Revision Diary

Cold War Ideologies


East-West ideological gap



'Ideological' means 'beliefs'.

Make sure that you know about the ideological gap between America and Russia, and that you are able to talk about its results/significance.




The Ideological Conflict

What you need here is to be able to flesh out the table that you remember from this Causes of the Cold War diagram:










Human Rights

No personal freedoms




Protect democracy

Buffer states







To expand this basic list - which will barely get you to level 2 - you will need to check out:

●   East v West  - a simple view

●   this Spidergram: Ideological differences

●   and Capitalism v Communism, a 1977 textbook account.


You would also do well to be aware of President Truman's 'take' on the differences, remembering that he is biased:        


Source A

One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.   

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.  

A speech by President Truman of the US (1947)





  1. Post-1991 historians now believe that the ideological clash was the chief cause of the Cold War.

  2. Because democracy and Communists were beliefs, they gave the Cold War the feeling of a religious war, with the kind of bitterness that attends a religious war (e.g. the 'kitchen debate' between Nixon and Khrushchev in 1959).

  3. Because capitalism and communism were ideologies, they both felt the need to prove that they were better than the other by competing (e.g. led to the arms race, the space race, the Olympics, propaganda war etc.)

  4. Because they were beliefs, they affected people INSIDE the country, which led to fear (e.g. McCarthy 'witch-hunts' of the 1950s/ USSR arrested 'dissidents').

  5. Russia was on the back foot re human rights - led to Poland and Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968) trying to get free, which caused international crises.

  6. Russia's desire for a buffer led to 'salami tactics', and because the USA interpreted this as empire-building, it led to the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan.

  7. Britain and America's desire to build up West Germany as a prosperous capitalist trading partner led to the Berlin Blockade and (because so many people in the east were defecting) to the Berlin Wall.


Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1 topic, so concentrate on learning:

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance



e-book on Causes of the Cold War deals with the general context



Online revision sheet  


Essay on Why the superpowers hated each other