COMPARISON OF THE RED SCARES OF THE 1920S AND 1950S
This research compares the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s in the United States. In point of fact, it is incorrect to assume that the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s were two separate events in American history. Fear of communism has been pervasive in the United States since the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917 (Cook, 1971). This fear continues in the United States even in 1991, subsequent to the effective collapse of communism as a viable political ideology, and the certain loss of credibility of Sovietstyle communism as a viable economic system.
The Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s were, in fact, two points on the continuum of antiradical activity in the United States. To be sure, the Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s were high points on the continuum of intense interest by the American public in antiradical activity. Further, although the Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s were strongly related to one another, there were differences in the factors that stimulated intense antiradical activity at those two times, and there were differences in the focal points of attack by the antiradicals in the two Red Scares.
The anticommunism crusade in the United States has not ceased since 1917, although the intensity of activity has undulated over time. To speak of the Red Scares of the 1920s and the 1950s as two periods of more intense activity during the crusade tends to overstate the duration of these two periods of intense activity. The intense antiradical activity referred to as the Red Scare of the 1920s actually began in 1919, and, by 1921, most of the intensity had been spent (Bennett, 1988). Antiradical activity reached another crescendo in 1950. This time, the period of intense antiradical activity lasted longer, and did not subside until 1954 (Bennett, 1988).
Because the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s are related, it is n...