reconstruction, prosperity and polarization

The 50s and 60s: reconstruction, prosperity and the polarization between Western countries and the communist countries.

After the Second World War, large parts of the world in ruins. The 50s and 60s also be in sign of reconstruction, Marshall Aid to the non-communist countries and two newly formed world powers: the United States and the Soviet Union. Western Europe and Japan received support from the Marshall Plan of the United States. The (Middle) East European countries were satellite states of the Soviet Union and was imposed a communist economic model (CMEA).

After World War II, many countries were completely disrupted by the war. Marshall aid to Germany and Western Europe was necessary to give the economy in the neighboring western countries a boost. Additionally reinforced Marshall Aid Western ties and increased the opposition to the communist countries. With the loss of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) was the Marshall aid vital to the Dutch economy. Well turned the western economies for Marhallplan been pretty good.

In the Netherlands, in this period the welfare organized by Willem Drees (1948-1958) during the Roman-Red coalition (CSF, PvdA). Characteristic of the rebuilding was hard work and frugal living. That coincided with solidity and decency and fit very well in the Calvinist views in the Netherlands. A tight wage policies was also imposed which one had to work hard for little pay. The feeling to all work together to rebuild increased the sense of community in this period.

Unemployment fell and the economy recovered in the Netherlands. On the balance of payments was in surplus by low spending in the interior (low labor costs) and an increase in foreign exports.

The 50s

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor jaren '50 loonpolitiek

In the ’50s strove Netherlands to a capitalist model (similar to the US) with a wage policies and a strong industrialization (gas, oil, infrastructure, shipbuilding and ports) of the economy through harmony model (no conflict between employers and employees the guise of reconstruction).

The SER (Social Economic Council) was founded in 1951, it created more large companies through mergers and acquisitions (multinationals) and employment in the manufacturing and services increased rapidly. The resulting prosperity did not seem to stop anymore.

There was an overall positive atmosphere of progress, prosperity, manufacturability thoughts and rationalism (modernism). Also, more social laws introduced as the Old Age (1957) and the National Assistance Act (1963). Government intervention was also performed in coincidence with thinking Top-down (father state) and the desire to raise social misfits again. Many young people saw this intervention as very patronizing. The very low wage growth also resulted in discontent and many wildcats.

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After World War II, the number of births rose sharply (baby boom). Thus generating an increase in demand for homes that were not there the discontinuation of housing construction in the war and the wrecked houses by the bombing. At the time of reconstruction therefore were many sober (social rental) dwellings built to solve the biggest housing need. In the 60s, the housing crisis reached its peak, so the quantitative housing production increased enormously. In the ’70s these austere buildings were often demolished as part of urban renewal in which the emphasis was more on qualitative housing needs.

In the 50s and before that played the life taking place within the columns. It is organized along religious and social classes were divided into a Catholic class, social class democratic, liberal class, communist class and the Protestant class. Sectarianism ended late 60s when prosperity grew and more space was for individual development. Inside the group, everyone had his own trade union, political party, school, hospital, broadcasting and association. However, the mass media had more influence because everyone was listening to the radio and got underway the first television broadcasts. The first forms of youth culture took shape as the rise of rock and roll (Elvis Presley and Bill Haley)

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In (West) Germany and Japan’s economic recovery was faster than in the Netherlands (Wirtschaftswunder). The economic miracle was driven mainly by the introduction of the German Mark in 1948 and the demand for new products including the demand for war products for the Korean War (1950-1953). But also the automobile industry was rising. Scooters and mopeds were a great success worldwide. Germany also had a lot of cheap skilled labor. This means that Germany could double its export and became one of the strongest economies in the world.

The Korean War (communist north western and south) was the first military conflict of the Cold War after World War II. It was a conflict between the United States under the banner of the United Nations on the one hand and China and the Soviet Union on the other.

The 50s are also at the beginning of a cold war between the emerging powers Soviet Union (communism) and the USA (capitalism). Germany was divided into an eastern and western power. The arms race led on one side to a revival of the economy in the West, but also to the great fears of each other. The eastern countries (satellites) were under pressure from the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact in 1955. The western countries were NATO (NATO) in 1949.

NATO is based on the capitalist economic system (block) in which the role of the free market plays an important role (1st world countries). The communist bloc (Comecon) is based on a state planned economy of often five years (2nd world countries). The other (neutral) countries were often in Africa and came under the 3rd world countries (developing countries). Outside Europe via Russia joined Comecon an economic and military alliance with Cuba, Vietnam and Mongolia in response to the Marshall Plan.

In the ’50s were also the first nuclear plants built alongside electricity also provided the raw material for nuclear weapons (uranium and plutonium). The development of the technology of fission (uranium and plutonium) or fusion (hydrogen bomb), the threat of a global nuclear war rose dramatically (the Cold War). The fear of a total destructive third world war seemed to be coming closer.

There are three different views on the origins of the Cold War:

The traditionalists argue an aggression drift from the Soviet Union with the Eastern European states came under the authority of Stalin. The United States conducted a peaceful policy which was blocked by the Soviet Union, including at the Berlin blockades, attacks by North Korea on South Korea and the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia. The expansionism urged the US to counterbalance and the beginning of the Cold War.

The revisionist vision (60/70 years) lead the American expansionism as the cause for the cold war. The United States was prosperous and had a monopoly on the atomic bomb, while the Soviet Union was severely weakened. The revisionists see capitalism as the reason for evil. The United States would only be looking for new markets to become richer from it. The sphere of influence in Eastern Europe had to offer protection against capitalist expansion.

The post-revisionist vision (70/80 years): The Cold War is seen as something inevitable. A collision between two different ideologies. After WWII, leaving a power vacuum and a bipolar situation with two powerful countries through the elimination of France, Germany and Britain. It was completely unacceptable to Europe by allowing one party to dominate which disrupts the balance would be.

Division of Germany (BDR and DDR)

In 1945, Germany was divided into four different sections: a French (De Gaulle), American (Truman), English (Churchill) (Western) and a Russian section (Stalin) (communist). In 1949 the western parts were merged into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), the Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Also, Berlin was divided into four zones. In 1961 joined the GDR and BDR borders to each other with the building of the Berlin Wall.

Within the GDR Socialist Unity Party Deutschlands (Communist Party) is the only power carrier and all the big factories were owned by the government, opposition members were persecuted and civilians were strictly controlled by the Stasi (State Security Service). The GDR was criticized for the lack of goods and poor quality. Many East Germans flee to West Germany, where the economy was much stronger, and to return to family. Due to a communication error in 1989 there were so many East Germans to West Germany, after which there was no stopping and the GDR was declared virtually bankrupt.

Only in 1990 the two Republics were reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It also proved to be the final end of communism in the Soviet Union, Russia was again and Eastern European satellite States. Currently, you can still see clear differences between East and West. Despite the many investments from West Germany into East Germany, the economy and employment are not very loud increased. Also, because of the outdated factories and state companies that no longer met the liberal forces. Moreover devoted to the ecology of serious damage, the GDR reparations should do instead of receiving Marshall aid and there was a massive collectivization place. The idea of ​​a disadvantaged area with many involuntary unemployment is still observable. It also leads to very left-wing or right-wing extremist views in the eastern German region.

The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) lived in contrast to the GDR just an economic miracle, which even surpassed the many other Western countries. The booming economy has attracted many people from the GDR road (Republiksflucht). Therefore, it was erected an iron curtain in 1961 (the Berlin Wall). The introduction of D-mark, joining NATO was carrying at one end to economic growth in West Germany, but stressed the contradictions of the Cold War with the Soviet Union on the other. Until 1969 the BDR broke off diplomatic relations with the GDR. Then came headed by Willy Brandt a more detente towards Eastern Europe (Ostpolitik). In 1973 the GDR and BDR were joined member of the UN.

The 60s

In the 60s, the reconstruction is completed and they begin to really work on the welfare state, the Netherlands. More consumer products are coming on the market such as refrigerator, washing machine, telephone, television and cars.

The color television plays an important role in the household. The television also contributed to the end of the compartmentalized society. Bands were also loosened by the increasing secularisation, but one could also receive information outside the column by mass media which now became accessible to more people. Also, there was a certain degree of informalisation on. The authoritarian political-confessional leadership of previously less possible and in daily life people talked less with you and more with you.

In Asia created a major conflict between the West and China to Vietnam. The Americans send military advisers to assist the pro-Western dictator ic Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam) against the leftist guerrilla Vietcong in the north. North Vietnam supported by China (Mao).

The Green Revolution is a successful food program of irrigation, fertilization and breeding to increase rice production and to keep the wind out of the sails of communism. In Africa, many former colonies independent. By a power vacuum or change most of the countries in which dictatorships much wealth in the hands of dictatorial military leaders.

The struggle between communism and western block is also made in African countries. The highlight of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 and leads almost to a third world war. The construction of a Russian base for nuclear missiles in Cuba (Fidel Castro) was ushered in by a failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs by CIA (American secret service). The Russian and American fleet are pitted against each other. Eventually pull the Russian ships with nuclear warheads back. Also struggling more Satellite States with the communist domination. Hungary makes more room for a Liberal government.

In America more space for civil rights for black youth (black panther party). In 1968, Martin Luther King is assassinated fighting for black people and civil rights.

So did the resistance against the war in Vietnam and the domino theory (if one was communist country would soon more to follow). The resistance was so great that President Johnson himself did not stand for election and was succeeded by Nixon (Republican) which only intensified the war.

Because of the cold war developed space technology will be faster. There was a weapon and technology race (Space Race) fed to the first man in space (Soviet Union, Yuri Gagarin) and the first man on the moon (USA, Neil Armstrong).


In 1967, the Six Day War broke out between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries. Israel feels threatened and performs a “preemptive strike” out. Within six days, Israel enlarged the territory of the Golan Heights, Sinai desert, Gaza and the West Bank.

In 1962 the contraceptive pill was introduced in the Netherlands through which family planning was more feasible. Large families were less discussed. There was more sexual freedom through the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution is a reaction to the prudish Victorian era and the idea that sex was only for procreation. Sex was seen more as a stimulant.

The rebels and the hippie movements have significantly contributed to the sexual revolution with a much freer sexual morality. The more liberal sexual morality was also stimulated by progressive political parties, the second wave of feminism (women empowerment), secularisation and the possibility of the pill, so you did not get pregnant from sex. The Roman Catholic Church have protested strongly against the more liberal sexual morality and birth control (a progressive cardinal, Beckers after).

Even pop music became popular with the advent of rock and roll (Cliff Richards, Rolling Stones), folk music (Simon and Garfunkel) beat music (The Beatles), protest singers (Bob Dylan) and the flourishing of the underground music (Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors, Deep Purple).

Economic prosperity grew rapidly. Japan as a Western country after the WWII was more important economically. In the Netherlands, the poor relief was converted to social assistance. However, more young people were rebelling against the rigid (old) relations in society with student revolts and occupations of universities. Youngsters got more and more disgusted with the compartmentalized society that was still present within society.

In the Netherlands, all gas was found by the NAM in 1948 in the smaller fields near Coevorden. In 1959, large-scale gas found in Kolham (Slochteren), which was connected to Netherlands national gas and coal-scuttle the house was out.

The gas reserves of 2,700 billion cubic meters is the foundation of our welfare state. The proceeds were benefits, subsidies and major infrastructure projects are paid, spending also had a huge consumptive nature. Unlike the Norwegian natural gas which are largely invested in an investment fund where politicians can not touch.

Currently, hit the natural gas in the Netherlands and it is discussion on new economic activities. This discussion is now mainly in the northern Netherlands an important role because the negative effects of natural gas extraction hardly weigh against large yields of natural gas that are not beneficial to the area itself.


Northern Netherlands is seen as a colony but however, does provide a lot of problems with the safety of natural gas production, high unemployment, underinvestment in infrastructure and little new economic activities (shock, subsidence, flooding, depreciation homes, little innovation and compensation)

Modernism (50), and postmodernism (60s to present)

The 60 are also characterized as the period from the beginning of postmodernism that absolute truth doubts of Christianity, rationalism (absolute belief in progress of the lighting and the 50s) and Marxism. Postmodernism rebels against modernism through existentialism (the absence of a transcendent God) and the irony. Existentialists positioning themselves in front of rationalism, idealism and positivism. Important philosophers in these schools are Sartre (independence from the consciousness) and Nietzsche (nihilism).

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Within postmodernism, everything is possible, different movements exist side by side. Postmodernism is based on the lack of knowledge as opposed to modernism in which knowledge is the source of progress. The man is an irrational creature. Consensus does not exist because the foundations ‘language’ is flawed. This creates a plurality of thinking, values, relativism and pluralism. Within postmodernism opportunities of manufacturability by setting goals based on limited rationality. The reality is too complex to make for example a manufacturable society. The possibilities of progress are limited and whose progress you going to do? Globalization and new information processing such as the Internet also provide more insight into the worldwide progress was not achieved by a manufacturable society and rationalization. Also rejects the postmodern era to the late-capitalist consumer society from the 60s where information technology, globalization, flexibility, personalization, fulfillment, hedonism and depillarization are central. TV and Internet blurs the boundaries between high and low culture where images are more dominant than texts. In the modern era was art, culture and philosophy still focuses on originality, innovation and social criticism. The postmodern culture is much more focused on commerce, ambiguity, irony and big money. Postmodernism is divided into different ideas about the superiority of Western culture. It is precisely this division and diversity is characteristic of postmodernism.

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