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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: January 2010

6 - The View from the Left: Logical Empiricism and Radical Philosophers


At the height of the so-called hysteria over communism in the 1950s, the logic of anticommunist accusation and persecution was intricate and subtle. With respect to one's political essence, the logic was binary. As presupposed by Senator McCarthy's famous inquiry – “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” – one either was or was not loyal to the United States at the time in question. With respect to outward appearances, however, the markers of one's political essence were believed to be often obscured or hidden. For communists within the party, one could be a public communist, such as a candidate in an election or a party officer, or one could work hidden in the party's underground. Albert Blumberg, for example, took both these paths at different times of his career. Outside the party, anticommunist investigators targeted “fellow-travelers” who supported or even participated in communist causes but refrained from officially joining the party. They, too, could be more public or less public about their motives and activities. Some openly supported Moscow or some form of communism, while others were believed to hide their support or disguise it as support for general, populist, and even pro-American causes or institutions. Organizations or events known as “communist fronts” outwardly promoted peace, the arts, or social and economic justice while actively promoting Moscow's interests in the Cold War by recruiting party members or cultivating spies.