From the opening section of the NSF report, "Science, Technology, and Democracy in the Cold War and After:"

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also become more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present--and is gravely to be guarded.

Yet in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of logical elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system--ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Dwight D. Eisenhower,
"Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People, January 17, 1961"

Soviet physics flourished.... The nuclear project protected Soviet physics, and this had a broader social and political significance. The conditions that Kapitsa had argued, in his letter to Khrushchev, were necessary for a healthy scientific community--willingness to speak out, and decisions based on the community's opinion--were also conditions required for democracy, or at least for a "public sphere" in which public opinion could be formed, and decisions taken, on the basis of open discussion.... The scientific community--and especially the physics community--was, for all its failings, the closest thing to civil society in the Stalinist regime. The scientist--or at least scientists like Frenkel, Kapitsa, Tamm, Vernadskii, and later Sakharov--was the nearest approximation to a citizen that could be found in Soviet society. The scientist as citizen was a figure of great significance for the society as a whole. In providing protection for Soviet physics, the bomb had done something more: it had helped to protect a small element of civil society in a state that strove for totalitarian control over the life of society.

David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb ( 1994)

The sophisticated thinking of Washington officials about power, freedom, and prosperity does not alone explain why the United States waged the Cold War as it did. Anti-Communism resonated with the American people. It provided a framework for understanding a complicated world with which few Americans had much experience. Anti-communism also could be used and manipulated by a wide variety of groups and interests to serve more limited domestic goals.

Melvyn P. Leffler, The Specter of Communism (1994)

Foreign politics demands scarcely any of the qualities which are peculiar to a democracy; they require, on the contrary, the perfect use of almost all those in which it is deficient. Democracy is favorable to the increase of the internal resources of the state; it diffuses wealth and comfort, promotes public spirit, and fortifies the respect for law in all classes of society.... But a democracy can only with great difficulty regulate the details of an important undertaking, persevere in a fixed design, and work out its execution in spite of serious obstacles. It cannot combine its measures with secrecy or wait their consequences with patience.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

   Cold War Connection Home Page

[Text Only Index]