It is argued that McCarthyism had a vital impact on US society in the years 1950-54. This can be seen through the knock on effects it had on the people in America, as the fear of communism was rising as McCarthyism triggered a panic all across America during this period. The USA was already feeling very vulnerable after War as they feared communism would spread just the way It did in China, thus McCarthyism was significant as many Americans were scared that their society would come under the influence of communism. However, many historians argue that the impact John McCarthy was only short term as soon; the Red Scare was falling apart as everyone was being accused of being a communist.
McCarthy influenced many Americans through radio and press and caused many Americans to panic from Communism. He raised the awareness of the impact that communism could have on American society and how it could change the American way of life, and during this period many Americans did not want any significant change as the economy was booming and prosperity was flourishing all over America, which was a major change. Therefore, people had a reason to fear Communism as Americans were living a better and more affluent life and they did not want their privileges to be taken away from them. McCarthy took advantage of this and manipulated the press, and released as many accusations as possible in order to decrease the spreading of Communism. He also used radio, to suggest who he thought was a communist; anyone who he saw to be left winged or radical was a communist in the eyes of McCarthy. Not only did McCarthy influence many Americans into being extremely worried about Communist, but he also made it appear to Americans that Communist would completely destroy American society, thus McCarthy did have a major impact upon American Society as he was the creator of this major outburst.
The Cold War had created a fear that democracy was in danger, that the American people must take drastic measures to ensure their on-going way of life The Alien Registration Act had been introduced into the United States and everyone who had the slightest chance of being linked to communist sympathies was required to register, or face being ‘Blacklisted’. Many people were blacklisted and families were destroyed which emphasises the influence that McCarthyism actually had on Americans. The fear was so great, that whoever McCarthy pointed the finger to were to be dealt with. Writers, directors and even actors, thus not only did McCarthyism have an impact on America socially. However, even politicians were scared of being accused of supporting communism, many Politian’s kept a low profile as they did not want to be blacklisted and get their profession taken away from them.
McCarthy became the leading figure of HUAC and played a vital role. The main objective of the HUAC was the investigation of un-American and subversive activities it investigated many left and right winged politicians and other suspects of communism. Furthermore, McCarthy had set up many meetings that would help with witch hunts where Russian spies would be found and in order to seek out groups that may be a threat. The impact that McCarthy had was so significant that constitutional rights of those being judged were ignored, this shows the amount of power that McCarthy actually had in the 1950s as those who got pointed the finger had no say no matter what. Furthermore, events that happened in Korea only frustrated Americans more and caused them to turn even more anti-communist as many American soldiers died this made the Cold War appear more bitter than it already was.
However, it is not just because of McCarthyism that had an impact on America during the 1940s. The fall of China to the communists in 1949 led to the creation of the China Lobby who campaigned for action against the new communist regime. Influential groups such as businessmen and journalists wanted the USA to get involved of solving the problem of Communist in China, thus this gave Americans a reason to fear communist. Thus, without the fall of communism in China, McCarthyism would not have been significant at all as there would not have been as much fear. Similarly, spy scandals in Britain and Canada scared Americans; Fuchs was convicted of giving nuclear secrets to USSR.
However, what really sparked the fear of communism was the Alger Hiss trial. Without this trial occurring the fear of communism would not have been as great as people realised that communist was occurring within the Government itself. Therefore, McCarthyism was not a major turning point as the Alger Hiss Trial is what caused the fear of Communism to spiral around America and without this happening McCarthy would not have been able to take advantage of the situation.
On the other hand some historians argue that the impact that McCarthy had on society was short lived. McCarthy started making ridiculous accusations on many people such as celebrities. McCarthy turned the fear of communism into a joke as he judged anyone and claimed they were a communist and things were just getting out of hand. Therefore, when Eisenhower came into power he pushed McCarthy’s anti-communist regime away as it had caused a lot of corruption within America.
Overall, it is clear that McCarthyism did have a major impact on American Society. He caused more awareness of Communist and had caused a major panic within America. Not only was he in charge of HUAC but he also became a major political figure and had gained a lot of support from many different groups. Although his communist regime was pushed aside he still was the fundamental cause of the fear of communist as he used strong propaganda in order to emphasise the danger of Communist.