each other, continuously pushing the population to conform to a more and more narrow definition of ‘normalness’.


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