\'McCarthy gave his name to an age, but there was far more to McCarthyism than McCarthy\'

Do you agree?

McCarthy may have given his name to an era but there was much more to McCarthyism than just one man. In this essay the argument will be that there were many factors leading up to the McCarthy era both internal and external and that McCarthy found a platform in anticommunist fear, as it was popular issue at the time. And his fall from grace in 1954 may also be attributed to both internal and external factors that appeared to alleviate the anticommunist threat.

Today we call it the McCarthy era. While convenient, the tribute is not without reason. McCarthy’s villainy was so plain that his name became a curse in the year of his control. Characterised as ‘crass and unprincipled, an unimaginative opportunist, and a distinctly second rate politician’, McCarthy was also a ‘shrewd judge of public attitudes and temper’ . This blend made him an overpowering enemy. Elected into the senate in 1946 McCarthy was almost invisible on the public scene until 9 February 1950 . It was then in Wheeling, West Virginia, that he stumbled upon his cause. But the elements of McCarthyism were hardly McCarthy’s alone, nor did they diminish after his fall. Joe McCarthy was just one, and not the brightest, of the many inquisitors of the time. He was not a resourceful as his friend J. Edgar Hoover . While McCarthy made the notion of security risks in the federal bureaucracy a national obsession from 1950 to 1954, the foundations were well layed before his arrival and stemmed back to 1945 and the end of the Second World War. However even before the war had ended the ruminations of anticommunism had begun with the introduction of the Smith Act which prohibited the teaching or advocating the overthrow of the government.

Also before the end of the war the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were confronting people who worked in the state department with their political believes before the war. One such case involved Josephine Herbst, who in 1932 had broadcast on behalf of the Spanish Loyalist and had signed a petition in 1932 \'protesting the violation of civil liberties in Detriot\' and had wrote an article for the New Masses on Cuba. Due to these FBI investigations Herbst was dismissed from her job with the German section of the US propaganda agency with no explanation . The fear that hung over America during this age had begun without the introduction of Joe McCarthy.

One of the internal factors which paved the way for McCarthy\'s anticommunist crusade was the introduction of the Truman doctrine on 12 March 1947 which proclaimed in presidential request for aid to Greece and Turkey which set aside Americas previous closed door mentality to world politics. Nine days later Executive Order 9835 was developed. This order created loyalty security programs for federal employees. This may have been one reason why McCarthy chose to campaign on the slogan Communists-in -Government and deal particularly with the State Department.

Another instance of strong anticommunism before the emergence of McCarthy was the Hollywood Ten trials, which began on 27 October 1947. The House of Un-American Activities Committee\'s (HUAC) arraignment of the Hollywood left memorably dramatised the anticommunist decade . The Committee issued subpoenas to those who worked in the film industry that they knew had a radical background. Whether it be a part or production or attending a rally run by the communist party or funded by the Communist Party of America (CPUSA). However the dramatic tension lay in whether the accused would name friends, colleagues and associates. The thrill could be felt either way, when Lillian Hellman refused to name names or when Eliza Kazan did.

The climax of this drama was the moment of self-cleansing avowal or purging oneself, by naming names to the committee. To name was to be exculpated to refuse was to prove oneself guilty. And to take the Fifth Amendment, the right to silence under grounds of self-incrimination, was to deepen the miasma of suspicion around you.

When HUAC cited ten Hollywood writers and directors with contempt of congress for taking the Fifth Amendment the Hollywood Ten trials had begun. The daily media were outspoken in their criticism of the Committee\'s purpose