Post World War II era

Between the US and Soviet Union

A dominance struggle predominated in the decades following World War II. While the US had started to make success at the domestic level in terms of economic recovery, social welfare, and political advancement, the threat of communist spread was a significant international issue. The US was fighting the communist tide in Eastern Europe and Asia while pursuing its plan of reconstruction in Europe. The communist doctrine was viewed as arbitrary and a hindrance to international progress. The US instilled a feeling of communism fear among its citizens, despite the propaganda-based debates between pro-Communists and pro-capitalists being designed to gain allies. Domestic issues (anxiety of social change) and international issues (threat to the nation from Soviet Union both led to an upsurge in anticommunism in the United States.

The Fear of Communism

The fear of communism was associated with the aggressive infiltration of Soviet Union's political influence across the world. During the cold war, the US propagandists took control of the media and portrayed communism as a pathetic creature. Various negative terminologies were attributed to communism. Anticommunist campaign used such terms as pathological liars, sexual perverts, holocaust supporters, and social misfits. Such political rhetoric influenced the general public perception that communists were killers, enemies of free speech, human right perpetrators. Many scholars of World War II and post-Cold war expressed fear of communism and the suspicion of sympathizers within the American society heightened the tension. The popularity of such political terms as McCarthy in 1950s is an evident indicator of just how American society loathed Soviet Union. Wisconsin senator, Joseph McCarthy explored the exaggerated anticommunism wave in the US to destroy political career of several prospective and seating congressmen. McCarthy resorted to relentless media mobilization of the citizens to prevail over the government to flash out suspected communists spies and sympathizers. The result that included wrongful crackdown on innocent citizens suspected to associate with communist ideology further indicated the extent of pervasive anxiety that swept America during the cold war period.

Practical Scenarios in the 1950s

In agreement with the extreme fear of communism in the US, several other events in 1950s offer practical scenarios. As the US pursued containment policy in Parts of Asia, it was rocked by civil rights activism at home. In fact, in 1955, Anti-racial segregation civil rights activism led by Martin Luther king attracted international attention. Such civil disobedience, protests, and boycotts portrayed the US as hypocrites in the campaign towards democratization of the world. Communist propagandists exploited this opportunity to win allies. The US political elite noted the danger of such negative international image and swiftly moved to pass equal voting rights Act. President Lyndon Johnson made significant strides in passing laws that targeted desegregation and this was a manifestation of how the US feared communist popularity.

Testing Military Might

At the international level, Korean and Vietnam War presented an opportunity of testing military might between the United States and Soviet Union. Increase of foreign missions in Vietnam, adoption of Marshall Plan was all initiated to give the US upper hand in winning many other countries to embrace democracy. Despite signs of losing the Vietnam War, the US bolstered its military presence to an estimated 500,000 personnel with the sole aim of defeating communist aggression. Between 1945-1970s, the series of foreign and domestic policies of the US emphasized evils of communists and their allies.

Soviet Union's Technological Head Start

Soviet Union's first space landing of Sputnik in 1957 came as a shocker to the United States. In response, President J.F.Kennedy passed a bill that promoted intensive study of Mathematics and sciences in order to compete with Soviet Union in space race.

Arms Race and the Threat of Nuclear Attack

Technological head start that Soviet Union possessed was a threat to United States. The issue of arms race was the most critical in as far as the influence of Soviet Union was concerned. Cuban Missile crisis is one notable event that prompted US foreign policy reform as there was evident threat of nuclear attack. After the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing, the fear of nuclear weapons lived with Americans and that justified their foreign policy that focused diplomatic and military intervention to counter Soviet influence. Pro-democracy propagandists had succeeded in brainwashing the US public on the retrogressive nature of communism. Most writers, poets, musicians, academia and political scientists expressed constant association of communism with sexual perversion. In fact, masculinity, marriage and patriarchal family pattern were glorified. Failure to marry was considered as putting a man vulnerable to fall for prostitutes most of who may have been communist spies. It is therefore evident that anticommunist mentality in the US exhibited anxiety on possibility of moral decadence. This was a tactical approach to entrench the spirit of anticommunism for the political interest of the elite class. Although the hatred of communists seemed exaggerated in the minds of most Americans, previous actions of Soviet Union that include Berlin wall erection justified the US perception.


It is worth to conclude that the domestic fear of social change and the overwhelming Soviet aggression globally effectively raised anticommunist rage among the US citizens.


Freeman, Joshua Benjamin. 2012. American empire: the rise of a global power, the democratic revolution at home 1945-2000.

May, Elaine Tyler. 2008. Homeward bound: American families in the Cold War era. New York, NY: Basic Books.

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