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Defining the McCarthy Era

Defining the McCarthy Era

(p.13) 1 Defining the McCarthy Era
The Supreme Court and McCarthy-Era Repression
Robert M. Lichtman
University of Illinois Press

This chapter considers the combination of circumstances and events following World War II that held the seeds of political repression during the McCarthy era. These developments signaled unmistakably that the Soviet Union and its allies threatened America’s security on the international scene. On the domestic front, McCarthy-era repression targeted the Communist Party USA and alleged “Communist front” organizations. Whether a significant internal Communist threat existed in the postwar years was open to question. However, the widespread belief that such a threat did exist, and the related claim that liberal Democrats—New Dealers and their political successors—bore responsibility and could not be trusted to respond adequately, would soon become a reality in American politics. McCarthyism was energized not by opposition to communism but by the linkage of Marxism with liberalism. It was also energized by bare-knuckle partisan political tactics.

Keywords:   political repression, U.S. Supreme Court, McCarthy era, McCarthyism, Communists, Communist Party USA, Soviet Union, liberal Democrats, Marxism, liberalism

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