From the beginning of the chapter:
The subject of the following work is the development and institutionalization
of the surveillance of political activities by the Federal Bureau
of Investigation during its formative years between 1919 and 1943.
Traditionally, historical research into modern American anticommunism,
especially the era of McCarthyism in the 1950s, has tended to
explain the recurrent outbreaks of political intolerance and repression
as the result of an irrational and paranoid mass movement suffering
from "status anxiety", or as the product of partisan politics or the
activities of demagogues, most notably Senator Joseph McCarthy.
However, as a result of the revelations in the wake of the Watergate
scandals about the systematic abuses by the US intelligence community
and because of the increased access to government files following
the strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act in 1974,
historians have become aware of the institutional and bureaucratic
factors behind the outbreaks of political intolerance. Much of this
recent research has emphasized the decisive role played by the FBI in
the formulation of anticommunist politics. As one historian noted
when the FBI files began to become available to scholars as the result
of FOIA requests, "The political activities of FBI officials were
probably much more pervasive than is generally known and ...
historians still have a great deal to examine". He added that several
aspects of the recent anticommunist movement "need to be rewritten".