The phenomenon known as McCarthyism was an attempt, when seen at a distance, to purge America of radical tendencies that had developed under the closing Uranus-Pluto square of the Nineteen Thirties and the New Deal Administration of Franklin Roosevelt. It actually originated long before the Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, came on the scene with an introductory speech in West Virginia, and some people think that it should actually be called “Hooverism” for FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who did much to promote an anti-communist agenda in the United States, but without the baggage that McCarthy brought to his confrontation. Nevertheless, “McCarthyism” is what this direction in the United States was known, so it is the term we shall use.
McCarthyism may seem to be a relic of the distant past, when politics was much less sophisticated than it is in the enlightened Twenty-First Century, but here in this election season in the United States we are seeing McCarthy-like practices being bandied about in a big way, this time by a major political party and backed by the resources of most of the major media sources, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. And no one seems to be upset with this. It is, as the French say, The More Things Change the More They Remain The Same.
Joseph McCarthy was a Senator from Wisconsin who replaced the son (who had replaced his father) of “Fighting” Bob LaFollette, the man who formed the Wisconsin Progressive Party, and McCarthy was replaced in turn by William Proxmire, a famous liberal Senator during the Sixties and Seventies. Here is a chart for Joseph McCarthy. He is a Scorpio, the most notorious of signs (in the New Testament of the Bible there are twelve apostles, each associated with one of the twelve zodiacal signs, and Judas is associated with the sign Scorpio). Charles Manson and Jack the Ripper were also Scorpios, and it is the second most popular sun sign for Presidents of the United States. But he also has Aries rising and Mars, the ruler of Aries, near is Descendant. Both indicate that he could have a forceful, perhaps even abrasive personality. Uranus is at the Midheaven, in the Tenth House, indicating that he is seen as rebellious, perhaps a maverick. He was known a “Tailgunner Joe” because of his lie that he served in World War II as a tailgunner in bombers. But perhaps Mars can seen as symbolically at the tail of the chart, whereas the Ascendant is the head.
McCarthy first came to the public’s attention when he made a speech to a Republican Woman’s club in Wheeling, West Virginia for a Lincoln Day celebration on February 9, 1950; in this speech he made the statement that he had a list of 205 (the actual number is in dispute since there is no recording) Communists in the State Department. The media made much of this charge, and McCarthy was off and running. We are fortunate that we have dates for the events that lead to the rise and fall of Joe McCarthy. Here is a chart for McCarty’s transit on the day of that speech. In this chart the most obvious feature is Neptune on the Descendant of McCarthy’s chart. This could be read as McCarthy is being deceived by others around him (Descendant) or, much more likely, he is deceiving and misleading those around him. Mars is just below his Descendant and about to rise above it, showing that he is about to unleash his Martial energies on an (unsuspecting) public.
But what we call McCarthyism did not start with that speech. Though there had been waves of anti-communist thought in the America before, most notably after the Russian Revolution in 1917, it had really become serious with the start of the Cold War after World War II. The Cold War grew after the watershed moment in world history represented by Pluto at the midpoint of Uranus and Neptune as has been discussed before . That midpoint configuration had set the ground work, but then there was the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of 1947 which started the Cold War with McCarthyism as its handmaid. The importance of hard aspects of Saturn and Pluto have been discussed before. But a third aspect showed the length of McCarthyism, even though those residual effects lasted until the mid-Sixties. That aspect was the transiting Pluto on the Sun-Midheaven midpoint of the United States. Pluto can stand for, among other things, repression, as seen in the Saturn-Pluto aspects. In this case what was repressed is that represented by the combination of Sun and Midheaven, the true personality or government as filtered into the public world. The Sun/MC midpoint is very important to the nature of the country as expressed. It was discussed early on in his blog that Neptune was transiting this midpoint during the campaign and election of Barack Obama, showing the amount of self-delusion and illusion that was seen in that election.
This five year graphical ephemeris shows Pluto transiting that midpoint; the black arrow indicates one place that the midpoint conjunction was exact. The curvy red line representing the transiting Pluto intersects the dashed line representing the Sun/MC midpoint, just above the natal Moon line.
The end of Joseph McCarthy, though McCarthyism itself would last until the middle of the next decade, happened of June 9, 1954. McCarthy was hassling the Army — he had charged the Army with promoting a Brooklyn dentist who had taken the Fifth Amendment (which prevented self-incrimination) when signing the military loyalty oath. As a result, there was what was called the Army-McCarthy hearings held in the Senate. There was massive coverage of these hearings on the newly popular television. The dénouement of the hearings, and the end of McCarthy’s career, occurred when McCarthy charged an associate in the law firm of Joseph Welch, who was counsel for the Army, with suspicious activity — he had been a member of the National Lawyers Guild, which was considered dominated by Communists. Welch asked of McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency”. After that McCarthy was increasingly seen as a pathetic figure, and he died of alcoholism three years later — May 2, 1957. In the transits to McCarty’s chart for this day, Neptune has come above the Descendant into the Seventh House and is closely conjunct his natal Mars. The Mars-Neptune combinations can be ugly — a weakness or lack of energy according to Ebertin. Mars, which was at the Descendant in the earlier chart is now at the Midheaven, after having gone around the chart twice. Symbolically, Mars — his directed energy — is at the highest it will lever reach. Saturn is on his Mercury — depressed or solemn thoughts — and during the day the transiting Moon has been opposite his Saturn, indicating more Saturnian energy. Mercury is opposite his Uranus, suggesting changed thoughts; transiting Pluto is square his Sun — the oppressor has become oppressed.
But the precedents, influences, and resultant changes to the culture of the United States as a result of McCarthyism are is some ways more important. Here are a few of those stories.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was one of the founders of the ACLU, along with her chief antagonist Morris Ernst. She had been an organizer of the International Workers of the World (Wobblies) before helping to form the ACLU in 1920. Flynn had joined the Communist Party of the USA in 1937, and had told her fellow board members about this, with no objections. In the early days the ACLU was spending most of its time defending anti-war protesters during the first Red Scare that happened around the time it was founded. On the evening of May 7, 1940 until 2:30 am at a New York City men’s club there was a “trial” of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn by the executive committee of the ACLU. This was a forerunner of McCarthyism that involved the anti-communists of the ACLU, not right-wing Republicans, attempting to water down the ACLU’s policy of defending unpopular opinions. This set the scenario of later attacks on Communists. As a result, Flynn was thrown off the board of the ACLU.
Here a chart for the start of that event. You can see that Pluto is sextile the Midheaven. During the course of the evening, Mars passed over the Descendant at about 11 and Pluto passed over at about 1:15 the next morning. This trial occurred just after the New Moon in Taurus.
Liberals like Morris Ernst (and Americans for Democratic Action, founded at the start of the Cold War in 1947) had good intentions, those paving stones of Hell. They assumed, rightly, that other liberals would not support the ACLU (or other organization like the National Lawyers Guild that Ernst was also involved in) if they allowed Communists to be part of the organization. Unfortunately, they went against the basic credo of the organization by banning those with whom they disagreed.
During McCarthyism there was an informal association of anti-communists, who did everything that could to battle Communism and were often called to testify against someone accused of the mortal sin of being a member of the Communist Party. One of these was Harvey Matusow. A Communist who that began to work for the FBI and later testified against various people, he is notable for finally recanting his testimony, thereby casting doubt on the testimony of many other ex-communists. His book in 1955, False Witness, led to his jailing for perjury, since the FBI and HUAC were not very happy that he had lied for them. Later he worked with a “hippie commune” in the Seventies, and later became a Mormon. A very interesting life and I am surprised more has not been written about him. In his solar chart — no time of birth — the most prominent is Uranus opposite Venus — indicating his changing affections.
Another important pillar of McCarthyism was HUAC — the House Unamerican Activities Committee. This was created in 1938 and existed until 1975. In the early days, under chairman Martin Dies, its main concern seems to be to bedevil Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. In succeeding years, it would call purported Communists in front of the Committee and force them to name other Communists (called “Naming Names”) or refrain from doing so and then stand in contempt of Congress. A no-win situation. This result in the naming of Alger Hiss (helpful for a rising Congressman from California) and the blackballing of the Hollywood Ten, ten artists that were prevented from being involved with Hollywood productions, at least under their own name. HUAC also had an important role to play in the rise of the New Left (as opposed to the Old Left of the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties that was spoiled by the Communist influence). In fact, a movie called Operation Abolition has been made about this event. HUAC had a committee meeting in San Francisco in 1960 (bad idea!) and many from the surrounding Bay Area turned out to protest the event. On May 13, 1960 police officers used fire hoses to sweep the protesters down the step of the building where HUAC was meeting. This action cause many of the students, such as those from UC Barkley, to become more politically organized and to start protesting the Vietnam war, which was only just beginning to percolate into the consciousness of some knowledgeable Americans. The growth of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley and many anti-war protests were a result of that anti-HUAC action. In the chart for this event against the US chart, the most noticeable aspect is Mars at the IC, the lowest point of the chart from which it can only rise; this was the beginning of the rise of those people opposed to HUAC and the things it stood for.
One of the notable members of HUAC was a Representative from California, Richard Nixon. Nixon was chosen to run for the House from California right after World War Two, when he was opposing the incumbent Henry Voorhis. He won after charging Voorhis with being influenced by the Communists. He was a prominent member of HUAC during the late Forties. In 1950 he ran for the Senate against Helen Gahagan Douglas. He won again by charging his opponent with Communist influence, saying that she was “pink right down to her underwear.” Pink was not quite as strong as the color red, which at that time was associated with the Red Menace of Communism, and in fact animated maps in movie newsreels would often show a red tide sweeping over Europe as the Communists in the Soviet Union took over the European continent. At the time, no one ever doubted that a country that had lost over twenty million in the just concluded war, and whose territory had been devastated by the battle with Germany, had the wherewithal or desire to invade several other countries. Such was the delusion that existed under the First Cold War and the miasma that was McCarthyism. Richard Nixon went on to gain higher office as a result of his performance as a member of Congress.
Another important ingredient of McCarthyism was the Taft-Hartley Labor Act of 1947, passed over the veto of Harry Truman, even though he then used the Act numerous times. This law was attempt to roll back the gains labor had made since the New Deal, and unions opposed it. But section 9(h), which was tacked onto the original Taft-Hartley, required noncommunist affidavits from Unions. While it was assumed Communists in Labor Unions would just lie (thus opening them up to other charges such as perjury) what most Communist union officials did was withdraw from the Party before signing the affidavit. And Taft-Hartley allowed the anti-communists in the Unions (such as the Screen Writers Guild) to charge that their fellow members were breaking the Taft-Hartley law if they did not sign.
In this chart for the signing of the Taft-Hartley Act, we first see that Saturn is close to Pluto, indicating that times are hard as the Cold War and the resultant repression is gaining steam. Pluto is also approaching the Sun/MC midpoint of 23 Leo. Venus is on the Descendant, perhaps symbolizing that justice (Venus) is setting. Taft-Hartley is still the law in the United States, but unions occasionally ask for its repeal. Neptune is just past he MC and in the Tenth house during this period, suggesting the public self was somewhat deluded.
Six days later the Smith Act was passed, that prevented advocating the overthrow of the United States (by force or violence). It was obviously aimed at Communists, but Communists insisted that they were not advocating the use of force or violence. Opponents of Communist then claimed they were lying (and used a quote of Lenin to back them up) which of course is an argument difficult to prove.
Just before these two Acts were signed, the President Harry Truman introduced what is called the Truman Doctrine, a primary document of the Cold War. In it he pledged to contain the Soviet threat to Greece and Turkey. Greece was undergoing a civil war, which Stalin refused to support, wherein the partisans that had helped to defeat the Fascists in the recently concluded War, and were filled with Communists, were fighting the power of the King, who was supported by the British, and as it turned out, the Americans. The partisans lost the Civil War, but the Cold War gathered strength through the Truman Doctrine. Many argued that if the Communists were so bad overseas then certainly they were also bad here, thus giving a boost to McCarthyism, even though that man had not yet become famous.
What is called the Marshall Plan (named after Secretary of State George Marshal) gave much money (over $100 billion in current dollars) to help rebuilt Europe after World War II, and incidentally prevent any attraction to Communism by the impoverish people of Europe after the battles of World War II had destroyed much of the infrastructure of the continent. Part pf the push to get votes to approve the Marshall Plan required Truman to put the fear of Communism into the American people and Congress. For more details see The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of McCarthyism by Richard M. Freeland. In the chart for the signing of the Marshall Act, we see that the tighter Saturn Pluto conjunction has been joined by Mars so that Mars is at the midpoint of a retrograde Saturn and Pluto.
McCarthyism had many repercussions for the Unites States, many of them still unrecognized. For example, because of the fear of having “Lost China” raised during the early Fifties, President Johnson during the next decade did not want to retreat from Vietnam for fear he would be accused of “losing Vietnam”. During the Thirties and Forties, in part due to the influence of the Communist Party, many were interested in internationalism and imperialism, and even mainstream groups like the NAACP would connect the liberation of “Negroes” in this country with the liberation of Africans in the various countries of that continent. Now much of that internationalism has been lost, and the ne plus ultra of leftwing thought is support for Bernie Sanders. Woman’s history was first taught in Communist schools, and the Communist Party was fully integrated, at a time when mixing the races happened very seldom, even in the North; the idea of class was a strong component for the Communists but that focus on class has been lost as now identity politics appears to be the only politics for most of the left. As another example, Henry Hay was an active Communists and a homosexual who married a party member out of attempt to conform. He later founded the Mattachine Society, the first well known gay liberation organization (though of course the term was not used in 1950) and later helped found the Gay Liberation Front twenty years later. And the decline of the unions was a direct result of McCarthyism; the highest rate of overall union employment, as seen in this graph, was in 1954 and has declined since. The current rate is the lowest in 70 years. So McCarthyism has had a large effect on the state of America even to this day.