The 1950's: McCarthyism
In the 1950's McCarthyism became a synonym for procedural extremism throughout the world. In the more than three years during which he exercised a reign of terror over the public sector of America, Senator Joseph McCarthy was compared constantly to the archmonist who had just been bloodily excised from the world, Adolf Hitler. Finally, however, McCarthy was not a totalitarian leader, but a politician who stumbled almost accidentally into the new darkening corners of America's mind. McCarthyism was not a monistic movement as much as a political umbrella under which the various streams of the monistic tendency in America temporarily came together and demonstrated their awesome potential.
The postwar period was one of unparalleled prosperity in the United States. Nor was it just a period in which a relatively few men amassed great wealth. More notably it was a period in which the wartime economic gains of the working class were consolidated and grew. America had crossed an economic threshold, and, barring a cataclysm, the advance was apparently irreversible. National income had tripled in the previous decade, and so had the median income of the American worker. This amounted to more than a 25 per cent increase in average purchasing power. Furthermore, this increase in real income was shared disproportionately by the lower economic groups. The economic pyramid was flattening out. In the fifteen years since mid-depression, still within troubled memory, the lowest economic fifth had improved its average real income by about 70 per cent, as against about 40 per cent by the highest fifth.