Substituting Fear for Reason: A Comparative Study of the Palmer Raids and Spartacist Uprising, 1919

While there are underlying similarities between the United States and Germany, 1919, serves as a pivotal moment for both countries.  Although the outcomes of the war differed, the same fear, hatred, and concern regarding the rise of Bolshevism was very much similar.  A pivotal starting point to this period is gaining a better understanding how the people and state reacted toward the Palmer Raids in the United States and the Spartacist Uprising in Berlin.  Unveiling how democracy was used hypocritically in the United States during the Palmer Raids and how a breakdown in Germany’s central government resulted in political revolutions, a comparative study of law, public opinion, and a rising fear and acceptance of violence is necessary in order to better understand these two countries.  Since the fear of Bolshevism increased following the Great War, civil liberties in both countries was violated by government sponsored propaganda and increasing violence against labor unions, citizens, immigrants, and rising political parties.  When fear is substituted for reason, laws are bent, restricted, or completely broken as evident in the United States and Germany.  While the Americans were able to restore order by 1921, Germany unknowingly embraced National Socialism and a general passiveness toward those who were chastised for living outside the realm of the recognized community.  This paper, therefore, seeks to further explore these two uprisings and how early restrictions and laws against Southern and Eastern European immigrants aided in perpetuating a fear of the “other” in the post-war era.

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