A Note on McCarthyism

Against the Current, No. 168, January/February 2014

David Finkel, for the ATC Editors

[The following excerpt is from an article by Julius Falk (Jacobson), “McCarthy and McCarthyism. The New Look of America’s Post War Reaction,” which appeared in the January-February 1954 issue of the New International, the journal of the Independent Socialist League, pages 26-38. The article is online at http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/ni/vol20/no01/v20n1-w163-jan-feb-1954-new-int.pdf.
— David Finkel for the ATC editors]

“THERE IS A…distinctive aspect of McCarthyism and one which bodes perhaps the greatest ill. For the first  tiime we have a powerful force which operates within the framework of bourgeois democracy, yet in defiance of and against it. McCarthyism has achieved sufficient power in and outside of government to attack and at times devitalize institutions of government and state….

McCarthy may with justice be referred to as America’s totalitarian personality. He is brutal, ruthless, intolerant, demagogic, a conscientious liar, ego driven, power hungry, vigorous and a cunning political barbarian. He has, in more moderate words, all the pathological and political equipment of a totalitarian fascist type. [But] McCarthyism, though it is a new phenomenon, cannot be equated to fascism nor does it present the nation with any imminent threat of fascism.

To maintain that McCarthyism in its present phase is the instrumentality of fascism is to impute to it characteristics it does not possess. It would imply, above all, that it is well-organized and integrated movement. It is not. McCarthyism has no recognized press of its own, no rounded ideology, no party of its own, no tight internal discipline, no acknowledged and consciously organized leadership. It continues to function within the framework of both parties, whereas every powerful fascist movement we know of has been conceived outside the framework of traditional bourgeois democratic parties.”

January/February 2014, ATC 168