The Second Red Scare and the Unmaking of the New Deal Left

By Landon R. Y Storrson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Secrets and Self-Reinvention: The Making
of Cold War Liberalism

It is hard to forgive the professional anticommunists for their self-serving partisanship, disregard of civil liberties, and multitudinous dirty tricks. Their vindictiveness, however, was intensified by their accurate perception that the Keyserlings were hiding something. That something was not Communist Party membership or anything remotely resembling treason, but the Keyserlings were not honest about their political histories. Over the long course of their loyalty investigations, they portrayed themselves as having been political centrists during the 1930s, when in fact they had been decidedly on the left.

The Keyserlings are remembered as loyal Johnson Democrats who favored Cold War military spending, backed U.S. policy in Vietnam, and argued that poverty could be eliminated through economic growth rather than redistribution.1 Before coming under investigation, however, they were socialists. Faced with a relentless stream of disloyalty allegations that began in the 1940s and climaxed in 1952, they were forced to modify their political rhetoric and moderate their policy proposals. They also denied they ever had held leftist views. Conservatives may have lost the battle to exclude the Keyserlings from public influence, but by narrowing the range of permissible debate, they won the war.


“THE TYRANNY OF LABELS”

There was a lot about the young Mary Dublin that investigators did not uncover, for all their national security apparatus. A cache of her annual appointment books, found by relatives in a metal box in her bedroom during her final years, offers a tantalizing glimpse into the world of a dedicated young left feminist. The record is incomplete because, for some of the years that became most sensitive in her investigation, books are missing or sections have been torn out. Dublin Keyserling apparently destroyed material she thought incriminating.2 On the surviving pages, tiny notations in faded ink outline a packed schedule of political and social engagements. These books demonstrate the inaccuracy of Dublin

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