American Radicals Some Problems and Personalities

By Harvey Goldberg | Go to book overview

4
Henry Demarest Lloyd: The Prophetic Tradition

HARVEY O'CONNOR


I

"I AM," SAID HENRY DEMAREST LLOYD, "a socialist-anarchist-communist-individualist-collectivist-cooperative-aristocratic-democrat."1 In less exuberant moments, the great American social reformer referred to himself as a socialist and a democrat. The two words, he insisted, were synonymous. As he thundered in book, speech, and letter against the iniquities of monopolistic capitalism and painted the glories of a social system animated by love and mutual aid, he was more the Hebrew prophet than the devotee of any "ism."

Lloyd's growing stature among the pioneers of social reform derives from his Wealth Against Commonwealth, the first book to describe the rise of Standard Oil. That was in 1894, but in 1881, while the Standard was still a brawling infant, he had sounded the alarm in his famous article, "The Story of a Great Monopoly," in William Dean Howells's Atlantic Monthly. That issue of the Atlantic went through seven printings (an unprecedented affair for such a staid magazine),

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