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Old 07-02-2013, 08:32 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Originally Posted by red4ce View Post
From the end of World War 2 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and to some extent even today, communism was viewed as the greatest threat to America and the values it stood for. What I would like to know is, when exactly did America's boogeyman switch from nazism/fascism to communism? As in, was there a particular moment or event when the collective American public conscience suddenly feared the Red menace? Was it Sputnik? The detonation of the Soviets' first nuclear bomb? Before WWII even ended? Inquiring minds would like to know.
As soon as the war was over, Stalin was no longer characterized as an ally but as an enemy. The West didn't expect Russia's takeover of Eastern Europe to be as brutal and totalitarian as it turned out to be. That was the wake-up call for the US.
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ohio_peasant View Post
Bolshevism (which became officially Communism as its junior alternative, Menshevism, withered) became the West's boogeyman almost immediately after the Bolshevik revolution of November 7, 1917. The immediate trigger was the Bolsheviks' exiting from WW1, suing for a humiliating peace with the Germans. To the Western allies, this was cowardice and treason, as the unilateral exit of their erstwhile ally meant greater hardships for the remaining allies in trying to defeat the Central Powers. A little-known factoid: in 1918, a military force of Americans, British and others landed on Russian territory, with the express purpose of aiding anti-Bolshevist forces in the Russian Revolution; see for example Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . These "allies" eventually retreated in various circumstances, thus adding military defeat as another reason to hate the Bolsheviks.

^^ THIS^^ and what Grandstander mentioned (The socialist labor movements which led to many mass arrests riots almost concurrently with what was happening in Russia). Never mind that many branded "Muckrakers" such as Upton Sinclair (author of The Jungle exposing the extreme neglect for workers in meatpacking industry) had made attempts at social reforms for the better and ran for governor of California in 1934 (an interesting aside is to look into the length of propaganda used against Sinclair in his race for governor). These events were the initial realization on part of USA leaders of what was called communism's dangers.

An anecdotal note: My parents related the story to me of how my grandparents who came from what was then Russia pre WW1 and other parts of eastern Europe and many others in the Slavic neighborhood cried in disgust in 1933 when then President FDR recognized the Soviet Union.

See the people who lived it (via family friends) knew the totalitarian Soviet destruction versus the feel good communism that was still capturing the imagination of many in the USA post Revolution and up through WW2. Another interesting read for different perspective of this era is, A. Scott Berg's, Sam Goldwyn biography - specifically the sections on the Red Scare and what transpired in Hollywood Film Industry.

So it wasn't 'one event' per se, the embers of "anti communism" were stirring, but, then the Nazi diversion took over during the mid 30s until May 1945.

I think part of the intensification of anti communism was driven by the advent of better technological communication mediums (TV post WW2) and the events mentioned by NJGoat (1948-49) coupled with Nazi defeat. This was the beginning of full blown "Anti Communist as boogeyman number one". It made the full on 'new enemy' maneuver easier to amplify via command control. Look into the history of the CIA's role in USA Media since WW2. [CIA and The Media, Carl Bernstein, 10-20-1977 Rolling Stone]

More interesting, (IMO) is examining who financed both Bolshevism and the Nazis. When you look into these aspects, it appears more a Hegelian dialect tactic used by the centrally organized world financiers, industrial opportunists, and global war merchants. Two major powers to play off each other over time for maximum monetary gain and extraction while there is 'blood in the streets'. All the while 'sifting' the intellectual capital.

I'm reminded of the funny line during the Cold War era (and I cannot recall who said it so I'm paraphrasing) that "our scientists (USA) are better than your scientists (Russian)" - when, ironically many of the USA scientists were former Nazis brought to USA. (See Operation Paperclip)!
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:25 PM
 
Location: Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j_k_k View Post
It had been that before the war, as early as the 1910s. Communism/socialism represented a challenge to the U.S. economic power structure, with higher costs of labor, potential strikes, slowdowns and all, and potentially leading (if it did what it said it meant to do) to outright confiscation of enormous wealth. It was only natural that great wealth would demonize anything that wanted a greater share of that wealth, much less threatened to take it all. And the threat wasn't idle--the Socialist Party had a serious presence in some Presidential elections. If big money was scared as hell, one could hardly blame them.

WWII was really more of an interlude where we took a break from Commie-hating because we had another national hate target (plus, that one had the added advantage of being able to hate a whole racial sub-group, so that soothed the American soul). After WWII, of course, we were free to resume the Commie-hating, and we leaned into that with a mighty leaning. Worked out well for two generations.

The real crisis came when the USSR fell and the Warsaw Pact came unglued, and we were stranded without a proper target for national hatred. No one could figure out who we should fear and hate, so we sort of lamely kept hating the Russian remainder of the USSR as an interim measure. We floundered for a decade, not sure what to do, until Islamic terrorism stepped up to give us our new compulsory hate target. Since that threat has pretty much gone dormant, we're now trying to decide who's next. My bet is on China.
Well, people had to fight for decent living and working conditions. I read 'Democracy's Prisoner', about Eugene Debs. Interesting that he had so many followers and Wilson was so threatened by him.
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Old 07-02-2013, 11:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
Like lerner said, Bolshevism was viewed as a threat to the west since the early 1900's. However, to answer the question of when it became a threat in the minds of average Americans, I would have to say in the time period between February 1948 and August 29th 1949.
Finally you've stepped into my neighborhood.

I would say that 1948-1960's was the zenith of the Red Scare that began in as early as the 1905 with the founding of the International Workers of the World the first socialist labor organization in the U.S. founded by William D. "Big Bill" Haywood, Daniel De Leon, and Eugene V. Debs. and reached its peak in era of WWI when the federal government under Woodrow Wilson declared open warfare on socialist and anarchist movements.

During the war years the Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917, and the Sedition Act of 1918 directed primarily at Communist and Socialist opposition to the war. The Russian Revolution was seen as an existential threat to the U.S. as Communist and Socialist Parties along with a radicalized labor movement fomented major strikes, such as the Seattle General Strike, the Coal and Steel strikes of 1919 brought fear of Bolshevik revolution in the U.S. Aside from the the two acts against subversion Congress established the Overman Committee, a forerunner to the House UnAmerican Activities Committee to investigate the growing influence of communist and socialist in the U.S. It was also a period where the role of the FBI as the vanguard against the red threat.

It was Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer that recruited J.Edgar Hoover to head the Justice Departments General Intelligence Unit that along with local law enforcement that would conduct the notorious Palmer Raids to round up " radicals" across the country. Raids that led to the deportation of hundreds of alleged foreign born radicals and the actual ouster of elected members of the New York State Assembly.

During that period socialist like the IWW's Joe Hill was framed for murder and executed, Bill Haywood was subjected to the same but escaped as a result of Clarence Darrow's lawyerly expertise and Eugene Debs was imprisoned on 10 counts of sedition for fomenting opposition to the war, declared by President Wilson to be "traitor to his country." and was disenfranchised for life and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Frankly the violence and repression mete out to communist and socialist during that period made the McCarthy era seem like meek by comparison.
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Old 07-03-2013, 07:09 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
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When our Military supply industries decided they did not want the gravy train of government money to ever stop. So far, even though bothSstalin and the Soviet Union are both dead, they have found replacement devils to keep the money flowing from us to them. The currerent War on Terror is pure genius because Terror cannot ever be stopped. Nor will the vast sums we spend to make the suppliers ever richer and more dominating.
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Old 07-03-2013, 08:42 AM
 
31,371 posts, read 33,524,633 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW View Post
When our Military supply industries decided they did not want the gravy train of government money to ever stop. So far, even though bothSstalin and the Soviet Union are both dead, they have found replacement devils to keep the money flowing from us to them. The currerent War on Terror is pure genius because Terror cannot ever be stopped. Nor will the vast sums we spend to make the suppliers ever richer and more dominating.
Greg your argument is more befitting of the P&C forum not the History forum. Socialist of all stripes presented American industrialist with the first real threat to their power and neither side shied away from resorting to violence. Between the bombings, terrorism and militant strikes by unionist and the repression by private armies like the Pinkertons and backed by state militias the period between 1890 and 1920 was one the most violent eras in the history of organized labor and presented an existential threat to American capitalism long before the Soviet Union emerged as a global power at the end of WWII.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:29 PM
 
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The McCarthy Era, Nixon & Alger Hiss.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
Frankly the violence and repression mete out to communist and socialist during that period made the McCarthy era seem like meek by comparison.
True, but I interpreted the OP's question to mean "when did communism take on the total nature of an existential threat", and it would have to be after Stalin had the A Bomb.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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It started in the US toward the end of WWI with Espionage Act of 1917 and the ensuing "Red Scare", set into motion by the US attorney General A. Palmer Mitchell, as I recall.
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Old 07-03-2013, 12:53 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
86,069 posts, read 79,265,808 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j_k_k View Post
It had been that before the war, as early as the 1910s. Communism/socialism represented a challenge to the U.S. economic power structure, with higher costs of labor, potential strikes, slowdowns and all, and potentially leading (if it did what it said it meant to do) to outright confiscation of enormous wealth. It was only natural that great wealth would demonize anything that wanted a greater share of that wealth, much less threatened to take it all. And the threat wasn't idle--the Socialist Party had a serious presence in some Presidential elections. If big money was scared as hell, one could hardly blame them.
Nice theory, but it doesn't reflect reality. If Communism was demonized so early, why did US industrialists like Henry Ford and Armand Hammar go to Russia to help it rebuild its economy after WWI?
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