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World War II and its impact on American Society
The Second World War (WWII) is referred to as a global war encapsulating world’s major economies such as Japan, United States, Germany, and many others that lasted for six years—from 1939-1945. In virtually every aspect of American’s life, a series of changes were created by USA’s involvement in World War II. After this involvement, two opposing military alliances came into being named Axis and Allies (Blum, 1976). Interestingly, more than 100 million people from all over the world took active participation in this war where major economies became more concerned about war winning efforts allowing their full fledge scientific, industrial and economic resources and abilities to invest (Adams, 1994). This attitude resulted in blurred distinction between military and civilian resources. It was indeed the deadliest happening in human history due to which roughly 90 million people lost their lives and remaining were affected badly. Major events that led to the causalities were genocides of holocaust, massacres, use of nuclear bombing, premeditated death from diseases and starvation, and strategic bombings (Adams, 1994). Apart from negative consequences, there were also inspected some positive consequences of World War II on American society that would be presented in the main body.
In this section, it will be presented how World War II led to the positive and negative consequences in American society in terms of economic, political, healthcare, social and intellectual aspects.
After World War II, the United States appeared to be one of the strongest global economies despite facing substantial loss in terms of 300,000 combat deaths that were comparatively greater than what all the other major belligerent. Economic conditions in the United States became even better than any other country in the world (Adams, 1994). During this event, although a controlling interest of progressive Democrats in the United States Government was evident yet in order to uplift the defense spending dramatically, most economic and social reforms were suspended. Moreover, in order to make the war efforts more fruitful, nearly all anti-trust legislation were neglected practically due to which most of the factories increased their standard working day for boosting their production. More and more teenage school students were added into the employment industry including both males and females. It not only provided them with the monthly fiscal remittance but also boosted country’s economy to a greater degree. Although war spending of USA reached $236 billion that was 1,048% net increase in debt—the largest debt of American history however due to increased production rates, economy of the United States grew 17% within years between 1941 and 1943. That is how it was a great turning point in America’s economic history (Blum, 1976).
It can be said that World War affected America in multifaceted ways for example an isolationist strain that casted a long shadow over American political system was ended; consigning it to the perimeter of the spectrum of American political system. As a long term consequence of war, American society came to encounter an economical-political phenomenon called “liberal consensus” stressing upon the idea that economic well being of American citizens is the sole responsibility of government due to which government is expected to play major role in devising effective policies in this regard. Hence, the overview of common people about the functionality (roles and responsibilities) underwent massive alterations. Apart from this, an increasing momentum was also created for the civil rights movements aimed at mitigating the racial disparities for African American people (Adams, 1994). Furthermore, the landscape of Americans was also altered in profound ways resulting from the cold war that was initiated after world war. After putting Americans on anti-communist footings, government ensured that rapid expansion of American military takes place including the emergence of military industrial complex and development of immensely destructive weapons (Adams, 1994). In a nutshell, World War II turned America into super- colossal military power as before war had begun, American army had only 174,000 troops—smaller than Portugal. This figure turned to be had 8.25 million in 1945 and kept on increasing and became 17 million by the end of 19th century (Blum, 1976). Furthermore, United States became an ally with Soviet Union after post war. This is how World War II affected the political system of America in a long run.
Mental and Physical Health Impacts
After World War II, a bulk of researchers attempted to estimate the mental and physical health consequences of encountering or observing violence and destruction in the real time scenarios. They found that in war torn countries poorer health outcomes in terms of mental and physical aspects remained persistent and they are two times more prone to acquire illness in future such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, eye and skin diseases, stomach ulcers, depression, anxiety, conversion disorder, panic disorder, phobias and amnesia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Blum, 1976). Furthermore, estimations indicate that individuals who lived in war bearing areas are three times more likely to acquire diabetes later in life and are 6% more likely to develop Major Depressive Disorder in adulthood and ageing (Adams, 1994). On the other hand, military personnel who participated in war were less likely to marry and least satisfied with life as compared to those who never participated in war. Such individuals are less likely to be educated and it takes longer than expected for them to develop effective problem solving and decision making skills (Blum, 1976). Adding another demographic in the scenario, it can safely be assumed that individuals belonging to the middle and lower income families had more mental health consequences of war as compared to the well heeled members of the society (Adams, 1994). This is because lacking survival resources such as food and shelter at wartime coupled with the lingering sense of uncertain future increases their likelihood to develop maladjusted cognitive and behavioral patterns. Moreover, those who encounter failure during war might experience depressive symptoms including worthlessness and incapability in later stages of life which takes a serious toll on the personal and occupational functioning of affected individual (Blum, 1976).
Social and Cultural Impact
As far as Social impact of WW2 is concerned, it wiped out 3% world population within six years and acted as a major transformative event (Blum, 1976). Constant bombing and ground battles resulted in super colossal destruction of physical capital and homes; majority of them lost their shelters, employment, and even loved ones. Shortage of resources led to the creation of lopsided resource distribution scenarios and persecution and discrimination became widespread; Holocaust—the ethnic cleansing of the Jews was the most terrible example of this phenomenon (Adams, 1994). However, they had to withstand all these issues; they started growing gardens on their own houses to compensate the shortage of food. In addition, since men were off to the battle ground; women were encouraged to be independent both in financial and domestic terms (Anderson, 1981). This was the time when women paved their way towards employment sector and performed duties far bigger than the house making. Furthermore, majority of young men went to the battle ground due to which marriage wave was considerably reduced and birth rates declined too (Anderson, 1981). Hence, WW2 created various notable alterations in the social system of America.
Impacts on Art and intellectual Aspects
Since every ally was aimed at winning the battle; patriotism and national pride was heightened which led to the creation of patriotic music was widely being written for boosting the morale of military and common people. Americans felt more joined and supported government to make necessary decisions and policies. For that matter, various literature and arts pieces, posters, and media advertising were developed to show visual message. This era reinforced media industry to use sports, poetry, music and dramas for supporting causes. These changes were permanent but unfortunately people paid a heavy price for it; like thousands of stars sacrifice their existence for the creation of a newer and brighter day (Adams, 1994).
Adams, Michael C.C. “The Best War Ever: America and World War II.” Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Anderson, Karen. “Wartime Women: Sex Roles, Family Relations, and the Status of Women during World War II.” Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.
Blum, John Morton. “V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture during World War II.” New York: Harcourt Brace, 1976.
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