Week 4 notes
Popular in American Revolutions
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katrina Salamon on Friday February 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 0848-002 at Temple University taught by Silke Zoller in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see American Revolutions in History at Temple University.
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Date Created: 02/05/16
February 2, 2016 Questions What kind of impact did McCarthyism have on us politics? Who were the targets of McCarthyism? What does the pattern reveal about the nature of American anxiety in the 1950’s? What is McCarthyism? Political repression: series of civil liberties violations against supposed communists in the late 1940’s and 1950’s This repression is linked by o A common concern with domestic communism and o A desire to eliminate its alleged threat to us society Went beyond communism to target almost any group that challenged the established social, economic, or racial order Early US Anticommunism o Businesses, large corporations o The FBI and local forces of law and order o 1938: House of Representatives’ UnAmerican Activities committee (HUAC) 1946 election o End of wartime price controls sends inflation high, products and food increase greatly in prices o Organized labor begins wave of strikes These waves of strikes result in holds on transportation, and other repercussions. o Republicans seize control of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time since 1930 1948 TaftHartley Act o Restricts the rights of unions o Allows states to adopt rightto work legislation o Mandatory wait period for any strike o Restricts ability to expand union o Expands the power of the federal government National Security Act of 1947 o Unites all branches of the armed forces under the new department of defense o Creates the National Security Council o Creates Central Intelligence Agency o Federal Government showing clearly that communism is a threat to be taken very seriously o Gives the president more power in conducting foreign policy o US government is afraid of the soviet union and acts against it in this way —Americans should be afraid too. Political Gains o Truman administration used the fear of communism to fund increasing military expenses o Republicans attacked Truman's democratic administration, claiming that they were soft on communism Democratic counterprosecution of communists Targets o Communists Communist party of America 550,000 members, affiliated with the Soviet Union These are actual active members of the communist party o Associates of Communists “Hidden communists” with clandestine activities, secrecy—made them inherently untrustworthy o “Security Risks” Nonconformists to US society Susceptible to communist influence The ideal US society was: breadwinner father, homemaker mother, “nuclear family” At risk: those who don’t align with this societal expectation o Homosexuals, alcoholics, addicts, debtors, singles, partygoers. 1947 Employee Loyalty Program o Investigations into the loyalty of more than 3 million US government employees o Any civil servant could lose his or her job by belonging to any “Totalitarian, Fascist, Communist, or subversive group” o Little regard for due process o Only about 300 people were discharged Helped create the impression of a serious communist problem in the federal government This mentality was a harmful result of the process The “Hollywood Ten” o 1947 HUAC Hearings on supposed communist plots in Hollywood o Eight screenwriters, a producer, and a director cited their first amendment rights and declined to testify or to name suspected communists o The Hollywood ten convicted in court for contempt of congress o Studios in Hollywood then blacklisted hundreds of actors, screenwriters, directors and support personnel such as makeup artists. Video: I was a communist for the FBI o How does this clip incorporate many of the aspects of anticommunism? o What is unusual, surprising, or unexpected? Alger Hiss o Whitaker Chambers claimed to be a soviet agent in the 1930’s, and now works with the HUAC to get other communists. o He accuses Alger Hiss of being a communist. Hiss is a democrat, former secretary of aid, and refutes these charges. 1948 Alger Hiss Case o Whittaker Chambers’ accusation o Alger Hiss, former aide to secretary of state o Richard Nixon, congressman, goes after Hiss for nuclear espionage o Chambers and Nixon alleged that Hiss had given chambers secret documents in the 1930’s, and produced copies of the documents o Triumph for Republicans, who have unearthed a “communist” high up in the Truman administration o Makes Richard Nixon known nationwide—Eisenhower choses him as his vice president and later becomes president. Nuclear Espionage o 1950: Klaus Fuchs arrested o 1953: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg sentenced to death—former members of the communist party of America. They were accused of running a spy ring to steal nuclear secrets. This was extremely controversial; they were Jewish and parts of the trial had antiSemitic overtones. Not much public evidence presented to convict them. They are convicted and sentenced to death. After this, many who worked on the Manhattan project lose their security clearance 1949 o University professors targeted Result: many university professors began downplaying controversial material in their courses o Eleven unions, with over 900,000 members, were expelled from the congress of industrial unions o Truman administration charged leaders of the communist party with violating the Smith Act (criminalizing membership of organizations advocating for the overthrowing the US government) 11 leaders were convicted and sent to jail. Joseph McCarthy o Makes his political career by making a speech in Wheeling, WV o Questions: Describe the claims McCarthy makes about communism in the US Who were the targets of McCarthyism? What does this pattern reveal about the nature of American anxiety in the 1950’s? McCarthyism o McCarthy crystallized the anxieties many felt, and he was instantly popular and powerful Many people wanted to believe in a senator bold enough to fight back against communists o McCarthy began leading congress’ efforts against communists Accused large numbers of people of being communist sympathizers 1950 McCarran Act o McCarthy Discredited 1954: Went after the US army—accused them of harboring communists Secretary of the army, Robert Stevens, refused to cooperate, claimed that McCarthy was investigating because one of his aides had not received a draft deferment Televised hearings: McCarthy Abrasive, lack of evidence McCarthy dies three years later of alcoholism related causes February 4, 2016 Consumerism: Progressive era: consumerism began playing a larger role in the American economy and politics Industrialized workplaces and increasingly commercialized leisure o Dance halls, movie theaters, restaurants, amusement parks. Servicemen’s Readjustment Act “GI Bill of Rights” Compensate the return of veterans into U.S. Society Provided: unemployment benefits, low interest loans, stipends to cover the cost of college or technical school tuition and living expenses. GI Bill Results o Opportunities change shape of U.S. Society o Great increase in welleducated and technically trained workers o Social mobility o By 1957: 60% of US families are middle class (this was not the case before—middle class status becomes mainstream) US Economy Booms o Influx of welltrained labor o Worldwide dominance of US corporations o Federal spending for defense and foreign aid o Consumerism New Abundance o In this consumer society, people used consumer choices to Express their personal identity Claim status within the broader boundaries of the middle class Overcame old ethnic identities The Meaning of Consumerism o Personal right, connected with personal identity o Part of a cold war rhetoric of U.S. superiority Capitalism, and consumerism, delivered not only economic prosperity, but also loftier social and political ambitions Consumerism demonstrated U.S. liberty and citizenship Demonstrate the freedom you have in the US by buying things 1959 Kitchen Debate o In 59 the US and SU decided to hold exhibits in each other’s countries to display their upward mobility and capabilities. o The soviet was very industrial and technical, while o The US was full of things like kitchens, computers, color televisions, makeovers for women, and a fully equipped suburban house Nixon and Khrushchev get into a debate about the usefulness of the things in the displays Meaning of consumerism o Personal right, connected with personal identity o Part of a cold war rhetoric of U.S. superiority Capitalism and consumerism delivered not only economic prosperity, but also loftier social and political ambitions Consumerism demonstrates U.S. liberty and o Suburban Development Most Americans before the cold war had not owned their own homes Entrepreneurship, new construction methods, cheap land, and federal aid from the GI bill made much affordable housing available outside of cities. Levittown o William J. Levitt o Created lowpriced affordable suburban homes o Homes created on assembly lines o First town on long island o Basic design, identical floor plans, no basement. Suburban influence on U.S. society o Levittown both more democratic, and less democratic than before o Visual reminder of equality, upward mobility o Brings together whites from many ethnic backgrounds o Homogenous communities created, where everyone had a very similar income Suburban influence on U.S. society o Restrictive clauses ban African Americans o Uniform behavioral codes in place Accusation of “communism, not conformity” o Helped create a white middle class with very similar outlooks and behaviors. Government support o Tax benefits o GI bill o 1956 federal highway act Result of suburbanization o “Landscape of consumerism” Transformation in residential patterns New commercial marketplace structures Shopping centers, credit cards, fast food Racial Discrimination o Zoning commissions created areas with majority white populations o Fewer federal benefits for non white groups o Result: consumer society segregated nonwhites by making it difficult for them to acquire choice consumer goods. Automobiles o Essential for new patterns of settlement o “Dynamic obsolescence” marketing Television o By 1960, 90% of Americans had TV o Many white Americans new to the middle class, and unsure of what behaviors were proper and expected Instruction in the national mass media Gave Americans a shared set of experiences o Economics of television industry also fostered middle class ideals Major companies sponsored programs Mutually reinforcing circle of development Television fosters new political trends o Orientation towards professional expertise in polling and advertising o Targeted campaign to segments of the electorate Women and consumerism o Consumerism reinforces gender stereotypes o Women are main consumers Questions to consider: o How did consumerism change the ways in which Americans live? Gave them a freedom to live in whatever way they wanted— provided an identity that they strived for. It improved the economy. Instead of saving only, they spent a lot of their money. They bought things to fit in, conformity o How did consumerism change the ways Americans thought of their country? Connection between consumerism and anticommunism: if you buy the goods, have a nice house; it’s the “American way” that defeats communism. Communism told you exactly what you had to have, where consumerism allowed you to have free will and typical American liberty. Does it help or hurt individual liberties in the US? Maybe a little of both—helped develop families, etc., but people also didn’t save and they used credit cards, so it put people in debt. This is a doubleedged sword.
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