Communism in America vs. the McCarthyism


The existence of politico-economical ideologies in the world during the 1940s and 1950s shaped American politics. The time was immediately after the end of the Second World War and may people were afraid to be associated with the Nazis who had troubled the world with Communism. However, there erupted another war of ideas between Communists and Liberals in the world politics. In America, the period after the end of the Second World War marked a time for reflection of the activities of the people and unifying the country in real realization of dangers of communism. Communists existed in America and many politicians saw it essential to fight the vice, which was thought to support the ideas of the Soviet Union. In this analysis, exploration of the happenings of the time will help understand the relationship between communism in America and McCarthyism as well as fall of both in later years.

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Post 1945 and the Cold War

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, America became wary of Soviet Union, which was seen as amassing much power after the success of Communist Army in China. Although the Soviet Union and America were allies against the Nazis in the World War II, Americans became concerned of the position the Soviet Union was taking at the world stage leading to dissenting views on various issues. The war in China was supported by Soviet Union leading to ability of the Chinese communist side to form government. Later, the Soviet Union detonated its first Atomic Bomb in 1949 making United States worried of their position in political matters in the world. In 1950, North Koreas Soviet-backed army made an invasion to the pro-Western South Korea, a situation that led to eruption of the Korean War. The Korean War was the defining moment where the liberals were agitating for their position in the world where communists had been trying to expand their territories. Since the end of Second World War to early 1950s, Cold War was rampant in the world. The Cold War was between United States and the communist Soviet Union, which was trying to drive the communist ideologies around the world. The happenings in the world stage during the period were replicated at home with communism and McCarthyism.

Communism and McCarthyism

Communism became a political ideology in America after Cold War. Various actions were taken in America with an aim of diminishing the effects of Communism. The range of actions had intense effects in the American society and the U.S. government. One of the effects of communism in the country was on the federal employees who were alleged of subversion leading to their dismissal from their jobs. The House Un-American Activities Committee and U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy led myriad investigations into elements of government on allegations of subversive politics. In this context, the public and employees were scared of association with communism leading to the birth of McCarthyism. Before late 1950s, there was a climate of fear and repression to any linkage to the Communism and the fear was exacerbated by Joseph McCarthy. However, it would later emerge that the Sen. McCarthys efforts were dishonest and attempted to taint other people and gain political mileage. The senator came up with this ideology after realizing that he had no chance to be reelected after the end of his first term, and aimed at increasing his popularity through allegations of Communists in government with no regard to evidence.

The fear of communism rose during the Cold War because of political and economic collisions between liberal America and the Communist Soviet Union. United States was concerned that the Communists and leftist sympathizers could become the Soviet spies and thus pose threat the security of the country. One of the most outspoken and opposing figure who was later appointed to the House Un-American Committee was Joseph McCarthy leading to the Washington Post coining the name McCarthyism in 1950. The name was the practice of the senator to minimize the threat of communism by detaining suspects and carrying out investigations into the actions of the alleged sympathizers on claims of posing security threat to the country. Disloyalty to the government was similar to the actions of the communists in the country. The shaping of the U.S. politics during the McCarthyism period was immense with the results of ending the influence of communism in the country.

Over 2,000 government employees lost their jobs because of McCarthys investigations leading to silent complains of blatant violation of civil rights. After his second election to the Senate, McCarthy was put in charge of the Committee on Government Operations making him have powers to investigate any infiltration of communism in the federal government. One of the greatest critics of McCarthyism in America was Einstein who termed the investigations as a dangerous threat to democracy and freedom of expression. The witch hunt of the era of McCarthy was rampant such that employees had only two options of either refusing to testify before the committee and losing friends and their jobs or cooperate and accuse friends and colleagues of communism. Alongside the activities of McCarthys Committee on Government Operations and the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Federal Bureau of Investigations searched and monitored citizen activities for subversion and communist ideologies.

McCarthyism was a period of great fear for the Americans because of the actions of McCarthy who acted as the judge, jury, and executioner of all the allegations of communism in the country. Additionally, the effects of the communism fight in the country led to reorganization of the U.S. government policy towards its relationship with those thought of propagating Soviet Union ideas. There were both domestic and international effects of the McCarthyism since many immigrants from the Communist states were not treated with decorum in the U.S. The Truman Doctrine created by President Harry Truman was also the basis of fighting against the subversion of the country to communism. The Korean War was another basis on which McCarthy fought the doctrines of communism after the President made a decision to replace General Douglas MacArthur from power leading to stringent relationship between the outspoken senator and the leadership. Another witch-hunt was directed to artists, musicians, writers, and movie stars on accusations of spreading information and supporting communism. For instance, the committee chaired by McCarthy directed their displeasure towards Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Robert Oppenheimer, and Pete Seeger on allegations that they worked with communist organizations or belonged to the Communist Party of America. The actions and policies in America during the Cold war era led to the collapse of communism in America.

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End of Communism and McCarthyism

The policies, witch-hunt, job losses, and loss of dignity of members of the federal government accused of communism in the country ultimately led to the collapse of communism in the country. The FBI ensured that every individual with Soviet Union ideologies of communism was a threat to the U.S. security and thus, could face trial. To this end, there was real fear in the country for such association. Additionally, McCarthy enjoyed support of prominent people in the country who opposed the ideologies of the Soviet Union. Conservative members of Congress backed the search conducted by McCarthy because of the way the fight led to the embarrassment and witch-hunt on liberals and members of the Democratic Party. In addition, the Roman Catholic Church supported the idea of minimizing communism leading to more support from various groups in the country. Such success in minimizing the communism led to the collapse of any libel or defamation suits against McCarthy and supported ideas of liberalism against communism.

The rising star of McCarthy dimmed almost at the same time as the collapse of communism in America in the late 1950s. In 1954, McCarthy turned his attention to the armed forces accusing some members of infiltration of communism in the service. The army showed the weak side of the senator by exposing his strategies of wining favors for his aides. Additionally, the public were treated to live television shows showing how McCarthy intimidated witnesses leaning to waning of his support. The hearing against the army was one of the experiences that led to the downfall of McCarthyism. When he attacked a young army lawyer, the chief army counsel asked, Have you no sense of decency, sir? making him and his tactics come into the open. The senator lost all the allies and the Senate voted against him condemning him of bad conduct. Although he was not fired from the senate, he lost the power he had and later died in 1957. In this context, the end of communism in America was simultaneous with the end of the man who started McCarthyism.

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McCarthyism was a notion that emerged after Joseph McCarthys attempts to end communism in America grew to become a witch-hunt. The actions of the senator led to loss of many jobs in the country and embarrassment to the people. Although the strategies were able to end communism after 1945, the era was full of fear. Although it was immoral and deceiving, McCarthyism was created on the basis of destroying the budding communism in the United States.

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