From the first Red Scare in the US, terms like ‘communism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘anarchism’ have been subject to suspicion and scrutiny. Despite describing common views, they are considered subversive, chaotic and threatening, and cause others to be wary. Many of society’s role models, however, have been communists – especially those most associated with struggles against oppression, imperialism and bigotry. Forgetting this is no accident: when centrists and the right-wing express a shared sense of pride for achievements in activism, they place history under a rose-tinted lens, carefully side-stepping mention of their role in enforcing the barriers which required lifting in the first place.
by Chris Jarvis
Tuesday November 7th marked 100 years since the Russian Revolution, when the Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government in Russia established in February of 1917. What followed was 84 years of Government by the Party in Russia, and what came to be known as the USSR, as well as a global struggle for ideological, economic, military, and imperial dominance between the “communist” east and capitalist west.
Throughout that period, a central plank of western political policy and rhetoric was the fear-inducing concept of the red menace and its attempts to wreak havoc upon the democratic states of Western Europe and North America. Erosion of civil liberties, aggressive policies on migration, and imperialist adventures through East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were all justified with the visage of Joseph Stalin, conniving communists. and the hammer and sickle looming ominously as a backdrop.
Amongst the most brazen of these were the infamous ‘red scares’ – periods of government, media and public hysteria about the communist threat, primarily confined to the USA.