Anglo-American Culture, Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten, Anti-Communism and the Modern American Conservative

Pre-reading vocabulary and phrases:

Marshall Plan:

Welfare Program:

Witch Hunt:

Arms Race:

When the Chips Are Down:

State Department:

American Exceptionalism:

The United States has two main political parties. The Democrats are roughly similar to the Saenuri Party in South Korea. Perhaps a little bit more conservative on economic issues, a little bit more liberal on social issues, but roughly similar. The other major American party, the conservative Republican Party, is unlike anything in Korea or, indeed, most of the rest of the world. To help you understand what Republicans believe and why they believe it, we should start with the immediate aftermath of World War II.

In the few years after 1945, Americans were feeling very confident. They had been largely responsible for defeating Nazism, the Japanese Imperialists and they had unlocked the power of nuclear weapons. Further, the American Marshal Plan was rebuilding Western Europe into the peaceful, rich place it is today and a similarly successful program was unfolding in Japan. There did not seem to be any credible threat to American power, there did not seem to be anything to stop a long period of Pax Americana. That is Latin for American Peace, it means global peace under American domination. There have also been periods called Pax Romana and Pax Britanica.

It was thus a huge shock when, in 1948, the Soviet Union detonated their first nuclear bomb. That the Soviet Union had used a network of spies to steal nuclear technology from US scientists made this even more unsettling.

And Americans were right to fear the Soviet Union. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had already killed tens of millions of people in his purges, and he was aggressively expanding communist controlled territory and advocating the destruction of democracies. China, as well, fell to Mao Zedong’s communist forces and soon the Chinese and North Koreans were threatening to take over all of the Korean Peninsula. Suddenly, Europe and Asia, both of which had seemed safe, were in danger of communist takeovers.

This lead to a backlash against a great many things in America. Conservative Americans began to see it as their duty to stop anything that even looked like a socialist or communist idea. Social welfare programs and government led building projects became communist conspiracies in their eyes. This led to a revival of states’ rights thinking, similar to the debate that caused the American Civil War. It also led to some unusual economic ideas that we will discuss in the next chapter.

One of the earliest, and certainly most famous of these anti-communist crusaders was Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy expanded the fight against communist to go beyond those helping the Soviet Union. He attacked artists who didn’t like capitalism and movie directors who were insufficiently patriotic. Minority rights groups also became targets, under the logic that these groups were trying to destroy the US government for the benefit of the Soviet Union. He accused groups that wanted the government to help the poor of being secret communists, as well as leading a charge to punish the children of people who were connected to socialist or communist groups.

While McCarthy’s “witch hunt” quickly reached the point of ridiculousness, it is important to remember that the anti-communist movement was based on real things. We now know that Soviet agents had indeed infiltrated the US government during and after WWII. We know that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, spies convicted in 1951, had indeed stolen nuclear secrets and given them to Stalin.

Here are some of the important speeches Senator McCarthy gave.

 

Speech of Joseph McCarthy,

Wheeling, West Virginia,

February 9, 1950

Five years after a world war has been won, men’s hearts should anticipate a long peace—and men’s minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period—for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of “the cold war.” This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile armed camps—a time of a great armament race.

McCarthy is talking about the beginnings of the Cold War, an arms race between the US and the Soviet Union.

Today we can almost physically hear the mutterings and rumblings of an invigorated god of war. You can see it, feel it, and hear it all the way from the Indochina hills, from the shores of Formosa, right over into the very heart of Europe itself.

McCarthy believed that the Cold War would get worse and threaten the safety of the entire world. He was correct.

“The Indo-China hills” refers to the communist takeover of China in 1949. Formosa is an old name for Taiwan. McCarthy is also referring to the communist takeover of East Germany, Hungary and much of Eastern Europe happening in the late 1940s.

The one encouraging thing is that the “mad moment” has not yet arrived for the firing of the gun or the exploding of the bomb which will set civilization about the final task of destroying itself. There is still a hope for peace if we finally decide that no longer can we safely blind our eyes and close our ears to those facts which are shaping up more and more clearly . . . and that is that we are now engaged in a show-down fight . . . not the usual war between nations for land areas or other material gains, but a war between two diametrically opposed ideologies.

The “mad moment” is using a nuclear weapon. McCarthy believes Americans must embrace an ideological struggle against all communists everywhere, not just the Soviet Union or communist China.

The great difference between our western Christian world and the atheistic Communist world is not political, gentlemen, it is moral. For instance, the Marxian idea of confiscating the land and factories and running the entire economy as a single enterprise is momentous. Likewise, Lenin’s invention of the one-party police state as a way to make Marx’s idea work is hardly less momentous.

McCarthy, here, says that communism is a moral evil, not a political evil.

Stalin’s resolute putting across of these two ideas, of course, did much to divide the world. With only these differences, however, the east and the west could most certainly still live in peace.

The real, basic difference, however, lies in the religion of immoralism . . . invented by Marx, preached feverishly by Lenin, and carried to unimaginable extremes by Stalin. This religion of immoralism, if the Red half of the world triumphs—and well it may, gentlemen—this religion of immoralism will more deeply wound and damage mankind than any conceivable economic or political system.

This is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. Marx considered his ideology a MORE moral system than capitalism or democracy. So did Lenin and Mao and the vast majority of communists throughout history.

Karl Marx dismissed God as a hoax, and Lenin and Stalin have added in clear-cut, unmistakable language their resolve that no nation, no people who believe in a god, can exist side by side with their communistic state.

This is technically true, although communists have tolerated and continue to tolerate limited amounts of religious belief in the people.

Karl Marx, for example, expelled people from his Communist Party for mentioning such things as love, justice, humanity or morality. He called this “soulful ravings” and “sloppy sentimentality.” . . .

This is an enormous distortion of the truth. Karl Marx did not oppose love, justice, humanity or morality. McCarthy is either ignorant or lying here.

Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down—they are truly down.

When the chips are down we must stand up to communists.

Lest there be any doubt that the time has been chosen, let us go directly to the leader of communism today—Joseph Stalin. Here is what he said—not back in 1928, not before the war, not during the war—but 2 years after the last war was ended: “To think that the Communist revolution can be carried out peacefully, within the framework of a Christian democracy, means one has either gone out of one’s mind and lost all normal understanding, or has grossly and openly repudiated the Communist revolution.” . . .

Most communists did believe that making a country communist required an armed struggle. In other words, McCarthy is right about this.

Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone tonight who is so blind as to say that the war is not on? Can there by anyone who fails to realize that the Communist world has said the time is now? . . . that this is the time for the show-down between the democratic Christian world and the communistic atheistic world?

Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long.

Basically, if Americans wait too long, they are going to be killed.

Six years ago, . . . there was within the Soviet orbit, 180,000,000 people. Lined up on the antitotalitarian side there were in the world at that time, roughly 1,625,000,000 people. Today, only six years later, there are 800,000,000 people under the absolute domination of Soviet Russia—an increase of over 400 percent. On our side, the figure has shrunk to around 500,000,000. In other words, in less than six years, the odds have changed from 9 to 1 in our favor to 8 to 5 against us.

This is not really true. The USSR had 180,000,000 people in 1950. China had about 550,000,000. There were very few other communist countries of any size at the time in a world population of 2,600,000,0000 people.

This indicates the swiftness of the tempo of Communist victories and American defeats in the cold war. As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, “When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be from enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within.” . . .

The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores . . . but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate, or members of minority groups who have been traitorous to this Nation, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest Nation on earth has had to offer . . . the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give.

McCarthy claims that American traitors are the reason communists have won in Eastern Europe and China.

This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been most traitorous. . . .

The State Department is full of communist traitors.

I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .

McCarthy was lying about the list of communists. Most historians think he was actually holding a grocery list. However, newly released Soviet documents show there were secret communists in the government. McCarthy, though, was never able to show any evidence for his accusations.

As you know, very recently the Secretary of State proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes—being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust—high treason. . . .

McCarthy is referring to Alger Hiss. Hiss may have been a spy, but that remains controversial.

He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of honesty and decency in government.

 

***

 

Joseph McCarthy to President Harry Truman, February 11, 1950

In the Lincoln Day speech at Wheeling Thursday night I stated that the State Department harbors a nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers who are helping to shape our foreign policy. I further stated that I have in my possession the names of 57 Communists who are in the State Department at present. A State Department spokesman promptly denied this, claiming that there is not a single Communist in the Department. You can convince yourself of the falsity of the State Department claim very easily. You will recall that you personally appointed a board to screen State Department employees for the purpose of weeding out fellow travelers—men whom the board considered dangerous to the security of this Nation. Your board did a painstaking job, and named hundreds which had been listed as dangerous to the security of the Nation, because of communistic connections.

Notice that the number of communists has changed from 205 to 57.

While the records are not available to me, I know absolutely of one group of approximately 300 certified to the Secretary for discharge because of communism. He actually only discharged approximately 80. I understand that this was done after lengthy consultation with the now-convicted traitor, Alger Hiss. I would suggest, therefore, Mr. President, that you simply pick up your phone and ask Mr. Acheson how many of those whom your board had labeled as dangerous Communists he failed to discharge. The day the House Un-American Activities Committee exposed Alger Hiss as an important link in an international Communist spy ring you signed an order forbidding the State Department’s giving any information in regard to the disloyalty or the communistic connections of anyone in that Department to the Congress.

The House Un-American Activities Committee was a congressional initiative to get rid of communists in the government, in the media and entertainment industries.

Despite this State Department black-out, we have been able to compile a list of 57 Communists in the State Department. This list is available to you but you can get a much longer list by ordering Secretary Acheson to give you a list of those whom your own board listed as being disloyal and who are still working in the State Department. I believe the following is the minimum which can be expected of you in this case.

McCarthy never showed his lists to anyone, despite many requests.

1. That you demand that Acheson (a State Department official) give you and the proper congressional committee the names and a complete report on all of those who were placed in the Department by Alger Hiss, and all of those still working in the State Department who were listed by your board as bad security risks because of their communistic connections.

2. That you promptly revoke the order in which you provided under no circumstances could a congressional committee obtain any information or help in exposing Communists.

Failure on your part will label the Democratic Party of being the bedfellow of international communism. Certainly this label is not deserved by the hundreds of thousands of loyal American Democrats throughout the Nation, and by the sizable number of able loyal Democrats in both the Senate and the House.

McCarthy is threatening to expose the President and Democratic Party as secretly communist if they do not do what he says.

 

 

 

While McCarthy was lying about many of the “facts” in his speech, the foundations for modern American conservatism were beginning to form – distrust of government, distrust of minority groups and the media, religious belief, strong individualism and a philosophy called American Exceptionalism. This means that America is different from the rest of the world and, as such, Americans cannot use lessons learned in other countries. Americans also cannot be judged like other countries can. America is, in other words, special, according to American Exceptionalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study Questions:

How different are the feelings of American anti-communists and Korean anti-communists?

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Do you think anti-communism is a self-contained philosophy, or is it simply a reaction to communism? Why?

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What do you think Teddy Roosevelt would say about the anti-communists?

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Why did conservatives become distrustful of government and the media in your opinion?

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Do they have a point? Explain.

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How much of a role does fear play in Senator McCarthy’s worldview?

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What are the biggest fears of the Korean people and how do those fears affect Korean actions in the world?

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Should it be illegal to believe in communism? Should any opinion be illegal?

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