While orienting to gaining the material resources and economic benefits and to stating the position of the superpower in the world, it is possible to shift the attention from the moral norms to the economic and social competition. This statement can be used to describe the situation in the United States during the period of 1920-2000. The First World War made the Americans re-think their vision of stability and development, but the back side effect of the process was the mainly hidden decline in the values, beliefs, and norms. Thus, the people of the United States persuaded the world that they were the great power, but they presented their soul and beliefs in return because the US argument was based on developing the military potential, supporting wars, provoking discrimination and inequality, and violating the people’s morality for economic rewards.
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The First World War was only one step in developing the military and political competition between the world nations. In 1939, the competition started again, and the United States joined the struggle while opposing the powers of Germany and Japan. The development of the wartime technology and the focus on the military-industrial production accentuated the Americans’ concentration on the political ideals instead of social ones. Thus, the West Coast attracted millions of the Americans to work in the military industries (Foner 683).
However, the main evidence to support the idea of shifting the norms and ideals is the development of the Manhattan Project. The use of the atomic bomb to attack the Japanese Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 was the controversial argument to state the power of the United States because of ignoring the value of the human life (Foner 701). The development of the military potential could not contribute to the people’s spirituality.
Nevertheless, World War II ended, and the people of the United States found themselves involved in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and even the Cold War. The United States promoted their democratic ideas in South Korea against the communist ideas in North Korea, but the main tool was the war (Foner 715). The scenario of the military involvement was also chosen in Vietnam in the 1960s (Foner 752). The Cold War became the symbol of the hidden military and obvious political opposition.
The Americans can also be discussed as losing their souls because of promoting discrimination and inequality in the society. The new start of Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s meant that the Americans were not ready to state the idea of equality for all the members of the US society (Foner 624).
Furthermore, the inequality was supported even with the New Deal because the focus on the gender, age, and race meant the actual limitation of the persons’ rights associated with the disenfranchisement in the South and the rights of unemployed blacks (Foner 660-661). Such problems as the Little Rock Crisis supported that idea that the active development of the movement for the rights of the discriminated social categories was necessary (Foner 761). Black persons remained to be the most vulnerable members of the society, and the economic prosperity did not contribute to coping with inequality.
People’s moral values become extremely violated in the 1990s when computerization changed the people’s vision of the world and the role of the family decreased. Computerization and a progress of the Internet in the 1990s provoked the appearance of the generation of ‘netizens’ living in the cyberspace (Foner 854). This cyber revolution also affected the people’s ‘soul’ and morality. The era of divorces and the decline of traditional marriages started because 50% of marriages ended in divorces, and the people began to choose living alone while ignoring the traditional family values (Foner 866). People became valuing economic benefits higher than the ethical ones.
In spite of the provided arguments, it is possible to state that the Americans opposed the violation of the moral norms, ethics, and beliefs significantly because of promoting the Civil Rights Movement, fighting the discrimination, and declaring the people’s liberties. Thus, the Civil Rights Movement is the main feature of the 1960s because it led to stating the rights of blacks and women and to coping with the social segregation (Foner 773).
The next step was the promotion of the ‘affirmative action’ programs to support discriminated people (Foner 809). Much attention was also paid to ceasing the war in Vietnam as the threat to the people’s lives (Foner 813). However, the problem is in the fact that all these activities worked to overcome the consequences of the focus on economic prosperity of the nation as the superpower, and they emphasized the problems typical for the US society.
From this point, the Americans completed the challenging journey to the progress and to the status of the superpower. However, the price for the success was the violation of ethics and moral norms. The focus on the military tools, war, and destruction cannot be discussed as the way to achieve the prosperity in relation to the nation’s social, spiritual, and cultural life. That is why, the US citizens can be considered as partially losing their souls for receiving the other benefits.
Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! New York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company. Print.