Prophets of the Left: American Socialist Thought in the Twentieth Century

By Robert Hyfler | Go to book overview

past failures and successes and an understanding that history never repeats itself so exactly as to require the repetition of past formulas. Given the tragic history of the left, the modern-day socialist in America must too often look to the future in spite of the past, transforming mistakes, blunders, and some great moments into important learning experiences. For the forseeable future, or at least until events dictate otherwise, much of the radical's work will be neither romantic nor adventurous. It will involve the slow grind of theoretical clarification and the short-lived excitements of daily struggle. It is to be both reformist and revolutionary--with a difference.


NOTES
1.
Michael Harrington, Fragments of a Century ( New York: Dutton, 1973), p. 66.
2.
Michael Harrington, The Other America ( Baltimore: Penguin, 1962), p. 9.
4.
Harrington, Fragments, p. 179.
5.
See ibid., pp. 94-134, for Harrington's own voyage in Bohemia. One might speculate to what extent his discourse on intellectual alienation in The Other America is both an attempt to forge a personal tie with the materially miserable and a subtle suggestion that poverty and human suffering exist beyond absolute human misery.
6.
Harrington, The Other America, p. 157.
8.
Ibid., p. 166. The Community Action Programs of the Great Society did place some emphasis on underclass participation. However, that participation was always defined by others. In short, the needs of the poor were seldom defined by the poor--with even participation coming as a gift.
9.
It is perhaps unfair to say that Harrington does not concern himself with underclass consciousness in his first work. A key proposal concerns the need to reorient the understanding of the poor vis-à-vis their suffering. Yet, at least in the initial periods of a poverty program, underclass consciousness remains a passive object of policy and not a dynamic component of the process. See ibid., pp. 119-35.
10.
New York State and New York City politics during the Sixties are cases in point. On the state level, Nelson Rockefeller won reelection three times by forging a coalition of monied interests, suburban moderates and liberals, and the urban poor. More indicatively, John Lindsay carved out a similar top- bottom coalition in his 1965 "reform" mayoral victory over the Democrats.

-168-

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Prophets of the Left: American Socialist Thought in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Introduction: Theory and American Socialism 3
  • Notes 13
  • 2 - The Conservative Uses of Marx: Hillquit, Spargo, and Berger 15
  • Notes 40
  • 3 - De Leon and Labor Accommodationism: Two Poles of the Working-Class Movement 47
  • Notes 62
  • 4 - Socialism in the Working Class: Debs and the Wobblies 67
  • Notes 91
  • 5 - The Emergence and Subjugation of the Socialist Left: Boudin and Fraina 97
  • Notes 116
  • 6 - Norman Thomas and the Socialism of Concern 121
  • Notes 137
  • 7 - Michael Harrington and the Future of Socialism in America 143
  • Notes 168
  • Selected Bibliography 173
  • Index 183
  • About the Author 189
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