Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI (1897–1978) took office at a time of reform in the Catholic Church. In the wake of Vatican II (1962–1965), he extended the reforming spirit of John XXIII. Nonetheless, in the 1960s attendance at Catholic Mass continued to decline. Conservatives argued that the reforms were to blame. Liberals argued that the church’s ban on contraception and its refusal to allow women priests were the real culprits. The availability of the the Pill in 1961 put contraception front and center in the church. Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”), Paul VI’s historic encyclical, was the result of several years of research on his part. Sex, he argued, produces offspring but also expresses human love. As such all forms of artificial contraception were to be rejected, leaving every sexual union open to the possibility of new life. This line of reasoning did not bring new converts to the church.
From Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. American Eccesiastical Review 159: 290–300 (1968).
Throughout the 1930s, Churchill had opposed the policy of “appeasement” advocated by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his allies in the British Parliament. His rise to the highest political office was facilitated by Chamberlain’s failure to deliver on the “peace in our time” he had promised after the Munich Agreement in September 1938. However, it was not until May 1940 that Churchill got his chance. Having calmed, encouraged, and directed the British people—and others—throughout the war years, Churchill was himself removed from power in 1945. Nevertheless, at this famous address delivered at Westminster College in Missouri in 1946, Churchill warned of a new regime that also could not, and should not, be appeased. It is considered one of the first salvos in the developing Cold War between the West and the Soviet bloc.
Churchill’s speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, delivered when Churchill was no longer Prime Minister, introduced the phrase “Iron Curtain” to describe the division of Europe between the Soviet Block and the West. This division is often taken to mark the beginning of the Cold War because it defined the deepening rift between the former allies and the widening gap between the ideologies of Communism and capitalist democracy. In his speech, Churchill outlines the emerging geopolitics of the era, in particular the dangers of nuclear confrontation, the need for increasing global cooperation, and the role of a strong United Nations.
From Jussi Hanhimäki and Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 47–8.
The London Gay Liberation Front
The formation of the Gay Liberation Front in London and the publication of the Front’s Manifesto in 1971 was a pivotal event that transformed the ways gays viewed themselves. The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was made up of an international collection of gay men living in London who were frustrated at what they saw as society’s constant efforts to humiliate and discriminate against them. Their strategy bears a striking similarity to the one pioneered by Gandhi and Steve Biko: to demonstrate to society and to oneself that the problem was not being gay; the problem was society’s homophobia. Or, in the words of one GLF activist, “Instead of us having to justify our existence, we forced the gay-haters to justify their bigotry.” The GLF used a variety of strategies and tactics to build a new sense of identity while challenging societal attitudes and norms. Civil disobedience and boycotts were combined with humorous street performances and gay-pride parades. A sense of community was reinforced by the GLF sponsorship of a gay newspaper and counseling center.
Manifesto Group of the GLF, “Manifesto” (originally printed by Russell Press/Nottingham, 1971 and reprinted by Gay Liberation Information Service/London, 1979). In Lisa Power, No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles: An Oral History of the Gay Liberation Front, 314–20. Copyright © 1995 Cassell Academic Books.
Sayyed Ruhollah Mostafavi Mosavi Khomeini, or Ayatollah Khomeini (1902–1989), was the leader of the Iranian revolution of 1979. After the downfall of the ruling Shah (King), Khomeini, who had been living in exile in Paris, returned to Iran and became the Supreme leader, the highest political and spiritual office in the country. He held this position until his death. Under his rule, the principle of Velayet-e-faqih—a Shi’a political concept that gave religious clerics political power—was enshrined in the postrevolutionary constitution. This excerpt from his Message puts the struggles in Iran in a global context, as many nations around the world were caught up in proxy wars between the superpowers of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States. Trumpeting a new Muslim unity (tawhid), Khomeini depicts Muslim leaders who make deals with the “infidel” Americans as traitors, prefiguring the coming fundamentalist Islamic opposition to both superpowers, especially the Soviets in Afghanistan, but notably the resistance to American power in the Middle East.
From Jussi Hanhimäki and Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, pages 563–4.
Paul H. Nitze
This Report from the National Security Council to President Harry S. Truman laid out the framework for the policy of “containment” that guided US actions throughout the Cold War. Its main author was Paul H. Nitze, then the director of policy planning for the Department of State. The passage below discusses the conflict of ideas and values between the US and the Soviet Union.
From the National Archives “A Report to the National Security Council – NC 68,” April 12, 1950. President’s Secretary’s File, Truman Papers.
Just as the United States distrusted the Soviet Union, so the Soviet Union distrusted the United States, believing it to be inherently imperialist and bent on Soviet destruction. Intended as a retort to George Kennan’s “Long Telegram,” in which the American diplomat described Soviet postwar intentions, here Soviet ambassador to the United States, Novikov (1900–1976) described how he saw American foreign policy, suggesting in particular that what drove the United States was the imperialist tendencies of “monopolistic capitalism.” His view both informed and expressed the core of Soviet foreign policy in the postwar years.
From Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996, pp. 209–18.
Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII (1881–1963) died from cancer shortly after issuing this papal encyclical (letter formally sent out to all bishops). In it he addressed not just Catholics, but all mankind, which is perhaps understandable if you view this work in its Cold War context. Issued two years after the erection of the Berlin Wall and two months after the Cuban missile crisis, the world was focused on the rising tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States and as such was poised for disaster. The full title of the encyclical, On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty, covers the scope of the document, which is divided into four sections. The first discusses the relations between the individual and humanity in general; the second deals with the relationship between the individual and the state; the third talks about how the state entails rights and duties for citizens, as well as the need for equality among states; the fourth tackles the need for collective assistance among states.
From Pacem in Terris. Encyclical of Pope John XXIII, On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty. April 11, 1963.
Enoch Powell was a member of parliament in Britain’s Conservative Party in the 1960s. He gave his “Rivers of Blood” speech in the spring of 1968 at the general meeting of the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre. The speech is so named because, although the phrase “rivers of blood” is not actually used, he refers to a line in Roman poet Virgil’s, Aeneid, which talks about the river Tiber foaming with blood. Allegedly reporting the concerns of his constituents in Wolverhampton southwest, Powell laments the influx of immigrants into Britain from her former colonies and notes the dismay of native residents of some towns and cities who find themselves in a beleaguered white minority. He suggests that integration is not on the minds of immigrants and predicts coming racial tensions. He then goes on to suggest re-emigration of large numbers of immigrants. The reaction to Powell’s speech was strong and swift; he was fired from his government position as shadow defense secretary, his speech being seen as inflammatory and damaging to race relations.
From Enoch Powell, “Rivers of Blood,” 1968.
Simone de Beauvoir
Encouraged by the successful strategy and tactics of the civil rights and antiwar movements, a new assertiveness also marked the drive for women’s rights after the conclusion of the World War II. One important voice in the movement for women’s freedoms was that of a leading French philosopher and intellectual, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986). Her lengthy, detailed, and compelling study The Second Sex, published in 1949, challenged women to take action on their own behalf in order to gain full equality with their male counterparts. Her analysis traced the origins of sexism and a sense of women’s inferiority to the unique circumstances of girlhood and to society’s instilling of “feminine” characteristics in young women. Only by breaking the barriers of societal expectations for “well-bred young girls,” she argued, could women achieve the goal of true and complete equality with men.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. and ed. H. M. Parshley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953), 334–336.
Simone de Beauvoir
Encouraged by the successful strategy and tactics of the civil rights and antiwar movements, a new assertiveness also marked the drive for women’s rights after the conclusion of the Second World War. A leading voice in the movement for women’s freedoms was that of a leading French philosopher and intellectual, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986). Her lengthy, detailed, and compelling study of The Second Sex, published in 1949, challenged women to take action on their own behalf in order to gain full equality with their male counterparts. Her analysis traced the origins of sexism and a sense of women’s inferiority to the unique circumstances of girlhood and to society’s instilling of “feminine” characteristics within young women. Only by breaking the barriers of societal expectations for “well-bred young girls,” she argued, could women achieve the goal of true and complete equality with men.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, translated and edited by H. M. Parshley, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953, pp. 334–336.
United Nations General Assembly
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, was one of the most significant and lasting results of the Second World War. The League of Nations, created after the First World War, had failed to prevent the beginning of another, even more catastrophic and costly conflict. The United Nations was planned throughout the war as a substitute mechanism for global peace and security, but world leaders also believed that a document was necessary to affirm the rights of individuals throughout the entire world. A formal drafting committee, consisting of members from eight countries, was charged with the task. The committee chair was Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Roosevelt and a strong advocate for human rights in her own right. By its resolution 217 A (III), the General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eight nations abstained from the vote, but none dissented.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/)