The Red Scare

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The first of the two Red Scares, which I will be talking about, took place from 1919 to 1920.

The first Red Scare began not too long after the end of World War I. Many Americans were fearful of radical political ideologies after a series of bombings. Much disdain was held toward communists in particular by the American public.  Politicians of the era used advertisement and spin campaigns to fan the flames of public fear into a frenzy.

The Red Scare shares themes of opposed political and economic systems and ignorant fear with our readings and tropes.



It was in 1917 the Imperial Period of Russia had come to an end as the Royal family was overthrown. This is what is known as the October Revolution, lead by the Bolshevik party and marked the beginning of the building of the communist Soviet Union under the rule of Vladimir Lenin. The Revolution lead to the establishmet of a new political and economical ideology that challanged the very core of the American value system leading to what is known as the "Red Scare"


The Red Scare was in particular characterized by a man named Mitchell Palmer, who was Attorney General at the time. He had several prominent U.S. citizens who openly showed their disdain for the war arrested as though they were terrorists.[1] The arrests were eventually leaked to the media, along with the identities of those convicted. Among the arrested were several authors and film writers. These people persecuted by Mitchell Palmer had their professional careers destroyed[2] However, the Red Scare did not last long. Several peoples become concerned with the violation of freedom of speech. With time, prominent politicians spoke out against Mitchell Palmer's actions, while the loss of laborers due to mass deportation changed the minds of many others.[3]

Connection to Tropes

Commons and Property

The people subjugated by proponents of the Red Scare often held communist and/or socialist ideologies.

Connection to Readings

Blade Runner

Like the Red Scare, Blade Runner showcased epidemic fear. The robots, like the supposed anarchists and communists, garnered extremely dissident reactions from the national public. The robots are persecuted by federal authority. It was revealed, though, that the robots were not as evil as initially perceived. There was no indication that the exotic dancer robot, gunned down in the streets, was trying to undermine humanity. The robots' capacity for violence was humanity's own doing, because they built the robots to perform tasks that were normally far too hazardous for organic lifeforms. In a sense, the problem was only as big as the public had chosen to make it.

The Dispossessed

Both cultures in the Dispossessed show distrust and ignorance of the other. Shevek felt isolated on both planets. On Anarres, he was persecuted for his willingness to cooperate with Urras. On Urras, his physical appearance cultivated anxiety in passersby. On Anarres, he was the hierarchy in an anarchist society, and on Urras, he was the Anarchist in a hierarchy. In a way, the story tells us that events like the "Red Scare" can happen on both sides.

Ghost in the Shell

The sentient being known as the Puppet Master aroused fear in the agencies that did not understand it. The agencies were not prepared to deal with the capacity of the Puppet Master, nor with the fact that an artificial intelligence had a "ghost", or soul. Similarly, the government during the Red Scare was willing to throw away the rights it gave to humans in order to persecute people it feared.

He, She, and It

In "He, She, and It" the corporation that Shira works for Y-S, is sort of like the communist to her. Y-S took the one thing that she loved, her son. Y-S also didn't treat Shira right. They abused her abilities, and didn't utilize her to her full potential.


In "Schismatrix" there are many groups which seek to eliminate class distinctions and establish communal ownership of property. Examples of these groups are the Fortuna Miner's Democracy and, late in the book, the Angels of Europa.


  1. (2001). Online Highways LLC. "The Red Scare" Travel & History. Retrieved from
  2. "Red Scare.". Retrieved from
  3. Linder, Douglas. (2000). "The Red Scare". Retrieved from
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