Communism was an ideology thought to have been originally formulated by English writer Thomas Moore. In his literature released in 1516 and titled ‘Utopia’, Moore speaks of a society where property is a common asset and ruler govern the people and society assets and property using reason. The rebellion directed towards capitalism and other traditional forms of government were the subject of numerous scholars and theorists as time passed. Karl Marx, one of the strongest supporters of this system of government felt that the class system, a failure in his view, would be remedied through communism.
After its role in the Second World War, the Soviet Union’s influence in the world grew precipitated by a number of notable occurrences. Governments modeled on Communism were modeled in various parts of the East Europe, notably East Germany. Moreover, countries like Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria would join in. The Asia continent also began emulating this controversial system with China, Korea and Vietnam picking up on the same. Such spread even in parts of Africa and those of the Middle East coming under sharp focus from Capitalist superpowers such as the United States, Great Britain and the larger European countries. These too sought to spread their ideologies in an attempt to try and stifle the rising competition they felt was becoming a significant threat to their capitalist markets and government systems. This culminated into the 1980’s nuclear stand-off between the largest Capitalist – the United States, and the largest Communist – the Soviet Union, also known as The Cold War.
Was Communism a real or perceived threat during the Cold War?
It was just a thought that individual communists were under the control of the Russian administration as there was no evidence to back this up. Several communist members showed Stalinist inflexibility due to their lack of questioning every other instruction given by the party. This led to most of these Communists to behave in a conspiratorial manner as they strained to hide their Communist roots from the rest of the world. But a majority of these Communists did not show any rigidity or try to hide their affiliation to Communism. Their reasons for being Communists was not just to be Stalin's soldiers but rather for their despise of the American order with an aim of creating a social program that would change the politics of the world and produce a better society which they were yearning to achieve. As Communism reached its peak it was evident that it had a high turnover rate as most countries that had joined before opted to quit by early 1950s. This would make it clear that they were just the ideological zombies as they had been referred to in the past by those who despised communism. Nevertheless, the supposition that all members of the Communist party did tore to the lines of the party faithfully was just a creation to be used in justifying the political suppression that was witnessed during the McCarthy period.
The threat of the Communist was found out to be a real threat due to their secrecy in governments. Although they were not as powerful enough to effect any changes to government policies, the threat posed by individual Communists was real and most of them were able to steal government secrets and take it to their masters. From the several spy cases witnessed during cold war era strengthened the view that "every American Communist was, and is, potentially an espionage agent of the Soviet Union." As suggested by J. Edgar Hoover.
The evidence gathered from those who were caught while trying to spying for the Soviet Union or those who confessed to have done so was very shocking as they said their motives for doing so was mainly politically instigated. They were mainly people who were involved during the Second World War in the period when the two countries Russia and the United States joined together as allies. Their reasons was that they had the belief that they were serving the Allied cause since it is improbable that Russia had trained these spies in the period of the cold war when the idea of communism was perceived as a threat and the American authorities had dealt away with the few remaining communist loyalists.
The country sensed that it was faced with the possibility of espionage being a danger they had to focus their attention to that fact though keeping a keen eye on sabotage by these communists. There was the panic that unions that were headed by Communists would head for strike and thus hamper the functioning of most of the defense forces of the country. But this danger was found out to be an overstated one. Though communist party such as the Fur and Leather Workers was seen as danger to the security of the country, the United Electrical, Radio among others were also being monitored. At the time of the Nazi-Soviet agreement most labor leaders with communist roots had staged various strikes that were seen as a threat to the security of the country.
It is evident from the facts provided in the discussion above that Communism was indeed a real threat. Some of its facets especially in the industrial sector can be shunned as simple industrial action by biased workers, but serious threats were posed to national security in many regions of the world. As demonstrated by the American example, sabotage, terrorism and policy changes caused by Communism would have exposed many to harm due to the sensitive nature of the defense, security, industrial and economic implications they posed.
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Communism and National Security: The Menace Emerges--by Ellen (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/mccarthy/schreker1.htm