THE PROGRESSIVE CITIZENS OF AMERICA 1946-1948
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Despite having built the base for the Progressive Party, the CIO abandoned the Wallace campaign in the summer of 1948. Other forces had been at work, including the Association of Catholic Trade Unions which had done "its utmost to turn the key Catholic CIO leaders...into anti-Communists." The Catholic attack on the labor movement was carried out by spies, informers, infiltrators, and "ACT cells" in the CIO that were "pledged to keep Communists out" of key areas in the labor movement. Once the CIO withdrew its organized labor support, the Wallace campaign had no chance of victory despite the best efforts of its supporters who included both Communists and non-communists.
By the time of the elections in November, 1948, the Cold War was so well established and anti-communism and anti-Sovietism so pervasive in the United States that Wallace got only a million votes for President. Redbaiting escalated and threatened to swallow up all of America's democratic traditions. Not only did the Left and peace movement come under attack from newspapers and government (including Richard Nixon of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and Joseph McCarthy of the Senate Internal Security Committee), but they were attacked by the liberals as well. The Americans for Democratic Action had been formed in 1947 as a specific anti-communist alternative to the Progressive Citizens of America. They drew away the support of many liberals who had been peace movement activists in the Thirties. Their program was a reflection of government policy: anti-Sovietism abroad (support for the Cold War); and anti-communism at home ("We reject any association with Communists or sympathizers with communism.")
The American peace movement was virtually destroyed by anti-communism in the Fifties. Historian Lawrence Wittner speaks of the period as the "midcentury nadir" for the peace movement and says "rarely had the prospect seemed so bleak and their witness so hopeless." Protest against the Korean War (1950-1953) was limited, according to Wittner, to pacifists "talking to themselves" along with "a few Communists and die-hard isolationists."
While the American peace movement was weakened and isolated in the Fifties, peace movements in the rest of the world were developing rapidly. At a meeting in Warsaw in 1950, the World Peace Council was formed. In 35 years it has developed into the largest peace organization in world history, with affiliates in 140 countries and a staff of 60 people at the Helsinki headquarters. Beginning in 1950, the Council circulated the Stockholm peace Appeal which called for "an absolute ban on atomic weapons and weapons of mass destruction." More than 500 million people signed the appeal around the world, including 2 million in the United States in a campaign directed by W.E.B. DuBois during the worst days of the anti-communist hysteria of McCarthyism.
The isolation of the American peace movement in the Fifties was mirrored by an increasing isolation of American militarism in the rest of the world. In previous eras the United States had been just one among many capitalist imperialist powers. The rest were destroyed in World War II, leaving the U.S. alone as the dominant power of imperialism. The U.S. took the lead in founding the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, and at first it could dominate U.N. decisions. But as the years went on, a great number of former colonies achieved national liberation and many of them turned to socialism. They came flooding into the United Nations and demanded an end to imperialism. Increasingly the U.S. and a few allies in NATO and Israel began to find themselves isolated in the votes of the U.N. General Assembly. It wasn't just the American peace movement that was isolated. American imperialism was becoming isolated as well. But it wasn't until Vietnam that most Americans discovered what the rest of the world thought of our imperialist policies.