The most useful idiot
Miller was the most useful of the useful idiots. It was a marvelous inspiration to recast the communist "hysteria" of the 1950s as the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. Many people have pointed out the obvious flaw with "The Crucible" — that there were no witches, whereas there were certainly communists. For one thing, they were gobbling up a lot of real estate: they seized Poland in 1945, Bulgaria in '46, Hungary and Romania in '47, Czechoslovakia in '48, China in '49; they very nearly grabbed Greece and Italy; they were the main influence on the nationalist movements of Africa and Asia. Imagine the Massachusetts witch trials if the witches were running Virginia, New York and New Hampshire, and you might have a working allegory.
As it is, Miller's play is an early example of the distinguishing characteristic of the modern Western left: its hermetically sealed parochialism. His genius was to give his fellow lefties what has become their most cherished article of faith — that any kind of urgent national defense is, by definition, paranoid and hysterical. It was untrue in the '50s, and it's untrue today. Indeed, the hysteria about hysteria — the "criminalization" of "dissent" — is far more hysterical than the hysteria about Reds.
"The Crucible" will survive because it is the modular furniture of left-wing agitprop: whatever the cause du jour, you can attach it to and it functions no better or worse than to anything else, mainly because it is perfectly pitched to the narcissism of the left....