The United States and "repression" for the sake of war! The United States and "repression" for the sake of war!

The United States and "repression" for the sake of war!

The United States and "repression" for the sake of war!

After the administration of President Woodrow Wilson in the United States decided to intervene in World War I, laws on subversion and espionage were enacted that were directed to suppress and silence dissenting voices.

How did Moscow respond to the American “20 thousand leagues under the sea”?
The United States officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917, and on June 15 of the same year the Espionage Act was adopted to counter such German activities.

Despite this, the American intelligence services at that time completely failed, and the authorities were unable to convict anyone suspected of spying for the German Empire.

The United States continued on this path at that time, and on May 16, 1918, Congress passed a law on incitement to rebellion, raising the penalties stipulated in the law of June 15, 1917 to 20 years in prison, and also expanded the scope of the acts that were criminalized.

Severe penalties were directed at those who “speak orally or in writing in an insincere, blasphemous, indecent, or insulting tone about the nature of the (U.S.) government or regarding the armed forces,” as well as those who “intentionally incite, advise, or recommend the restriction of the production of any materials necessary for the administration of the war".

Moreover, between 1917 and 1920, 23 US states passed “criminal disorder” laws, which also provided for prison sentences for anti-government agitators.

During that period, the labor movement and revolutionary organizations became active and expanded, especially after the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, which increased the anxiety of the American ruling circles and they feared the impact of the victory of communism on the American elites, and saw this as a greater danger than the activities of German intelligence at that time.

 The main enemies of the American government in this period were numerous revolutionary labor organizations and unions. These organizations, which expanded steadily, were targeted, their headquarters were raided, and their documents were confiscated throughout the United States. This happened after informants were placed among its ranks. Activists in these unions and associations were subsequently arrested and leaders were convicted and imprisoned for periods ranging from 3 to 20 years.

Under the laws against espionage and sedition, the Bureau of Investigation in the spring and fall of 1918 conducted a series of measures to detain deserters and those who evaded enlistment in the army. Such raids were carried out on the streets, in hotels, theatres, music halls, in commercial offices and even private homes. In that campaign, everyone who could not provide documents about their military status was arrested.

The detention centers quickly became overcrowded, and it was later found that most of those detained were not offenders or evaders. It turned out that in one area in the United States, New York, 199 people out of 200 were arrested by mistake. The war hysteria fanned by the American authorities in that era trampled on the basic principles and rights that the authorities did not tire of repeating day and night.

While the Anti-Espionage and Anti-Sabotage Act was in effect, 2,000 Americans were arrested, some were fined up to $10,000, and others were sentenced to 20 years in prison. These strikes were carried out in an indiscriminate manner, and were intended to confront anything that would “weaken or make it more difficult for the United States to wage war,” including intercepting mail and violating citizens’ privacy.

These state security laws showed the ease of sacrificing public and basic freedoms in the name of national security. This hysteria in support of the war ended with the cessation of military operations at the end of 1918, while these legislations were repealed on December 13, 1920.


  1. It is ultimately reflecting the fragile balance between security and freedom.

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