Volume XVIII, No. 12 (2016)
19 December 2016
Roundtable Editors: Thomas Maddux and Diane Labrosse
Roundtable and Web Production Editor: George Fujii
Introduction by Mark Philip Bradley
Hajimu Masuda. Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World. Cambridge: Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780674598478 (hardcover, $39.95/£31.95/€36.00).
- Introduction by Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago.. 2
- Review by Gregg Brazinsky, George Washington University.. 4
- Review by Adam Cathcart, University of Leeds. 8
- Review by Sergey Radchenko, East China Normal University and Aberystwyth University.. 11
- Review by Julia C. Strauss, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London 14
- Author’s Response by Masuda Hajimu, National University of Singapore.. 18
© 2016 The Authors.
It is not every day that a first book puts forward a field-defining argument to reframe our understanding of the global history of the mid-twentieth century. Nor that notoriously tough H-Diplo reviewers are unanimous in calling the work “brilliant,” “provocative,” “innovative,” and “original,” or as one reviewer put it, “one of the most significant interpretations of the origins of the Cold War.” Masuda Hajimu’s Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World is centrally concerned with the constructed nature of the Cold War, and the place of the Korean War in making it palpable and believable for states and people in Asia, Europe, and the United States. At the center of his account are the messy and complex ways in which the Cold War came to function locally as an agent of social repression. Masuda draws attention to the pattern of social purges that he argues appeared in many parts of the world almost simultaneously, among them not only McCarthyism in the United States but anti-labor drives in Great Britain, a Red Purge in Japan, the suppression of “un-Filipino” activities in the Philippines and a White Terror in Taiwan. Central to this “global phenomena of purges” (200), he argues, was the deployment of anticommunist rhetoric to put into place more conservative visions of state and society around questions of race, labor, gender and the family. So too, he suggests, did the Cold War come to China in the form of class-based social revolution.
Masuda’s efforts to simultaneously move between diplomatic and social history and to capture the entanglements of the local and the global across several continents are quite breathtaking, as is his work with primary sources in dozens of archives and libraries in China, Taiwan, Japan, Great Britain and the United States. In some cases, especially his novel use of local Chinese materials, he is dealing with sources that have largely been untapped by previous scholars. In other cases, he brings a new interpretative frame to bear on more familiar American and Japanese sources that recast our understanding of them. There is, as one reviewer here suggests, a “dazzling range” to the sources he employs: archives, diaries, the popular press, cartoons and photographs.
The reviewers do offer important caveats. Several raise the question of the comparability of Chinese and American experiences in reordering postwar society given the dramatic differences in regime type and state visions of a desired future. Other reviewers are concerned about method. Julia Strauss worries about confirmation bias. In such a sweeping global history that emphasizes continuities across space and time, might evidence of difference between societies, especially around questions of toleration, go unnoticed? Sergey Radchenko questions how autonomous grassroots social attitudes really are from state policies and practice. Perhaps the most troubling critique is the marginal place of Korea itself in Masuda’s narrative. Repression, Gregg Brazinsky rightly argues, was a central part of how the North and South Korean states consolidated their power well before 1950, suggesting that events on the Korean peninsula were critical to and preceded the global waves of purges Masuda so deftly captures in his book. To ignore them, albeit unintentionally, reinscribes the too often marginal place of Korean actors in the historiography on the Cold War. That said, the reviewers here all agree that Masuda “hits one right out of the park” with Cold War Crucible. It should be required reading for all of us in the field, and deserves a central place on undergraduate and graduate syllabi on Cold War history and the international histories of the twentieth century.
MASUDA Hajimu is a historian whose work concerns social and global history of the Cold War, U.S. foreign relations history, and modern history of East Asia. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2012, and currently is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World (Harvard University Press, 2015), and has published a number of book chapters and articles which can be found in Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History, Journal of Contemporary History, Journal of Cold War Studies, and Journal of American-East Asian Relations, as well as the IIAS Newsletter and History News Network. He is currently working on two book projects: one, an anthology, tentatively titled, “Unlearning Cold War Narratives: Toward Alternative Understandings of the Cold War World,” and the other, a monograph, tentatively titled, “After the Occupation: The Rise of Social Conservatism in Postwar Japan.”
Mark Philip Bradley is Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He is most recently the author of The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
Gregg Brazinsky is Associate Professor of history and international affairs at the George Washington University. He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell in 2002. His first book, Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy appeared from the University of North Carolina Press in 2007. He is currently completing a manuscript entitled The Eagle against the Dragon: Sino-American Competition in the Third World during the Cold War.
Adam Cathcart is Lecturer in Chinese history at the University of Leeds, where he teaches modules on the Korean War, Japanese war crimes trials, and Mao’s China. He has authored and co-authored a handful of research articles on Sino-North Korean relations (including in Cold War History, Journal of Cold War Studies, and Korean Studies) and is at work on a manuscript analysing Chinese views of the US occupation of Japan.
Sergey Radchenko is Zi Jiang Professor at East China Normal University, China, and reader in international politics at Aberystwyth University, Wales. His research interests include the Cold War and the history of Chinese and Soviet foreign relations. He is the author of Two Suns in the Heavens: the Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press, 2009) and Unwanted Visionaries: the Soviet Failure in Asia at the End of the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014). He is currently working on a history of Chinese foreign relations since 1949.
Julia C. Strauss is Professor of Chinese and Comparative Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She researches and writes widely on the evolution of the 20th century Chinese state in both its PRC and ROC variants, and is currently completing a monograph that compares regime consolidation in the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China/Taiwan in the early 1950s.
How and when did the Cold War begin? It is a question that has been pondered and debated for several decades now—spawning a multitude of books and articles far too numerous to summarize here. For the most part, however, historians have answered the question by assessing the relative importance of different individuals, events, policies, and documents. They have focused on how elite statesmen in Washington and Moscow came to see each other as adversaries and adopted policies to contest each other. Neglected in all of these debates over the wisdom and necessity of specific policies has been the role of ordinary people. After all, the Cold War was not like the two World Wars, which were fought over territory and began with the fire of weapons on the battlefield. It was a war that existed first and foremost in the minds of people around the world. How did businessmen, workers, farmers, parents, and children come to believe that they were living in a new era? And what was their role in making the Cold War?
In Cold War Crucible, Masuda Hajimu makes a broad ambitious effort to address these questions. Masuda argues that the Korean War played a critical role in reshaping popular perceptions not only in the United States but also around the world. Yet it is not simply the case that the war made people more fearful toward or hateful of their perceived enemies in distant parts of the globe. Rather, different groups had significant agency in translating global tensions into lived realities. In different parts of the world, everyday people came to embrace the logic of the Cold War for different reasons. Most often, according to Masuda, these reasons involved efforts by local actors to use the emerging East-West confrontation as an excuse to control and suppress the social and political upheaval that was sweeping the globe in the post-war era. The acceptance of the Cold War as what Masuda terms ‘a reality’ by ordinary people was in fact a very conservative reaction to the demands for greater equality and social change unleashed by World War II.
It is undeniable that Masuda’s approach is innovative, original, and path breaking. Using broad, deft brushstrokes, Cold War Crucible repaints our understanding of the origins and meaning of the conflict. Based on extensive archival research in the United States, Great Britain, the People’s Republic of China, and Japan it is a work with an impressive global sweep that ties together the experiences of a diverse array of protagonists, discovering the agency of individuals and groups that had for far too long been overlooked. It skillfully interweaves social, political, and diplomatic history, highlighting the interrelatedness of international geopolitics with the transformation of everyday life. Moreover, many of the insights into how the Cold War came about speak to contemporary international politics—most especially the war against terror—in intriguing ways.
In the first part of the book, Masuda problematizes what has become the standard view of the post-war world. He argues that it is incorrect to see the period between 1945 and 1950 simply as a transitional period between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. It was a time when progressive forces emerged in the United States, Japan, China, and elsewhere to demand social change and greater equality. Yet the demands of these progressive elements were fiercely resisted by conservatives with a vested interest in maintaining social order. Masuda argues that anti-communism became a powerful force in the United States during this period not because Americans carefully observed the international situation and saw the Soviet Union as a threat to their security but rather as a “grassroots conservative backlash” against African Americans, women, and other groups whose demands for greater equality seemed to threaten the social order (24).
Masuda then explores the connections between policymaking and domestic society in China and the United States. He argues that foreign policy making in both countries was more interconnected with underlying social currents than previous historians have let on. Cold War Crucible takes a very sophisticated view of how popular attitudes and policymaking shaped each other. Other scholars have argued that political elites manipulated popular opinion during the Korean War or used the war to mobilize the citizenry for domestic causes. Masuda sees influence as having flowed both ways with political leaders carefully attuning themselves to popular social currents some of the time instead of simply controlling them. For instance, Masuda demonstrates that there were still significant political divisions in Communist China by June 1950 and the CCP, which was eager to consolidate its control over the mainland, was constantly worried about them. Thus China’s entry into the Korean War was both a response to popular pressures and an effort to consolidate the Chinese Revolution.
During the third section of the book Masuda looks at the global phenomenon of domestic purges that occurred during the Korean War. His narrative ties together developments in Great Britain, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and the People’s Republic of China showing how the acceptance of the reality of the Cold War at the popular level had surprisingly similar effects in states with disparate ideologies and cultures. In all of these places, the dawn of the Cold War swiftly became an excuse for those in power to carry out purges against their political opponents. The intellectual sweep of this section is truly impressive. Today, the field of Asian studies remains heavily balkanized, with most works on Asian history confining themselves to one country. Masuda’s efforts to swim against this tide and draw meaningful comparisons not only between Asian countries but also between Asia and the West is one of the most important contributions of the book. By necessity, he at times obscures important differences between the different waves of repression that he identifies. On the whole, however, he is persuasive in his contention that these instances represented part of a broader global phenomenon that deserves greater consideration.
Masuda’s use of the notion of a ‘reality’ unquestionably presents an intriguing new framework for understanding the origins of the Cold War. And the author is generally persuasive in describing some (but not all) of the reasons why this reality emerged after 1950. At the same time, broad ambitious works of this nature inevitably raise more questions and more issues, some of which make me wonder whether the dawn of the new Cold War reality was a more complicated and multi-faceted process than Masuda lets on.
First, in Masuda’s narrative, the emergence of the new Cold War ‘reality’ almost always became a tool of oppression used by elites to settle social conflicts in their favor and deny the rising demands of less privileged groups. I am skeptical that the effects of this new reality were always as one-sided as Masuda makes them out to be. In the United States, the 1950s and 1960s were a time of slow, halting progress in the civil rights movement despite the efforts of segregationists to suppress it. Scholars such as Mary Dudziak, who have focused on the relationship between the Cold War and the civil rights movement, would certainly agree with Masuda that the new Cold War reality was used to limit the scope of acceptable dissent but they have also argued that it created new opportunities for those fighting for desegregation and equality. Even while the Cold War may have enabled the government to monitor and restrict civil rights activists in the United States, it also enabled activists to point out the contradiction between America’s espousal of democracy abroad and denial of full equality to its citizens at home. Masuda’s more uniform presentation of the Cold War as a suppressive force seems to understate the ironic and dualistic impact that the conflict had on struggles for equality in the United States.
Moreover, one wonders in reading Masuda’s work how and whether ‘realities’ of the type that he describes can ever be subverted or resisted. James C. Scott and Michel de Certeau among others have shown how even when new social, cultural or intellectual orders become ascendant, ordinary people can still employ practices that deflect the power of these new orders in different ways. Was the influence and power of the new Cold War reality described by Masuda ever subverted from within? Of course, a complete answer to this question would lie somewhat outside the scope of Cold War Crucible and it is understandable that Masuda does not devote a great deal of attention to it. Nevertheless, some discussion of how and when the new realities might have been resisted would have created a more balanced sense of the complexities of the historical phenomenon that Masuda describes.
Another problem is the somewhat marginal position occupied by Korea in Cold War Crucible. Although the book is purportedly about “The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World,” Masuda’s focus is more on developments outside of Korea than it is on events in Korea itself. The Korean experience of the war, for the most part, gets shunted aside and what little is said about Korea skirts over some important issues and ignores other interpretive possibilities. The only effort to introduce some discussion of the Korean experience comes in the beginning of Chapter 2 where Masuda relates the memories of Kim Song-chil, a Korean historian who was killed during the Korean War. In Masuda’s retelling, the outbreak of the Korean War did not immediately change things in Korea. In fact, life continued as normal for many Koreans during the early months of the conflict. One problem with this kind of analysis is that it takes a somewhat Pollyannaish view of the outbreak of the Korean War on the peninsula. It is important to remember that by June 25, 1950, hundreds of thousands of Koreans had already lost their lives due to repressive measures carried out by the new North and South Korean states and border skirmishes that occurred regularly between their new armies. If people on the peninsula did not take heed of the initial North Korean invasion of June 1950 it is unlikely that this was because they had not yet embraced a new Cold War reality (which Masuda seems to be suggesting) but rather that they saw the war’s opening salvo as the continuation of a new painful reality of national division and civil war that had begun five years earlier. Masuda’s brief analysis of Korea does not completely contradict this reasoning but at the same time, it does not sufficiently engage it.
Moreover, a significant amount of repression occurred in both North and South Korea between 1948 and 1950 as these two new states consolidated their power. The state-sanctioned slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people who questioned the authority of Syngman Rhee’s government in the south has been particularly well documented. In South Korea too, anti-communism and the Cold War seemed to implicate themselves into ongoing social conflicts well before 1950. I wonder how this can be squared with Masuda’s point that it was the outbreak of the Korean War that introduced the ‘reality’ of the Cold War to people across the globe. At a minimum, juxtaposing events in Korea with Masuda’s analysis seems to suggest that Korea and Koreans should have occupied a more central place in Cold War Crucible. By focusing on the United States, Taiwan, the PRC, Britain, and the Philippines, Masuda makes it look like the global wave of repression that gave birth to the reality of the Cold War was a phenomenon that suddenly manifested itself in 1950 outside of the Korean peninsula. But one could also make a case that the global phenomenon of repression that Masuda describes began between 1948 and 1950 on the Korean peninsula and then spread outward as the rest of the world got drawn into the Korean conflict. It is already the case that far too much of the literature on the Korean War—both scholarly and popular—neglects or ignores the Korean perspective and does not use Korean materials. Although Masuda’s work is a world apart from much of this literature in terms of perspective and sophistication, it still, for the most part, reflects an unfortunate tendency in the historiography of the war.
Although Cold War Crucible leaves some questions unanswered and does not fully pursue all of the interpretive possibilities raised by its own innovative approach, it will nevertheless stand as one of the most significant interpretations of the origins of the Cold War and become required reading for new graduate students in the field. By looking at this issue from a social as well as geopolitical perspective, Masuda breaks new ground and forces historians to reconsider a phenomenon that they had long thought they understood.
Masuda Hajimu has managed to create a work of great simultaneity which almost effortlessly bridges many perplexing divides and contributes to multiple fields of study. Based upon an impressive multi-lingual array of archival documents, as a reconceptualization of the Cold War in Asia, the book succeeds brilliantly. The book succeeds in part because it is not a comprehensive global history on the origins of the Korean War, but instead focuses on its ripples, the impact and expression of the war in multiple societies, particularly China and Japan, as well as the U.S. The Korean War is therefore more of a spark in this book rather than the main event, which is perhaps as it ought to be. After all, the internecine fighting along the 38th parallel that culminated in June 1950 and quickly mushroomed into a locally fought international war has roots that others continue to unearth, and the debate over the war’s origins and evolution has, in a way, itself reached a stalemate.
Masuda does not so much deemphasize the notion of a divide between East and West in the Cold War as obliterate it. The author’s hop-scotching from place to place, particularly in Part III, conditions the reader to move beyond the national frame, almost as if the book were a sort of virtual-reality machine. While Masuda fails to follow up on all of these threads -- most of the subalterns we meet are met just once – the doors are opened for the reader, and the juxtapositions presented are sometimes startling. In this text, ‘observation data’ from London are aligned congruently with Chinese press warnings about a basic awareness of the possibility of subversion.
Why is it, then, that in looking back, we have had such a difficult time perceiving the inner connections which Masuda brings to the fore? Certainly much of the problem has to do with a state-centered approach to writing the history of the Korean War. This is in part a function of records themselves – it is a great deal to ask of a single person to delve into both Japanese and Chinese documents archives, let alone to plunge into the poorly-organized but protean documents captured around North Korea during the war by U.S. forces in their rush to the Yalu. Masuda’s archival work is admirable; he has put his travels to good use. Some of the sources aid in reminding us how bound together various events were in historical time, particularly in serial artifacts as such as The Economist magazine from 1950, a quote from which begins Masuda’s book in earnest. To the author’s credit, he brings readers back into contact with several older works of historical writing such as the reformist Kuomintang periodical Guancha and Harold Isaacs’s Scratches on Our Mind: Images of China and India
The prevalence of Japan in a book centered on the Korean War is to be welcomed heartily. The author’s approach is different from that of Wada Haruki, as well as Michael Schaller. Like the two senior scholars, Masuda aids in untangling the meaning of the “reverse course” and the impact of the U.S. occupation of Japan. But the focus on public opinion and individual experience here goes well beyond. The assertions of Japanese agency in the initiation and shaping of the reverse course (34) are particularly effective, showing how some Japanese leaned hard against the effects of the purges. The inveterate anti-communist Charles Willoughby, General Douglas MacArthur’s intelligence chief who had been so wounded by the British and U.S. press during the Korean War, seems never to have been able to escape a certain penchant for the obscure and the paranoid (28), a fact nicely depicted by the author.
Early in the text, Masuda depicts the rightward swing in Japan by the U.S. authorities, but does so via focusing on China, where in summer 1948 the “Movement to Oppose American Revival of Japan” (or Fanmei Furi Yundong) was raging in cities around the country. The basic fact of Chinese interest – no, passionate interest – in postwar Japan cannot be overstated; Masuda is absolutely right to merge these threads. But amid this dynamic sense of interconnection, some questions are left unanswered: Why did these protests not move the Japanese public? Was this due to the fact that the Americans were censoring such news in Tokyo? Our assumption might be that officials in SCAP saw Chinese opposition as merely an annoyance, or as stimulated cynically by left-wing groups. Chinese opposition to Japan’s postwar direction was not simply feared by officials working for SCAP, it was at times manipulated by the Americans as well. Charles Kades, the powerful Deputy Chief of SCAP’s Government Section, gave a long dressing-down to five Japanese leaders working on the difficult issue of domestic purges in 1947. Kades warned them that failure to carry out their purges inadequately would not simply disappoint MacArthur, it would create more problems internationally for the U.S., which would then be effectively hurt by having allowed the Japanese too much leeway. After a long recitation of one particularly fierce Chinese editorial, Kades made a statement that might also seen as an epigraph for Masuda’s work on the global reverberations of the reverse course: “Everything that Japan does today and everything she fails to do is observed by the world. Whether you like it or not you just can’t help it. Everything has an international aspect in the domestic situation in Japan today.”
If the Americans were endeavouring to control and channel Japanese public opinion both before and during the Korean War, they were certainly not alone- Masuda points this out clearly in multiple instances. However, there are times in the text when the equivalencies extended sometimes overreach. In part, this could be a function of the archives, where local and national governments clearly wish to recollect their past responsiveness to public critique. Letters to the Renmin Ribao newspaper which end up in archives like the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive seem to be there for rather obvious reasons. East German archives are full of public statements of support for the war effort in Korea and denunciations of the American war mongers. In British archives, too, such documents can be found – but these were handed up the chain and in some cases make it to Parliamentary question time, and inquiries within the bureaucracies concerned. The odd thing about Korean War papers in East German archives is the kind of wall that there seems to be between ostensibly ‘mass movements’ and the discussions at the very top; whereas complaints about the British participation in the Korean War seemed to make it up to at least a secondary level of government, if not the Prime Minister himself.
Masuda’s analysis of Chinese propaganda on the homefront during the Korean War is an excellent reflection on the materials as they were seen at the time. Masuda reflects on Chairman Mao’s desire to use the Korean War ultimately as a means of bucking up public pride and moving beyond the national humiliation narrative, while simultaneously illuminating the great fears of war circulating among the public, particularly as regards air raids (pp. 63-66). Publications like the Dongbei Huabao (Northeast Pictorial) and daily papers in port cities like Dalian were educating the masses about how to identify various types of American war planes by their outlines. Gao Gang and other Chinese leaders at the time were by no means incorrect in their assumption that a broader air campaign against Northeastern cities was being discussed in Tokyo. In October 1950, Vice Air Marshall “Boy” Bouchier, the UK’s top air advisor to MacArthur, ruminated openly in his memos to London about targeting and destroying a single Chinese city like Shenyang to send the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a message about what might be in store for the new People’s Republic should they chose to intervene openly in the fighting in Korea. Masuda’s points about war fears in China are deeply anchored and point toward a new generation of studies where archives are used to fully explore the violent enmeshment of such movements as the Three-Anti, Five -Anti with PRC Korean War mobilization.
Mao, the man who had spent so much time writing about protracted war, might have been depressed about the population’s lack of education and vim for the possibility of ‘People’s War.’ Masuda largely chooses not to discuss CCP’s rather consequential methods of achieving social cohesion, a mixture of terror and incentives, but at least he points the way toward which such an examination could go, mixing propaganda with local trial data, for instance, or seeing how patriotic donations for the war were merged into broader trends of expropriation.
One of the biggest hits of U.S. children’s television in the 1990s-2000s was a series called Barney and Friends, a show about a purple, vaguely carnivorous dinosaur, Barney, who was brought to life through the power of children’s imagination. Every episode of this now safely retired show began with the performance of the constructivist manifesto, also known as the Barney Theme Song, which featured these troubling words: “Barney can be your friend too, If you just make-believe him!”
I was reminded of this show when reading Masuda Hajimu’s excellent book. Masuda argues that the Cold War did not become reality until it was imagined as such by the postwar societies across the world. It was like children imagining Barney, except of course that the adults’ “Cold War fantasy” (as Masuda calls it) had none of the hugs and kisses of the Barney show. It was brutal. It was oppressive. And, tantalizingly, it was similar across the board: from the United States, to Great Britain, to Japan, to Korea, to China, Taiwan and Philippines, the case studies in Masuda’s groundbreaking book.
Masuda’s argument is that the Cold War was just one of many possible social discourses in the immediate postwar years. It was the Korean War that turned it into the predominant one. Perhaps more important than ‘when’ was ‘how:’ the Cold War reality was, according to Masuda, just an outward projection of social repression of nonconformity. To use his own words, the Cold War was “an imagined reality, a gigantic social mechanism that operated to tranquilize chaotic postwar situations, worldwide, through putting an end to a multitude of social conflicts and culture wars at home” (284).
I was struck by the depth of Masuda’s insights. Constructivist approaches to history are of course nothing new, and are in fact becoming increasingly prominent in the writing of Cold War history. What I liked about Masuda’s approach is his comparison and juxtaposition of postwar discourses across a range of countries, which does help to bring out the general picture, one of conservative backlash against certain social phenomena like labor activism and the women’s rights movement.
He looks in turn at manifestations of McCarthyism in the United States, the Red Purge in Japan, anti-Communism in Britain, the White Terror in Taiwan and the crackdown on ‘un-Filipino activities’ in the Philippines to argue that rather than seeing the targets of repressions as simply innocent victims of anti-Communist paranoia (as historians often do), it may be more useful to see them as actually being ‘at fault,’ not as ‘Communists’ of course (as few were) but as local non-conformists who were perceived as dangerous by the socially conservative majority.
One would think that Mainland China would be an outlier to this socially conservative trend but Masuda navigates the issue by arguing that repression in China (in the context of the Zhenfan or ‘Suppression of the Counterrevolutionaries’ movement) was also in instance of forcibly bringing ‘order’ to a society riven by tensions and social conflicts. In effect, Masuda argues that the killing of the hundreds of thousands of ostensible nonconformists in this brutal movement brought about some sort of unification of the Chinese society, not unlike what was also observable in the West around the same time. Crucially, he argues that this was a process that was in many instances driven from below, not mandated from above.
In the course of his discussion of locally-constructed realities, Masuda comes face to face with a difficult chicken-or-egg type of question. It concerns the role of state propaganda in shaping public attitudes. When children make-believe Barney the purple dinosaur, they do not just come up with a random image. Instead, their reference point is a toy dinosaur that is then, by the power of their imagination, transformed into the walking and giggling version of its previous self.
I find it hard to believe that in the absence of a pre-supplied toy Cold War Barney in the form of state propaganda or opinion-forming national media, Lorraine Henderson, a high school student from Connecticut, would have written to President Harry S. Truman in the summer of 1950 that “[when] I heard a plane over head… a streak of fear went through me, afraid any minute we all would be killed… Why don’t we take a chance and sneak up on them…?” (85). Would Yang Tiwei, a Beijing student, still write to the Party, asking to be dispatched to Korea in order to “participate in the battle against American imperialism” (180)?
Perhaps not. Yang Tiwei in fact explains where he got the idea: “I have read articles in Renmin Ribao… and I was very much impressed” (179). Lorraine Henderson would have not advocated the idea of sneaking up on the Russians unless she first heard about the Russian threat from her parents or her teachers who in their turn would have learned about it by reading, perhaps, The New York Times. Masuda understands the importance of propaganda but argues all the same that social and historical contexts were “equally or, arguably, far more important” in conditioning grass root attitudes (185).
I take an exception to Masuda’s argument at this point. It is not that social or historical contexts were unimportant – of course, they were essential. But in and of themselves they don’t actually explain anything. Let us take the Chinese case. Masuda argues that while the Party “exerted enormous influence” through propaganda and censorship on the public perceptions of the West, “the CCP did not necessarily create such a trend” (180, Masuda’s italics). These preconceptions were instead “rooted in historical experiences and memories of Western and Japanese colonialism” (176).
Anti-colonial sentiments were undoubtedly wide-spread in China at the end of World War II, as elsewhere across Asia. But the transfer of these sentiments from their immediate focus – Japan – onto ‘American imperialism’ only became possible due to sustained state propaganda to this effect. In the absence of such propaganda, public anti-foreign sentiments could well be directed against Russia (was it also not a colonial exploiter of China?). In fact, this was exactly what happened in Taiwan, where GMD propaganda channeled public sentiments towards hatred and fear of the Soviet Union, which supposedly enslaved China in 1949. Indeed, this was what happened in Mainland China, only later, in the late 1960s, when the Soviet Union became a target for Red Guard attacks. It clearly required state involvement to shape vague public attitudes into very concrete hatred of, first, ‘American imperialism’ and, later, ‘Soviet social imperialism.’
This is not to say that I disagree with the overall direction of Masuda’s argument. I think he is on target in saying that policy makers everywhere (including even Communist China) were highly attuned to public sentiments and often catered to them. I would nevertheless argue that policy makers played a much greater role in shaping the public discourse than Masuda suggests, and that this was especially true in countries with massive state propaganda machines, like the one in the People’s Republic of China.
Another important question broached by Masuda is how and why the imagined ‘reality’ of the Cold War became - apologies for the oxymoron - the real ‘reality’ of the Cold War. Masuda’s argument is that for the Cold War to have become real, it first had to be imagined and later “solidified” as such (2), and it was here that the Korean War played an important, crucial role. I would not necessarily disagree with Masuda on the importance of the Korean War, although I would see the slide towards the Cold War as more of a process, going back to the Soviet take-over in Eastern Europe, the Iran crisis, Soviet espionage scandal in the United States, the Berlin airlift, the Chinese revolution and, of course, the Soviet detonation of the Atomic Bomb in August 1949. Each of these events tended to reinforce certain notions about the Soviet intentions or about the American intentions, so that when the Korean War actually broke out, perhaps the multiplicity of alternative discourses across the world was not as great as Masuda suggests.
I am more interested in the theoretical implications of Masuda’s argument. If we view all reality as socially constructed (as a bona fide constructivist would have to), then would it not be logical to argue that the Cold War was ‘imagined’ all the way, and that was all it was until the very end – an imaginary discourse. Masuda does not take the argument to its logical end, and I can see why: we all know that imaginary Cold War could well have ended with very un-imaginary devastation: the tanks were real, the bombs were real, and the deaths were real, as the millions of Koreans who were killed, maimed or displaced in the Korean War, would testify before the most exalted of social scientists.
Finally, let me touch briefly on the question of the endgame. Every episode of Barney and Friends ended on a happy note, and, with the song “I love you, you love me, we are a happy family,” Barney would be unimagined and returned to his original state, a purple toy dinosaur. At the risk of going a bit beyond Masuda’s book (which shows how the Cold War was ‘imagined’), I wonder how it was ‘unimagined’ in the end and why some places ended up to be much more of a happy family than others. I wonder why of all places, the Cold War was never ‘unimagined’ in Korea. This question concerns continuity and change, the scourge of realist historians. Social constructivism would arguably offer a more flexible framework for understanding how certain phenomena can come about or disappear. Given Masuda’s focus on grass-root social attitudes, it would be interesting to speculate whether and how the change in these attitudes may have contributed to the end of the Cold War.
Masuda Hajimu has written a refreshing, provocative and extremely important book that has contributed not only to our understanding of the Korean War, not even just the Cold War, but the past as a subject of scholarly enquiry. By pushing beyond conventional boundaries, and integrating grass root narratives from many different countries, Masuda has made a big splash in crowded waters, and I congratulate him on this impressive feat.
This is a wonderful book that will certainly be widely quoted and incorporated into a large set of literatures on the Cold War. It manages to do all the things that truly successful academic works must: be enough of its time to be understood and appreciated, be enough ahead of scholarly trends to be far reaching and edgy, be well written and accessible, be based on solid research that will stand the test of time, and perhaps most importantly be on a topic that is large enough and relevant enough that different sub-audiences of scholars will care to read it. In all these respects, Masuda Hajimu hits one right out of the park.
Cold War Crucible is that rare thing: a historical monograph that manages to link the macro big questions with the micro narrative in a way that is engaging and convincing. While the Korean War frames the entire work and is in the title, the book is only in the most general of ways about the Korean War. Rather than delving into the conflict in Korea and its role in the congealing of much larger the Cold War, it takes as its subject how the emerging Cold War was imagined and acted on by a range of actors in the different societies that congealed the Cold War and made it real, often (even typically) through a variety of petty local concerns and grievances. The range of places that Masuda Hajimu includes in his analysis is nothing short of astonishing: he engages in lengthy investigations of micro history in the United States, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China, all of which feature prominently in two or more of his chapters. He also gives somewhat less attention to three other cases: the Republic of China on Taiwan, the Philippines, and Great Britain, each of which merits the better part of one chapter. Indeed it is difficult to imagine any other scholar with either the linguistic capacity or the patience to collect relevant materials so widely. Materials in Japanese, English, and Chinese are all frequently cited. The sheer range of sources on three continents - which include archives, diaries, the popular press, cartoons, photographs, contemporary reports, oral histories and of course secondary literature - is dazzling, and is more than enough to satisfy even the snippiest of archive rats, like myself. Archival depth, linguistic breadth, and a hook that ties together the macro and micro – this is the complete package.
No roundtable discussion can possibly do justice to such a wide ranging work with such a wealth of sources and interesting sub-arguments, but here is my take on the most important of the points that Masuda makes in different ways throughout the manuscript: 1) the Cold War cannot be understood outside the profound social and economic ruptures engendered by World War II, and the widespread fear that World War III was likely to be just around the corner, 2) that domestically within particular societies, the war in Korea, and the deepening of the Cold war provided the framework within which domestic social warfare was waged, 3) that individuals were willing, and often even eager participants in the processes for the restoration of social order launched by political elites, 4) that under these circumstances, quietism, or what Masuda calls “participation by absence” (269), in the context of Taiwan becomes a form of collusive participation and finally that 5) political leaders in regimes as different as the revolutionary People’s Republic of China and the conservative United States resorted to fear mongering and solicitation of popular input in order to (re)solidify social order, purge the impure “Other” and purify society. Similar social struggles went on in Japan (with the Reverse Course of the Occupation), the Philippines (in putting down the Huk), and in Taiwan (with the White Terror under Chiang Kai-shek).
Masuda brings a wealth of information to bear on these claims, and what is presented reads convincingly and entertainingly. There can be little doubt that in a very wide cross section of societies in the early 1950s, the dominant political trend was towards the (re)imposition of the kinds of social and economic hierarchies that political elites wished to see institutionalized, and that this was in most cases framed as the imposition of essential national order. It is equally clear that in actual lived experience, this played out in through the filter of local status hierarchies, individual resentments and/or ambitions, after all, in political systems as different as the People’s Republic of China (revolutionary), the Republic of China/Taiwan (conservative military authoritarian), and the United States (increasingly conservative democracy), thousands of individuals, were willing and eager to inform upon or denounce their neighbors, co-workers, and even family members. It is precisely this commonality of pattern across so many different types of political system, evoked through such wonderful vignettes, that makes this book so compellingly readable.
For all these important strengths, it is possible that significant parts of the argument might not hold up quite as well as they seem to at first reading. My qualifications of an otherwise extraordinary piece of work are three. First, at what level of analysis is the real comparison being made? The book’s rapid shifts in register from the macro to the micro make it quite difficult to compare processes of internal purification beyond stating that they exist. This is certainly true, but it is equally the case that the impetus to internal purification plays out in different ways at different scales. The individual denunciation is qualitatively different from the collective shunning of the suspect neighbor, and both analytically distinct from a public mass movement that results in the public denunciation and execution of the impure ‘Other.’ Second, what about confirmation bias? This is a book that makes a bold argument across many different societies with a compelling range of different kinds of primary sources to support that argument. But no researcher, no matter how gifted, hard-working, and multi-lingual, is going to avoid colliding with the constraints of time, funding, and ability to keep so many balls in the air. Given how far the author has ranged in his subject matter and his collecting of source materials, is it not at least possible that the very process of research has resulted in the selection of sources that support an idea or argument already half, or more than half formed at the time of selection? In short, the sources to back up the argument made are all there, but what about what isn’t there? As just one small counter example that might give one pause consider Bill Hinton, who was nothing if not exactly the sort of subversive Fifth Column that the United States forces of conservative social order needed to expel or at least terrify and marginalize. After running into no end of official harassment and trouble after his return from China in the early 1950s, Hinton gave talks across the country to those he remembered as not left wingers but people who wanted to know about China. And Hinton recounted a wonderful anecdote for the Monthly Review copied and pasted here in full:
“I just want to tell you one more story. One of the more memorable talks was in a little town called Gowanda, New York. Gowanda is a little town south of Buffalo, very Republican upstate New York community. And there was a Methodist group of quite left-wing, radical ministers called the Methodist Federation for Social Action. This young minister invited me to talk to a student group on Sunday night. I went there and gave a talk on land reform. The parents and then the students came, and the young people. Everything went very well and they thanked me and they went home. Some of the parents went to the Rotary Club the next day and said there’s a wonderful speaker in town, you should invite him for Thursday night. Some other parents went to the FBI and said, ‘There’s a dangerous Red in town, you should go and investigate.’ And they investigated the whole thing, and they went to the Rotary Club and said, ‘You can’t invite this Hinton. He’s a dangerous Red.’ They said, ‘Who are you to tell us we can’t invite Mr. Hinton? Get lost.’ So I came back on Thursday night and I talked to the Rotary Club. That meeting lasted until three in the morning.” (http://monthlyreview.org/2003/10/01/background-notes-to-fanshen/, accessed 29 June 2015).
There is of course enough information in this Hinton anecdote to argue for the Cold War as the reification of internal social order, and particular community and ideological orthodoxies. But there is as well the evidence to support a very different notion of open expression, liberalism, and open defiance in the face of attempted shut down of debate. There were clearly others (we know only about the high profile ones like Hollywood actor Humphrey Bogart) who attempted to openly resist and then caved in or simply went quiet when put under political, social, and economic pressure. It is at least possible that there are any number of other stories of locals who shielded or at least grudgingly tolerated the neighbors and relatives who held unpopular views in the United States – but the evidence to make this argument either pro or con is not there. Because the evidence is not there we have no idea how to quantify or assess the degree to which this kind of shielding or grudging toleration was practiced even in the United States, to speak nothing of what went on in political systems that had fewer legal protections and less of a tradition of free speech. The liberals, the union activists, the female workers, and the students who had supported profoundly different norms did not disappear because the conservatives ‘won’ in the Cold-War inflected ‘social warfare’ of the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Finally, I would question whether it is particularly fruitful to suggest that the People’s Republic of China and the United States in the early 1950s had much of significance in common. To be sure, both were large continental states with substantial reservoirs of nativism and mistrust of cosmopolitan outsider elites, political elites that instrumentally stirred ‘the people’ to paranoid action over fears about internal security in the specific context of the war in Korea. And it is certainly the case that those deemed internally ‘Other’ suffered directly through economic deprivation, social isolation, and worse. But is this not what all regimes do in order to stiffen patriotic resolve in the early stages of wartime? There is certainly an abundance of examples in even the ‘liberal’ societies of the United States and Great Britain in both the First and Second World Wars to so suggest, and the examples could be multiplied indefinitely across other regime types. It seems to me that regime type matters quite dramatically for the kind of society that is being (re)ordered in the early years of the Cold War. As Masuda demonstrates so cogently, in most of the places he considers, this meant conservative social order and backlash against anything progressive, from gender relations to labor practices, to union representation, to what students were permitted to get up to. This was true in Japan, Taiwan under the Guomindang, Britain, the Philippines, South Korea, and most importantly in the United States itself. But it was demonstrably not the intention of the leaders of the revolutionary People’s Republic of China to establish social order. On the contrary it was their explicit intention to divide society into fixed and immutable categories based on presumptive class status, and to mobilize those categories of people in waves of successive campaigns precisely to carry out a transformative and revolutionary project. Nothing could be more illustrative of the differences between the conservative social order of the United States (or, for that matter Britain, Japan, or Taiwan) and the explicitly revolutionary one of the People’s Republic of China than their respective approaches to gender. At exactly the same time that jobs were being taken away from women, who were being re-traditionalized and lured back into the home with the promise of ever increasing consumer durables in the United States, women were being mobilized to organize into Women’s Federation branches, assigned work whenever possible, and initially backed up with what had the potential to be truly revolutionary in gender terms, with the promulgation of the New Marriage Law of May 1950. Only slightly later developments in the People’s Republic of China gave further indication of the regime’s revolutionary intentions: the waves of campaigns against all competitors (real and imagined), as well as the escalating campaigns for internal purity. Whatever the immediate excesses, there is a fundamental difference between a state that reins in political purges, as the United States did with the downfall of McCarthy, and one that ratchets them up on a regular basis, as did the People’s Republic of China.
These questions aside, Cold War Crucible will be as runaway a success as any scholarly academic monograph can reasonably be. It does all the things that academic historians are currently predisposed to value. World history? Check. A multiplicity of sources? Check. Integration of two very different branches of history? Check. Engaging anecdotes juxtaposed against meaningful macro argument? Check. The restoration of agency to individuals? Check. That it does so in a manner that is both engaging and compelling is all to the author’s credit – perhaps no other scholar would have even attempted such a wide ranging monograph backed up with such a range of primary sources. The attention that the book will undoubtedly receive is entirely merited, and its arguments will set the standard for quite some time to come.
I would like to begin by thanking H-Diplo editor Thomas Maddux for patiently making the effort to assemble this roundtable. I am deeply grateful to Gregg Brazinsky, Adam Cathcart, Sergey Radchenko, and Julia C. Strauss for their serious and engaging reading and analysis. It is truly an honor to have my book reviewed by such a diverse group of excellent scholars. I also wish to express my gratitude to Mark Philip Bradley for introducing and framing this roundtable.
Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World is a book that aims to offer a new way of understanding the Cold War through synthesizing social and diplomatic history, and local and global history, with a particular focus on the Korean War period. I argue that the Cold War was more than an international and geopolitical confrontation between the Western and Eastern blocs. It was also a social mechanism for purity and order in the chaotic postwar world, sustained by ordinary people’s imaginations about the ‘reality’ of the post-World War Two world. Paying particular attention to the nature, agency, and social function of the event, my book attempts to re-define the Cold War in three ways: as a ‘social mechanism,’ an ‘ordinary people’s war,’ and an ‘imagined reality.’ By re-interpreting the Cold War, my hope in writing this book was quite ambitious: to re-write Cold War history, to re-start our examination of the Cold War, and, in so doing, ultimately, to reconsider the postwar history of East Asia and the United States, and, more generally, to reconceptualize the global social history of the mid-twentieth century world.
Because of its ambitious and experimental nature, I have been anxious about how the book would be received. I am delighted to know that all four reviewers view my attempt positively and favorably. At the same time, the reviewers offer sharp criticism and disagreements, as well as raising fundamental questions. In this roundtable, instead of addressing my answers to individual reviewers, let me identify broad six areas of contestation. Also, allow me to set up slightly exaggerated versions of binary opposition for the sake of clarifying the points at issue: 1) Origins vs. Processes, 2) Real vs. Imaginary, 3) Difference vs. Similarity, 4) Conclusion vs. Dialogue, and 5) Objective vs. Interpretative History.
1. Origins vs. Processes
Let me open my discussion with the question concerning the position occupied by Korea in this book. The reviewers raise questions about how much significance should be given to the Korean situation. While accepting the general importance of the Korean War, Radchenko points out that the slide toward the Cold War had already begun much earlier through various events, such as the series of crises in Europe and Iran, the Soviets' successful atomic bomb test, and the Chinese Revolution, all of which occurred well before the outbreak of the Korean War. Thus, he suggests that the book overemphasizes the role of the Korean War as a crucial event in the materialization of the Cold War reality. Brazinsky likewise questions my treatment of the Korean situation, but from a different standpoint. He argues that, even though Cold War Crucible describes the global wave of domestic repression in many parts of the world at the time of the Korean War, a significant amount of such repression began on the Korean peninsula well before 1950. Thus, one could make a case, he contends, that such a global phenomenon actually began in Korea, then spread outward as the rest of the world was drawn into the Korean War, suggesting that the book should have given a “more central place” to Korea.
While their critiques might appear in opposition to each other, Radchenko and Brazinsky’s reviews share a fundamental, common trait: an attitude that emphasizes a ‘beginning.’ This is perhaps a familiar, almost inherent habit among historians. After all, multitudes of books and articles have explored the origins of the Cold War. However, what Cold War Crucible problematizes is actually this common attitude—the focus with the origins. Thus, instead of attempting to pinpoint when the Cold War began, my book quite intentionally focuses on the solidifying process of the Cold War reality, examining how the point of no return came about. I believe that such an examination of the solidification process, rather than searching for origins, is far more useful and meaningful for the purposes of reconsidering the nature of the Cold War.
I avoid the origins-seeking approach because it is inherently problematic. To begin with, why are we so drawn to the question of origins? The premise is that a beginning reveals the essence of a historical event. Nevertheless, this is not so self-evidently clear. Actually, a beginning is noticed and confirmed as such only after some unique pattern is repeated and recognized. In other words, the process of repetition and consolidation defines what the beginning is, but not vice versa. The ‘beginning’ looks more natural, persuasive, and unquestionable when most people are very sure about the dominant version of reality at present.
Here is the problem of the origins-seeking approach. Inherently, the search for origins presupposes some knowledge about what happened later. It is this knowledge that makes it easy for us to prioritize some events over others. As a result, some kinds of events appear more notable and relevant, while others look like trivial episodes on the sideline of history, even though the standard of reference is more ours than that of contemporaries. In short, the origins-seeking approach is not just a neutral, transparent method; it comes with its own lens, which almost unnoticeably conditions the direction of research.
What Cold War Crucible attempts to do is to question this lens. Thus, it focuses not on origins, but the process of the making and completion of Cold War reality. Here is where the importance of the Korean War comes in. To be more precise, what was really important was not the Korean War itself, but the perception of it. Today, we might think of the Korean War as a limited war in Korea, but, in 1950, many people across the world viewed it far more perilously and pessimistically because they believed it was the start of World War Three. After all, World War Two ended only five years earlier. For many at the time, World War II was not merely an event in the past. It was, rather, an image of the future, which constrained the ways in which people observed and contemplated the future of the world. Against the backdrop of this belief, the moment was conceptualized and confirmed as a transitional period before the advent of World War Three—the era of the Cold War.
In fact, this ‘reality’ of the Cold War attained its highest level of verisimilitude at that moment in Europe, East Asia, and the United States, that is, the areas that were most fiercely involved in World War Two. But it did not achieve such a degree of plausibility, at least at this point, in places, such as South Asia, Africa, and Latin America, which were, relatively speaking, not principal battlefields of the Second World War. In short, the ‘reality’ of the Cold War was based on the fear of World War III, which was constructed in the shadow of World War II. However much it was shared worldwide, this ‘reality’ was, in essence, a local understanding of the world, a product of social and historical construction.
Going back to Brazinsky’s and Radchenko’s points, I want to emphasize that my book does not argue that the Korean War originated the making of the Cold War reality; my argument is that it consolidated such a reality. Therefore, I would not deny the importance of the various pre-1950 events they mention. As for Brazinsky’s point, I spend the entire section at the end of Chapter Two explaining the situation in Korea, including constant repression, domestic violence, and border skirmishes before 1950. Brazinsky is correct in saying that people in Korea did not take heed of the initial North Korean invasion perhaps because many saw it as a continuation of the violence and Civil War that began five years earlier. But this is what I argue in the latter part of Chapter Two. Thus, Brazinsky’s comment here seems to serve more as an endorsement of my argument.
As for Radchenko’s point that the slide toward the Cold War should be seen as more of a process, I would not disagree with that, either. After all, without such a repetition of crises with a noticeably specific pattern before 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War would not have been seen as the start of World War Three. Rather, because of the recurrence of similar events beforehand, many people widely perceived the Korean War as a watershed event. Thus, the point is not that the war in Korea originated the Cold War reality; rather, popular perceptions of the Korean War finalized the consolidation of the imagined reality of the global Cold War, silencing alternative discourses and transforming Cold War discourse into the irrefutable and dominant reality of the world.
2. Real vs. Imaginary
In relation to my discussion on the nature of the Cold War as an imagined reality, Radchenko raises a very interesting question. To paraphrase, he asks: If we view all reality as socially constructed, then would it be more logical to argue that it was an imaginary discourse all the way to the very end? Interestingly, I have received seemingly opposite questions in my book talks more than a few times: “Why are you saying Cold War fantasy? It was a real battle!” For both, the premise here is the common usage of these terms, which tends to make clear distinctions between reality and fantasy, and the real and imaginary. In addition, words like fantasy or imaginary can have negative connotations, suggesting something false, dubious, fabricated, non-existent, and perhaps powerless, as opposed to the rather positive implications of the term reality as something more actual, substantial, trustworthy, persuasive, and authoritative. In our common vocabulary, it seems that the real world is one thing, and the imaginary world another. Therefore, it might sound more logical to stick to either side, arguing for the “real Cold War battle” or the “imaginary Cold War fantasy,” all the way. However, neither is my position.
Rather, what I have seen from my research is that we really cannot distinguish between the real and imaginary. Simply put, what Cold War Crucible has shown is how reality was imagined, and how imagination became reality. Here, the relationship between the real and imaginary is more like a series of continuous processes, rather than characterized as separation, opposition, or complementarity. For this kind of approach, I have been influenced by social constructivism and cultural studies approaches in recent years. However, much more fundamentally, this perspective of looking at the imagined and constructed nature of reality is actually quite inherent in the subject of my study itself: that is, the immediate postwar period. After all, no other time in the twentieth century (arguably, except the 1990s) experienced the shaking up of the belief in ‘reality’ than in the post-World War Two period. This was particularly the case for societies that experienced war, revolution, or defeat, and especially during the early phase of the Korean War, when people in many parts of the world imagined and discussed what the ‘reality’ of the world was.
In a sense, my “constructivist” approach came from the subject itself. Therefore, instead of making arguments deductively and theoretically, my book quite straightforwardly takes an empirical and historical research method, bringing readers to many parts of the world and introducing how, at the time of the Korean War, reality was imagined in many different ways, how local contexts and agencies almost always exerted strong impacts in such imagining processes, and how and why a specific version of Cold-War reality was accepted and even embraced in many (but not all) parts of the world. I cannot introduce the full contents of my book here, but, in short, it analyzes the ways in which diverse local issues, such as memories of World War Two, colonial and anti-colonial legacies, and racial prejudice toward Asians etc., played indispensable roles in the making of the Cold-War fantasy.
Going back to Radchenko’s point, I would not disagree with calling the Cold War an “imaginary discourse,” but, because it was embraced by the large portion of people all around the world, it indeed became the irrefutable reality of the world. That is why I call it an imagined reality. In saying that the nature of the Cold War was imaginary, I am not suggesting that it was false or non-existent or powerless. On the contrary, given the fact that it was accepted as such among large portions of the world’s populations, it indeed powerfully conditioned many people’s ways of thinking at that time and since.
3. Difference vs. Similarity
Another point that the reviewers focus on is my comparative approach. In particular, they focus on the last four chapter, in which I discuss McCarthyism (U.S.), the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries (China), the White Terror (Taiwan), the Red Purge (Japan), anti-labor agitation (UK), and the crackdown on Un-Filipino activities (The Philippines) in order to reconsider social functions and meanings of the Cold War reality, as well as ordinary people’s roles in it. In particular, Strauss, while enthusiastically praising the width and depth of my research, expresses deep reservations about my comparative approach, particularly my comparison of domestic repressions in the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), namely, McCarthyism and the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries. I am deeply grateful to have such a straightforward and detailed criticism. Let me clarify my intentions and aims. To begin with, I do agree with Strauss that there should be some meaningful commonality in order to have meaningful comparison. In brief, I discuss five common traits among my six cases of domestic purges and repressions in the US, China, Taiwan, Japan, Britain, and the Philippines as follows.
First, all repressions intensified almost simultaneously during the Korean War, particularly in the summer and fall of 1950. Second, all of these countries experienced World War Two and various kinds of fundamental social changes that unleashed diverse social, cultural, and political conflicts, which I have called “social warfare” at home. Third, each repression and purge more or less functioned as a mechanism for resolving such social conflicts and chaos in the aftermath of World War II through silencing various disagreements at home and bringing stability to chaotic postwar situations. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, each instance of repression was justified and intensified under the banner of the bipolar conflict, an image of which spread and solidified against the backdrop of fear of World War Three during the Korean War. Last but not least, all of these repressions, which I have characterized as “purification campaigns,” developed at intersections of state mobilization and people’s often enthusiastic participation to protect or in some case to create unity and purity through the use of a binary distinction between “us” and “them.”
As such, my criteria were quite strictly historically restrictive. In my view, these are common patterns that make my comparison possible. As for the disparity in terms of the scale and degree of violence involved, I would of course agree that there were huge differences among them, and that these were particularly notable between McCarthyism and the Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries. Yet, I think such a disparity can be accounted for if we look at the chain of harsh and cruel violence in China, such as the experiences of Western and Japanese colonialism, civil wars, social unrest, total war, and so forth. Thus, in my view, this disparity in terms of the degree of violence, in itself, would not prevent my comparison.
Thus, the question is whether or not we can still have meaningful comparisons when the cases are very different. I think the answer depends on particular cases. Simply put, if the purpose of comparison is to point out difference, uniqueness, and specificity, it might be problematic, or at least raise more questions than it answers, to compare cases that are too different. But that is not my aim. I am more interested in looking at similarity, commonality, and temporal simultaneity regardless geographical regions. In such a case, it seems that differences on the surface would not pose a problem. Rather, such apparent differences can be a strong asset for two reasons. First and foremost, it arouses curiosity. For instance, I can raise an interesting question: Why did such similar patterns of domestic repression intensify almost simultaneously circa 1950-53 across the world, regardless of critical differences in terms of regime types and ideological settings?
Furthermore, an inquiry into the simultaneity and commonality in seemingly separate and dissimilar cases has another benefit: that is, to give us a chance to raise much more fundamental questions about our common sense of what should be considered different. After all, when we think one thing is different from others, we are presupposing, whether consciously or unconsciously, some sort of category. For example, when we say McCarthyism is different from the Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries, we are talking about difference in terms of political and ideological orientations, as well as surrounding political environments. This means that we are using a specific paradigm based on political categorization. One wonders, however, what would happen if we were to set up an alternative paradigm. Would we still find them in two different categories? Not necessarily, I think. While they might look totally different and point in different directions in one paradigm, they might appear quite similar and point toward the same direction in another paradigm. Thus, one radical take when we find commonality in ostensibly different cases seems to be to problematize and relativize the very paradigm itself, which we have taken for granted, and which actually silently but powerfully forces us to believe what should be considered different.
In fact, that is what I attempt in my book. We usually think of McCarthyism and the Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries as political events, and thus have no doubts about using a political history approach, prioritizing the examination of who started them, and why. However, what Cold War Crucible attempts is to reconsider the meanings of these events from a social point of view. Instead of focusing on origins and policymakers’ intentions, my book reconsiders the nature of these events through analyzing what was going on in societies. More specifically, it looks at how these domestic repressions functioned in societies, focusing on who purged whom, and why. In a nutshell, the book characterizes these repressions as social phenomena, more specifically, grassroots social conservative backlashes against diverse kinds of social changes in the chaotic 1930s and 1940s.
Here I would like to draw attention to the meaning of the word, ‘conservative.’ When we hear this term, we usually imagine it as signifying political attitudes or movements, particularly in American political history contexts, thus, putting it in the direct opposite position to ‘progressive.’ However, my meaning is different. In order to avoid this narrow definition, my book use the term “social conservative,” signifying an attitude with a marked tendency toward creation of social stability through maintaining a majority group’s common sense about normal social order and social relationships in everyday life by way of repressing and silencing diverse kinds of nonconformists at home.
Also, I use the term “grassroots social conservative backlash” in order to emphasize the aspect of popular participation by the majority group within the population—ordinary people—who tended to be, generally speaking, socially conservative. These ordinary people were not necessarily simply victims of state suppression, nor heroes and heroines opposing state power; rather, they were often brutal and suppressive in pursuing the aims of restoring social order and maintaining the majority’s stability. Viewed in this way, McCarthyism and the Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries indeed had much of significance in common.
The issue of gender that Strauss points out is, indeed, a good example. After reading her insightful comments, I felt I should have discussed it further, as the subject could have strengthened my argument. Strauss points out that this issue most clearly shows the stark contrast between the conservative social order of the United States and the explicitly revolutionary one of the People’s Republic of China. She maintains that, at a time when women were being re-traditionalized and lured back into the home in the US, women in China were being mobilized, assigned work, and backed up with the New Marriage Law of May 1950. Thus, she argues that U.S. case reveals a more “conservative” tendency, while the China case shows more “revolutionary” one.
To be sure, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) gender policy was quite revolutionary. For example, it ended concubinage, abolished female (and often sexual) servitude system, and eliminated commercial sex markets. Yet, as the gender historian Susan Mann points out, its goal was not necessarily to promote gender equality. Rather, the series of gender policies functioned as the restoration of the family system, which had been in deep crisis due to decades of constant warfare, and due to the uneven distribution of scarce women at that time. Thus, what was achieved was to re-confirm and re-establish the family system as the foundation of the social order, and, in doing so, to promise every male peasant a wife, assuring them that everyone—not just the rich—would have children and would have a chance to see their children’s marriages and perhaps offspring.
Viewed in this way, what the mobilization of women and the enactment of the New Marriage Law of May 1950 actually signified was the direction toward social stability by way of incorporating, rather than liberating, women into the state system, on the one hand, and the family system, on the other. In fact, various revolutionary improvements at that time did not signify women’s independence as individuals, nor did they encourage free sexual behavior, extramarital sex, or homosexual rights. Rather, what was emphasized were monogamous and heterosexual marriage and marital ties, with denunciation of extramarital relations and divorce. All of these emphases functioned in strengthening socially conventional notion of family.
In this sense, such seemingly revolutionary change in China actually reveals quite a conservative nature in terms of pointing toward achieving social stability, making it possible to reconceptualize the Suppression of Counterrevolutionaries along with other social suppressions such as McCarthyism in the United States.
4. Conclusion vs. Dialogue
The reviewers also discuss what should be emphasized, and why. Brazinsky points out that I have overemphasized conservative suppression as the core component of the Cold War reality. He explains that the 1950s and 1960s in America was a time of slow progress in the civil rights movement despite segregationists’ efforts to suppress it. He also suggests that the book should have examined, or at least touched on, how or whether the Cold-War reality could ever be subverted or resisted by ordinary people. Strauss raises a similar concern and introduces an interesting short story about American farmer and writer William Hinton, which actually is a good example of what Brazinsky calls for: a case of ordinary people’s resistance against suppression.
These are valid points. Yet, I have to say that those are not exactly the points I wanted to highlight in my book. First, while I have noticed that many historians tend to take on a much longer time span than I do, my focus is the immediate postwar period, particularly the first nine months of the Korean War. Thus, it was not my aim to explore how the political liberals and leftists reacted, resisted, or took advantage of the Cold War reality in the later periods.
Second, and much more fundamentally, I see my book more as a part of ongoing dialogues among scholars, rather than as a decisive conclusion. Thus, I consider it more meaningful (in terms of historiographical developments) to focus on how ordinary people—whom I describe in my book as “grassroots social conservatives”—participated in brutal purges and repression of their neighbors. Generally speaking, academia has been quite sympathetic to those who suffered suppression, and, thus, not surprisingly, we have quite detailed accounts that describe ordinary people either as ‘victims’ of suppression, or ‘heroes/heroines’ fighting against such suppression. Because of these widespread notions, we often unquestionably posit ‘ordinary people’ as opposition to state suppression, and simply identify conservatives with elites, as if there were no conservatives at the grassroots level. What we do not know much about, and what Cold War Crucible actually emphasizes, is how ordinary people on the ground exerted their power, silencing various disagreements at home and attempting to create social stability and order through often violent and cruel means.
Such an aspect of ordinary people’s violence has been explored by scholars such as Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Robert Gellately, and Wendy Z. Goldman in other timeframes and geographical locations, such as of prewar and wartime Japan, Germany, and the USSR. My book, thus, is an attempt to explore this aspect in the contexts of post-WWII American, Japanese, and Chinese histories, in relation to the consolidation of Cold-War reality during the early 1950s. Furthermore, in terms of the postwar American history context, my emphasis on the grassroots conservative backlash reflects the recent surge in studies of conservative movements not only in the 1970s, but also in the late 1940s through 1960s. Thus, going back to Brazinsky’s point, my emphasis on emerging grassroots social conservatism is, first and foremost, a result of my choice of a specific time (the Korean War period), and, second, of my effort to correspond with recent historiographical developments in the field.
Radchenko raises similar concerns as to what should be emphasized and why, in the context of early PRC history, particularly concerning the roles of state propaganda in creating popular attitudes. He asks whether, in the absence of state involvement in the form of propaganda, ordinary individuals could really have a specific image of the reality of the world. It is “hard to believe,” he writes, pointing out that social and historical contexts by themselves would not explain anything about the development of particular attitudes, and that “policymakers played a much greater role in shaping the public discourse” than I suggest. On this point, I would not disagree. In fact, my book devotes quite a substantial effort to dealing with the impact of state-orchestrated mobilization programs in both the U.S. and the PRC. With respect to China, in particular, I have argued that the CCP had enormous influence.
Yet I did not want to stop there, for two reasons. First, as in the case above, this is at least partly because of my effort to participate in a historiographical discussion concerning the relationships between state and society, and between policymakers and ordinary people. Whether examining American or Chinese cases, most existing studies on state mobilization and propaganda are largely based on state archival materials, and basically focus on state intentions and conduct. Thus, what I have attempted is to explore underexamined subjects by trying to listen to ordinary people’s voices more carefully, examining how they ignored and rejected, or embraced and participated in, state mobilization and propaganda programs, and how policymakers measured them and sometimes catered to them in such dividing and confusing situations. Thus, what I have done is not to discredit the roles of policymakers and state propaganda, but put them into broader social and historical settings.
Second, perhaps more interestingly, what I have found through my research is how ordinary people can translate, adapt, and utilize state mobilization and propaganda programs for their own purposes. What I have attempted is to put state programs in a circle of state-society relations, instead of simply describing them in a top-down or bottom-up manner. In this way, my aim in writing this book is not necessarily to present a decisive conclusion with a comprehensive outlook, but, as Cathcart describes, to point the ways in which our examination could go for the future, as part of historiographical dialogues.
5. Objective vs. Interpretative History
Finally, Strauss brings up the issue of confirmation bias. She asks whether it is not at least possible that the very process of research has resulted in the selection of sources that support an idea or argument already formed at the time of selection. In a deeper sense, this is a question about a familiar yet always thought-provoking problem about what history is, and what it is for.
My answer is two-fold. To begin with, this is a matter of selection at the stage of interpretation and writing. In fact, I have collected many sources that would support a different kind of narrative, underscoring, for instance, the struggles, resistance, and accommodation of those persecuted during the Cold War in the United States. For instance, Helen MacMartin of Burlington, Vermont, who was publicly denounced and persecuted by her neighbors at the time of the Korean War, continued involving herself in peace and civil rights movements throughout the 1960s. Stephen Brunauer, who was suspended and eventually resigned his position at the Department of the Navy in 1951, proved to be a successful chemist at Clarkson University in the 1960s. Both of them appear in Chapter Seven, but I did not include these stories of later developments simply because they do not fit into my book’s timeframe, which primarily focuses on the Korean-War period. Also, I thought that they would make a different kind of book. In retrospect, of course, I could have mentioned them at least in the footnotes, so that the book might be considered to be more balanced and comprehensive.
However, this point actually sheds light on a much more fundamental issue concerning what history is, what it is for, and what the goal of writing history today is. After all, the very idea of a balanced and comprehensive narrative presupposes a particular belief about history: that is, history is and should be an objective representation of the past, and, in order to achieve this goal, bias can and should be set aside. Nonetheless, this kind of belief in objective history has been challenged for more than half a century. I feel that the past two decades in particular saw a conspicuous fall in the persuasiveness of this belief. This is, perhaps, not so much due to postmodernist scholars' relentless attacks on objectivity and neutrality, but due to the spread of globalization in our daily lives. Here I am not using the term globalization as synonym for simple ‘Americanization,’ which ignores aspects of local translation and creative adaptation entirely. Rather I use the term simply to describe increasingly emerging situations of borderlessness in our daily lives in recent decades.
In such a world, in which many of us increasingly travel to many places, communicate with diverse kinds of people, and live in multiple locations across conventional political, social, cultural, and linguistic boundaries, it is simply not difficult to feel a solid sense that the world is filled with different kinds of values, norms, knowledges, realities, and histories. This awareness, in turn, forces us to realize the existence of lenses we are wearing, and also allows us to become conscious that objectivity also presupposes its own lenses. Therefore, it is no wonder that the powers of persuasion in objective history have significantly declined in recent decades, while, at the same time, diverse modes of historical narratives beyond our professions have flourished. What is becoming clear seems to be that the era of globalization is simultaneously the age of relativism (and of the backlash against it).
Strauss’s question concerning confirmation bias is timely and important, because it makes us ponder what historians can do in this age of relativism. One way is to fight against the tide, earnestly striving for removing bias and working hard documenting and writing history objectively. I respect this approach, and it will definitely continue to be one of the most influential approaches to history. However, this is not the attitude I took in writing Cold War Crucible. This is because the process of research and writing itself heightened my critical mind toward our common sense of objective ‘reality’ and ‘history.’ After all, what became clear from my research was how what we thought was ‘objective’ reality was actually constructed locally, socially, and historically. Therefore, I had to reflect on my stance as a historian and reconsider the meanings of doing history today.
Eventually, I found myself in a position of raising questions about the imagined and constructed nature of ‘reality,’ trying to remove the conventional version of confirmation bias about the nature of the Cold War, and shedding light on various other aspects which have been often ignored. Inevitably, this process requires a different kind of lens and selection. Therefore, Strauss’s concern about my ‘bias’ is quite reasonable. And yet, I do not think it particularly problematic, as I have come to think that any attempt to write history comes with its own lens. However, instead of lamenting this recognition as a sad sign of relativism, I would like to find a positive aspect of it. I am saying this because such an awareness helps us to be more sensitive about an imagined nature of history, and thus encourages us to go through the process of unlearning history from critical perspectives. Indeed, this idea of unlearning might be a key concept to thinking about the meanings of studying history today in the age of relativism.
This might be slight digression, but let me first discuss the risks of learning history. To be little bit provocative, I think that we, as historians, are too optimistic and uncritical about the meanings of learning history, and that we would be better off knowing how harmful studying history can be. This is because studying history often convinces people to see the present as the logical and even necessary consequence of the past, making the present appear to be merely a half-way landing point between the past and future, only an extension of the past. In this way, by deeply studying history, we risk looking at and thinking about the present and future through the lens of the past. In other words, studying history often helps us to view the future only within the realm of the imagination of the past, possibly limiting our ability to imagine the future in creative and diverse ways. This is what I call the "trap of history."
Shall we stop studying history, then? If it is possible, actually, that might be a good option. However, one cannot grow up in modern society without learning history. Like it or not, everyone is exposed to history through family, friends, school, popular culture, and the mass media, with particular lenses in society. If there is no escape, then, I think it is more beneficial for each individual to be a historian in his/her own light, historicizing the past by him/herself. Such attempts necessarily come with the process of un-learning and re-learning in many different ways. In fact, it is already clear that the days in which only historians write authoritative history are over; now, not only historians, but also filmmakers, novelists, playwrights, comic artists, and, of course, ordinary people historicize the past in their own ways.
One might lament such a situation, as the possible end-results could be headachy. It is more likely that the surge of popular histories in many parts of the world will provoke clashes of opinion, and such a world will be characterized by constant disagreement. But, actually, this might be exactly the ultimate purpose of doing history today in the age of relativism. The point is to express disagreements, to participate in dialogues, and, as a result, to have plural narratives about the past. And this very recognition of the various versions of the past helps us to relativize common and dominant narratives, encouraging us to think about the present and future in pluralistic ways. The point is, therefore, not really to learn lessons from the past as it used to be, but to unlearn history in order to liberate ourselves from it, and to get out of the trap of history.
In retrospect, that is what I attempted in writing Cold War Crucible. What I wanted to do was to raise questions about the conventional version of Cold War reality, thus suggesting that we unlearn the Cold War narratives that we have been long accustomed to. This does not mean forgetting or ignoring the Cold War. Inherently, the process of unlearning should involve the process of learning something new. In other words, through unlearning dominant Cold War narratives, we would be able not only to deepen our understandings of the phenomenon we call the Cold War, but also to have various versions of the past, making it possible to imagine the present and future in diverse ways. In this sense, Cold War Crucible, with its own selection and worldview intended to present a different kind of narrative about the Cold War, can be seen as my attempt to answer questions concerning what historians can do in this age of relativism, today.
This leads to my final comment on contemporary implications of my book. As I have discussed elsewhere, Cold War Crucible is very much a product of this era. The primary subject, of course, is the Cold War, but, through a process of reconsidering and reconceptualizing it from a social point of view, my book also offers clues to think about in what ways particular versions of reality prevail, and how and why popular and grassroots social conservatism has dramatically increased its appeal in many parts of the globe today. In our contemporary world, too, in many ways, reality and history deceive us so cleverly that we do not even notice that we are deceived. If there is any message in my book which might be useful for today’s readers, it is that each of us can and should examine such reality and history by ourselves, with consciously critical eyes, instead of simply believing in dominant and authoritative versions.
In closing, I would like to thank Brazinsky, Cathcart, Radchenko, and Strauss for their thoughtful comments, Bradley for his introduction, and Maddux, Diane Labrosse, and H-Diplo editors for their efforts and patience in putting this roundtable together.
 See for instance Steven Casey, Selling the Korean War: Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950-1953 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
 See for instance, Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002).
 James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987); Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, 3rd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).
 This is described in Bruce Cumings, Origins of the Korean War, Vol I: Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984) and in Gregg Brazinsky, Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans and the Making of a Democracy (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2007).
 As discussed in Lloyd Eastman, Seeds of Destruction: Nationalist China in War and Revolution, 1937-49, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984.
 Harold Isaacs, Scratches on Our Mind: Images of China and India (New York: John Day, 1958).
 Wada Haruki, The Korean War: An International History (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013); Michael Schaller, The American Occupation of Japan: The Origins of the Cold War in Asia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). See also Koichi Okamoto, “Imaginary Settings: Sino-Japanese-United States Relations during the Occupation Years,” Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 2000.
 “Conference in Government Section on 6 November 1947,” w/ Col. Kades, Maj. Napier, Mr. Aka and Professor Makino, Mr. Sone, Mr. Nishio and Mr. Ota, United States National Archives, College Park, Maryland, Record Group 331 (Allied Operational and Occupation HQ), SCAP Government Section, Administrative Division, Purge Miscellaneous File, 1945-1951, box 2054, “Administration to Directives [Screened].
 Bouchier in “Tokyo, Daily Telegraphic Situation Reports to Ministry of Defense,” London, Daily, FO371/84068, United Kingdom National Archives, London.
 Masuda Hajimu, Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015), 278-279.
 Susan L. Mann, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 60-61.
 Hinton was in Communist China in the early days of the revolution, and is the author of Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village (1966), a classic account of the Chinese revolution.
 Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Grassroots Fascism: The War Experience of the Japanese People trans. by Ethan Mark (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015); Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Wendy Z. Goldman, Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin: The Social Dynamics of Repression (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
 See, for instance: Michelle M. Nickerson, Mothers of Conservatism: Women and the Postwar Right (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012) and Jason Morgan Ward, Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936–1965 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011).
 For the U.S. case, see, for example, Steven Casey, Selling the Korean War: Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950–1953 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) and Kenneth Osgood, Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad (Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2006). For the PRC case, see, for example, Chen Jian, China’s Road to the Korean War: The Making of the Sino-American Confrontation (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994) and Thomas J. Christensen, Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947–1958 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).
 See, for instance: E. H. Carr, What Is History? (New York: Knopf, 1964); Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Keith Jenkins, Rethinking History (New York: Routledge, 1991).
 Masuda Hajimu, “Everyone a Historian: Writing History in the Epoch of Fluidity,” National Museum of Singapore, 14 November 2012.
 Masuda Hajimu, “Why Do We Need to ‘Unlearn’ Cold War Narratives, and What Are the Aims and Prospects?" in an international workshop, "Unlearning Cold War Narratives: Toward Alternative Understandings of the Cold War World," National University of Singapore, 27 May 2016.
 Masuda Hajimu, “The Social Politics of Imagined Realities,” Harvard University Press Blog (February 2015). http://harvardpress.typepad.com/hup_publicity/2015/02/social-politics-imagined-realities-masuda-hajimu.html.