Alexander Mitchell Palmer was a key player in the first Red Scare. He was a member of the Democratic Party and like McCarthy 30 years later, would use fear of communism as a tool to violate the constitutional rights of socialists and communists. Between November 1919 and January 1920, the US federal police arrested thousands of anarchists, socialists and early communists. They arrested these people based on their membership of what the ruling class ´´dangerous radical parties´´. The raids of the federal police became known as the Palmer Raids. Jailing people for their political believes was a clear violation of freedom of speech. But this meant nothing for Alexander Palmer who hated socialism!
The ruling class was fearful because many American workers developed a clear class conscious. One massive strike of workers was the Seattle General Strike of February 1919. More then 65.000 union workers went on strike. The capitalist media called it a ´´Bolshevik´´ coup and denounced the workers as ´´dangerous´´ and ´´Un-American´´. Mayor Hanson of Seattle took drastic actions and ordered the army to the city to oppose the workers. After five days he was able to defeat the strike this was thanks to his harsh anti-socialism and his support from both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party who too feared a socialist revolution. The workers of Seattle were facing a huge propaganda machine and the might of the 2.100 police officers. After the strike ended the police jailed 39 strike leaders!
Mayor Ole Hanson took credit for ending the strike and was hailed by the capitalist media. He resigned a few months later and toured the country giving lectures on the dangers of "domestic Bolshevism." He earned $38,000 in seven months, five times his annual salary as mayor. He agreed that the general strike was a revolutionary event!
Coal workers went on strike in November 1919, this fueled the Red Scare as hated of socialism and communism were now very common in almost all major capitalist newspapers. The capitalist propaganda was lying about almost everything socialism stands for. Claiming that socialists were ''dirty Jews who wanted world power'' was used by antisemitic newspapers. We must remember that antisemitism was used both in the USA as in Russia against the working class. In Russia, the anticommunist White Armies would murder 150.000 Jews in Ukraine. Those White Armies were supported and supplied by the USA and Great Britain!
Race riots also stated in 1919 as black workers rose up for the first time against the racist US government. The USA was still as very racist nation in 1919, slavery was abolished in 1863 but the hated for blacks was still common in many US states. Also a system of race separation was installed, which later became known by the Dutch word; Apartheid. Black workers did not enjoy the fruits of their work as some white workers did. As the American working class radicalized the black workers started to demand equality. But the federal police acted brutal and attacked black workers violently. Also racist gangs of white men would get aid from the police to search and assault blacks who stood up against the racist system!
The capitalist media blamed the race riots on the socialists and communists. The Times said that ''Reds are calling negro's to rebel'' they also wrote that Lenin and Trotsky called for terrorism and violence against ''democracy'' in the USA. All lies as Soviet Russia was in a brutal civil war and had little time to spread the socialist revolution elsewhere. As the fear of socialism and communism grew, members of the Socialist Party of America were facing a difficult choice. Should they remain loyal to the US capitalist democracy or support the Soviet model. The debates led to a split which created two communist parties in the USA. This was not liked by the Communist International, who demanded one communist party to represent the American working class!
Soon the two communist parties fused and created the Communist Party USA. But the US federal government did not stand still and started to arrest many members of the party. Mostly because of anarchist terrorist attempts. This gave the ruling class a perfect reason to ban the communist party and to jail its members. As the communist party was forced underground the Socialist Party of America decided to remain loyal to the US Constitution. However this would not stop the anti-socialist witch hunt. In 1920 the ruling class ordered the arrest of five democratic elected socialist representatives of the New York assemble. Police forces arrested the five socialists and showed to the world, the true face of American ''democracy''!
Thanks to the first Red Scare the Socialist Party of America ( SPA ) lost many members. Paranoia, lies and fear turned the working class away from socialism. It was the beginning of the major anti-leftist brainwashing that remains a part of American society. Also the first Red Scare would lay seeds for the second Red Scare that started after 1945. This second Red Scare would last through out the 1950's. Because of the first Red Scare, the SPA lost more then 90.000 members. In 1919 more then 100.000 workers had joined the Socialist Party of America. But thanks to the Red Scare and the party's internal struggle, only 14.000 remained after 1921!
Today the socialist movement in the USA is very weak. The SPA split into three parties in the 70's, the biggest of them are the Democratic Socialists of America. The Democratic Socialists of America support the Democratic Party and are offering no genuine socialist alternatives. Another party that came out of the split were the Social Democrats USA, the right-wing of the SPA who were social democratic and not socialist in nature. Finally the left-wing of the old SPA became the Socialist Party USA!
The Communist Party USA regrouped as the Workers Party of America. At the end of the 1920's it reemerged as the Communist Party of the United States of America, now a Stalinist party and fully supportive of Moscow and Joseph Stalin. Many party members were hated and intimidated during the second Red Scare, by the anticommunist media and US government. During the progressive years in the 1970's, the party was able to attract some young Americans who were blinded by idealism and their opposition to US imperialism. 25.000 members made up the CPUSA in the 70's, but most would abandon the communist movement after the Soviet-Union collapsed. Today only 2.000 people remain CPUSA member!
Three years of Red Scare turned many Americans into die-hard antisocialists and anticommunists. Thanks to paranoia, racial hatred and brainwashing by right-wing politicians, most Americans stated to hate socialism and communism. Calling it ''un-American'' and ''dangerous''. The ruling class were very happy with the results. The Socialist Party of America was reduced to 14.000 members and the radical trade union movement was cursed by massive police forces. Democratic rights meant nothing for those who owned the means of production. Like in Russia, the capitalists used their politicians to arrest radical leftists. Police brutality against workers is not uncommon in the USA. The Occupy Movement in our modern era, also faced police brutality like the striking workers in 1919!
This is why workers must oppose capitalism and the US government. It does not matter if the White House is occupied by a Democrat or a Republican. Both parties are tools of the ruling class, they were that in 1919 and remained that in 2013. A new Red Scare can happen again, as the ruling class uses fear and paranoia to turn people into anti-leftists. Barack Obama faced faced anti-socialist hatred as members of the conservative; Tea Party movement called him a socialist and a communist. Calling a person a socialist or a communist is still done to portray somebody negatively in the USA!
Still we revolutionary socialists salute the brave workers who rose up in 1919. We salute those socialists and communists who stood up for black workers as they were discriminated against by the white ruling class. They were the good guys and not the police. During the Red Scare the anticommunist Democratic Party and Republican Party were the bad guys, by arresting workers and jailing five elected socialists in New York. This shows the true face of capitalist parties. Democracy means nothing for them and they will use the police and army to keep their wealth and power save. This is why workers have nothing to gain, they have a world to win!