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The Intellectuals and McCarthy: The Radical…

The Intellectuals and McCarthy: The Radical Specter (1967)

by Michael Paul Rogin

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Rogin seeks to rescue the Populists and Progressives from McCarthy. It is not the reform impulse that generated the phenomenon, but rather traditional conservatism. In taking on the "pluralism" of 1950s social science theory, he demonstrated that the people who had supported agrarian reform in the mid-west were not the same constituencies merely transmogrified. It was the traditional conservatism of the mid-west that fed McCarthy. Playing upon splits in the republican party between an Eastern elite and heartland conservatism, as many have argued since, he was able to keep Eisenhower at bay in the heated atmosphere of the Korean War. It was the right wing of the Republican party, not the progenitors of reform movements, who aided and abetted the reign of terror. The linkages made looking backwards are thus to the opponents of the New Deal. One could, it seems reasonable, map a trajectory from McCarthy forward to the Moral Majority and 700 Club much more easily than one could link him to the counterculture.

Who will claim Joe McCarthy today? Evidently his home town of Appleton Wisconsin still remembers him.

Chapters include Introduction; Radicalism and The Rational Society: The Pluralist View; Lockean Moralism and Conservative Ideology; Wisconsin: McCarthy and the Progressive Tradition; North Dakota: Agrarian Radicalism, Ethnic and Economic; South Dakota: From Left to Right; Populism; The Transformation of the Reform Impulse; McCarthyism as Mass Politics; Protest Politics and the Pluralist Vision.
  mdobe | Jul 24, 2011 |
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Anarchy is not the principal evil that democratic ages have to fear, but the least. For the principle of equality begets two tendencies: the one leads men straight to independence and may suddenly drive them into anarchy; the other conducts them by a longer, more secret, but more certain road to servitude. Nations readily discern the former tendency and are prepared to resist it; they are led away by the latter, without perceiving its drift; hence it is peculiarly important to point it out.
---Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America, Volume II, Book IV, Chapter 1. (Francis Bowen and Phillips Bradley, trans.) New York: AA Knopf, 1944.
In Memory of Ethel Lurie Rogin, 1908--1966
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Modern pluralism emerged as American intellectuals, mainly ex-radical, responded to the events of their youth and the pressures of the 1950's.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0262680157, Paperback)

The late Joseph McCarthy has left a permanent mark on American political life. But the meaning and depth of that mark has been obscured. A major theme of this important study is that McCarthy did not suppress or stifle political thinking so much as he radically transformed it. A large block of American intellectuals evolved an original theory of politics in reaction to McCarthyism.Many American intellectuals found McCarthy's roots in the agrarian radical tradition -- emerging from Populists, La Follette progressives, the non-Partisan League. The present study challenges the notion that McCarthy had agrarian radical roots. The book concludes by suggesting that fear of popular uprisings and radical protest has divorced political analysis from the specific issues around which protest forms. These issues determine whether mass movements will be dangerous or valuable. Ignoring the issues of politics, Rogin argues, leads to a reliance on established institutions unhealthy and unrealistic in a free society.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:38 -0400)

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