too often been facile. Elements of religion in its Christian forms, however, did blend into the movement culture of American socialism, whether or not their functional meaning for socialists was exactly the same as for Christians. Some socialists, for example, described becoming socialists in terms similar to religious conversion testimonies. "How I Became a Socialist" accounts focused on experiences that caused disillusionment with capitalism and a defining period or occasion of decision. Charles Edward Russell later described becoming a socialist as fundamentally different from being a Republican or Democrat: It was "a motion of solemnity and port . . . like joining a church. One must have had experience in grace, one must show that one has come out from the tents of the wicked and capitalism." 138 When socialists called each other "comrade," they were suggesting a community or experience not unlike that of evangelicals who called each other "brother" and "sister."
As in churches, music was a vital part of socialist meetings of all shapes and sizes, from singing of the "Marseillaise" in New York City labor halls to the evangelical tunes with socialist words sung in Southwestern encampments, from the parodies of Protestant hymns composed by Ralph Chaplin and other poets in the Industrial Workers of the World to the sober uplift songs in CSF member Harvey Moyer's Songs of Socialism. 139 The socialist movement had its martyr heroes, some borrowed from past movements for human betterment, such as abolitionism, and some close at hand in its own history--including Eugene V. Debs, whom many saw as Christ-like. 140 It had Jesus himself, sometimes simple carpenter, sometimes revolutionary, but always a man of the people--the "Comrade Jesus" of Sara Cleghorn's poem in the Masses, who had "paid his dues" and carried his red card. 141
Moreover, as the biographies in this work show, the socialist message was itself religious for many party members and sympathizers. For them, this message judged the status quo by religious standards, appealed to religious motives, and promoted a more truly religious social order. "It has about it nothing new nor alarming," wrote Charles Edward Russell in the final sentence of a campaign autobiography, "and instead of being rejected by men, it should be welcomed; for the essence of its doctrine is merely the practical application of the doctrine of Jesus Christ." 142