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A "Red Scare" is the promotion of a widespread fear of a potential rise of communism or anarchism by a society or state. The term is most often used to refer to two periods in the history of the United States which are referred to by this name. The First Red Scare, which occurred immediately after World War I, revolved around a perceived threat from the American labor movement, anarchist revolution and political radicalism. The Second Red Scare, which occurred immediately after World War II, was preoccupied with the perception that national or foreign communists were infiltrating or subverting U.S. society and the federal government.
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that rejects hierarchies deemed unjust and advocates their replacement with self-managed, self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism's central disagreement with other ideologies is that it holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.
The First Red Scare was a period during the early 20th-century history of the United States marked by a widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism, due to real and imagined events; real events included the Russian Revolution and anarchist bombings. At its height in 1919–1920, concerns over the effects of radical political agitation in American society and the alleged spread of communism and anarchism in the American labor movement fueled a general sense of concern.
The first Red Scare began following the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917 and the intensely patriotic years of World War I as anarchist and left-wing social agitation aggravated national, social, and political tensions. Political scientist, and former member of the Communist Party Murray B. Levin wrote that the Red Scare was "a nationwide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent—a revolution that would change Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life".Newspapers exacerbated those political fears into anti-foreign sentiment because varieties of radical anarchism were becoming popular as possible solutions to poverty, often by recent European immigrants (cf. hyphenated-Americans). When the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) backed several labor strikes in 1916 and 1917, the press portrayed them as "radical threats to American society" inspired by "left-wing, foreign agents provocateurs". Those on the side of the IWW claim that the press "misrepresented legitimate labor strikes" as "crimes against society", "conspiracies against the government", and "plots to establish communism". Opponents, on the other hand, saw these as an extension of the radical, anarchist foundations of the IWW, which contends that all workers should be united as a social class and that capitalism and the wage system should be abolished.
Murray Burton Levin (1927–1999) was a political science professor at Boston University from 1955 through his retirement in 1989. A progressive who once had been a member of the Communist Party USA, Levin was an unreconstructed radical throughout his academic career. In addition to teaching a popular core course on political science, Levin specialized in teaching Marxist political theory to both undergraduate and graduate students. Long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Levin eventually came to the conclusion that Marxist theory was not a science, let alone a viable system of economics, but was a powerful propaganda tool to mobilize the masses against capital. Class consciousness would be obtained ultimately when the masses finally revolted against the oligarchy.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements.
Strike action, also called labor strike, labour strike, or simply strike, is a work stoppage, caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
In April 1919, authorities discovered a plot for mailing 36 bombs to prominent members of the U.S. political and economic establishment: J. P. Morgan Jr., John D. Rockefeller, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, and immigration officials. On June 2, 1919, in eight cities, eight bombs simultaneously exploded. One target was the Washington, D.C., house of U.S. Attorney General Palmer, where the explosion killed the bomber, who evidence indicated was an Italian-American radical from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, Palmer ordered the U.S. Justice Department to launch the Palmer Raids (1919–21).
The Establishment is a dominant group or élite that holds power or authority in a nation or in an organisation. It may comprise a closed social group which selects its own members, or specific entrenched élite structures, either in government or in specific institutions.
John Pierpont "Jack" Morgan Jr. was an American banker, finance executive, and philanthropist. Jack Morgan inherited the family fortune and took over the business interests including J.P. Morgan & Co. after his father J. P. Morgan died in 1913.
John Davison Rockefeller Sr. was an American business magnate and philanthropist. He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time, and the richest person in modern history.
Yet, in 1918, before the bombings, President Woodrow Wilson had pressured the Congress to legislate the anti-anarchist Sedition Act of 1918 to protect wartime morale by deporting putatively undesirable political people. Law professor David D. Cole reports that President Wilson's "federal government consistently targeted alien radicals, deporting them ... for their speech or associations, making little effort to distinguish terrorists from ideological dissidents."
The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman, lawyer, and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States into World War I in 1917, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."
The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds.
Initially, the press praised the raids; The Washington Post said, "There is no time to waste on hairsplitting over [the] infringement of liberty", and The New York Times said the injuries inflicted upon the arrested were "souvenirs of the new attitude of aggressiveness which had been assumed by the Federal agents against Reds and suspected-Reds".In the event, the Palmer Raids were criticized as unconstitutional by twelve publicly prominent lawyers, including (future Supreme Court Justice) Felix Frankfurter, who published A Report on the Illegal Practices of The United States Department of Justice, documenting systematic violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution via Palmer-authorized "illegal acts" and "wanton violence". Defensively, Palmer then warned that a government-deposing left-wing revolution would begin on 1 May 1920 — May Day, the International Workers' Day. When it failed to happen, he was ridiculed and lost much credibility. Strengthening the legal criticism of Palmer was that fewer than 600 deportations were substantiated with evidence, out of the thousands of resident aliens arrested and deported. In July 1920, Palmer's once-promising Democratic Party bid for the U.S. presidency failed. Wall Street was bombed on September 2, 1920, near Federal Hall National Memorial and the JP Morgan Bank. Although both anarchists and communists were suspected as being responsible for the bombing, ultimately no individuals were indicted for the bombing in which 38 died and 141 were injured.
The Washington Post is a major American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C., with a particular emphasis on national politics and the federal government. It has the largest circulation in the Washington metropolitan area. Its slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness" began appearing on its masthead in 2017. Daily broadsheet editions are printed for the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.
The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the U.S..
Felix Frankfurter was an Austrian-American lawyer, professor, and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Frankfurter served on the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1962 and was a noted advocate of judicial restraint in the judgments of the Court.
In 1919–20, several states enacted "criminal syndicalism" laws outlawing advocacy of violence in effecting and securing social change. The restrictions included free speech limitations.Passage of these laws, in turn, provoked aggressive police investigation of the accused persons, their jailing, and deportation for being suspected of being either communist or left-wing. Regardless of ideological gradation, the Red Scare did not distinguish between communism, anarchism, socialism, or social democracy.
Criminal syndicalism has been defined as a doctrine of criminal acts for political, industrial, and social change. These criminal acts include advocation of crime, sabotage, violence, and other unlawful methods of terrorism. Criminal syndicalism laws were enacted to oppose economic radicalism.
Social change involves alteration of the social order of a society. It may include changes in social institutions, social behaviours or social relations.
Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.
The second Red Scare occurred after World War II (1939–45), and it was popularly known as "McCarthyism" after its most famous supporter, Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthyism coincided with an increased and popular fear of communist espionage that was consequent to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, the Berlin Blockade (1948–49), the end of the Chinese Civil War, the confessions of spying for the Soviet Union that were made by several high-ranking U.S. government officials, and the outbreak of the Korean War.
The events of the late 1940s, the early 1950s - the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (1953), the trial of Alger Hiss, the Iron Curtain (1945–1991) around Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapon test in 1949 (RDS-1) - surprised the American public, influencing popular opinion about U.S. National Security, which, in turn, was connected to the fear that the Soviet Union would hydrogen-bomb the United States, and fear of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA).
In Canada, the 1946 Kellock–Taschereau Commission investigated espionage after top secret documents concerning RDX, radar and other weapons were handed over to the Soviets by a domestic spy-ring.
At the House Un-American Activities Committee, former CPUSA members and NKVD spies, Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers, testified that Soviet spies and communist sympathizers had penetrated the U.S. government before, during and after World War II. Other U.S. citizen spies confessed to their acts of espionage in situations where the statute of limitations on prosecuting them had run out. In 1949, anti–communist fear, and fear of American traitors, was aggravated by the Chinese Communists winning the Chinese Civil War against the Western-sponsored Kuomintang, their founding of the People's Republic of China, and later Chinese intervention in the Korean War (1950–53) against U.S. ally South Korea.
A few of the events during the Red Scare were also due to a power struggle between director of FBI J. Edgar Hoover and the Central Intelligence Agency. Hoover had instigated and aided some of the investigations of members of the CIA with "leftist" history, like Cord Meyer.This conflict could also be traced back to the conflict between Hoover and William J. Donovan, going back to the first Red Scare, but especially during World War II. Donovan ran the OSS (CIA's predecessor). They had differing opinions on the nature of the alliance with the Soviet Union, conflicts over jurisdiction, conflicts of personality, the OSS hiring of communists and criminals as agents, etc.
By the 1930s, communism had become an attractive economic ideology, particularly among labor leaders and intellectual elites. By 1939, the CPUSA had about 50,000 members. 2385) making it a crime to "knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association"—and required Federal registration of all foreign nationals. Although principally deployed against communists, the Smith Act was also used against right-wing political threats such as the German-American Bund, and the perceived racial disloyalty of the Japanese-American population, (cf. hyphenated-Americans).In 1940, soon after World War II began in Europe, the U.S. Congress legislated the Alien Registration Act (aka the Smith Act, 18 USC §
In 1941, after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the CPUSA's official position became pro-war, opposing labor strikes in the weapons industry and supporting the U.S. war effort against the Axis Powers. With the slogan "Communism is Twentieth-Century Americanism", the chairman, Earl Browder, advertised the CPUSA's integration to the political mainstream.In contrast, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party opposed U.S. participation in the war and supported labor strikes, even in the war-effort industry. For this reason, James P. Cannon and other SWP leaders were convicted per the Smith Act.
In March 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9835, creating the "Federal Employees Loyalty Program" establishing political-loyalty review boards who determined the "Americanism" of Federal Government employees, and recommended termination of those who had confessed to spying for the Soviet Union, as well as some suspected of being "Un-American". It also was the template for several state legislatures' loyalty acts, such as California's Levering Act. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) and the committees of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R., Wisc.) conducted character investigations of "American communists" (actual and alleged), and their roles in (real and imaginary) espionage, propaganda, and subversion favoring the Soviet Union—in the process revealing the extraordinary breadth of the Soviet spy network in infiltrating the federal government; the process also launched the successful political career of Richard Nixon, and Robert F. Kennedy,as well as that of Joseph McCarthy.
Senator McCarran introduced the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 that was passed by the U.S. Congress and which modified a great deal of law to restrict civil liberties in the name of security. President Truman declared the act a "mockery of the Bill of Rights" and a "long step toward totalitarianism" because it represented a government restriction on the freedom of opinion. He vetoed the act but his veto was overridden by Congress.Much of the bill eventually was repealed.
The Second Red Scare profoundly altered the temper of American society. Its later characterizations may be seen as contributory to works of feared communist espionage, such as the film My Son John (1952), about parent's suspicions their son is a spy. Abundant accounts in narrative forms contained themes of the infiltration, subversion, invasion, and destruction of American society by un–American thought. Even a baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, temporarily renamed themselves the "Cincinnati Redlegs" to avoid the money-losing and career-ruining connotations inherent in being ball-playing "Reds" (communists).
In 1995, the American government revealed details of the Venona Project, which when combined with the opening of the USSR ComIntern archives, provided substantial validation of intelligence gathering, outright spying, and policy influencing, by Americans on behalf of the Soviet Union, from 1940 through 1980.
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McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term refers to U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression and a campaign spreading fear of communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents.
The Venona project was a United States counterintelligence program initiated during World War II by the United States Army's Signal Intelligence Service, which ran from February 1, 1943, until October 1, 1980. It was intended to decrypt messages transmitted by the intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union. Initiated when the Soviet Union was an ally of the US, the program continued during the Cold War, when it was considered an enemy.
Red-baiting, also referred to as reductio ad Stalinum, is an informal logical fallacy that intends to discredit the validity of an opponent's logical argument by accusing, denouncing, attacking, or persecuting an individual or group as anarchist, communist, Marxist, socialist, Stalinist, or sympathetic towards these ideologies. In the United States, the term red-baiting dates from at least 1927. In 1928, blacklisting by the Daughters of the American Revolution was characterized as a "red-baiting relic". A term commonly used in the United States, red-baiting in the United States history is most often associated with McCarthyism, a term which itself originated in the two historic Red Scare periods of the 1920s and 1950s. In the 21st century, red-baiting does not have quite the same effect it previously did due to the fall of Communism, but some pundits have argued that notable events in current American politics indicate a resurgence of red-baiting consistent with the 1950s. The word red in the term red-baiting refers to the red flag as a symbol of communism, socialism, Marxism and left-wing politics in general. The word baiting refers to persecution, torment or harassment as in dog-baiting.
The Communist Party USA, officially the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), is a communist party in the United States established in 1919 after a split in the Socialist Party of America following the Russian Revolution.
Earl Russell Browder was an American political activist and leader of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA). Browder is best remembered as the General Secretary of the CPUSA during the 1930s and first half of the 1940s.
Judith Coplon Socolov was a spy for the Soviet Union whose trials, convictions, and successful Constitutional appeals had a profound influence on espionage prosecutions during the Cold War.
Jacob Golos was a Ukrainian-born Bolshevik revolutionary who became an intelligence operative in the United States on behalf of the USSR. A founding member of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), circa 1930 Golos became involved in the covert work of Soviet intelligence agencies. He participated in procuring American passports by means of fraudulent documentation, and the recruitment and coordination of activities of a broad network of agents.
Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was an American spy and member of the Communist Party USA who served the Soviet Union from 1938 until 1945. In 1945, she defected from the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence by contacting the FBI and reporting on her activities.
Since the late 1920s, the Soviet Union, through its GRU, OGPU and NKVD intelligence services, used Russian and foreign-born nationals as well as Communist, and people of American origin to perform espionage activities in the United States. These various espionage networks had contact with various U.S. government agencies, transmitting to Moscow information that would have been deemed confidential.
Maurice Hyman Halperin was an American writer, professor, diplomat, and accused Soviet spy.
Several allege that Harry Magdoff was among a number of persons inside the U.S. government used as information sources by Soviet intelligence. However, the allegation is disputed by several academics and historians asserting that Magdoff probably had no malicious intentions and committed no crimes.
Harvey Elliott Klehr is a professor of politics and history at Emory University. Klehr is known for his books on the subject of the American Communist movement, and on Soviet espionage in America.
John Earl Haynes is an American historian who worked as a specialist in 20th-century political history in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. He is known for his books on the subject of the American Communist and anti-Communist movements, and on Soviet espionage in America.
Carl Aldo Marzani was an Italian-born American leftwing political activist and publisher. He was successively a Communist Party organizer, volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War, United States federal intelligence official, documentary filmmaker, author, and publisher. During World War II he served in the federal intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and later the U.S. Department of State. He picked the targets for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, which took place on April 18, 1942. Marzani served nearly three years in prison for having concealed his Communist Party USA (CPUSA) membership while in the OSS.
Nicola Napoli, was the President of Artkino Pictures, Inc., the primary distributor of Soviet films in the United States, Canada, Central America and South America from 1940 to 1982. Napoli was a double agent Soviet Spy for the United states. As part of his role he was a member of Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) and is known to have passed classified Soviet intelligence information (NKVDUS) to US intelligence during World War II. He was the secretary for the Anti-Facists movement in, New York.
Clarence Francis Hiskey (1912–1998), born Clarence Szczechowski, was a Soviet espionage agent in the United States. He became active in the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) when he attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He became a professor of chemistry at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University and Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. For a time, Hiskey worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, part of the Manhattan Project. He was the father of Nicholas Sand.
Ellen Wolf Schrecker is an American professor emerita of American history at Yeshiva University. She has received the Frederick Ewen Academic Freedom Fellowship at the Tamiment Library at NYU. She is known primarily for her work in the history of McCarthyism. Historian Ronald Radosh has described her as "the dean of the anti-anti-Communist historians."
President Harry S. Truman signed United States Executive Order 9835, sometimes known as the "Loyalty Order", on March 21, 1947. The order established the first general loyalty program in the United States, designed to root out communist influence in the U.S. federal government. Truman aimed to rally public opinion behind his Cold War policies with investigations conducted under its authority. He also hoped to quiet right-wing critics who accused Democrats of being soft on communism. At the same time, he advised the Loyalty Review Board to limit the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to avoid a witch hunt. The program investigated over 3 million government employees, just over 300 of whom were dismissed as security risks.
Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies, is a 2007 book by author M. Stanton Evans, who asserts that Joseph McCarthy was proper in making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason within the US State Department and the US Army, showing proper regard for evidence.
The Smith Act trials of Communist Party leaders in New York City from 1949 to 1958 were the result of US federal government prosecutions in the postwar period and during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. Leaders of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) were accused of violating the Smith Act, a statute that prohibited advocating violent overthrow of the government. The defendants argued that they advocated a peaceful transition to socialism, and that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech and of association protected their membership in a political party. Appeals from these trials reached the US Supreme Court, which ruled on issues in Dennis v. United States (1951) and Yates v. United States (1957).