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Ungar Ch 9, Up to p 127.

2 pages79 viewsFall 2008

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

of 2
Ungar Chapter 9
Civil Region and the Arms Race
x Paper examines interaction between civil religion and politics and the nuclear arms race
x Argues that the bomb posed special difficulties to American values and that these were
overcome by symbolically aligning it with elements of America civil religion
x Bellah (1967): introduced the idea of civil religion into sociological discourse
x Paper shows how elements of civil religion were employed to legitimate the American
development of and reliance on atomic weapons
x And to show how the Sputnik (name of satellites) moral panic fundamentally challenged this
similarity between atomic supremacy and civil religion
Warning: This chapter is dense! Read these notes at your own discretion!
x Bellah: defines civil religion as: ZZo]P]}µ]uv]}v(}µvU]vZo](}(ÀÇ}oU
x u]v]À]oo]P]}v}v]vo](ZZ(}uo[vZuP]vo[vZµoÇ
x ooZ}ÀZouv}(u]v]À]oo]P]}vÁu}ovo}]vZ]u}(
x 3 of these times identified: War of Independence, the Civil War and the post-1945 period where
America is trying to find a moral posture in a revolutionary world
x FIRST TWO crises in particular that elements of civil religion forged!
x PW]À]oÁAZZu}(ZZU](]v]Z[]uvvoÇÁ]v]v}]À]oo]P]}v
x Post-1945 period:
x America abandoned its isolationism and asµuZ}o}(Zo}(ZZ&t}o[
x This new historical posture could be seen as the realization of elements of American civil religion
x Development and functions of civil religion in response to the atomic bomb and the related
missile race
x Atomic bomb = unique phenomenon that posed special difficulties to American values
x dZ}u]u}v}}u}À]ÁvoP]]uZµ[t the result of
x But a Soviet atomic explosion challenged this destiny and led Americans to invest their faith in
nuclear and hence technological superiority
x dZoµvZ}(Z^µv]loo]ÀvÀ]}oZv}(u][]o]vÇ
Civil Religion and the Reception of the Bomb
x One hand: bomb was extraordinary power that might allow US to dictate international relations
in post-war world
x KZZvW}uÁ]ovµ]ÀÁ}vZu}}v]u][
moral exceptionalism
x Bomb gave rise to a sense of terror t the Great Fear
x Bomb was undemocratic t built in secrecy during the war and used without warning
x Nuclear censorship replaced the free exchange of scientific info and public was left uninformed
about a device that seemed impossible to understand
x W]}}(u]v}u]u}v}}oÇ~Zðñ-õ
x W}]}v}(}u]}u}v]Zµ[ÇW]vdµuv
x Bomb was a sacred trust which would only be used for the good
x Soviet spy scandal t [ðò
x Spy ring in Canada, downplayed by Truman
x Fear of soviets and anti-communism provided grounds for faith in the American nuclear
x 1949 Soviet Bomb = gave rise to moral panic
x ]o]}uZ]vP}µ^}À]]vPoo}Á}Zo[Z}(Z}u(}u
America (p.127)
x Technological competition on the atomic and missile fields became the focal point of the rivalry
between the two camps
x Z}u-for-u]Pv[}([ñïvv((}Çu]v}uvPo
contradictions and to establish their technological and historical preeminence
x H-}uuÇ^}À]Z]vZ((µo(([}(Z^}À]}u]}u

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