Red Scare

When looking back on recent American history, communism is brought up frequently especially in relation to the Cold War and relations between the Soviet Union and the United States. One common theme that I’ve seen is the demonization of the political theory especially with events like the Red Scare which had a huge impact on the country and resulted in the execution of two people. Although those events are often acknowledged as a case of hysteria and unfounded fears causing violations of civil liberates, I continue to see and have been taught to view communism in a certain, almost exclusively negative light. Instead of the text and theory being objectively analyzed for it merits and downsides in the same way that we analyze the work of people like John Locke, Adam Smith, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Have you had the same experience? After reading the Communist Manifesto, do you see a correlation between that teachings of Marx and Engels and the way communism is viewed as a whole in the United States?

One Reply to “Red Scare”

  1. I definitely agree that there is this element of fear to discussing the merits socialism and communism have. Even when we politically analyze the elements of socialism we have in American society in the form of government welfare, taxation, public works programs, encouragement for the arts and sciences, it is always countered as being harmful when often it is the exact opposite. I would compare it to the opinion that Engels seemingly had, which is that in many senses some of these ideas and concepts are anything but radical, and only seem such to those who are either afraid of change or afraid that they will lose their positions in society once equality spreads to other social groups.

    Because of this, it is a very effective scare tactic to anyone trying to pass reform or cause meaningful change for the better. I’m not sure I see correlation so much as causation. The language that they both use is very inciteful and I think that is what causes the fear. In the era and context in which these documents were written, it makes perfect sense with the lack of change. A perfect example of the double standard that is applied, at least in the U.S., is that John Brown, like Engels and Marx, was a figure who incited actions and electrified his respective movement (that being abolition). To progressives of his era and today, Brown was a heroic freedom fighter turned martyr (Brown caused a surge of growth to his movement, the same could be said of Engels and Marx). To conservatives of his era, and today, he was a homicidal madman aimed at greatly changing society with good intent. The same can be said of Engels and Marx. Many of their ideas find their home in left of center political movements across the world even today, but to those who oppose change, they are symbolic figures to be feared because of their decisive and largely unifying words. The way they presented their argument, as individuals willing to fight for it, means they could inspire others to act on their teachings. This makes them very dangerous to opposing ideologies, then and now.

    Knowing this, it made/makes sense for many to be afraid of the ideals Engels and Marx supported and put forth. However, in a way their view of the Bourgeoisie (particularly Marx’s view) as being a class with immense wealth and power proves to be exactly correct. It is not at all difficult to see many who vote against their own interests by taking the words of those who have power, rather than giving a chance to the “scary” side that proposes massive changes that would transform society one way or the other.

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