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02.10.03, monday afternoon

"Yesterday's conversation has shaken me. During this first week I was too enchanted by my discovery of New York to let myself be depressed by reading the daily and weekly papers, but this morning all the anger and fear I'd stifled came back with a vengeance. I'd been duly warned, and I knew the general direction of American politics, but the climate is even more intolerable than I'd been told. Above all, most of the magazines and papers - the Hearst publications leading the pack, of course - are busy creating a war psychosis. Day after day, they repeat that conflict is inevitable and that it's needed to prevent Russian aggression. Life has even declared in a resounding article that the world is already at war; the use of arms therefore becomes legitimate. And within the country, this embryonic state of war, of cold war, authorizes exceptional measures; foreign policy encroaches on domestic policy. The Communist Party, though recognized in the abstract, is no longer a party but a fifth column; it has become a national duty to fight it. Along with war psychosis, the 'red terror' is growing; every man on the Left is accused of being a communist, and every communist is a traitor. Now that Europe is transformed into a battlefield, any intervention is authorized. They speak of Europe as a pitiable but uncooperative vassal; France in particular is a highly undisciplined child. Domestically, Congress is actively preparing antilabor legislation. Of course, in a capitalist country, freedom is always deceptive, but even the appearance of democracy itself is fading from day to day, and from day to day despotism breaks out with increasing impudence. This is the basis of everything I read, hear, and see. Today it strikes me with such force that the New York sky itself is clouded: the luxury of the drugstores, the smiles, the cherry, nasal voices, the cigarettes, the orange juice, all have a sour aftertaste." - Simone de Beauvoir, February 5th, 1947, America Day by Day, a diary of her US journey, January - May 1947


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