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The Golden Age: Television during the 1950s
The grand opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959 became an intense political standoff during the Cold War and helped bolster the United States’s prestige worldwide. Vice President Nixon and Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev argued over the ideologies of American capitalism and Soviet communism in the middle of a model kitchen displayed at the fair. This “kitchen debate” was an American propaganda victory for it validated that capitalism was the superior ideology. This debate illustrated that consumerism not only benefited the nation economically, but it could also be used as a way to delegitimize the Soviet Union.
American consumption, particularly the rise of television purchases, emerged as a propaganda weapon against Russia during the Cold War. The American economy prospered during the 1950s as consumption boomed after years of pent-up demand on goods such as televisions. Consumerism was thereafter seen as a way to boost the United States economically, and it seemingly provided a more egalitarian society without a massive social upheaval like under the tenets of communism. This cultural shift from saving to spending played a vital role in Cold War politics and had lasting implications on the United States politically, economically, and socially.