Marx, Mao and McCarthyism in Twentieth Century America

Supposed Communist sympathisers were greeted in Twentieth Century America to compensate for perceived defeats for right-wing policies at home and abroad at the hands of the Communist left.


1932-36: America 'flirts' with Fascism.

The far right of Mussolini-fervour was finally deferred by General Smedley Butler's (1) account of 'Il Duce's' (2) car striking a young girl and his remark, 'We fascists never look back,' as he drove on. The latter's passenger was Cornelius Vanderbilt, who confirmation of the incident was the only thing that got it believed. This represented a defeat for the far right.

1934-38: Britain does the same!

The 'Daily Mail's' vocal support for Hitler is well-known.

1938: The Establishment of HUAC (House Committee on Un-American Activities)

Initially formed to monitor German-Americans suspected of Nazi sympathies and Ku Klux Klan activity, post 1946 its target became anyone suspected of left-of-center activities / sympathies.

1946: The Cold War Begins

Stalin's 'Iron Curtain' annexation of most Eastern Europe did not help to improve relations with the West. The former, however, felt Russia's contribution to Hitler's defeat (like China's World War Two troubing of the Japanese) was insufficiently acknowledged by the West.

This 'red triumph' helped start the Cold War. 1946 also saw HUAC's anti-communist manifesto become operational.

1949: Mao Zedong Establishes the People's Republic of China (PRC)

America supported, trained and equipped his adversary Jiang Jhr-Shr (Chang Kai-Shek) financially and with almost unlimited amounts of modern weaponry against Mao who, initially, had either money nor weapons. Neverheless, the latter historically defeated both the Japanese and then Jiang Jhr-Shr, much to the dismay of the American right in the case.

1950-53: The Korean War

United Nations forces (most plentifully supplied by the United States of America and United Kingdon in particular) were unable to defeat those of Kim Il-Hong / 'Red Kim' (Grandfather of North Korea's current Leader) supported by the PRC.

These infuriating post-war military and political setbacks at the hands of 'the Reds' prompted the search for scapegoats within the USA, ie 'reds under the beds.' Senator Joseph McCarthy's frequent headline-grabbing polemics on this topic became even more infamous when Hollywood was involved (see below) and 'McCarthyism' was the term coined to describe such antics.

1953: Arthur Miller appears before HUAC

Aware of the ritualistic, bullying and abusive methods used to force the denunciation of others, Miller, who 'The Crucible' explores America's other famous 'Witch hunt' in Salem, Massachusetts, denied to name / associate anyone else with his own views and actions , claiming these were strictly personal. He received a 1 year (suspended) prison sentence and $ 500 fine-both were quashed upon appeal.

1954 McCarthy's Downfall

McCarthy never Chaired (or affiliated to) HUAC, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, which proceedings were televised, (further fueling public interest) instead. When decorated World War Two heroes were given the McCarthy treatment the nation reacted with disgust and the 'trial by Television' ploy backfired. (3)

Reaction to his excesses led to formal censure by the Senate (McCarthy is only Congressman to date disciplined thus). He died in 1957 from acute hepatitis and liver failure occurred by chronic alcoholism.

McCarthyism and Black People

As many Blacks were still disenfranchised (especially in the Southern States) Communist doctrines of equality among the masses appeared strongly to this group, who suffered disproportionately in the ensuing 'witch hunts'. Notable examples included Paul Robeson (dubbed 'the Stalin of the Stage') whose performances were frequently disrupted by groups of far-right, white agitators and black feminist Claudia Jones ..

In Salem, despite being a slave (and at the bottom of Salem's hierarchy) Tituba (ie 100 percent of Black people involved) still gets hung! In both cases extended hierarchies and other features of dystopias abound.


The lives of many ordinary people, particularly Government employees, were blighted and many carers ruined by 'blacklisting' by the aforementioned Committees. Their work achieved particular notoriety and gained national prominence when their search for 'reds' moved to the entertainment / film industry (3).

'The Hollywood 10', a group of well-known actors, collectively invoked the Constitution's 5th amendment allowing individuals to answer to answer Questions if in so doing they would incriminate themselves. Neverheless, they were adjudged guilty of accused of court and various prison terms of around one year were awarded and served.


1. See 'MaverickMarine: GeneralSmedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History'

2. Mussolini styled himself 'Duce' (Latin 'Dux') after Septimus Severus Black Roman Emperor and Dux Britannicus who expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest extent and rule it from Britain

3. See Rovere, R. (1996) 'Senator Joe Mc Carthy', University of California Press

Source by Peter Allsop

Don Ma

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