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The 19th century had been a period of rapid industrial expansion in America. Between 1800 and 1900 the per capita wealth of the country had increased from $200 to $1,200. However, the distribution of this wealth was extremely uneven. A report published in Arena in 1901 revealed that 1 per cent of the population owned 54 per cent of the wealth. That two-hundredth of a per cent (4,000 millionaires) had 20 per cent of the total wealth.
In 1872 Victoria Woodhull, he leader of the International Workingman's Association in New York City published The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Later that year Woodhull was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party. Although laws prohibited women from voting, there was nothing stopping women from running for office. Woodhull suggested that Frederick Douglass should become her running partner but he declined the offer.
During the campaign Woodhull called for the "reform of political and social abuses; the emancipation of labor, and the enfranchisement of women". Woodhull also argued in favour of improved civil rights and the abolition of capital punishment. These policies gained her the support of socialists, trade unionists and women suffragists. However, her name did not appear on the ballot because she was one year short of the Constitutionally mandated age of thirty-five.
It was this economic situation that stimulated a growth in socialist ideas in the United States. In 1874 a group of socialists formed the Workingmen's Party. Three years later it was renamed the Socialist Labor Party. Some members of the party came under the influence of the anarchist ideas of the German revolutionary, Johann Most.
In 1886 the party became involved in helping organize the campaign for the eight-hour day. At one meeting on 4th May, in Chicago, the Haymarket Bombing took place and several former members of the party, including August Spies, Albert Parson, Adolph Fisher and George Engel, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and executed.
Daniel De Leon and Laurence Gronlund emerged as leader of the Socialist Labor Party in the 1890s. De Leon, a Marxist, favoured the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. However, Gronlund, in books such as Cooperative Commonwealth (1884), Our Destiny (1891), The New Economy (1898) and Socializing a State (1898) advocated a reformist approach to socialism.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) was founded in 1897 by a group of left-wing journalists and trade union activists. Leading figures included Eugene Debs, Victor Berger and Ella Reeve Bloor. In 1901 the SDP merged with Socialist Labor Party to form the Socialist Party of America.
The new Socialist Party of America claimed a membership of 10,000 and over the next few years leading figures in the party included Daniel De Leon, Philip Randolph, Emil Seidel, Julius Wayland, Fred Warren, Chandler Owen, William Z. Foster, Abraham Cahan, Sidney Hillman, Morris Hillquit, Walter Reuther, Bill Haywood, Margaret Sanger, Kate Richards O'Hare, Florence Kelley, Rose Pastor Stokes, Mary White Ovington, Helen Keller, Inez Milholland, Floyd Dell, William Du Bois, Hubert Harrison, Upton Sinclair, Mary Lease, Victor Berger, Daniel Hoan, Frank Zeidler, Robert Hunter, George Herron, Claude McKay, Sinclair Lewis, Max Eastman, William Walling and Jack London .
Between 1901 and 1912 membership of the Socialist Party of America grew from 10,000 to 150,000. In 1913 the socialist journal, Appeal to Reason reached a circulation of over 760,000.
On the outbreak of the First World War most socialists in the United States were opposed to the conflict. They claimed that the war had been caused by the imperialist competitive system and argued that the America should remain neutral. This was also the view expressed in the three main socialist journals, Appeal to Reason, The Masses and The Call.
After the USA declared war on the Central Powers in 1917, the government passed the Espionage Act. Under this act it was an offence to make speeches that undermined the war effort. Criticised as unconstitutional, the act resulted in the imprisonment of many members of the anti-war movement including 450 conscientious objectors. During the First World War several Socialist Party members, including Eugene Debs, Kate Richards O'Hare, Victor Berger and Rose Pastor Stokes were imprisoned for their anti-war activities.
People working for The Masses were also prosecuted and the magazine was forced to close. The Call was also prosecuted but the Appeal to Reason decided to support the war effort to remain in business.
After the First World War, the attorney general, A. Mitchell Palmer, became convinced that communist and socialists were planning to overthrow the American government. Palmer recruited John Edgar Hoover as his special assistant and together they used the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) to launch a campaign against radicals and left-wing organizations.
On 7th November, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested in what became known as the Palmer Raids. Palmer and Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution but large number of these suspects were held without trial for a long time. The vast majority were eventually released but Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Mollie Steimer, and 245 other people, were deported to Russia.
In 1920 Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party of America presidential candidate, received 919,799 votes while still in Atlanta Penitentiary. His program included proposals for improved labour conditions, housing and welfare legislation and an increase in the number of people who could vote in elections.
As a result of this Red Scare people became worried about subscribing to left-wing journals and the Appeal to Reason, which was selling 760,000 copies a week before the First World War, was forced to close in November, 1922. The following year The Call ceased publication.
After the death of Eugene Debs in 1926 Norman Thomas became the leader of the party and was its presidential candidate in 1928, 1932 and 1936. As a result of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his successful New Deal policies, some members of the party such as David Dubinsky, called for socialists to vote for the Democratic Party, in 1936. As a result the Socialist Party vote dropped to 185,000, less than 20 per cent of that achieved in 1932. However the party continued to do well in certain cities such as Milwaukee, where Daniel Hoan was mayor of the city between 1916 and 1940.
During the McCarthy Era membership of the party fell to below 2,000 members. A large number of socialists including Walter Reuther, Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, left the party with the view that you had more chance of achieving progressive reform by being active in the Democratic Party.
Under the leadership of Michael Harrington, the Socialist Party Conference in 1968 passed a resolution endorsing Hubert Humphrey for president. In 1972 the party supported George McGovern.
In 1976 the Socialist Party ran a presidential campaign for the first time in twenty years. Frank Zeidler, the former mayor of Milwaukee (1948-60), was nominated as president. Other presidential candidates have included David McReynolds (1980 and 2000), Willa Kenoyer (1988), John Quinn Brisben (1992), Mary Cal Hollis (1996), Walt Brown (2004), Brian Moore (2008) and Stewart Alexander (2012).
That the framers of the Constitution had Woman's Rights clearly in their minds is borne out by its whole structure. Nowhere is the word man used in contradistinction to woman. They avoided both terms and used the word "persons" for the same reason as they avoided the word "slavery," namely, to prevent an untimely contest over rights which might prematurely be discussed to the injury of the infant republic.
The issue upon the question of female suffrage being thus definitely settled, and its rights inalienably secured to woman, a brighter future dawns upon the country. Woman can now unite in purifying the elements of political strife in restoring the government to pristine integrity, strength and vigor. To do this, many reforms become of absolute necessity. Prominent in these are:
A complete reform in the Congressional and Legislative work, by which all political discussion shall be banished from legislative halls, and debate be limited to the actual business of the people.
A complete reform in Executive and Departmental conduct, by which the President and the Secretaries of the United States, and the Governors and State officers, shall be forced to recognize that they are the servants of the people, appointed to attend to the business of the people, and not for the purpose of perpetuating their official positions, or of securing the plunder of public trusts for the enrichment of their political adherents and supporters.
A reform in the tenure of office, by which the Presidency shall be limited to one term, with a retiring life pension, and a permanent seat in the Federal Senate, where his Presidential experience may become serviceable to the nation, and on the dignity and life emolument of Presidential Senator he shall be placed above all other political positions, and be excluded from all professional pursuits.
A reform between the relations of the employer and employed, by which shall be secured the practice of the great natural law, of one-third of time to labor, one-third to recreation and one-third to rest, that by this intellectual improvement and physical development may go on to that perfection which the Almighty Creator designed.
A reform in the system of crime punishment, by which the death penalty shall no longer be inflicted - by which the hardened criminal shall have no human chance of being let loose to harass society until the term of the sentence, whatever that may be, shall have expired, and by which, during that term, the entire prison employment shall be for - and the product thereof be faithfully paid over to - the support of the criminal's family, instead of being absorbed by the legal thieves to whom, in most cases, the administration of prison discipline has been entrusted, and by whom atrocities are perpetrated in the secrecy of the prison enclosure, which, were they revealed, would shock the moral sense of all mankind.
In the broadest sense, I claim to be the friend of equal rights, a faithful worker in the cause of human advancement; and more especially the friend, supporter, co-laborer with those who strive to encourage the poor and the friendless.
If I obtain the position of President of the United States, I promise that woman's strength and woman's will with God's support, if he vouchsafe it, shall open to them, and to this country, a new career of greatness in the race of nations.
In accordance with the above, we shall assume the new position that the rights of women under the Constitution are complete, and hereafter we shall contend, I not for a Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, but that the Constitution already recognizes women as citizens, and that they are justly entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens.
It will therefore be our duty to call on women everywhere to come boldly forward and exercise the right they are thus
guaranteed. It is not to be expected that men who assume that they alone, as citizens of the United States, are entitled
to all the immunities and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution, will consent that women may exercise the right of
suffrage until they are compelled. We will never cease the struggle until they are recognized, and we see women established in their true position of equality with the rest of the citizens of the United States.
These privileged classes of the people have an enduring hatred for me, and I am glad they have. I am a friend not only of freedom in all things, and in every form, but also for equality and justice as well. These cannot be inaugurated except through revolution. I am denounced as desiring to precipitate revolution. I acknowledge it. I am for revolution, if to get equality and justice it is required.
Last night I stepped into Apollo Hall, one of the noblest and most picturesque halls in the city, where the National Convention of the Woodhull and Claflin, Male and Female Labor Party are holding a two days’ session. As I approached the place, I heard the voice of Mrs. Woodhull resounding through the hall, and when I entered I found her standing in front of the platform, which was filled with people of both sexes, and declaiming in the most impassioned style, before a crowded audience of men and women who had been wrought up to a very high state of excitement. The scene was really dramatic, and to those who were in sympathy with it, it was, doubtless "thrilling," "glorious," "sublime." Somehow or other, Mrs. Woodhull, as she stood there, dressed in plain black, with flushed face, gleaming eye, locks partly disheveled, upraised arm and quivering under the fire of her own rhapsody, reminded me of the great Rachel in some of those tragic or fervid passages in which the dominating powers of her nature and genius were displayed in their highest effect. She seemed at moments like one possessed, and the eloquence which poured from her lips in reckless torrents swept through the souls of the multitude in a way which caused them to burst, every now and then, with uproarious enthusiasm. A moment after I entered there was one of these spiritual explosions, which brought her to a brief pause, and the first sentence I heard was her exclamation, in loud, clear tone: "Who will dare to attempt to unlock the luminous portals of the future with the rusty key of the past?" Age, indeed who will? was the thought which involuntary came to one’s mind while looking at the extraordinary spectacle displayed in Apollo Hall.
When her declamation ended, the audience, masculine and feminine, sprang to their feet and cheered till their wind was exhausted, cheered with a frenzy and force that must have startled the multitudinous promenaders who swept along Broadway. The heroine of the moment disappeared from the platform, but the multitude encored till she returned, stepped to the front, and bowed once and again her acknowledgments for the applause.
Then a stout and hearty personage, who was recognized by the Chair as Judge Carter of Cincinnati, stepped quickly to the front, and in stentorian tones nominated Mrs. Victoria C. Woodhull as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. "All who are in favor of the nomination, say aye" were the words from the Chair, and instantly the shouts of the Convention, delegates and outsiders, burst forth in a roar, thunderous and continuous, which might have blown the roof of the building to the skies. Again Mrs. Woodhull appeared on the platform, and accepted the nomination in a few words.
Then followed an hour’s wrangle, with countless speeches as to the candidate for the Vice Presidency. The first nomination made was that of Frederick Douglass, who was eulogized by half a dozen speakers in succession, and opposed by two or three, on various grounds. We had the oppressed sex represented by Woodhull; we must have the oppressed race represented by Douglass. Other names followed: Ben Wade, Theodore Tilton, Spotted Tail, Ben Butler, Henry Ward Beecher, Robert Dale Owen, Governor Campbell, Wendell Phillips, Richard Trevithick, and others. Frederick Douglass, however, at last got the vote of the Convention. And was thus nominated for the second place on the Woodhull Presidential ticket - the Executive Committee being empowered to substitute another name in case of his refusal to accept.
The platform of the party, which demands a new National Constitution, and numerous other things in the revolutionary line, was subsequently adopted.
I forgot to say that throughout the entertainment, the audience were excessively merry and were as wildly enthusiastic. She left the place pretty well exhausted with cheering. The audience were highly respectable, as well as large and strikingly American in physiognomy and appearance. There were large numbers of fashionable dressed ladies, and most of the gentlemen evidently belonged to the business and professional classes. There were also plenty of "Reformers," and in fact, it was they who contributed the real genius of the assemblage.
At the close of the session, Mrs. Woodhull, the nominee for the Presidency, passed into an ante-room, where her friends crowded to congratulate her. She was in ecstasy, and so was her sister, Miss Claflin. Her face beamed under her high-crowned Neapolitan black hat. She shook hands with the gentlemen enthusiastically. The ladies kissed her and embraced her, kissed each other, and kissed her again. I never before saw so much kissing and hugging in public, nor, for that matter, in private either. Men were not afraid to pass hands round women who were not their wives, and women indulged in political osculation till they were tired.
I accept this splendid greeting from this splendid audience in evidence that there is no Mason and Dixon's line between the East and the West. I accept it as an evidence of the fact that the people of the East and West are battling for a common cause against a common foe. Not since the bleeding years of the war have party lines been so nearly obliterated, and the obedience to party leaders so refused as at the present time. The heart of the nation is aroused, and Principle and not Self is the watchword. The great heart of the nation beats response to patriotism, and the nation is safe.
We stand today at the beginning of one of those revolutionary periods that mark an advance of the race. We stand at a period that marks a reformation. All history is illustrated by the fact that new liberties cannot exist with old tyrannies. New ideals ever seek new manifestations. The ideals of Christ could not live under the tyrannies of the Roman government. The ideals of the founders of this Government could not exist under the tyrannies of royal rule.
The grand principles of Socialism and the brotherhood of man cannot live under old forms of tyranny - neither under the forms of Old-World tyranny nor of British gold.
Yet today our splendid theory of government is confronted by a great peril. We have become blind to evils that menace us. We are confronted with glutted markets and idle labor. It is a condition that makes it possible for a few men to become landlords of a proud city like this while God's poor are packed in the slums. Such a condition is not only a menace to Republican institutions, but a travesty upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It makes it possible, too, for an American to pay $10,000,000 for the cast-off, disreputable rags of old world royalty, for the scion of a house that boasts the blood of a Jeffreys and a Marlborough. It is a disgrace to our nation.
A condition by which the wealth accumulated by the common people is poured into lard tubs and oil wells, to enable Mr. Rockefeller to found a college and Mr. Whitney to buy a diamond tiara for his daughter is a disgrace to the country.
Once we made it our boast that this nation was not founded upon any class distinction. But now we are not only buying diamonds for their wives and daughters and selling our children to titled debauchees, but we are setting aside our Constitution and establishing a gold standard to help the fortunes of our hereditary foe.
Today, a determined and systematic effort is being made by our financiers to perpetuate a gold standard. Every influence that moulds public opinion has been bought up, and the great dailies in the employ of the gold syndicate have fallen into line. The whole power of the government administration is being used to deceive the people. We hear sound money and honest dollar applied to the most dishonest money that ever cursed a nation or enslaved a people. What right has McKinley or Whitney to delegate our constitutional right to coin money to England or any other nation?"
An organized effort is making to deceive the people. There are two great enemies of thought and progress, the aristocracy of royalty and the aristocracy of gold. Long ago, the aristocracy of royalty came to a common plane with the common people by the discovery of gunpowder, and the two met on a common field. Where is the respect of old for royalty? Even the English speak of their sovereign, Queen Victoria as being made not of common clay, but of common mud. The aristocracy of royalty is dying out.
But here in this country we find in place of an aristocracy of royalty an aristocracy of wealth. Far more dangerous to the race is it than the aristocracy of royalty. It is the aristocracy of gold that disintegrates society, destroys individuals and has ruined the proudest nations. It has called Rothschild's agent here to make the platform of the Republican party.
Charmed by the seductive oratory of Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lease, the free silver mass-meeting at Cooper Union last night nursed itself into all the semblance of a Socialistic gathering. From the beginning to the end, from the first sentence of introduction until the Kansas woman had concluded in a sonorous period, Socialism predominated. Every mention of gold or wealth was greeted with shouts and jeers, and the names of Whitney and Cleveland, of Vanderbilt and Rothschild were hailed with hisses and cat-calls.
As advertised, the meeting was under the guidance of the Social Reform Club, an organization that has the worthy object of bettering the fortunes of the worker. As advertised, the meeting was in the cause of free silver. But the predominance of the Socialists more than once overcame this, and the currency question was forgotten while the orators spoke at length upon Socialistic beliefs.
It does not necessarily follow because Mrs. Lease somewhat unsexed herself by her indulgence in turbulent and inflammatory discourse at Cooper Union that all women are unfitted by Nature to participate in the excitement of political contests or to have a voice in the calm and deliberate discussions which ought always to attend upon the settlement of grave and serious governmental problems. We might as well say that the similarly wild and reckless outgivings of the Tillmans and Altgelds demonstrated the unfitness of the sterner sex for self-government. But there is this to be said, of which there can be no denial, that Mrs. Lease upon the political platform or stump, uttering invectives more than masculine, and appealing to the brutal passions of the mob rather than to the calm sense of reasoning men and women, must be treated the same as any other mob leader, male or female. She cannot shelter herself behind her sex while appealing to bloodthirsty passions and inciting lawless riot.
Mrs. Lease is representative of the party - we will not call it Democratic - which presents Mr. Bryan as a candidate. In the principles she avows, and the policies she advocates, in the coarse vigor of her speech and the startling aggressiveness of her manner, she is in the highest degree the best and truest exponent of the Bryan platform and party. In the extravagance of her language, the wantonness and recklessness with which she appealed to class hatred, pointing out by name as the proper objects of popular vengeance good and honorable citizens whose only offence is the possession of property accumulated honestly under the laws, she may have seemed to be in advance of her party. But only a step; just enough to bring out with clearness and distinctness the real spirit and purpose of the revolutionists and Anarchists who are bent on the destruction of public credit and the overthrow of social order. A step behind this raging virago, foaming with fury and blazing with wrath, is the wild mob of levellers eager for the general distribution of spoils; behind them the Terror, with its bloody bacchanals and merciless savagery.
A great many people believe that they know what socialism means, but they do not. They vainly imagine that it refers to bursting bombs, burning buildings, rapine and plunder. But those folks have never looked for the definition in Webster's dictionary which says that socialism is: "A theory of society that advocates a more precise, orderly and harmonious arrangement of the social relations of mankind than that which has hitherto prevailed."
Of course that does not sound so very bad. Still for fear that Noah Webster may have been out of his head when defining socialism, let us go to some other authority and read carefully the definition in the Standard dictionary, which says that socialism is: "A theory of policy that aims to secure the reconstruction of society, increase of wealth, and a more equal distribution of the products of labor through the public collective ownership of labor and capital (as distinguished from property) and the public collective management of all industries."
Maybe things have changed since Noah Webster died. We have it here. The Century dictionary defines socialism as: "Any theory or system of local organization which would abolish entirely, or in a greater part, the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute co-operation; would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labor; and would make land and capital, as the instruments of production, the joint possessions of the community."
Then, again, there are our religious friends who have vaguely, but wrongly, believed that socialism was the enemy of religion. What have you to say of this statement made by the Encyclopedia Britannica? "The ethics of socialism are identical with the ethics of Christianity."
The ethics of the wild beast, the survival of the strongest, shrewdest, and meanest, have been the inspiration of our materialistic lives during the last quarter or half century. The fact in our national history has brought us today face to face with the inevitable result. We have cities in which a few are wealthy, a few are in what may be called comfortable circumstances, vast numbers are propertyless, and thousands are in pauperism and crime. Certainly, no reasonable person will contend that this is the goal that we have been struggling for; that the inequalities that characterize our rich and poor represent the idea that the founders of this republic saw when they wrote that "All men are created equal."
The new patriotism is the love of the millions that is already planning for and opening the way to better things, to a condition of life under this government when every child born in it will have an equal opportunity with every other child to live the best possible kind of life that he or she can live. This is the new patriotism - that feeling within one's breast that tells us that there can be no prosperity for some without there is a possibility for some prosperity for all, and that there can be no peace for some without opportunity for some peace for all; that man is a social being, society is a unit, an organism, not a heap of separate grains of sand, each one struggling for its own welfare. We are all so inextricably bound together that there is no possibility of finding the individual good except in the good of all.
The competitive idea at present dominant is most of our political and business life is, of course, the seed root of all the trouble. The people are beginning to understand that we have been pursuing a policy of plundering ourselves, that in the foolish scramble to make individuals rich we have been making all poor. "For a hundred years or so," says Henry Demarest Lloyd, "our economic theory has been one of industrial government by the self-interest of the individual; political government by the self-interest of the individual we call anarchy." It is one of the paradoxes of public opinion that the people of America, least tolerant of this theory of anarchy in political government, lead in practicing it in industry. We are coming to see that the true philosophy of government is to let the individual do what the individual can do best, and let the government do what the government can do best.
Our cities are to be saved by the development of the collective idea. We are coming to understand that every public utility and necessity to the public welfare should be publicly owned, publicly operated, and publicly paid for. Among the properties that according to any scientific conception of the purpose of government should be so owned are waterworks, heating and lighting plants, street railways, telephones, fire alarms, telegraphs, parks, playgrounds, baths, wash-houses, municipal printing establishments, and many other industries necessary to the welfare of the whole family that can only be successfully operated by the family in the interests of the whole family.
It is the unvarying law that the wealth of a community will be in the hands of a few; and the greater the general wealth, the greater the individual accumulations. The large majority of men are unwilling to endure the long self-denial and saving which makes accumulation possible; they have not the business tact and sagacity which brings about large combinations and great financial results; and hence it always has been, and until human nature is remodeled always will be, true that the wealth of a nation is in the hands of a few, while the many subsist upon the proceeds of their daily toil. But security is the chief end of government; and other things being equal, that government is best which protects to the fullest extent each individual, rich or poor, high or low, in the possession of his property and the pursuit of his business.
It was the boast of our ancestors in the Old Country that they were able to wrest from the power of the king so much security for life, liberty and property. Here, there is no monarch threatening trespass upon the individual. The danger is from the multitudes - the majority, with whom is the power. The common rule as to strikes is this: Not merely do the employees quit the employment, and thus handicap the employer in the use of his property, and perhaps in the discharge of duties which he owes to the public; but they also forcibly prevent others from taking their places.
The increased discussion of socialism here is very marked, though the study of books and requests for lectures come almost exclusively from people of the prosperous middle classes. Thus I have been asked to speak twice before the Secular Union and five times in churches in Chicago and its suburbs, and the more radically I speak the more vigorous the discussion in all these meetings.
The menace of today, as I view it, is the spread of a spirit of socialism, one of those things which is only half understood and is more or less used to inflame the popular mind against all individual initiative and personal energy, which has been the very essence of American progress. While this spirit of socialism has caused apprehension in some quarters, it has been joyfully received by a certain class of people who do not desire to acquire competence in the ordinary and honest manner and gladly seize any excuse for agitating the public mind on the chance of putting money in their own pockets.
Suppose each of the stockholders of the United States Steel Corporation to be a most kind-hearted, compassionate man. If you could by any means make him understand the hell that this company maintains, he would be powerless to change it. Let the officers be wholly unselfish philanthropists, and they shall be equally impotent. Let the managers be moved to tears by every accident, they can do nothing that shall prevent accidents. The whole organization is utterly impersonal; it is hard, mechanical, inhuman, relentless, and must be so, and cannot possibly be otherwise. To make profits, to declare dividends, to meet the interest on the outstanding securities, to produce steel, to produce it with the least possible expenditure of money: these are the only considerations that can be entertained everywhere, at any time, by any person in the organization.
Little children in the process of being first robbed and then murdered in the sacred cause of profits. If you like the system of which this is the certain fruit, come here and like the fruit also. You should not like the one without the other. And if you accept both, let me ask you one question. How if this robbed and tortured child were your daughter, or your little sister? How would you like that? And if it would be bad for your daughter, or your sister, do you think it can be good for another man's daughter and another man's sister?
This is the offer of Socialism: the righting of the centuries of wrong the producers have suffered, the dawn of a genuine democracy, peace instead of war, sufficiency instead of suffering, life raised above the level of appetite, a chance at last for the good in people to attain their normal development.
You must either vote for or against your own material interests as a wealth producer; there is no political purgatory in this nation of ours, despite the desperate efforts of so-called Progressive capitalists politicians to establish one. socialism alone represents the material heaven of plenty for those who toil and the Socialist Party alone offers the political means for attaining that heaven of economic plenty which the toil of the workers of the world provides in unceasing and measureless flow.
Capitalism represents the material hell of want and pinching poverty of degradation and prostitution for those who toil and in which you now exist, and each and every political party, other than the Socialist Party, stands for the perpetuation of the economic hell of capitalism.
For the first time in all history you who toil possess the power to peacefully better your own condition. The little slip of paper which you hold in your hand on election day is more potent than all the armies of all the kings of earth.
The Democratic platform does not differ from the Republican platform fundamentally at all. Of course, the Democratic convention was held a week later than the Republican, and this gave the Democrats a chance to see what the Republicans had done. Naturally they decided to go the Republicans one better in bidding for the labor vote. Like the Republican Party, the Democratic Party stands for the interests of the capitalist class, and it will do just as little for the working class as it can and get by. The labor planks were frightened out of the Democratic Party by the rising Socialist vote. Therefore the Socialist Party, not the Democratic Party, is entitled to the credit for them.
They also straddle the suffrage question, leaving it to the states. Like the Republicans, they dodged this issue altogether until it became popular.
These scanty labor and suffrage planks are minor matters to the Democratic Party. Their purpose is merely to catch votes.
The great body of the platform is devoted to boasting about the alleged achievements of the Democratic administration, and boosting for nationalism, so-called preparedness, and foreign markets.
The platform says that the life, health, and strength of the men, women, and children of the nation are its greatest asset.
This is true.
If the platform stood for principles which would give the utmost life, health, and strength to the men, women, and children of the nation, it would be all right.
But it does not.
On the contrary, after boasting about the achievements of the administration - of which all the good ones were frightened
out of it by the rising Socialist vote - they proceed to say that they must now remove, as far as possible, every remaining element of unrest and uncertainty from the path of the business of America and secure for them a continued period of quiet, assured, and confident prosperity.
Do you get that?
If the Democratic Party had ever been anything else than a political representative of capitalism, one could say that this plank is a complete surrender to the capitalist class. But how can a party surrender to those who already own and control it?
This plank merely shows distinctly who does own and control the party. It shows that the party is body and soul the property of the capitalist class. It stands for the continuation of capitalism, with its long and hideous train of woes.
In order to abolish evils, it is entirely necessary to cause unrest and uncertainty among the big businessmen who profit by the continuance of these evils.
But the Democratic Party says we must not disturb their serenity. In other words, it stands for the continuation of the great existing social evils.
The Republican and Democratic platforms are more remarkable for what they do not say than for what they do say.
The Republicans and Democrats are fully aware of the fact that hundreds of Americans die of starvation each year. They know that millions of Americans are underfed all the time. They know that hundreds of thousands of Americans are compelled to accept degrading charity. They know that every little while millions of Americans tramp the streets in a vain attempt to find an opportunity to earn a living. They know that thousands of Americans are killed and hundreds of thousands injured by preventable accidents. They know that thousands of Americans are driven to suicide. They know that thousands of Americans are driven to insanity. They know that hundreds of thousands of Americans are driven to crime. They know that hundreds of thousands of American women and girls are driven to prostitution. They know that the masses of the American people are in poverty. They know that the masses of the people are compelled to starve themselves mentally, morally, and spiritually in order to keep from starving physically. They know that the private ownership of the industries enables a comparatively few capitalists to get for themselves the bulk of the earnings of the rest of the people.
About me at that time (1916) were small Socialist groups who knew little more than I did. We often met in a little dark room to discuss the war and to study various problems and Socialist ideas. The room was over a pool room and led into a larger square room with a splintery floor; in the, corner stood a sad looking piano. In the little hall leading to it was a rack holding various Socialist or radical newspapers, tracts, and pamphlets in very small print and on very bad paper. The subjects treated were technical Marxist theories. Now and then some Party member would announce a study circle, and I would join it, along with some ten or twelve working men and women.
I joined another circle and the leader gave us a little leaflet in very small print, asking us to read it carefully and then come prepared to ask questions. It was a technical Marxist subject and I did not understand it nor did I know what questions to ask.
Once or twice a month our Socialist local would announce a dance and try to draw young workers into it. Twenty or thirty of us would gather in the square, dingy room with splintery floor. The Socialist lawyer of the city came, with his wife and daughter. They were very intelligent and kindly people upon whose shoulders most of the Socialist work in town rested. The wife had baked a cake for the occasion and her daughter, a student, played a cornet. While the piano rattled away and the cornet blared, we circled about the room, trying to be gay.
Eugene Debs had become a Socialist while in jail in the Pullman strike. Now he was the spokesman of a party that made him its presidential candidate five times. The party at one time had 100,000 members, and 1,200 office holders in 340 municipalities. Its main newspaper, Appeal to Reason, for which Debs wrote, had half a million subscribers, and there were many other Socialist newspapers around the country, so that, all together, perhaps a million people read the Socialist press.
Socialism moved out of the small circles of city immigrants - Jewish and German socialists speaking their own languages - and became American. The strongest Socialist state organization was in Oklahoma, which in 1914 had twelve thousand dues-paying members (more than New York State), and elected over a hundred Socialists to local office, including six to the Oklahoma state legislature. There were fifty-five weekly Socialist newspapers in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and summer encampments that drew thousands of people.
In 1910, Victor Berger became the first member of the Socialist party elected to Congress; in 1911, seventy-three Socialist mayors were elected, and twelve hundred lesser officials in 340 cities and towns. The press spoke of "The Rising Tide of Socialism."
A privately circulated memorandum suggested to one of the departments of the National Civic Federation: "In view of the rapid spread in the United States of socialistic doctrines," what was needed was "a carefully planned and wisely directed effort to instruct public opinion as to the real meaning of socialism." The memorandum suggested that the campaign "must be very skillfully and tactfully carried out," that it "should not violently attack socialism and anarchism as such" but should be "patient and persuasive" and defend three ideas: "individual liberty; private property; and inviolability of contract."
The Socialist movement was painstakingly organized by scores of former Populists, militant miners, and blacklisted railroad workers, who were assisted by a remarkable cadre of professional agitators and educators and inspired by occasional visits from national figures like Eugene V. Debs and Mother Jones. This core of organizers grew to include indigenous dissenters. A much larger group of amateur agitators who canvassed the region selling newspapers. forming reading groups, organizing locals, and making smallpox speeches.
Power driven machinery makes it possible to support great populations in plenty. It has changed the basis of our civilization from one of enforced frugality to abundance. In spite of its mismanagement it has shortened hours and in many cases lightened the burden of monotonous and back-breaking toil. Yet under the the profit system the story of the progress of machinery is literally written in tears and blood. And for every advance step in technological progress the under dog has paid in the loss of his job.
This is true because we have never asked: how can we use machinery to provide more abundant goods and increase leisure for everybody? Instead the profit seeking owners of factories have said: how can we increase profits? It is easy to how that in the long run machinery by making it possible to have more things makes possible more jobs as well as shorter hours of labor. But men eat in the short run, and in the short run the boss introduces a new machine in the hope of making an immediately greater profit, which profit is very often realized only by cutting down his payroll. The employer who does this is not a villain. Under the profit system his business is to make profit. He can't help it if that means giving some men the bitter leisure of unemployment and speeding up others.
Only planned production for use, the abolition of parasitic ownership and the increase of spending power in the hands of the masses of the workers will end unemployment. I do not say that this way to end unemployment is easy. In the long run it will have to take account of the whole world and not merely just the United States. The final answer to unemployment and to poverty is intelligent international Socialism. There is no other way. Immediate remedies for some of the suffering of unemployment will be good not only in themselves but because they help our progress toward this goal.
The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to 'End Poverty in California' I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them.
The Cultures of Socialism in the United States
Paul Buhle teaches history at Brown University and is guest editor of this issue. His most recent titles published by Monthly Review Press are Insurgent Images: The Agitprop Murals of Mike Alewitz, co-authored with Mike Alewitz, and Taking Care of Business: Samuel Gompers, George Meany, Lane Kirkland, and the Tragedy of American Labor.
The little-understood roots of the left offer us the chance to demonstrate a vital continuity. A bridge just now being rediscovered exists between the nineteenth century Euro-American traditions upon which the modern Marxist movements were founded, and the cultures (i.e., the collective, including artistic, expression) of minority populations old and new to the United States.
At the bottom of the social ladder and increasingly at the heart of blue-collar class life, the latter groups have only in recent decades begun to be studied as potential agents of transformation. Since the 1965 change in immigration law, a new working class, largely but by no means entirely from the Caribbean Basin region (including Mexico and Central America), has taken shape. That new class has served to remind keen observers that the black, Asian, and Latino working populations were never absent. Indeed, large numbers of “Mexicans” along with Indians predated Europeans, afterwards suffering the continuing shocks of colonization. These groups were merely outside the purview of organized labor at large, and&mdashdespite often ardent efforts&mdashoutside the reach of the political left as well. A grasp of continuity removes the subject from the realm of antiquarianism (or mere sentimental backward-looking) and makes it available for today&rsquos political priorities.
Fifty years ago, two large and prestigious volumes entitled Socialism and American Life treated working people of non-European origin as essentially irrelevant to the subject at hand. As Daniel Bell pronounced in the volumes&rsquo key historical essay, “The Origin and Development of Marxian Socialism in the United States,” political socialism had turned out to be a mere idealistic, transitional movement previewing the modern welfare state. U.S. Communism, whose supporters urgently embraced black liberation, was viewed by Bell and his colleagues as a mere conspiracy with no true national roots. According to this view, capitalism had by mid-century essentially resolved the problems that inspired socialists the mostly European immigrant working class milieu and the grassroots plains states socialist movement were gone, in any case, once and for all. Nothing would replace them.
In the real-life global context, likewise in the U.S. countryside and cities, nonwhite populations as well as millions of working-class whites faced “problems” that had not been solved and grew worse. But they were off the charts, while sociologists pinpointed the social dilemma of the future as excessive blue-collar leisure and potentially pervasive alienation. Dissident Marxist scholars, then few and mostly scattered (their favorite outlet was usually Monthly Review), sought to reconstruct a different history, an unknown or forgotten story of labor struggle but also of social, economic, and cultural life among racial minorities. The radical discussion of “alienation” and the fresh translation of early Marx meanwhile raised fruitful questions about the very purposes of socialism: Was it mainly about the control and division of property or did the social relations of labor and what had been considered issues of “culture” actually concern the first generation of Marxists as well as the latest one?
But only with the arrival of a generation of historians rooted in certain types of cultural and industrial histories&mdashDavid Montgomery and the late Herbert Gutman come to mind, as well as E. P. Thompson from Britain&mdashdid the subjects of the U.S. past become “cultural” in the anthropological as well as more usual social history sense of “ethnic culture.” All three of these scholars, significantly, were former participants in the Popular Front milieu (and, it might be added, all three were fond of MR). Gutman in particular persuaded a generation of young scholars, themselves awakened by the civil rights and antiwar movements, that “culture” could be understood best as the cultural tools that populations carried along with them, and used to advance themselves in new situations. He chose as his best examples the African-American community and the immigrant communities of successive migrations, i.e., those groups emerging into industrial life, armed with the long memories of a folk past.
The emphasis upon African-American life began to encourage the recuperation of that intellectual, cultural, and political giant banished by the Cold War: W. E. B. Du Bois. No one had played so large a role in assaying the role of race in the United States and no historical volume had so full and concise a statement of radical upsurge from below as Black Reconstruction. Like the essays of C. L. R. James, whose Black Jacobins had introduced the subject of the slave uprising in San Domingo (the only successful slave rebellion since the days of Spartacus), Du Bois gave historical impetus to the appreciation of the struggle in the depths of the masses and its violent repression as a central event in U.S. history.
Gutman and his students of the 1960s and early 1970s could only have guessed how relevant this insight would be for the continuing saga of what that socialistic scholar liked to call the largest population movement in history&mdashthe continuing relocation of peasant populations to urban zones all across the planet. These peoples were and are certain to remain the explosive center of agitation against imperialism and against capitalism, not only because they were the most immiserated wage laborers but also because in their numbers and locations, they threaten the stability of the global system at many of its most fragile points.
The accelerated political turn of events after the tragedy of September 11 drives home the message. As immigrants of color (and temporary residents) are demonized, faced with new restrictions and threats on all sides, and as the global environment faces an avowed enemy in the White House, the movement against right-wing political leadership more and more takes on the character of a global movement, even within the United States. The recent awakening of the AFL-CIO to the central relevance of the immigrant&mdash-including a drastic shift of labor policy, from urging the government to expel illegals, to urging their legalization&mdashreminds us that major institutions can also sometimes be moved toward (if not fully into) the progressive camp on issues of their own survival.
Where, beyond a politically shaky AFL-CIO, are the allies and fellow participants in a new movement to be found? To answer this burning question, we need to return to culture. In a society where open political expressions of minorities were as much as forbidden for centuries, and left-wing political parties overwhelmed by assorted obstacles, visions of liberation have often taken cultural form. Indeed, minorities and immigrants (or their children and grandchildren) have very often supplied the idealistic and popular-artistic or avant-garde expressions that appeal to the semiconscious but widespread wish for another possible U.S. society.
Here, therefore, we find the vital similarities at many different levels, points of commonality among constituencies otherwise seemingly far apart. If there is a single theme of left-leaning popular drama, from nineteenth century theater to twentieth and twenty-first century films and television, from abolitionist tunes, black spirituals, and Chicano corridosthrough counter-culture rock, peacenik folk, feminist music, and politicized hip hop as well, it is the “outsideness” of the protagonist. In optimistic moments, the central character can break with the dreadful fate inscribed so clearly in art since the Greek classics. C. L. R. James was fond of saying that the modern character must choose, and that dilemma exactly makes him or her modern. In pessimistic moments of these artistic expressions, personal escape is impossible&mdashbut the vision of human dignity survives, and often the hope of another, more communal tomorrow.
Race, ethnicity, language, and other particulars naturally play a crucial role in the political implications of the cultural equation. The essays and interviews in the following pages cannot be regarded as anything like comprehensive in their treatment of the subject. But seen together, they offer a beginning.
The cultures of cooperative society are old in North America. In the estimated ten millennia after the Siberian trek from Asia and before the appearance of Europeans, thousands of roughly autonomous societies of many types flourished. Some were strictly hierarchical. But most (to risk an overgeneralization) were roughly communal, limited in the possible acquisition of hereditary power, if often rigid in their sex and gender roles.
Consider, for instance, our current understanding of daily life in the accommodating climate of what was to become Central California. Among an estimated ten thousand coastal people, living in tribes of 250 or so, speaking up to a dozen languages and surprisingly little in touch with each other, dwelt the Ohlones, from present day San Francisco, south through Santa Cruz (another city with a tradition of socialistic local officials) and Watsonville (since the 1930s, a frequent site of Mexican-American labor protests) to Monterrey, where John Steinbeck&rsquos Cannery Row once flourished. By available accounts, the Ohlone were fisher-people and hunter-gatherers, with acorns their most basic year-round food source. They moved frequently, and acquired little individual property as such. Individuals advanced themselves in the eyes of their neighbors through personal generosity and otherwise living the Ohlone ideals of proper behavior. Only the greedy and hyperaggressive did not fit in. Meanwhile, it was forbidden even to speak of the dead: thus, in a sense, life began again with each generation, and its purpose was to continue as in the past. Their invaders, Spaniards and English speakers who practically finished them off, made special note of the Ohlones&rsquo frequent dancing, singing, and, given their limited means, surprisingly colorful clothing.1
Hardly a better example could be found for the popular nineteenth century socialist assumptions of a sort of chain-of-social-evolution. From collective “primitive” culture, society passed through various stages of class systems and finally, toward a future socialism. This scheme, borrowed and adapted by Engels and others from American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan (and highly visible in Marx&rsquos ethnological notebooks), offered “proof” that socialism was “scientific” and no mere will-of-the-wisp utopian fancy. But in North America, by contrast to the hope that Marx held for the Russian mir (and as other thinkers were later to suggest possible for various third world societies), the hope that the collective village life might leap over historical stages to become modern socialism had all but vanished. The North American villagers were gone, or seemed to be (socialists took too little account of them, but American Indians proved surprisingly resilient). The populations who replaced them were, by and large, steeped in commercial capitalism.
Actually, the societies that conquered and brutalized the inhabitants of the New World also possessed their own communalist traditions. The Spanish and the Portuguese of the Counter Reformation, the English-American descendants of the English Revolution, but above all the Central European successors to the Radical Reformation carried with them traditions lost almost, but not quite entirely, in the conquering process.
It is one of the fascinating and enduring ironies of socialism that Liberation Theology, a leading revolutionary ideology of the 1980s with a strong presence today, has its distant origins in the resistance of backward-minded clerics to the spirit of capitalism. The Church hierarchy notoriously joined the invaders in the plunder of the New World, but elements of the grassroots clergy and laity refused, lodging protests, and sometimes saving the remnants of indigenous and downtrodden peoples from extermination. From the 1960s on, the privatization of economic development and the simultaneous abandonment of the protective role toward many indigenous peoples were forcefully rejected by priests and their flocks, if not successfully, and a distinctly new vision of socialism was articulated in the process.
It is just as curious to ascertain the roles that a parallel communalism played in the European invasion of what would become the United States. Pietistic colonies, mostly German, spread across eighteenth century Pennsylvania, practicing social equality (including gender equality), seeking reconciliation with Indian tribes, themselves the living versions of the roughly cooperative life today still practiced by the Amish and others. Likewise, Shakers of British origin, celibate and “soft” technology-minded, scattered their colonies, leaving behind distinctive songs, dances, and practical efforts to use intelligently rather than using up natural resources. Down to the present day, “co-ops” and various experiments at communal living have kept alive the vision of engaging in social practices outside the logic of the market economy.
A converse paradox of American radicalism has found groups of the dispossessed moving in what appears to be the other direction: claiming their right to live as modern citizens in a bourgeois republic. Women&rsquos rights, as a global mass movement, first took shape in North America of the mid-nineteenth century. Abolitionists and early black nationalists frequently made similar claims, by contrast to Mexican nationals and Indians who understandably sought to escape their captivity and recover their stolen semicommunal holdings.
For a historical moment, shortly after what historian Charles Beard dubbed the “Second American Revolution” (i.e., the Civil War), the paradox seemed on the verge of potential resolution. The forces of women&rsquos rights joined hands with the veterans of Abolitionism with deep sympathies for Indians and Mexican-Americans, black activists, early labor leaders and the representatives of the German immigrant radical communities in a grand coalition, a coalition partly given its shape by the arrival of the First International of Karl Marx to American shores. The coalition quickly and tragically fell apart. The actors were too distant in their cultural origins, even more distant than in their class, race, or gender interests.
The movements of U.S.-born radicals for generations thereafter&mdashone might say up to the present day&mdashhave intermittently proved volatile but have also been unstable or short-lived as milieux. Their movements, from Populism and the Socialist Party to the civil rights movement and the rise of the New Left and Black Power have spectacularly threatened the establishment, and then collapsed under the shadow of repression and disappointment. The foreign-born radicals&rsquo movements, on the other hand, often managed to survive and flourish, under various political and cultural labels, for generations until dissolution.
This contrast has been a factor of great importance, perhaps the largest single factor, within the U.S. social movements calling themselves “socialist” or “communist.” From the 1870s to the 1950s, Marxist parties were almost always dominated numerically by the foreign-born. Why? Membership secretaries down to the local level were certain to answer in circular logic, that these members proved the most doggedly loyal within radical organizations whose membership fluctuations often reached 80 percent each year. The foreign-born were willing (observers also frequently suggested) to sit through long and dull educational meetings that others could not tolerate or to accept top-down discipline that seemed, for many others, simply unacceptable. Especially for those immigrants and their children with homelands surrounding the Soviet Union, the vision of socialism far away counteracted the feeling of bourgeois triumph in the United States around them.
Beneath such commonsense reasons, a deeper logic of culture also reigned. Immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe (also Finland), especially Germans along with Jews of various origins, brought along traditions of sharing and also traditions of expectation that capitalism would only be an interruption in the eons-long, collective climb upward. In these cultures, during the second half of the nineteenth century and first two decades of the twentieth, secularists typically broke off from conservative, religious-based institutions and formed self-educational circles that served as the basis for socialist organizations. At the same time, workers and small businessmen formed sickness-and-death benefit societies (providing a collective fund but also a circle of psychological support for moments of life&rsquos crises) that quickly became the locus of cultural activity. The clubhouses of the German immigrant Vereins (societies) or the (Jewish) Workmen&rsquos Circle thus doubled as centers for political meetings, exercise, and cultural expression, especially the chorus, in which both words and music conveyed the message of socialism&rsquos redemptive certainty. Ethnic workers in various trades naturally became pioneer unionists, often creating the forerunners of today&rsquos unions in the same clubhouses.
The contemporary spread of populist farm groups with cooperative practices during the 1870ss was numerically larger, the moments of black-and-white unity in rural and urban movements from the 1890s to 1910s were more dramatic, and strikes and socialist electoral campaigns often more impressive than the quiet movements of immigrants. But nothing had the holding power of the ethnic entities. Only the Industrial Workers of the World, with their distinctive cultures of itinerant workingmen, singing Wobbly songs, and even using Wobbly cards to establish their identity to fellow box-car riders, had anything nearly so elaborate and avowedly left-wing. And only Garveyism, quick to rise and fall (or be suppressed) in organized form during the 1910s and 1920s, had a similar social depth. When repression had silenced all the earlier movements, the immigrant communities remained at the center of the left&mdashthe Communist Party.
Had these immigrants and their grown children only provided the logistical backup for the rise of industrial unionism, they would have made an incomparable contribution. But they were also the central element, both creators and audience, of the Popular Front, whose cultural orientation and methods of organizing among communities remains influential upon the left three generations later.
With the rise of Nazism and the global threat of fascism, Communist leaders shifted strategies in 1935 from early revolution to antifascist alliance through the formation of strategic “fronts.” They also knew that the pronouncement of the Popular Front essentially recognized a change already underway in the United States, of reformers and radicals moving away from revolutionary rhetoric and toward the New Deal, its social ameliorative programs and its cultural initiatives. Here, in the leftward edges of the New Deal during the 1930s and the war years, it could be said that the seeds of the future Monthly Review were planted.
Second-generation immigrant Jews in particular grasped the moment for an emerging public theater, the creation of murals, music, dance, and film aimed at discovering the democratic and radical potential buried deep within U.S. society. Their example and leadership, and the enthusiasm of their audience, proved decisive in reshaping the ideal of what the United States might become if its various folk cultures could be recovered, shared and made the common coin of a socialism scarcely envisioned by immigrant-radical predecessors. They were not alone. In the face of an apparently collapsing capitalism and then a global war in which capitalist social relations appeared smashed and probably beyond reconstructing, the hopes for such a new culture grew widespread.
It was difficult, even a half-dozen years after the Second World War, to remember the progressive charisma of Paul Robeson or Woody Guthrie, Katharine Hepburn or John Garfield, to say nothing of Henry Wallace, the rather mystic Iowan whose evocation of “the common man” and stance of peaceful coexistence toward the Soviet Union were bitterly attacked by Republicans (and conservative Democrats) as subversion of free enterprise. If Franklin D. Roosevelt had died only two years earlier, Wallace would have been president, facing the 1944 election with the power of incumbency. The shape of the postwar world might have been very different.
But it has become nearly as difficult since the 1980s, perhaps, for outsiders and younger folks to grasp what the founders of Monthly Review found in the anticolonial movements abroad and their counterparts in Pan-Africanism at home, in the emerging Chicano movement of the 1950ss, in the expressions of Puerto Rican nationalism and so on. On a world scale, the mobilization of nonwhite peoples within the United States (especially before 1965) might seem small and not particularly socialistic. But veterans of the 1930ss movements, and many young folks of the time (including this writer) found in the civil rights movement vastly more than the promise of an improved civil society. “Freedom Now!” rang of the warmth and collectivity that we experienced in black churches, jazz clubs, and circles of friends, all distinctly outside capitalistic social relations.
In those optimistic moments, the “color line” that W. E. B. Du Bois had described as definitive of the century seemed elastic enough to encompass large chunks of nonblack society. Critics, from conservatives to middle of the road liberals like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, charged this vision with romanticizing poverty, race consciousness, and blind rage. This charge, a faithful echo of Cold War liberalism (Moynihan himself had a background in 1950s psychological warfare) was slanderous as well as flatly untrue. Listen to a particularly vivid speech of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the utopian becomes actual even all these years later. The title of a 1960 pamphlet by C. L. R. James&rsquos small Detroit following, Negro Americans Take the Lead, expresses it all. The promise was crushed in a repression more intense than any seen in the history of the U.S. left from the 1880s to the 1910s and through the 1950s. But the fruition of centuries of culture into the concentrated politics of the 1960s leaves an indelible memory.
The cultures of U.S. socialism had thereby been redefined. It was no longer a question of cultures shaped self-consciously by the socialist ideal, but rather the prospect of liberation, however ill-defined, from the demands of the market for some richer human prospect. It would be undeniable that many elements of the “counterculture,” or the cultural expressions of the peace movement, women&rsquos liberation, or the antiglobalist environmental movement (to mention only the culturally richest of the newer movements) were not self-consciously socialistic. Some never did move beyond righteous rage and protest. But the underlying sense of an endgame, of the choice between a more cooperative society and barbarism (annihilating war) was stark and resonant among many people but especially young people, far and wide.
That possibility took on a new shape as the post-1965 immigrant populations struggled to take root in the adopted society. The scholarship is recent and thus far inadequate.2 But the anecdotal evidence, much of it from labor movement and political activists at the local level, is rich and revealing. Often, traces of what we would call radical or revolutionary memories from homelands have been carefully hidden out of fear of persecution. But any community organizer of “faith-based” (i.e., religion-connected) movements among the new Latino populations has come across survivors of Liberation Theology&rsquos “base communities” forced northward by poverty and repression. Anyone active in the labor and community projects around immigrants from the Dominican Republic&mdashalong the East Coast, the most active and aggressive of the newer groups&mdashwill learn about the island&rsquos political past, including the invasion of U.S. Marines in 1965. Puerto Ricans mobilized by the need to end the bombing of Vieques are retracing the nationalist and socialistic impulses of a long struggle, and so on.
If other political traces (for instance, of Caribbean Pan-Africanism, “Arab socialism,” and “African socialism,” real movements in decades past) are more difficult for any outsider to detect, we can go to culture. Consider, for the moment, the proliferation of Carnival and the music of the West Indies. Since the middle 1980s, the annual August event in Brooklyn has become the largest cultural event of Greater New York. Its participants and its performers come from across the Caribbean and parts of Latin America but it retains the historic social-protest function of Carnival in the Caribbean calypso tents, the articulation of grievances but also at certain moments of utopian collectivity (in the West Indian expression, “All ah we is one!”).
Steelband music, derived from the reuse of oil drums in Trinidad, offers one of the ultimate symbols of redemption from the depths of the most exploitative and destructive technology deployed across the developing world. As Caribbean left leader Tim Hector, editor of the widely-read Outlet published in Antigua, has often explained to readers: to appreciate the beautiful sounds of Caribbean cultural origin through these musical means, is to appreciate the political meaning of the calypso, so as to redefine the possible.3
Likewise, with more immediate political intensity, we today enjoy the rare privilege of seeing new colors of resistance on display at any major demonstration, including the signs, costumes and flags of Arab-Americans, also those from the newest generations of Asian-Americans, and those who might rightly be called Pan-Americans, the descendants of groups so mixed that any description would be inaccurate. In such demonstrations and otherwise, we have an overwhelming need, right now, to note very carefully the emergence of forms and possibilities that neither Old nor New Lefts anticipated.
Among the most curious and fascinating is surely the “indie” network of investigative journalism and commentary available on the Net. Most obviously: mainstream newspaper and television coverage within the United States, covering the Middle East conflict has set levels of deception and truth-twisting unseen since the Cold War, while practically any youngster with Internet access can easily hear the up-to-the-minute information from the West Bank “aired” by another, brave youngster (or oldster) on the scene, risking life and limb to make the truth available. Acting on the technological possibilities, mostly young radicals have made the Net a culture of its own, an unparalleled means for communication and for a new kind of internationalism.
There are other, more familiar, but just as hopeful signs. To take a very particular case in point: the rebirth of an antiwar political milieu around the Bay Area-based tabloid War Times surely qualifies as one of these, and directly or indirectly involves several of the contributors to this issue. Peace veteran David McReynolds, sending an Internet dispatch from the April demonstration in Washington, noted its appearance as a sign of renewed radical coherence about global issues, and of hope.
Not that War Times or anyone else has “the answer.” Today&rsquos free-swinging demonstrations, whatever the organizational sponsors and the inclination of the official speakers, remain appropriately eclectic in the extreme. The politics of the youngest cohorts might better be described as “anarchist” than anything else&mdashas clumsy and inexact as any label will be. Yet especially from the “Left Coast” (an old term for Washington, Oregon, and above all California), the political roots of a multicultural left can be traced to the “Third World Marxism” (as Max Elbaum has called it in his important volume, Revolution In the Air: Sixties Radicals turn to Lenin, Mao and Che) of individuals and groupings descended, with many changes, from the Marxist-Leninist impulse of the 1970s.
The path from a narrow, leadership-heavy and sectarian past has been a tortuous one, leaving many of the specifics (fervent attachment to Chinese leadership and the idea of building a new communist party “vanguard” in the United States, etc.) well behind in the political wreckage. Doubtless a newer New Left would have arrived anyway, carrying forward the feminist, gay and lesbian rights, ecological, and other messages that the Marxist-Leninist movements downgraded and sometimes scorned. But the vision of a U.S. Marxism reshaped around the global movements of empire&rsquos victims, and consequently also around the newest immigrants to the United States, was a genuine contribution and in the end a saving grace.
A newspaper (in this case, a monthly tabloid intent on becoming bi-weekly) is not a movement. But a new kind of New Left has been gestating in the Bay Area for several years, based mainly among older and younger folks rooted in racial justice, immigrant rights, anti-prison-industrial-complex work. They provide the base for War Times as a nationwide voice of the antiwar movement, giving it a multicultural face and in turn strengthening the milieu that gave rise to it. A dynamic process of political interaction and dialogue involving hundreds of activists of all generations offers a glimpse at something beyond demonstrations. What will happen next, one cannot say. But when, in April, 2002, San Francisco saw its largest demonstration in decades, with police estimates of 20,000 (neatly cutting in half the real crowd size), the stirrings had found their constituency&mdashand in small measure, also helped to create it.
So many of the phenomena we need to observe are likely to elude the printed word and take flight in forms that may or may not find political realization. Whether they do depends upon economic and political conditions, of course, but also the shape of the U.S. left ahead. The decisive positive lesson of the Popular Front that remains all these decades later is the need to work within the cultural possibilities at every available level, to find or invent transitional watchwords, to evoke a multiradicalism and multiculturalism at once realistic and visionary.
We will not see the reappearance of the European ethnic-style socialist or communist local clubhouses, sickness-and-death benefit societies or perhaps even the single, unifying international event (like the Russian Revolution) that seems to make sense of an epoch. But we have already experienced the birth of a new working class with global roots and aspirations that place its members in the most active sectors of the reviving labor movement (such as restaurant and service workers). If the AFL-CIO can make a comeback after so many decades (until at least 1995) of incompetent and/or CIA-linked leadership, it will find the human sources and the future leadership here&mdashor nowhere.
The Failed Socialist State in Midwestern America
The tiny village of New Harmony, Indiana is something of a Midwestern utopia—a beautiful slice of small-town Americana on the banks of the Wabash River. A tree-lined main street evokes the memory of a simpler time in this country’s history when folks could leave their doors unlocked, neighbors were best friends, and everyone worked together for the common good.
In that simpler time 195 years ago, New Harmony was a literal utopia where people really did work together for the common good in what is considered to be the United States of America’s first socialist community.
On April 27 th , 1825, British industrialist Robert Owen purchased New Harmony from a religious community with grand plans to turn it into what he called “a new moral world.”
“There is but one mode by which man can possess in perpetuity all the happiness which his nature is capable of enjoying,” he wrote , “[and] that is by the union and co-operation of all for the benefit of each.”
This spirit of cooperation in Owen’s utopia would prove his theory that “society may be formed so as to exist without crime, without poverty, with health greatly improved, with little, if any misery, and with intelligence and happiness increased a hundredfold and no obstacle whatsoever intervenes at this moment except ignorance to prevent such a state of society from becoming universal.”
The wealthy, he argued, “take pride…[in depriving] the great mass of mankind of the most essential benefits that belong to human nature.” If those benefits were shared equally among the masses, though, then a community could live together in, well, harmony.
Owen addressed Congress and outlined his beliefs to anyone who would listen in Washington, D.C., eventually attracting hundreds of leading thinkers, artists, scientists, and workers to help him create a “superior social, intellectual and physical environment.”
It was, as Owen put it, the perfect model of “utopian socialism.” And it failed less than a year later.
This would be a “community of equality” unlike any the country had seen before. Each of New Harmony’s 800 residents would contribute their unique talents and share in the bounty that they were sure to produce together.
Only they didn’t. Almost immediately, Owen recognized that his grand community was “chaotic.” Its residents lacked the motivation to work, while its government was unable to manage even the town’s one general store.
“[E]ven salads were deposited in the store to be handed out,” one New Harmony resident wrote , “making 10,000 unnecessary steps [and] causing them to come to the tables in a wilted, deadened state.”
His utopia was quickly collapsing around him, but Owen—ever the idealist—was undeterred. On July 4 th , 1826—the 50 th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence—he delivered what he termed the “Declaration of Mental Independence.”
“I now declare to you and to the world that man up to this hour has been in all parts of the earth a slave to a trinity of the most monstrous evils that could be combined to inflict mental and physical evil upon the whole race,” he said. “I refer to private property, absurd and irrational systems of religion and marriage founded upon individual property.”
None of them existed in New Harmony. Superstitious religious traditions were laughed at, private property was abolished, and even children were raised by the community instead of in family units. It was, as Owen put it, the perfect model of “utopian socialism.”
And it failed less than a year later.
The community couldn’t produce enough food to be self-sufficient, primarily because when its hardest-working members realized that they would earn the same benefits as the laziest, they stopped working. With no new houses being built for the growing community and food shortages becoming an epidemic, homelessness and famine ran rampant until eventually New Harmony’s experiment with socialism ended in March, 1827.
“For by this unjust plan they must of necessity eliminate the valuable members and retain only the improvident, unskilled and vicious.” -Robert Dale Owen
In a desperate bid to save his failed utopia, Owen allowed for individual property ownership and private enterprise, but it was too late: New Harmony collapsed under the weight of its lofty ideals in 1829.
Owen squandered his personal fortune paying off the town’s debts but refused to acknowledge that his vision was a disaster.
His son, Robert Dale Owen, however, understood completely where New Harmony went wrong.
“All cooperative schemes which provide equal remuneration to the skilled and industrious and the ignorant and idle must work their own downfall,” he wrote of his father’s utopia . “For by this unjust plan they must of necessity eliminate the valuable members and retain only the improvident, unskilled and vicious.”
America, it seemed, had learned its lesson about socialism even if its first adherent never did. Socialism failed 195 years ago, so there’s no reason to believe it could succeed today, is there? And obviously, no one would be foolish enough to try, right? Right?
The Indoctrination of American Students in Socialism
Since the 1960s Leftists, Progressives, Socialists, and Marxists have migrated to, and have taken positions in every level of public school and college education, including in the National Education Association (the national teachers union), public school teaching positions, public school administrator positions, college professorships, college department heads, college deans, members of Boards of Regents, and in government positions at every level of The Department of Education.
In 2007, four U.S. Communist groups formed an alliance in order to work toward taking control of the Democrat Party in California, and then in other states, with the ultimate goal of taking control of the National Democrat Committee. The long-term plan included the indoctrination of students at all levels of public school education, and in colleges around the country, in order to convince millions of students that the Constitutional Republic had been a massive failure, while at the same time, painting a positive image of Socialism. The goal was to gain the support of generations of naïve students, with the expectation they would eventually help the Communists gain control of local, state, and the federal government. Their detailed plans are outlined in the attachment, labeled The Inside/Outside Project.
“Give me just one generation of youth and I’ll transform the world.” – Vladimir Lenin
Traditionally, for over 200 years, the curriculum in public schools and in state colleges was developed and controlled by local school boards and individual state Education Departments. In 2008, then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano led a Common Core Task Force composed of commissioners of education, governors, corporate chief executive officers, and recognized experts in higher education. In December 2008, that Task Force developed what became known as the Common Core State Standards, those state standards were then adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
The Common Core Curriculum State Standards became the mechanism by which the Federal Government took control of public education. The Obama administration required states to adopt Common Core State Standards, implemented by the Department of Education. The 50 state Education Departments were informed that it would be much easier to receive federal aide to state education, if the states adopted the Common Core Curriculum for their public schools.
The newly adopted Common Core Curriculum erased much of the US History once taught in public schools for over 200 years. That required the revision of the accurate US History textbooks once used in public schools. The revision of US History textbooks was funded by front groups, controlled by George Soros. The new US History textbooks disparaged the remarkable history of the Republic, portrayed Socialism as beneficial of the masses, while stating The Free Enterprise System was unfair yet The Free Enterprise System has been the most successful economic engine in the history of mankind.
The new US History textbooks eliminated events, misrepresented facts, inserted new individuals who were unimportant, defamed the Founding Fathers, criticized the US Constitution, falsely reported the massive genocide of Native Americans, covered up the fact that the US fought wars to free millions of enslaved people, and invented an inaccurate and wholly negative impression of the Republic, as being cruel, racist, oppressive, violent, and discriminatory. US History textbooks now enumerate the contributions of Sikhs, LGBTs, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans, black Americans, Hindus, and many other group—it’s a modern Socialist handbook.
It became obvious that failure to adopt Common Core State Standards would make federal financial aid to states more difficult to obtain, and/or would delay financial aid to states an unreasonable long period of time. Implementing the Common Core Curriculum also required states to purchase approved textbooks for each course, including a newly revised US History textbook.
The Common Core Curriculum’s re-educated America’s youth, by not only misrepresenting the US History of the Republic, but by misrepresenting the character of Socialism. American students have never been informed that Socialism has failed miserably in 37 countries over the last 100 years, and that it was responsible for the murder of 60 million formerly free citizens in most of those 37 countries. Students are not taught that the current example of a Socialist government is Venezuela and Cuba.
The Common Core Curriculum eliminated Civics Courses previously taught in public schools for hundreds of years. The concepts of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and The Right to Bear Arms are regularly attacked and restricted on the grounds of college campuses, in college lectures halls, and in college classrooms.
Today multiple generations of students are not taught the importance of, nor do they understand the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Amendments to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, how the three branches of government interrelate, why the Electoral College is so important, the Judicial System (the Supreme Court, the 13 Appellant Courts, 94 Federal District Courts, 3 Territorial Courts, etc.).
Civics in public schools has been replaced by Ethnic Studies. Now grammar, middle, and high schools across the nation are provided with classroom instruction in Ethnics Studies that has been destroying the positive culture of America’s society. Students are being taught that race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship status are tools of oppression, power, and white privilege. Students are being misled about state violence, racism, male toxicity, intergenerational trauma, heteropatriarchy, and that there is a common thread that link them.
Students are being graded on how well they apply the above listed concepts they are being indoctrinated with in classroom instruction and are being evaluated on how they apply those concepts in their writing assignments, classroom discussions, and in their community organizing projects. Teachers around the country are offering Ethnic Study classes, units, or lessons on their own initiative, citing a growing urgency to confront racism, sexism, homophobia, white privilege, and other entrenched social inequalities. There is a national movement to require students to have a passing grade in Ethnic Studies, in order to graduate from high school.
Since the Common Core Curriculum courses in US History misrepresents and denigrates the accurate US History of the Republic, the curriculum must be revised. The inaccurate, perverted, and misleading US History textbooks must be rewritten to present an accurate and positive history of the Republic. Since 2008, many generations of America students have never been taught, or have little knowledge of the accurate facts about US History, but have been indoctrinated in how beneficial and superior to democracy, Socialism is for the United States.
Civics must again be taught to all American students as it once was taught to them for hundreds of years. Having a knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Amendments to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, how the three branches of government interrelate, and the US Judicial System, would give students an appreciation of the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and that all law- abiding citizens have a Right to Bear Arms.
Ethnics Studies demeans the United States and misleads American students to believe the US is racist, violent, oppressive, supports white privilege, homophobic, supports male toxicity, a heteropatriarchy society, etc. that type of daily misleading vilification of the US being taught in millions of classrooms daily, to American students, must cease. Instead Ethnic Studies should support Freedom of Speech, support Religious Liberty, eliminate Political Correctness, support interracial cooperation, support legal immigration, oppose voter fraud, support Law Enforcement, promote patriotism, promote support for the US Armed Forces, and so much more that is positive.
Unfortunately, many public schools, especially in major metropolitan centers, have been turned into indoctrination centers, and many refugees and Illegal Alien public school students refuse to assimilate, do not agree with US values, and are bad bet for adjustment in the United States, like legal immigrant have been for 100 years. The US Census Bureau released it’s Annual Community Survey, it found that 22 million of the 44 million foreign-born US residents are not U.S. citizens. (DailyMail.com reported.)
Degrading the US History of the Republic, while promoting Socialism to America’s students since 2008, resulted in 51 % of American’s youth preferring Socialism to Democracy. Now 72% of voters between 18 and 34 prefer receiving basic government income (Hill-HarrisX poll), and millions of millennials have demonstrated their support for Bernie Sanders’, Elizabeth Warren’s, and the Democrat Socialist Party’s Radical Socialist policies.
A quote from the late Czech college professor and Communist Party lawmaker, Milan Hübl, Ph.D. explains what the four Communist groups have been working to accomplish, since they created their Inside/Outside Project, in order to gain control and support of many generations of naïve students.
Professor Hübl stated, “The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory, destroy its books, its culture, and its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster.”
“If only today’s schools still presented America as a nation of great ideals and progress, instead of a racist failure.”
Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62
Capt USN(Ret)/Former FBI
Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC
San Diego, CA
The Historical Struggle to Rid Socialism of Sexism
In the earliest years of the 20th century, women’s rights left much to be desired. Husbands could beat and rape their wives with little worry of recourse in 1910, the United States Supreme Court denied wives the right to prosecute their husbands for assault. It was illegal to disseminate information on contraception. Laws giving wives rights to their own earnings and property had slowly crept across most states, but women were still fighting for equal access to educational opportunities and professional spheres campaigning for more practical clothing. In 1908, New York banned women from smoking in public. Only 19 states had granted women full or partial suffrage before 1920, when all U.S. women achieved full voting rights.
The nation’s major political parties, meanwhile, offered little to women agitating to upend the status quo. In the 1908 presidential election party platforms, the Democrats declared themselves “the champion of equal rights and opportunities to all,” yet never mentioned improving women’s rights. While they allowed women to participate in the Democratic national convention, only five delegates out of 1,008 were women, and all that the Republicans promised was to investigate women’s working conditions. The smaller Prohibition party wanted “uniform marriage and divorce laws” and suffrage based upon intelligence and English-language literacy.
The nascent Socialist Party of America, founded in 1901, seemed to be different. Its platform specifically called for women’s suffrage and had formed a Women’s National Committee with the specific goal of persuading women to join the party. By 1909, of its 50,000 registrants, 2,000 were women.
Socialists offered “a rather extraordinary space for women's involvement in politics, certainly unlike any other party,” says Paul Heideman, a historian of the American Left at New York University. Yet, even with the socialists’ doctrinal commitment, the party’s actual record of fighting for women’s equality and inclusion was lacking.
To firebrands like Lena Morrow Lewis, who had risen quickly to become one of the Socialist Party’s most well-known organizers and orators, the misogyny of the party’s male membership was blinding them to societal realities. Her political party had been around for a decade when, in 1911, Lewis issued a stern warning to her like-minded cohort: "because a man labels himself Socialist does not endow him with brains nor make him broad-minded and liberal in his views. . The prejudice of small-minded men should not be catered to."
Many early (male) socialists argued that once socialism was in place, feminism would be rendered unnecessary, so a separate push for women’s rights was therefore superfluous all energy, they argued, should be put toward advancing socialism. (Even today, some prominent socialists decry “identity politics” as a distraction from the key goal of achieving a socialist society.)
On the other hand, “women socialists pushed for a more aggressive approach to women's liberation,” says Heideman. “They argued that the party needed to do more to recruit women specifically, that the party had too often taken women for granted.”
Famed feminist writer Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ poem “The Socialist and the Suffragist,” published in the wildly popular socialist paper Appeal to Reason in 1912, reflected the tension between the socialist and women’s movements of the time:
In January 1912, author and activist Ernest Untermann called out hypocritical behavior of his fellow socialists in the pages of the Railway Carmen’s Journal: “[I]t seems inexplicable at first sight that even … Socialists should look with indifference or disfavor upon the efforts of their wives, sweethearts, mothers, sisters to secure equality with men. The fact is indisputable, however. It does exist and persist in our own ranks.” Untermann identified his comrades’ sexism as being rooted in men’s fear that expansion of a woman’s horizons would make her more self-reliant and “less willing to swallow all the crooked logic of the ‘superior’ male mind.”
Things weren’t much better for socialists in Europe, where a burgeoning women’s rights movement was also at odds with the push for economic equality. It took until 1928 for the United Kingdom to grant women equal voting rights to men France was even later to the party, with French women not legally casting a ballot until 1945. “Women’s suffrage was beyond the pale of practical politics, unlikely to be realized and still less likely to interest voters. Not only did socialists avoid the subject of the suffrage, but some actually opposed women’s suffrage,” historian Charles Sowerwine wrote in his book Sisters or Citizens: Women and socialism in France since 1876.
In both of Britain’s major socialist parties of the era, “hostile attitudes were at times expressed by individual leaders or branches towards the Woman Question and priority was rarely given to issues of interest to women, while female members … were confined to gender-specific roles,” Karen Hunt and co-author June Hannam wrote in Socialist Women: Britain, 1880s to 1920s.
Suffrage organizations, while seemingly fighting for more equality, were mostly advocating for voting rights for wealthy white women. Literature from groups like the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) called for literacy tests and nativity requirements for voting and encouraged black disenfranchisement. “In the early 20th century, the NAWSA had embarked on a explicitly racist and xenophobic path under Carrie Chapman Catt,” Heideman says. Catt famously declared, “White supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage.”
Carrie Chapman Catt (Wikimedia Commons)
But Heideman notes that some socialist women worried that in punting the political hot-potato of suffrage, their party was effectively “surrendering the movement for women's liberation to middle-class feminist groups who would never help working women.”
“The American suffrage movement has been, until very recently, altogether a parlor affair, absolutely detached from the economic needs of the people,” acclaimed feminist anarchist writer Emma Goldman declared in 1911.
By challenging women’s emancipation as marginal to the socialist project, socialist women, Hunt says, reconfigured the meaning of socialism itself. “They were inspired by socialism’s promise of a new way of life. To imagine the development of a new kind of politics, which would provide the possibility for women to develop their full potential as human beings,” Hunt says in an interview.
Theresa Malkiel, who was elected to the party’s Women's National Committee in 1909 and today is best known as the founder of International Women’s Day, observed that all of the women at the 1908 New York Socialists Women’s Conference were “tired of their positions as official cake-bakers and money-collectors” and eager to take on more active work within the party. (A conference, Malkiel notes, that most of the men laughed at.)
“Women socialists voiced considerable discontent over their status within the party. ‘Not all men who call themselves socialists,’ one noted, ‘are fully so where women are concerned,’” Heideman wrote last year in Jacobin magazine.
Elsewhere in Untermann’s screed, he describes this seemingly good guy who supports women’s rights so long as it benefits him personally to do so, but quickly puts her back in her place once it infringes upon the status quo: “This type of man is willing to flatter, cajole, pet and champion women, so long as they are willing to be his playthings. But when a woman stands upon the level of equality and attempts to lift this sort of admirer to her own noble plane, this champion quickly . drops his mask of chivalry, and frowns upon her.”
Malkiel wished men in her party would embody the platform statement: “There can be no emancipation of humanity without the social independence and equality of sex,” but they always came up short. “How bitter is our disappointment whenever we come to look upon matters as they really are—men who . follow their promise to the letter, as far as generalities are concerned, but stop short where the question comes to the practical point of sex equality,” Malkiel wrote in an essay published in International Socialist Review in 1909. “What revolution will yet have to take place in the conceptions of men! What change of education, before they will be able to attain the knowledge of a pure human relationship to woman!”
As a Russian immigrant who became a New York garment worker at age 17, Malkiel was a champion of immigrant rights and fair and safe working conditions for women. Her novelization of the shirtwaist factory strikes was published in 1910 a year later, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 workers, mostly women. Her book and the fire are credited with pushing the state to adopt 36 new worker safety regulations.
Without women’s full participation, Malkiel knew socialism would fail. She lamented her party’s lackluster efforts to address the needs of working-class women. If one turned to a socialist man for support, she was “doomed to be disillusioned, for they discourage her activity and are utterly listless towards the outcome of her struggle.” Socialist women would have to launch their own endeavor for equality.
Theresa Malkiel (Wikimedia Commons)
Members of the Women’s Committee served as convention delegates, organized rallies, engaged in extensive campaigning and canvassing, gave lectures and authored articles and pamphlets, with the aim of recruiting women to the cause and advocating for increased prominence of women’s issues in socialist platforms.
“These units often had great success, with some of their organizers bragging that they were bringing men to socialism through their wives, rather than the other way around,” Heideman said. “Especially on the Great Plains, where socialist politics often took the form of large, revival-style encampments, women played a central role.”
Many prominent socialist women also founded their own socialist publications and formed their own groups was a way to overcome the practical barriers to political participation. But Hunt says socialist women disagreed as to whether such separate initiatives should be regarded as “patronising” and “evidence of a socialist sexual division of politics” or as a positive effort toward accommodation and inclusion.
When asked about sexism among prominent socialists, Hunt said the most infamous example is Ernest Belfort Bax, a staunch men’s rights advocate who joined Britain’s first organized socialist party, the Social Democratic Federation.
“He was overtly misogynist, claiming that women were inherently inferior and liable to hysteria, and therefore not a fit as men for ‘political, administrative or judicial functions,’” Hunt says. But Bax’s views were not representative of all socialist men of the era, and both male and female party members regularly challenged him. At least one socialist woman took Bax on in print, arguing “not only that he was prejudiced, but that his anti-feminism was incompatible with his socialism and his membership of the SDF,” Hunt said. But the party believed a member’s stance on women’s rights was a matter of individual conscience, so it was ultimately impossible to censure or oust him.
Hunt cites multiple instances of sexist language in the SDF’s newspaper in the late 1800s: “half a dozen good looking girls would treble and quadruple the usual collection made at any open air meeting.” “Now if we were to constantly point out to women that under Socialism . their chief duties would consist of ‘shopping’, and selecting articles which would beautify themselves and their homes … we should soon get them on our side.” Some socialist men argued the distractions of consumption—“frocks, bonnets and fashions”—kept women from empathizing with socialist politics.
There was a sort of ‘feminizing,’ Heideman says: “Women's supposed domesticity and kindness were elevated as values which socialism would enshrine once it did away with the brutish exploitation of capitalism. Both male and female socialists advanced this kind of gendered vision of social transformation.”
Sometimes, socialist women embraced these stereotypes. A delegate to national socialist conventions and to the international congress of 1910, May Wood Simons endeavored to show that she could be a wife who was both domestically devoted and intellectually stimulating. The prevailing ideology of the time was the “cult of true womanhood,” which glorified supposed differences between the genders. Women were weaker, likely to be exhausted by too much education or work, but more moral and spiritually pure, and such attributes were best suited to crafting a sanctuary-like home for one’s family. The Women's Labour League in Britain, for example, described itself in 1910 as “an organisation to bring the mother-spirit into politics.” Some feminists used these theories as a springboard for their own efforts, arguing for women’s superiority based on their reproductive capacity and moral superiority, but this only reinforced society’s narrow view of women’s abilities.
“Few countries have produced such arrogance and snobbishness as America. Particularly is this true of the American woman of the middle class,” Goldman’s 1911 essay continues. “She not only considers herself the equal of man, but his superior, especially in her purity, goodness, and morality. Small wonder that the American suffragist claims for her vote the most miraculous powers.”
Even Untermann, after explaining “an interest in public life means more efforts for emancipation from home drudgery,” went on to note it would lead women to “exert their power to make the home more beautiful, more worthy of its name,” and that a “more active interest of the children in their mother’s public duties” would produce “a better grade of citizens, a cleaner public and private life.”
That early socialists were even open to grappling with the “woman question” was radical, giving women hope that a more equitable future was possible.
Democratic Socialists of America
The Socialist Party of America, came, as socialist parties often do, to a crisis in 1972.
The Debs faction wanted to perpetuate his pacifist position and opposed the Vietnam War. The other faction, led by political activist and author Michael Harrington, supported the war as a means to check the Soviet Union, whose human rights abuses and repressive authoritarian government were seen by some socialists as a betrayal of their movement.
Harrington also saw this as a way to distance himself from the anti-Americanism many associated with socialism. By 1973, Harrington had taken his faction out of the Socialist Party of America and formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.
From the beginning, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) committed to working with the Democratic Party, labor, racial minorities and feminists.
Harrington adopted a pragmatic brand of socialism that he described as being “on the left of the possible.” It opposed Soviet-like concepts American socialists had once endorsed, such as centralization of the economy and public ownership of major enterprises.
The DSA was founded in 1982 by the merger of Harrington’s DSOC with the smaller New American Movement, a socialist group that had grown out of the student groups of the 1960s.
Venezuelan Warns US: Socialist Destruction Starts with Tearing Down Statues and Censoring Everything
A Venezuelan activist is warning Americans that the torching and toppling of historical statues could be a sign of what lies ahead - loss of our country to a devastating idea like socialism.
Activist Elizabeth Rogliani shared her warning online, pointing out that she experienced a similar situation as a teenager growing up in Venezuela.
"Why do I even worry about some silly statues coming down. Because the last time I didn't care about this I was a teenager," Rogliani said. "I have already lived through this thing when I was living in Venezuela. The statues came down. Chavez didn't want all that history displayed and then he changed the street names, then came the school curriculum. Some movies couldn't be shown on TV channels and so on and so forth."
Venezuelans recognize signs of a communist takeover better than almost anyone
(p.s. that accent is )pic.twitter.com/UJSjmfDXCo
— Roz(@PolitiKurd) June 22, 2020
Venezuela has been devastated by socialism, even though it was once a stable democracy and the richest country in Latin America.
"You guys think it can't happen to you. I've heard this so many times, but always be on guard," she added. "Never believe something can't happen to you. You need to guard your country and your society or it will be destroyed."
"We didn't believe it could happen to us. Cubans warned us, yet it happened. And there's clearly a lot of people wanting to destroy the US."
During an interview on Fox News Channel's "The Ingraham Angle," the activist reportedly told host Laura Ingraham that all historical and religious symbols are in danger of defacement.
"Founding Fathers are going to be attacked," she said. "Religious symbols are going to be attacked. And next, probably, museums," she added. "I mean, anything can be attacked if you just let it happen. If you just let the first ones come down, then there are no limits to what's next."
Rogliani noted that this destructive behavior toward some of the world's most significant figures – like statutes of George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Abraham Lincoln – is an effort to destroy a national identity.
"It's an attempt to change the identity of the country. That's my opinion. And, that's what they did to us," she said. "Of course, it was different. At that point, they already had taken the government. But, at this point, they're trying to change the national identity and they're trying to destroy the system. And, if they get to the government, they'll do it. They certainly will do it."
In a tweet, President Trump indicated that he stands against oppression and supports the people of Venezuela.
"Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela. My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!"
Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela. My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2020
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By the 1880s  Another anarcho-communist journal later appeared in the US called The Firebrand. Most anarchist publications in the US were in Yiddish, German, or Russian, but Free Society was published in English, permitting the dissemination of anarchist communist thought to English-speaking populations in the US.  Around that time these American anarcho-communist sectors entered in debate with the individualist anarchist group around Benjamin Tucker.  In February 1888 Berkman left for the United States from his native Russia.  Soon after his arrival in New York City, Berkman became an anarchist through his involvement with groups that had formed to campaign to free the men convicted of the 1886 Haymarket bombing.  He, as well as Emma Goldman, soon came under the influence of Johann Most, the best-known anarchist in the United States, and an advocate of propaganda of the deed—attentat, or violence carried out to encourage the masses to revolt.   Berkman became a typesetter for Most's newspaper Freiheit. 
, was an American anarchist who focused on economics calling them "Anarchistic-Socialism"  and adhering to the Samuel Gompers.  Dyer Lum was a 19th-century American individualist anarchist labor activist and poet.  A leading anarcho-syndicalist and a prominent left-wing intellectual of the 1880s,  he is remembered as the lover and mentor of early anarcha-feminist Voltairine de Cleyre.  Lum was a prolific writer who wrote a number of key anarchist texts, and contributed to publications including Mother Earth, Twentieth Century, Liberty (Benjamin Tucker's individualist anarchist journal), The Alarm (the journal of the International Working People's Association) and The Open Court among others. He developed a "mutualist" theory of unions and as such was active within the Knights of Labor and later promoted anti-political strategies in the American Federation of Labor. Frustration with abolitionism, spiritualism, and labor reform caused Lum to embrace anarchism and radicalize workers, as he came to believe that revolution would inevitably involve a violent struggle between the working class and the employing class.  Convinced of the necessity of violence to enact social change he volunteered to fight in the American Civil War, hoping thereby to bring about the end of slavery. 
Early American Anarchism
Union members now feared to strike. The military, which saw strikers as dangerous insurgents, intimidated and threatened them. These attitudes compounded with a public backlash against anarchists and radicals. As public opinion of strikes and of unions soured, the Socialists often appeared guilty by association. They were lumped together with strikers and anarchists under a blanket of public distrust.
"On Monday morning, April 20, two dynamite bombs were exploded, in the hills above Ludlow [. ] a signal for operations to begin. At 9 am a machine gun began firing into the tents [where strikers were living], and then others joined."  One eyewitness reported: "The soldiers and mine guards tried to kill everybody anything they saw move".  That night the National Guard rode down from the hills surrounding Ludlow and set fire to the tents. Twenty-six people, including two women and eleven children, were killed. 
The strikers began to fight back, killing four mine guards and firing into a separate camp where strikebreakers lived. When the body of a strikebreaker was found nearby, the National Guard's General Chase ordered the tent colony destroyed in retaliation. 
In 1914 one of the most bitter labor conflicts in American history took place at a mining colony in Colorado called Ludlow. After workers went on strike in September 1913 with grievances ranging from requests for an eight-hour day to allegations of subjugation, Colorado governor Elias Ammons called in the National Guard in October 1913. That winter, Guardsmen made 172 arrests.  
In early 1894 a dispute broke out between Olney and President Grover Cleveland took the matter to court and were granted several injunctions preventing railroad workers from "interfering with interstate commerce and the mails".  The judiciary of the time denied the legitimacy of strikers. Said one judge, "[neither] the weapon of the insurrectionist, nor the inflamed tongue of him who incites fire and sword is the instrument to bring about reforms".  This was the first sign of a clash between the government and Socialist ideals.
Strikes also took place that same month (May 1886) in other cities, including in Milwaukee, where seven people died when Wisconsin Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk ordered state-militia troops to fire upon thousands of striking workers who had marched to the Milwaukee Iron Works Rolling Mill in Bay View, on Milwaukee's south side.
In May 1886 the Knights of Labor were demonstrating in the Haymarket Square in Chicago, demanding an eight-hour day in all trades. When police arrived, an unknown person threw a bomb into the crowd, killing one person and injuring several others. "In a trial marked by prejudice and hysteria" a court sentenced seven anarchists, six of them German-speaking, to death - with no evidence linking them to the bomb. 
The Socialist movement was able to gain strength from its ties to labor. "The [economic] panic of 1907, as well as the growing strength of the Socialists, Wobblies, and trade unions, speeded up the process of reform."  However, corporations sought to protect their profits, and took steps against unions and strikers. They hired strikebreakers and pressured government to call in the national militia when workers refused to do their jobs. A number of strikes dissolved into violent confrontations.
The most prominent U.S. unions of the time included the American Federation of Labor, the Knights of Labor, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). In 1869 or 1870 Uriah S. Stephens founded the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor around secrecy and a semireligious aura to "create a sense of solidarity".  The Knights comprised, in essence, "one big union of all workers".  In 1886 a convention of delegates from twenty separate unions formed the American Federation of Labor, with Samuel Gompers as its head. It peaked at 4 million members. The Industrial Workers of the World (or "Wobblies") formed along the same lines as the Knights, to become one big union. The IWW found early supporters in De Leon and in Debs.
The Socialist Party formed strong alliances with a number of labor organizations, because of their similar goals. In an attempt to rebel against the abuses of corporations, workers had found a solution–or so they thought–in a technique of collective bargaining. By banding together into "unions" and by refusing to work, or "striking", workers would halt production at a plant or in a mine, forcing management to meet their demands. From Daniel De Leon's early proposal to organize unions with a Socialist purpose, the two movements became closely tied. They shared as one major ideal the spirit of collectivism: both in the Socialist platform and in the idea of collective bargaining.
Socialism's ties to Labor
Generally accepted as the first general strike in the United States, the Knights of Labor and the Marxist-leaning Workingmen's Party, the main radical political party of the era. When the railroad strike reached East St. Louis, Illinois in July 1877, the St. Louis Workingman's Party led a group of approximately 500 people across the river in an act of solidarity with the nearly 1,000 workers on strike. 
  The first socialist to hold public office in the United States was Fred C. Haack, the owner of a shoe store in
The Socialist movement became coherent and energized under Debs. It included "scores of former Populists, militant miners, and blacklisted railroad workers, who were [. ] inspired by occasional visits from national figures like Eugene V. Debs". 
As a leader within the Socialist movement, Eugene V. Debs movement quickly gained national recognition as a charismatic orator. He was often inflammatory and controversial, but also strikingly modest and inspiring. He once said: "I am not a Labor Leader I do not want you to follow me or anyone else [. ] You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition." Debs lent a great and powerful air to the revolution with his speaking. "There was almost a religious fervor to the movement, as in the eloquence of Debs". 
Bringing to light the resemblance of the American party's politics to those of Lassalle, Daniel De Leon emerged as an early leader of the Socialist Labor Party. He also adamantly supported unions, but criticized the collective bargaining movement within America at the time, favoring a slightly different approach.  The resulting disagreement between De Leon's supporters and detractors within the party led to an early schism. De Leon's opponents, led by Morris Hillquit, left the Socialist Labor Party in 1901: they fused with Eugene V. Debs's Social Democratic Party and formed the Socialist Party of America.
American Socialism was based on an ideology known today as "general strike, as other socialists wish to do). Thus the Socialist Party strongly advocated universal suffrage, in order to politically empower the [oppressed] working class, or "proletariat".
The Socialist Labor Party (SLP) was officially founded in 1876 at a convention in Newark, New Jersey. The party was made up overwhelmingly of German immigrants, who had brought Marxist ideals with them to North America. So strong was the heritage that the official party language was German for the first three years. In its nascent years the party encompassed a broad range of various socialist philosophies, with differing concepts of how to achieve their goals. Nevertheless, there was a militia, the Lehr und Wehr Verein affiliated to the party. When the SLP reorganised as a Marxist party in 1890 its philosophy solidified and its influence quickly grew, and by around the start of the 20th century the SLP was the foremost American socialist party.
A larger wave of German immigrants followed in the 1870s and 1880s, including social democratic followers of Ferdinand Lasalle. Lasalle regarded state aid through political action as the road to revolution and opposed trade unionism, which he saw as futile, believing that according to the Iron Law of Wages employers would only pay subsistence wages. The Lasalleans formed the Social Democratic Party of North America in 1874 and both Marxists and Lasalleans formed the Workingmen's Party of the United States in 1876. When the Lasalleans gained control in 1877, they changed the name to the Socialist Labor Party of North America (SLP). However, many socialists abandoned political action altogether and moved to trade unionism. Two former socialists, Adolph Strasser and Samuel Gompers, formed the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886. 
Early American Socialism
|“||The economic principles of Modern Socialism are a logical deduction from the principle laid down by Adam Smith in the early chapters of his Wealth of Nations,—namely, that labor is the true measure of price. Half a century or more after Smith enunciated the principle above stated, Socialism picked it up where he had dropped it, and in following it to its logical conclusions, made it the basis of a new economic philosophy [. ] This seems to have been done independently by three different men, of three different nationalities, in three different languages: Josiah Warren, an American Pierre J. Proudhon, a Frenchman Karl Marx, a German Jew [. ] That the work of this interesting trio should have been done so nearly simultaneously would seem to indicate that Socialism was in the air, and that the time was ripe and the conditions favorable for the appearance of this new school of thought. So far as priority of time is concerned, the credit seems to belong to Warren, the American,—a fact which should be noted by the stump orators who are so fond of declaiming against Socialism as an imported article. ||”|
American anarchist Benjamin Tucker wrote in Individual Liberty:
Utopian socialism reached the national level, fictionally, in Edward Bellamy's 1888 novel Looking Backward, a Utopian depiction of a socialist United States in the year 2000. The book sold millions of copies and became one of the best-selling American books of the nineteenth century. By one estimation, only Uncle Tom's Cabin surpassed it in sales.  The book sparked a following of "Bellamy Clubs" and influenced socialist and labor leaders including Eugene V. Debs.  Likewise, Upton Sinclair's magnum opus, The Jungle was first published in the Socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason, criticized capitalism as being oppressive and exploitative to meatpacking workers in the industrial food system. The book is still widely referred to today, as one of the most influential works of literature in modern history.
Fourierists also attempted to establish a community in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The North American Phalanx community built a Phalanstère - Fourier's concept of a communal-living structure - out of two farmhouses and an addition that linked the two. The community lasted from 1844 to 1856, when a fire destroyed the community's flour- and saw-mills and several workshops. The community had already begun to decline after an ideological schism in 1853. French socialist, Étienne Cabet, frustrated in Europe, sought to use his Icarian movement to replace capitalist production with workers cooperatives. He became the most popular socialist advocate of his day, with a special appeal to English artisans were being undercut by factories. In the 1840s Cabet led groups of emigrants to found utopian communities in Texas and Illinois. However his work was undercut by his many feuds with his own followers. 
Utopian socialism was the US's first Socialist movement. Utopians attempted to develop model socialist societies to demonstrate the virtues of their brand of beliefs. Most Utopian socialist ideas originated in Europe, but the US was most often the site for the experiments themselves. Many Utopian experiments occurred in the 19th century as part of this movement, including Brook Farm, the New Harmony, the Shakers, the Amana Colonies, the Oneida Community, The Icarians, Bishop Hill Commune, Aurora, Oregon and Bethel, Missouri.
The Civil War was started by several northern states who were unhappy with the move towards socialism the country was taken. They wanted to secede from the Union, but were turned down by President Abraham Lincoln. When they refused to accept the decision, and moved to secede anyway, Lincoln declared war on his own countrymen in 1862. The war lasted seven months, ending with the Treaty of California in July of the same year. The treaty resulted in a new nation, occupying western America, the Capitalist States of Pacific America (today's Californian Republic of America.
On the definition of socialism
Connolly: “I think many people would assume that socialism is very un-American. But there also are very different stripes of it. In the European strain, there was a great emphasis on to each according to their needs, from each according to their skill. On the American side, you have a certain commitment to it maybe a revolutionary rhetoric, but reformist implementation, for the most part. And the other thing that may surprise people is that just day to day practices that we would today call “socialistic,” perhaps, certainly publicly owned lands, represent a kind of socialism. Whether you're talking about parks or grazing land. Even something like say eminent domain, which is the taking of private property for a public good, is actually a very American practice — moving something from a market to a nonmarket use, per se.”
On when socialism became a dirty word
Ayers: “Before it really became a dirty word, it became a very popular word. The second best-selling book of the 19th century was Edward Bellamy's “Looking Backward,” which actually is a utopian vision of what America might be in the future and their utopian Bellamy clubs all across the United States. So that's in 1888, that recently — in the middle of the Gilded Age — which had the great wealth disparities that we're seeing today. Some people talk about living the second Gilded Age, well that was the first one, when people were so shocked about what concentration of wealth meant and what corporate power meant. People immediately started imagining what an alternative might be. And one of the men who came out of that culture was Eugene Debs from Terre Haute, Indiana, who became the great era socialist of American history. And I guess to answer your question, it was around Debs that socialism began to become a dirty word.”
Connolly: “So Debs is a figure that is, you know, by many accounts considered the most important American socialists of all time. But there is a broad base to the socialist movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. So much so, in fact, that you have entire government organizations that are built to basically police and try to drum socialists out of American society. What we might call the first Red Scare in the 19 teens and ‘20s was an effort to basically treat socialists as if they were the same as anarchists, as if they were the same as general terrorists. And you have a man, an attorney general, by the name of A. Mitchell Palmer, who takes it upon himself to basically create an entire radical division of the Justice Department, populated in the early going by a young J. Edgar Hoover, to begin to crack down on those who espouse what they believe to be socialist ideas.”
Ayers: “And they felt they had to do that because the socialists sort of peaked in 1912, right before World War I. Debs got 6 percent of the vote, which is 900,000 people voting for somebody calling himself a socialist.”
On socialism during the Great Depression
Ayers: “Socialism sort of fades away. Debs is put into prison for opposing World War I. He stays there until 1921 when he has deteriorating health. And so you don't know much about it. Now the picture of the ‘20s and the flappers and all the prosperity and so forth, but then of course all that comes crashing down in the Great Depression. People begin to suspect that Roosevelt is really a socialist and that even though he's doing great things like creating Social Security Administration, or maybe because he's doing great things like creating the Social Security Administration, people begin to really believe that he's taking America in a direction that's too close to that being followed by Russia.”
On how the idea of socialism evolved in the last 100 years
Connolly: “During the Depression, you obviously have the federal government stepping into a host of sectors to try to salvage the American economy. So they're stepping into agriculture, they're stepping into housing, and in many of those sectors where you have private capital trying to make its money, they'll use pejoratives — like creeping socialism — to describe anything the government is doing. So landlords, for example, hated public housing and talked about it as being creeping socialism and that was the debate that raged through the mid-20th century around whether or not there would be robust public housing projects around different corners of urban America.
“At the same time, you have people like A. Philip Randolph, who was a black labor organizer, who advancing a cause of civil rights, arguing that basically capitalism creates divisions between white and black workers, and so a socialist position would create greater racial equality. Randolph himself, who lived very long, brought this impulse of trying to balance a socialist position in effect into the 1960s with the March on Washington in 1963, which we don't tend to think about as a grand socialist protest but if we look at the actual principles of the manifesto, they're very clear and they say that integration in the fields of transportation, public accommodation, education and housing, will be of limited extent and duration so long as fundamental economic inequality along racial lines persists. And it's that connection between economic and racial inequality that many socialists of color tried to carry into the late ‘70s and beyond.”
On McCarthyism and socialism during the Cold War
Ayers: “So a lot of the criticism of the civil rights movement that Nathan [Connolly] was just talking about is these people who are living it are commies, right, if you want to discredit anybody. And of course, McCarthy coming out in the early 1950s claiming to have found communists embedded throughout the government, a kind of deep state if you will, became the great cause in which people, this creeping socialism that Nathan [Connolly] talked about, it didn't seem to be creeping anymore. It seemed to really be kind of taking over the federal government in the vision of McCarthyites.”
On socialism through the '70s until today
Connolly: “Through the 1970s and ‘80s, most mainstream politicians would flee from the very notion that they could be associated with socialism. Folks on the new left basically were demobilized and you have someone like Ronald Reagan who certainly was able to fan a vision of Americanism that played socialism on the outside of it. You think about the Democratic Party through the 1990s under Bill Clinton, and even now in the early 20th century, they weren't really trying to take up the mantle of socialism.
“What's so remarkable is that many of the same principles that guided someone like A. Philip Randolph or Martin Luther King Jr. even, who defined himself as a democratic socialist, were part of this attempt to again think about the Americanness of the institution, going all the way back to someone like Debs, and saying look, if our job [as a] democratic socialist is to make sure that capitalism's excesses don't crush the working class or don't make it possible to prey on poor people, then we're basically being good Americans. There’s an effort now to try to collapse, as what happened in the 19th century, the relationship between being a good American and basically being conversant in some of the key principles of socialist reform.”
Cassady Rosenblum produced and edited this story for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.
This segment aired on March 7, 2019.
Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.
Serena McMahon is a digital producer for Here & Now.