The Causes of McCarthyism
As an individual in the middle of Twentieth century Joseph McCarthy had a rather intense effect on society. He started the movement that bears his name. McCarthyism was the movement that caused many changes in the lives of the people of the 1950's. McCarthy headed the charge against communism in the United States after the second World War. Through his actions many people were accused of being communists and hastilly judged to be so because of the general feeling toward communism. What causes such an incredible uprising. What caused so many people to rally behind, in many cases, unfounded accusations that would ruin other peoples lives unjustly? What caused not just a movement but the movement known as McCarthyism? It is historically proven that a simple action can have many complex causes, while a movement can have immeasurable causes underlying its begining and the momentum that keeps it alive. Leaving the little, but not insignificant causes alone, the major causes of McCarthyism were the attitude of the United States toward communism, the sense of superiority within the United States, and McCarthy's own position.
The attitude of the citizens of the United States was a tremendous influence on the development of McCarthyism. The people living in the post World War II United States felt fear and anger because communism was related with Germany, Italy, and Russia who had all at one point been enemies of the United States during the war. If the enemies were communists then, communists were enemies and any communists or even communist sympathizers were a threat to the American way of life. "From the Bolshevik Revolution on, radicals were seen as foreign agents or as those who sought to further the interests of a foreign power and ideology"( Theoharis, Athan. Seeds of Repression. Quadrangle Books, Chicago, Illinois. 1971 p 6). This was not a direct cause of the attack against communism but the most important of the conditions necessary to set the stage for a modern day inquisition. If the people of the United States were indifferent to communists and communism that would have been one thing. However, for them to be in support of its demise especially in their country allowed McCarthy and his followers to take liberties that would go unchecked; justified by the fight to destroy communism, and make the world safe for democracy. Also the position of the people would be shared, if not totally, in part by those representing them which is where McCarthy was involved. Another factor behind the American people's support exists in the consideration of the fact that the people were tired of fighting in war but were not tired of fighting for justice, especially if they were not obligated to do any of the fighting. It was good enough to have government activly fighting the battle against communism without the involvement and immediate risk of the people.
The attitude of the United...