The Cold War was fought to stave off the influence of economic and political systems perceived as threats to the American way of life – primarily communism and socialism. This is a simple summary, but I think it works for the purpose here.
Victory was declared when the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989) fell and when Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation (December 25, 1991), leading to the dismantling of the USSR. However, the influence of communism and socialism (which I would describe as a “gateway” to communism) was growing in America, primarily through the educational system.
Karl Marx argued, in The Communist Manifesto, for “Free education for all children in public schools” and the “combination of education with industrial production.”
Public K-12 education and higher academia were slowly inundated with professors, theorists, and textbook writers, who were either sympathetic to or firm believers in the same philosophical systems being attacked in the Cold War. The results are quite clear when one considers the rapid growth of socialistic/communistic ideas in American culture (take the broad examples of government entitlements, bailouts, etc.).
Socialistic/communistic philosophy has reached the “mainstream” and, if Francis Schaeffer was right, this means that those ideas have been brewing here for a while (Schaeffer said that ideological changes slowly move through different levels before hitting the lives of average individuals).
The question that started all this for me was “How did the ideas being attacked by Americans in the Cold War end up being swallowed, perhaps in slightly variant form, by Americans only twenty years later?”
The public education system has been used against us (not in a “conspiracy theory” sort of way) by those who know how to use it to propagate a political agenda. Granted, education insists upon propagating something, but I believe we are witnessing one of the most harmful results of losing classical education in America. What we now see in America is the result of the hijacking of American education.
Classical education is educating for freedom – teaching students how to think and learn, to love that which is good, true, and beautiful – and, when those things are not propagated, something else will be propagated. The void is filled with another less desirable ideology.
But this goes both ways – the continued growth of classical schooling and homeschooling is an encouraging sign of what may hit the mainstream in coming years.