“Mc Carthyism: Weeding Out Communist Threats Or Saving Capitalism”

1708 words - 7 pages

What started with great potential as a revisionist look at the impacts of McCarthy’s red scare on the politics in the United States ended with a rudimentary analysis of the repercussions of a fabricated fear of communism. The article “McCarthyism: Political Repression and the Fear of Communism” denied overarching themes of the time period and focused on narrow attempts to place economic sanctions, infractions of civil rights, and national security as the reasons and outcomes of the fear of communism. While these themes are all supported with evidence, a neglect of analysis on the bigger picture leave the reader wondering if Ellen Schrecker, author of the article, is still living with the ...view middle of the document...

Reviewing the literature produced by Schrecker, as well as the dated sources used to write this article, it is clear that she has not changed her frame of mind as this was written in 2004, thirty years after receiving her doctorate.
Schrecker’s article is not new and through her thesis and analysis of examples does not add information to the historical record. While she creates opportune moments for critical analysis, the obvious lack of context and explanation hinder the flow and product of the article. Her thesis can be summed up as follows: Under the mask of national security, the red scare was facilitated by the United States government and private industry to enforce a prohibition of communism and communists throughout the states through economic sanctions and infractions of civil rights used to incite fear within the population. While she is able to prove her thesis with ease, the simplicity of the article makes the reader curious as to why she is writing this, for whom is she writing for, and why she didn't elaborate more.
She proves her thesis through a summary of the public and private interventions to the labor pool by weeding out communist threats. This part of the article Schrecker refers to as the “economic sanctions” that worked as agents of fear and unemployment being the most widely used sanction. The fear of a “propensity for destruction” that lived in all possible communists created what she calls a “sabotage scenario for just about every type of job”. While her claim is true, economic sanctions (i.e. unemployment) worked to repress the freedom of expression and attempted to incite fear against the threat of communism, this is the only economic related topic of the whole paper even though the threat, communism, is a threat to not only US’s way of life, but more importantly their “superior” economic system of capitalism.
As important as economies are to countries, especially during war time, a lack of discussion on the impact the economic sanctions had on the system as a whole leaves questions unanswered. Her discussion on the economy was one of the biggest flaws of the article, while succeeding in painting the picture of the impacts on the worker, the greater economic system of capitalism, which is a direct threat to communism, is mentioned one time without any analysis, leaving the economic argument weaker due to lack of explanation and inclusion of greater structures at work during the period. Working in tandem with the economic sanctions, she cites criminal prosecutions of tainted communists or sympathizers as working to incite fear in the people.
Schrecker provides us with another solid explanation of this claim. She says “Not only did the anticommunist prosecutions of the 1940s and 1950s punish people, but, like most criminal proceedings, they also operated as a deterrent-in this case, discouraging people from associating with communism”. This is seen through the publicity of trials whose intent was to damage and...

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