The Importance Of Conformism In The Cold War

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Register to read the introduction… While the first Red Scare had damaged the left, the second Red Scare all but eradicated it. Much of the left including the Communist and Socialist Parties of America would not survive nor ever recover from this attack, increasing the premium placed on political and social conformity while narrowing the extents of legitimate political debate (Gerstle, 239). In the Cold War world defined by the battle between a free society lead by the United States and a slave society oppressed by the Soviet Union, there was no room for extremism or dissent in American life. Above all else, conformity was cherished in this hectic postwar world and to go against it was to gamble with your livelihood and reputation at the hands of a powerful disciplinary state. With national security as its impetus, the federal government was given unprecedented authorization to “place large numbers of Americans under surveillance and to punish those engaged in forms of ‘un-American’ dissent” (Gerstle, 239). This immense power led to the violation of rights for millions of Americans who were guilty until proven innocent in most cases, and even if they were proven innocent could only look forward to blacklists and social persecution after their …show more content…
The House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC for short, investigated the Communist Party’s influence within the motion picture industry vigorously, calling witnesses such as Gary Cooper and Ronald Reagan to testify about communist involvement in the film industry (Chafe, Sitkoff, Bailey, 41). Pressured by such theatrical hearings and government coercion, the entertainment industry adopted blacklists to bar the employment of suspected communists or even anyone who refused to cooperate with congressional investigators. As with normal citizens, the postwar Red Scare also destroyed the lives of those in the country’s most glamorous industry, showing no one was immune to the disciplinary powers of the federal government. Besides an inability to find work, many leftist movie industry professionals such as the Hollywood Ten were also thrown in jail simply for refusing to cooperate with HUAC. One of those ten, John Howard Lawson, summed up the investigations of Hollywood the best as he described the congressional investigations as “an attempt to get control of the screen and to invade the basic rights of American citizens in all fields” (Chafe, Sitkoff, Bailey 48). Lawson understood the seriousness of the Red Scare on American ideals, a movement that urged the removal of basic rights such as freedom of

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