Eroding Democracy in a Time of Crisis



Anti-Bolshevism translated domestically into political repression against the so-called Reds. The “Red Scare” that unfolded from 1917 into the 1920s had the ripple effect of suppressing many forms of political expression. A social climate of fear manufactured by those in power exaggerated political expression as threatening the status quo. Dissent was regarded as threatening the growth of state power. The U.S. government created a state of emergency to justify its actions. The Red Scare of this period led to the creation of the first state bureaucracy, driven by the need to recreate the ideology of a permanent threat to state interests. Although the Reds were the main targets, methods used against them were eventually employed against other political organizations. After the Haymarket Affair, federal and state laws were passed, making people’s opinions and associations grounds for arrest; thought control became legal repression. Anarchists were targeted, especially after McKinley’s assassination. Suspected meeting places were raided, anarchists were rounded up, and publications shut down. These initiatives began at the federal level with Roosevelt’s announcement to Congress of “the waging of war” against anarchists and sympathizers.1 Legal repression was next: in 1903, immigrants who believed in or promoted the idea of overthrowing the U.S. government by force were barred from entering.


Local Police Labor Movement Pearl Harbor Thought Control Political Police 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Robert Justin Goldstein, Political Repression in Modern America (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001) p. 67.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Geoffrey Stone, Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004) p. 156.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege: Red Squads and Police Repression in Urban America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992) pp. 36–37.Google Scholar
  4. 17.
    Frances Fox Piven, Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006) p. 105.Google Scholar
  5. 22.
    Natsu Taylor Saito, From Chinese Exclusion to Guantanamo Bay: Plenary Power and the Prerogative State (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2007), p. 23.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew Kolin 2011

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations