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“The World As It Was”: A Masterly Documentary Film

Edward Curtin

Here’s a film about the 1950s – “The World As It Was” – that will tell you a great deal about life in the U.S.A. today, while disabusing anyone of the notion that nostalgia for that mephitic decade is in order, for it was a time when “democracy” tended toward totalitarianism.

In doing so, it sowed the bitter fruit that is poisoning us today.  Without understanding the long-standing effects of those years, it is impossible to grasp the deepest dimensions of our current nightmare.  Chapter One of the documentary seriesFour Died Tryingdirected by John Kirby and produced by Libby Handros, appropriately subtitled: “To see where we are, look where we’ve been,” does that brilliantly.

The series opened four months ago with “The Prologue” (see review) wherein the lives, importance, and assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy are explored; how the government and media buried the truth of who assassinated them and why; and why it matters today.  Season One will unfold over the next year with chapters covering their lives and assassinations in greater detail.  Season Two will be devoted to the government and media coverups, citizen investigations, and the intelligence agencies and their media mouthpieces’ mind control operations aimed at the American people that continue today.

Chapter One – “The World As It Was” – is about the 1950s, the rise of the Cold War with its propaganda, McCarthyism, the development of the military-industrial complex, the CIA, red-baiting, betrayals, blacklists, the abrogation of civil rights, censorship, and the ever present fear of nuclear war and the promotion of fallout shelters that set the stage for the killing fields of the 1960s and the CIA’s ruthless machinations.

One could say that the 1950s were the Foundation of Fear upon which the horrors of the 1960s were built, and that now we are reaping the flowers of evil that have sprung up everywhere we look because the evils of those decades have never been adequately addressed.

The film opens with President Eisenhower delivering his famous Farewell Address, warning about the growing power of the military-industrial complex.  It is a short and powerful speech, concealing not a smidgen of hypocrisy since it must not have been Eisenhower who presided for eight years from 1953-19661 as this complex grew and grew and he poured 2 billion dollars in weapons and aid and a thousand military advisers to the ruthless and corrupt Vietnamese dictator Ngô Dinh Diêm, while saying he was “an example for people everywhere who hate tyranny and love freedom.”  His speech, while still good, reminds me of all those who spend their careers quiet as church mice as the wars and assassinations rage on only to find their voices in opposition once they retire and collect their pensions.

In response to Eisenhower’s speech, some of which we hear, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. – one of a hundred interviews done for this series over six years –  says that Eisenhower’s speech “is probably today in retrospect the most important speech in American history.”  While that is debatable (I would pick JFK’s American University speech), he rightly emphasizes the importance of Ike’s speech and the fact that his uncle, President Kennedy, fought against the military-industrial complex handed him by Eisenhower.

This is important, for although JFK did get elected emphasizing the Cold War rhetoric of a non-existent missile gap between the U.S. A. and the Soviet Union, he very quickly changed, having been betrayed by Allen Dulles and the CIA regarding the Bay of Pigs, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Vietnam, Laos, etc.  The military brass quickly came to hate Kennedy, a naval war hero from World War II.  His three year transformation into a great peacemaker – and therefore his assassination by the CIA and its friends – is a story many still would like to squelch.  This documentary series will prevent that.

Those who control our present and wish to control our future are hard at work today trying to control our past and they will therefore hate this truthful film that is a powerful antidote to their attempted amnesia.  In thirty-nine sobering and entertaining minutes (with emphasis on both words), “The World As It Was” illuminates a period in U.S. history that is often dismissed as the staid and boring 1950s but was in fact when the infrastructure for today’s censorship, chaos, and fear were laid.  It was not the era, as a baseball movie about Jimmy Piersall and his depression from 1957 put it, when “Fear Strikes Out,” but the time when fear burrowed very deep into the American psyche and anxiety became a weapon of state.  Is it any wonder that today could be called “the age of depression, fear, anxiety, and pill popping”?

It is interesting to note that Eisenhower’s warning also contained an admonition to beware the growth of unchecked science, technology, and a future when computers would replace blackboards.  If he were still alive, he would no doubt not recognize the country controlled by what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern calls the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT).

This vast computer-networked monster makes all the warnings about the 1950s snooping, informing, and controlling activities of government agencies seem like child’s play.  They can’t open snail mail now when few send any, but reading computer messages barely necessitates a finger’s movement, or, as Edward Snowden continues to warn, the entire electronic phone system is open sesame for government controllers. Cell phones acting as cells. Blackboards are gone but so is privacy.  The 1950s’ government snooping is pure nostalgia now.  We are through the looking glass.

As then, so today.  Oliver Stone talks about how in those days the constant refrain was “the Russians are coming” and how his father, a Republican stockbroker, told him that “the Russians are inside the country.”  Fear was everywhere, all induced by anti-communist propaganda aimed at controlling the American people.  Stone is still fighting against the Russia bogeyman stories, while today we are told again and again that the Russians are still coming.  We can only assume they are very slow.

Aside from RFK, Jr. and Oliver Stone, in this episode we hear from NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the screenwriter Zachary Sklar, et al.  Because the film is so ingeniously crafted, many of the most powerful voices – for and against the government repression and fear mongering – are those from newsreels and television shows that are artfully spliced between the commentaries of the aforementioned people. For example, to see and hear FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover rant about communists under every bed and to juxtapose that with the calm words of the filmmaker Dalton Trumbo, blackballed as one of the so-called Hollywood Ten, is an exercise in distinguishing sanity from insanity.

To this is added music, advertisements, movie clips, and jingles from the 1950s culture that place the viewer back in time to feel and absorb the “vibes,” as it were, of those days.  Like any era, it was complicated, but the overriding message from the fifties was not about mom making tuna noodle casserole but was that there were commie traitors everywhere throughout society and that every citizen’s obligation was to turn them in, even if that meant turning yourself or your parents in.

Children were taught to get under their desks when the sirens sounded, for they were safe places when the Commie Nukes start coming in.  Civil Defense drills screeched this fear into your every fiber.  In April 1957 the Army Air Defense Command announced that new Nike Hercules missiles with atomic warheads would shortly be installed around New York City, Boston, Providence, etc. to replace conventional warheads.  A spokesman added that these nuclear warheads posed no danger and that if the missiles were used, fallout would be “negligible.”  Of course.

Let me use an anecdote from pop culture that I think sums this up this sick game of fear and distrust – paranoia.  My parents were on a game show in the fall of 1957 called “Do You Trust Your Wife?” hosted by Johnny Carson. By the summer of 1958 the show’s title was changed to “Who Do you Trust?”  I used to joke that Hoover or Senator Joseph McCarthy was behind the change and their English grammar was atrocious, but I realize it was probably some fearful lackeys in the television industry.

Professor Miller, an expert in propaganda, narrates quite a bit of “The World As It Was” and does so admirably.  He correctly points out that to describe the 1950s as the era of McCarthyism is a misnomer, for doing so “let’s the whole system off the hook.”  It was the entire government apparatus that promoted a vast repression based on fear whose aim was to create meek, deferential, and obedient people afraid of their own shadows.

He points out that the basis for all this was established by President Truman in 1947 with his Executive Order 9835 that required loyalty oaths to root out communists in the federal government.  Six months later the CIA was founded and the country was off to the Cold War races with its anti-communist hysteria and the institutionalization of a militarized society.

The Red Menace, nuclear extinction, and the need to root out those traitors who were conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government by force were pounded into people’s minds.  Not only were these traitors in the government, but in the schools and colleges, the labor and racial equality movements – more or less everywhere.  Whom could you trust?  No one, not even yourself.  While McCarthy was eventually censored for going too far when Joseph Welch accused him of having no decency during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings, he accomplished the goal of injecting his paranoic poison into the social bloodstream where it remains today, part of the political structure shared by both major parties.

But hope arose, as the film concludes, when JFK was elected in 1960 and in his first week in office went to the theater to see the blackballed screenwriter’s Dalton Trumble’s adaptation of Howard Fast’s novel, Spartacus, aboua slave revolt in ancient Rome.  Fast was also blacklisted and wrote the novel secretly.  As RFK, Jr. says, this was a symbolic turning point when this was reported on the front page of The New York Times.

“It [the film Spartacus] is a parable of resistance and heroism that speaks unreservedly to our own times,” wrote the great journalist John Pilger in We Are Spartacus shortly before his death. “There is one ‘precise’ provocateur now; it is clear to see for those who want to see it and foretell its actions. It is a gang of states led by the United States whose stated objective is ‘full spectrum dominance’. Russia is still the hated one, Red China the feared one.”

Yes, today we are told that the Russians are still coming.  The bad old days are back.  But so also is the slaves’ rebellion.

Four Died Trying is a documentary series that is part of this rebellion.  Chapter One, “The World As It Was” shines a very bright light on disturbing U.S. history.  It shows where we have been in order to help us see where we are.  Don’t miss it.

Edward Curtin is an independent writer whose work has appeared widely over many years. His website is edwardcurtin.com and his new book is Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies.

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moneycircus
moneycircus
Mar 24, 2024 2:25 PM

????

I Exist Without Consent
I Exist Without Consent
Mar 21, 2024 11:36 AM

‘Truthful film’.. Ha! During the height of corona-fascism YouTube was saturated with free ‘truther’ movies. All offered high production values and a side of American fascist burger relish and/or crucifixes. Nothing’s changed. The bourgeoisie, anarchists, patriots and fascists still default to erasing the class war and blaming the victims. Few have actually ‘woken up’, as they like to put it. Mesmerised by nation flags and Murdoch’s divide-and-rule spectacle, they waste time squabbling over the existence or non-existence of viruses – or they play the dying swan over trans people, immigrants, Jews and Muslims – or they become swivel-eyed over the Illuminati, UFOs, Satanists, Pizzagate and freemasons, etc. Those who can see beyond the noise realise that there are no countries anymore. Such distinctions are superficial. The world is a global prison camp built on class lines for the benefit of a supremely powerful transnational ruling class. The ongoing Gaza genocide… Read more »

antonym
antonym
Mar 21, 2024 8:52 AM

Missing: ‘Operation Paperclip”, aka import of NAZIs into the whole USA’s establishment. FBI, CIA, army, NATO, State, Wall street etc. Also into South America.

Not rocket science. Werner von Braun was just cover to hide the father load. All pre WEF crowd, hating Russian spoil sports the most.

Rolling Rock
Rolling Rock
Mar 20, 2024 9:17 PM

The Cold War served its purpose at the time in creating fear and division. It allowed for the MIC to loot the public Treasuries, primarily that of the U.S. As Yuri Bezmenov stated in that prophetic 1984 interview with G Edward Griffin, the means to destroy a nation are best achieved from within. If we are to believe in the idea of nation states in conflict and competition with one another, then this method is the cheaper and more successful way, rather than risking a kinetic war and a resistant population. However, if we do not believe in the nation state idea but in the idea of controlled governments which are just fronts for corporations masquerading as sovereign nations, then the destruction of another nation (corporation), its culture and identity are still best achieved internally. It is becoming clearer that the debt encumbered and financially bankrupt Western nations have served… Read more »

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 20, 2024 6:25 PM

RE: to see and hear FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover rant about communists under every bed and to juxtapose that with the calm words of the filmmaker Dalton Trumbo, blackballed as one of the so-called Hollywood Ten, is an exercise in distinguishing sanity from insanity. Now we have liberals (who support war against Russia) calling capitalist Russia communist and conservatives calling American liberals where you “can’t slip a cigarette paper between the interests of the state and big business” communists. Meanwhile, the terms fascist and communist have become epithets without any meaning as no one seems to know what these terms mean and meant historically. The ruling class knew that they wanted to maintain and expand the permanent war economy coming out of WWII. They needed fear. It was not the communists that dropped the atom bombs, it was the “leader of the free world”. The Cold War was invented… Read more »

I Exist Without Consent
I Exist Without Consent
Mar 21, 2024 4:53 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Capitalists are the enemy. Six homeless die every single day in Los Angeles – a human catastrophe – by design.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Mar 19, 2024 10:15 PM

“Since 1954, Bilderberg has been an annual invite-only three-day conference of 120-150 leaders and figures from industry, finance, academia and the media. Two-thirds of the participants hail from Europe and the rest come from the United States.” This elite assemblage of banksters and other oligarchs was established shortly after WWII. I’m almost positive the original ghouls who attended in the early 1950’s funded Hitler. In any event, the next group known as the Trilateral Commission was founded by Rockefeller in 1972 and incorporated most of Carter’s administration including “Chessboard Brzezinski.” 😁 The intentions of the banksters and owners of multinational corporations were formulated after WWI, as they carved up Europe and the Middle East. The Global Empire has been consolidating its power ever since. One has to pay tribute to MLK and Malcolm X as it took enormous courage to confront the national security state knowing it could lead to… Read more »

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 20, 2024 10:47 PM
Reply to  Charlotte Ruse

RE: JFK naively, thought the CIA would never bump off a Kennedy.

If you read David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government and you’ll get a different impression.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Mar 20, 2024 11:09 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

I Don’t think JFK thought it was possible that he was going to murdered by the intelligence agencies, although he knew Lumumba was assassinated by the CIA and his administration attempted to kill Castro numerous times.

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 21, 2024 2:08 PM
Reply to  Charlotte Ruse

If you read the book you will find that near the end JFK had an inkling of where things were headed. That aside, a US president had never been assassinated by elements within his own government before. It was unprecedented. So how could he be naive about it?

The real reason Kennedy was killed is that he sought to end the gravy train that was the Cold War. Without the fear promoted 24/7 by the Cold Warriors (which included major players in the Media like Henry Luce), the CIA, the MIC would have no reason to exist and Wall Street, oligarchs like the Rockefellers would be very unhappy.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Mar 21, 2024 4:13 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

I think being a Kennedy and at the time part of the ruling elite he was a bit cocky and never suspected he’d be whacked. I guess, JFK was unaware of his dad’s connection to the vicious underworld and never
truly believed they’d rub him out.

fatalist
fatalist
Mar 21, 2024 4:16 PM
Reply to  Charlotte Ruse

Kennedy was close friends with Sam Giancana, head of the Chicago mob who is alleged to have stuffed ballot boxes with Kennedy ‘votes’.

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 21, 2024 4:36 PM
Reply to  Charlotte Ruse

By WWII and after, the lines between the Mob (and organized crime globally) and the CIA were blurry, if non-existent.* The Mob were subcontractors to the CIA, who was running the show.

*See the work of Alfred McCoy like The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.

fatalist
fatalist
Mar 21, 2024 4:40 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Yes, absolutely.

Giancana claimed to have worked with the CIA. Former mobster Michael Franzese claims the Mafia killed Kennedy and it’s an accepted fact within it.

judith
judith
Mar 22, 2024 12:55 PM
Reply to  fatalist

It might be accepted fact in some circles, but definitely not in others.
Many factors. Not just mafia. Involved maybe, but not the planners.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Mar 21, 2024 5:43 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

I agree, they infiltrated unions and Hollywood.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Mar 21, 2024 5:45 PM
Reply to  Charlotte Ruse

Yes, it was a rigged election like all others.

NixonScraypes
NixonScraypes
Mar 21, 2024 2:31 PM
Reply to  Charlotte Ruse

Not forgetting that Starmer is a member of the Tri Lateral Commission.

Charlotte Ruse
Charlotte Ruse
Mar 21, 2024 4:03 PM
Reply to  NixonScraypes

All the “ghoul managers” are interconnected

Fritz
Fritz
Mar 19, 2024 7:47 PM

Capitalism defeated communism in the USSR, & capitalism defeated democracy in the USA.

Sunface Jack
Sunface Jack
Mar 19, 2024 10:07 AM

Well, I can tell you that communism is real.Just look at Southern Africa, its full on communist run.
One just has to realise its Marxism and that 45 communist goals are real and those at Davos are ensuring that it happens. Agenda2030 is the disguise.

Howard
Howard
Mar 20, 2024 3:27 PM
Reply to  Sunface Jack

No “ism” is ever truly “real.” Being ideas concocted in somebody’s head and written down in a treatise, they can never be acted upon as conceived or written. Every “ism” depends on people to flesh it out; and people, being notoriously imperfect beings, always manage to muck it up in their efforts to tailor it to their personal interests.

Communism is every bit as “real” as the Easter Bunny. The Bunny is very real – he’s a wabbit; but has about as much concern with Easter as Santa Claus. Ditto Communism.

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 20, 2024 9:30 PM
Reply to  Sunface Jack

Agenda 2030 was created by and for the interests of the West’s capitalist ruling class. So are you saying that they are all Marxists? The CIA began infiltrating and manipulating the American and European left shortly after the Agency’s creation in 1947 (we have no reason to think that they stopped). How does this make sense: e.g. Gloria Steinem, a leader in the feminist movement, a “Marxist” and who was also a publicly admitted CIA asset? How would a Marxist, the #1 enemy of capitalists worldwide be an asset of “capitalism’s secret army’ (as the CIA has been known)? Therefore, are the CIA Marxists? Is the communist plot to take over the world a CIA operation? Recall that the CIA has overthrown scores of governments because they were accused of being communist (very often because they desired to control their own resources in conflict with the interests of some giant… Read more »

I Exist Without Consent
I Exist Without Consent
Mar 21, 2024 12:24 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Commentators who reiterate, ad nauseam, the discworld insanity that is ‘capitalists are Marxists’, and ‘the WEF and China are communists’, are useful brainwashed parrots sat in row on a telephone line. The noise is deafening.

Albert Einstein — ‘Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.’

Free thinking truther: ‘Ronald McDonald is a communist! We must defend American values – get your Freedom Fries from McDonald’s today!’

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 21, 2024 1:39 PM

In the early 1980’s, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the ANC, was considered by US a terrorist and leader of a terrorist organization. By 1990, he was considered to be a hero of freedom (and a de facto rock star) by the same people who earlier in the decade designated him a terrorist. What happened? Mandela and the ANC got rid of a plank in their Freedom Charter that called for economic equality, (a revolutionary and communistic provision) at the behest of the IMF. After that South Africa got a few black faces in position of power. Meanwhile, what happen to the people that supported the ANC when they were outlawed? Things stayed as before, the black majority remained in poverty. Today we have fake revolutionaries working for the interests of the global ruling class who are accused of being communists by the right who are also working to protect… Read more »

fatalist
fatalist
Mar 21, 2024 1:42 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Mandela named as MI6 agent By Neil Mackay HERALD SCOTLAND 2000

fatalist
fatalist
Mar 21, 2024 1:44 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

“Sir John Sawers, former Chief of MI6. Meeting Nelson Mandela after his release from prison. The first man to do so”.

Nottingham University

I Exist Without Consent
I Exist Without Consent
Mar 21, 2024 4:21 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Perfectly described and 100% correct. It’s why I despise the human race. A handful of selfish, greedy, venal people always ruin life for everyone else. Poverty is a ruling class tool of coercion.

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Mar 21, 2024 4:27 PM

RE: It’s why I despise the human race.

Because most people are not “selfish, greedy, venal”?

hotrod31
hotrod31
Mar 21, 2024 2:22 AM
Reply to  Sunface Jack

I assume that the ‘communism is real’ comment is primarily aimed at the ANC Govt. If truth be told, the ANC wouldn’t know what actual communism was if it bit them on the arse. The ANC cadres are an absolute disgusting group of thieving thugs, who assume that it is okay to imitate the previous Nationalist Apartheid Govt. theft, but without the panache, they steal all the proverbial, ‘low-hanging-fruit’. In a nut-shell, the ANC spivs assume that Govt. Treasuries are formulated for bureaucrats to loot and pillage. And, it needs to be pointed out that who ever controls the ANC (overseas Corporate Conglomerates) appear to be encouraging the wholesale theft of public assets, while the actual rulers of the country, who incidentally, have never actually relinquished power, continue the rape and pillage of the natural resource wealth, as they have always done. South Africa remains a ‘Corporation’ registered in the… Read more »

Mishko_
Mishko_
Mar 19, 2024 12:53 AM

“the age of depression, fear, anxiety, and pill popping”
It has also been called “The Valium & Sherry Generation”.

Full Spectrum Dominance – supported by 5th Generation Warfare.

fatalist
fatalist
Mar 18, 2024 10:17 PM

Earl T Smith (American ambassador to Cuba) – Wikipedia

To make my point more clear, let me say that, we helped to overthrow the Batista dictatorship which was pro-American only to install the Castro dictatorship which is pro-Russian.

There is an interview with Ambassador Smith conducted by the legendary Stanley Monteith on Fourth Floor.