chapter  2
36 Pages

Land of the Free, Home of the Hysterical: American Communism and the Cultivation of “Red” Hysteria

Spurred by rapid industrialization, the “modernization” of America hit full stride at the dawn of the twentieth century. Cities sprouted as throngs of eager workers flocked to emerging urban epicenters in search of the American dream. It was during this time that the potential of American capitalism seemed limitless. With booming growth energized by cheap labor, free market trade, and few operating restrictions, the nation’s business elite capitalized on the propitious economic climate and built corporate empires the likes of which the world had never seen. Juxtaposed to this incredible wealth, however, toiled the means of such prodigious production. Ironically, despite the essential nature of its role as the key cog in the industrial machine, the economic standing and general well being of the working class was often ignored. Paid pennies for work that generated billions, urban workers struggled to compete for a semblance of quality in their lives, a reprieve from the depravity ubiquitous in the tenements and ghettoes that millions called home.