Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Defense of McCarthyism

Elena Maria Vidal remembers "Whittaker Chambers and his courage in exposing communist agents in the United States government, particularly the State Department official Alger Hiss" — History’s Witness. She writes:
    Every high school student—and Hollywood producer—knows about McCarthyism; those who were blacklisted are considered political martyrs. The House Un-American Activities Committee is popularly seen as a sort of Spanish Inquisition that sought to destroy innocent screenwriters. Yet the Hiss case has been frequently misrepresented, when it is remembered at all.
Justin Raimondo not long ago observed that "the collapse of the Soviet empire has meant the implosion of the liberal delusion that McCarthyism was a mean-spirited campaign of lies and smears based entirely on the ambition and alcohol-fueled paranoia of one flawed human being, whose name has become synonymous with witch-hunting" — Seeing Reds. He explained "the real history and nature of McCarthyism, which pointed to an internal enemy, rather than the alleged external military threat from the Soviet Union, as the main danger to America," continuing:
    This is why liberal anti-Communists, and the intellectual predecessors of today’s neoconservatives, recoiled at the sight of the populist McCarthy rallying millions of Americans against their own government and the elites who controlled it. This is why the postwar remnants of the old “isolationist” America First movement were such ardent McCarthyites—aside from the sheer joy of getting back at the leftists, like Dickstein, who had conducted an anti-rightist inquisition during the war years.

    If the main danger was at home, then we need not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. Such an ardent McCarthyite and Taft Republican as the novelist Louis Bromfield, in his forgotten classic A New Pattern for a Tired World (1954), referred to the Soviets’ “ramshackle empire,” and characterized the Marxist movement as an “international psychopathic cult,” which could not long survive without infusions of technology and aid from the West. The alleged “threat” posed by the Soviet Union was minor, he declared, compared to the threat to our old Republic represented by militarism, the arms race, and the distortion of our economic and political life by the rise of an American empire.

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OpenID danightman said...

"A New Pattern for a Tired Old World"

I'll have to read that one. Thanks.

12:28 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I will, too. The idea of "the Marxist movement as an 'international psychopathic cult,' which could not long survive without infusions of technology and aid from the West," brings to mind the thesis of Antony C. Sutton's Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Francis-Xavier said...

All these "McCarthyism as it really happened" stories miss out on the dynamics that drove the era, presumably because Americans want not to speak their name.

To wit, accusations of treachery were often used as catspaws in the slugfest between the WASP elite and the bumpkins from the heartland who went from being all but impotent to finally having the upper hand in the GWB years.

Most of the traitors were members of the WASP elite (others rarely got into policy making back then) who had the sense and decency to understand that the policies which caused the Great Depression were unnecessary and immoral, but who didn't have the background in economics to understand that Communism was not the answer, and Communist propaganda was just that.

Politicians from flyover country used the spy scare to smear suspects and their friends, partly out of patriotism, but mostly to kick the East coast WASP establishment in the shins to their hearts content.

And thus the East coast establishment closed ranks, and it was for a later generation to enjoy leaders like Sarah Palin, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, and the like.

4:59 AM  
Blogger elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Joshua. McCarthy was right, although his methods were clumsy.

8:17 PM  

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