Existentialism In The Cold War

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The Cold War was a period characterised by the pervasive ideological conflict between communism and capitalism and the global uncertainty this produced. It stemmed from the horror of WWII, in particular the Holocaust as well as the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the wake of the atomic bomb. The sheer scale and inhumanity of these atrocities spurred a global shift in thinking, forcing people to reevaluate their understanding of a world in which such horrors could readily occur. For many this in turn led to a sense of moral confusion and universal meaninglessness, exemplified in the resurgence of philosophies like existentialism, nihilism and absurdism. In other words, metanarratives like religion and science had been unable to prevent the horrors of WWII, or create a better society afterwards, and these philosophies appealed to the sense of failure and confusion that this induced, justifying the chaos by declaring it meaningless. Cold War texts reflect this crisis, using their respective mediums to explore, in a range of highly effective ways, the changing ideologies, values and concerns that complement this uncertain period. John Le Carre’s novel ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ (‘The Spy’) and Kurt Vonnegut’s novel ‘Slaughterhouse Five,’ challenge the validity of dominant Cold War ideologies and explore the search for alternatives.…show more content…
Similarly, ideas surrounding the value of nationalism are abundant in Francis Ford Coppola’s film ‘Apocalypse Now,’ while Cold War concerns; namely the fear of an inherently meaningless universe and its personal ramifications, are apparent in Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play ‘Waiting For
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