Communism In 50s


Thesis: The "Red Scare" of the 1950's caused a massive movement for
the people of that time period. I. Introduction II. The Basis of Communisim A.

Communisim: Defined B. Political Aspects 1. Communist associations 2.Communist
fears C. Physical Aspects 1. Incidents 2. Blacklisting III. Propaganda A.

Recruitment B. The "Red Scare" 1. Communist propaganda 2.

Anti-communist defenses IV. Leaders in the movement-McCarthy A. Obsessions 1.

The conspiracy 2. Focus on his campaign B. Accusations 1. Alger Hiss 2. Owen

Lattimore V. The Cold War A. Conflict with Russia 1. Destruction of atomic
weapons 2. War in Greece 3. Failure to adopt Marshall Plan B. European Recovery

1. European Recovery Program 2. Increase in trade VI. Protection A. U.S.

Defenses 1. New Weapons 2. New Technology B. Punishments VII. What was Learned

A. More tolerance B. Less hate C. Comparisons between the Fifties and now 1.

Understanding 2. Lessons VIII. Conclusions America: Land of the free, and the
home of the brave. This famous expression has been used numerous times
throughout history, even scoring a line in our country's national anthem. But in
our high-tech socety, many Americans can not even understand what our
forefathers went through to achieve this American dream. People do not even
grasp the concept of what it has taken to keep the freedom of this country
ringing. Place youself in the footsteps of the average American of the 1950's,
dealing with the Russian threat of communist rule and the fear of being taken
over an opposite world power. Post World War II struggles make it hard for
anyone to get by, and each coming day leads to another unpredictable twist for
the country in which you reside. The powerful threat of communisim, which came
to be known as the "Red Scare," is the basis of all of the nation's
problems. This "Red Scare" of the 1950's was a powerful, radical, and
controversial issue for nearly everyone in that time period, and what's more is
the propaganda that was used to sell communist leadership to the American
people, who were deathly afraid of what the future might hold. This Red Scare
lasted throughout the Fifties and beyond. The Fabulous Fifties... well, were
they really so fabulous, after all? First of all, for total understanding of the

Red Scare of the fifties, one must become acquainted with the term communisim.

Communisim can be defined as: a type of government in which a small group of
leaders dictates a country or nation by distributing goods and money equally
among the country's citizens (Webster's, 1994). As of today, nations such as

Russia and China are run by communist authority. Although this system of
government works in theory, it requires the sacrifice of freedom of the people
who are being ruled. Other aspects of communist rule include communist
associations, which during the 1950's had 10,000 members across the United

States of America, dedicated to making communist rule in the United States a
reality (Miller, 1954). Incidents in which communisim was a serious matter in
the 1950's include the jailing of an American couple for reportedly
"talking communisim." A later report indicated that the couple was
merely discussing American relations with Japan, but it was around the time that
this event occured that people began to really began to fear communists and
their beliefs (Miller, 1954). Communists, or people suspected of being
communists, were also blacklisted, making them unable to get jobs, insurance,
and loans, among other things (Salem Press, 1992). Recruitment for memebers of
the communist political party was, during the 1950's, based solely on
propaganda. This false advertising glorified the things that communist rule was
supposed to offer, such as jobs, money, and food for everyone. This especially
appealed to America's lower-class society, with dreams of brighter futures and
lifestyles for themselves and generations to come. Of course, communist
activists never mentioned anything about the freedoms that our nation, under
communist rule, would stand to lose. On the contrary, though, anti-communists
startled Americans by leveling their defense by making it seem like all members
of communist parties were murderers and terrorists, which is where the term
"Red Scare" was generated from (Associated Press, 1995). These
defenses were used primarily to keep communist beliefs away from our American
democracy, but frightened Americans into believing that all communists and
people from countries such as Russia, which had communist leadership, were evil.

On the other hand, Douglass Miller notes in his book, The Fifties: The Way We

Really Were, that "Most victims of anti-red mania were guilty of little
more than holding unpopular opinions (Miller, 1954)." One man, Joe

McCarthy, was an especially strong activist in this anti-communist movement.

McCarthy apparently needed a focus in his campaign for Senator, so he chose a
topic that would appeal to all people, communisim in the United States. This was
a very good idea, as most people were not quite grasping the idea of communisim
and what would happen if the United States was to fall under communist rule. He
disagreed strongly with communist ideas, which was ironic because he was at one
point a communist activist. McCarthy dedicated his life to this anti-communist
campaign. He made a number of accusations and accused opponents of his of being
communists and Soviet spies. Among others, there was the imfamous Alger Hiss.

McCarthy accused Hiss of being a communist spy, and these accusations were
recepted by the American people (Miller, 1954). Owen Lattimore was also a
familiar name; he was also accused of being a communist spy after McCarthy found
out the Lattimore was an expert on Far Eastern affairs (Miller, 1954). McCarthy
died while still speaking against communisim and keeping American people from
tolerating any form of communist government. The Cold War also had a lot to do
with this threat of communisim in the U.S. (Borstien, 1992).Different aspects of
the Cold War included Russia's attempt to control the atomic bomb. Russian
communists demanded that the United States destroy our atomic weapons. This,
added with other Russian conflicts, did not make the spread of communisim a
worthy cause for Americans at all. Russia continued to spread its communist
tyranny all over the world, causing a civil war in Greece, in which the British
became involved (Borstien, 1992). The British provided funds and defenses for
the people of Greece, but soon, the British could no longer continue fighting
for the Greek people. Congess then came up with a plan, named the Marshall Plan,
which would provide funds for the Greek people against the spread of communisim.

The Marshall Plan was put into effect and caused a riot from Soviets, who would
have nothing to do with this plan (Borstien, 1992). Finally, the Soviets began
to settle back once another plan, called the European Recovery Program, was put
into effect. This plan worked out very well, because instead of fighting a war
against communisim, it went to the root of the problem and helped to rebuild
parts of Europe that were in desperate need of help. This worked out very well
in the end, because the plan increased trade with European countries, causing a
booming economy for both the U.S. and Europe. The plan was intent on
"containing" communisim, and that's what it did (Borstien, 1992). New
technology also kept Americans from communisim. United States defenses made a
threat to the Soviet government, claiming that they would do anything and
everything to prevent Russia from spreading communisim to America. With new
weapons, such as the atomic bomb, these threats were not hard at all for the

United States to back up. By then, communisim had already spread to eastern

Europe, an Americans were more than determined to not let this horrific form of
government spread into the United States. Other precautionary measures included
the jailing of citizens of the United States that were found guilty of being

Communists. The idea of this was to cut off communists from any Soviet links
that they might have, so that they could not send or recieve any documents that
had to do with communisim (Associated Press, 1995). So how was the American fear
of communisim finally resolved? Well, in actuallity, it never really was. People
in the United States today still fear a communist government, only not as
publicly because the United States as a country no longer feels threatened by
the Soviet Union. But the fear is still there. Often, Americans must be reminded
that America really is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and that
democracy really works. In conclusion, the Red Scare of the 1950's really was a
radical and controversial issue for all types of reople who lived through that
time period. It affected most everyone, and many of these people were confused
and bewildered by the entire basis of communisim. But now, in the United States,
people are able to experience the joys and pleasures of freedom because of this
massive movement that took place during the 1950's. It shall never be forgotten
what Americans have had to go through for future generations to conserve peace
and freedom. People have worked hard to be sure that an unfair kind of
government will never take over the United States. America: Land of the free,
home of the brave.

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