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 ...
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...it was. Fear makes people do things they normally would not. Because of fear people overlook things they normally would notice imediately, especially in the case of something being moral or immoral. McCarthy was described as "paranoid" and for whom "...life was a sereis of conspiracies, the most fiendish of which were directed at him..."(Cook p77). Fear was the greatest underlying cause of the McCarthy movement; fear of communism, fear of the loss of freedom, fear of being accused or fear of what would happen if someone challenged the movement.
- Rogin, Paul. The Intellectuals and McCarthy: the Radical
Speaker. The MIT Press, Clinton, Massachusettes. 1967.
- Cook, Fred. The Nightmare Decade. Random House Publishing,
New York, New York. 1971.
- Theoharis, Athan. Seeds of Repression, Quadrangle Books,
Chicago, Illinois. 1971.
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