The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement

By Howard H. Quint | Go to book overview

VII. Socialism Faces Populism

TO UNDISCERNING conservatives of the 1890's Populism and socialism were one and the same bird irrespective of the coloration of their plumage. Their followers were regarded not merely as failures in life but, even worse, as immoral men who would displace with shocking arbitrariness those whom the Darwinian laws of natural selection had elevated to positions of leadership and authority in the world of enterprise.

To be sure, Populism and socialism, as radical movements, did have certain similarities.1 Both represented strong currents of social protest against the concentration of economic power in a relatively few. Socialists and Populists could agree that existing special privilege was based on monopolistic control over the means of production and distribution. In the liberal tradition, each wished to destroy special privilege, since it prevented equality of rights and freedom of opportunity for all. And in method, both socialism and Populism would resort to the state, which alone could control in the public interest the predatory forces of industrial and finance capitalism.

Yet the end products sought by the socialists and the Populists differed markedly in spirit and in purpose. The Populists, mostly penurious agrarians from the South and Middle West, favored collectivist measures only insofar as they would elimnate the monopolist from control over economic and political life. Unlike the socialists, they wished to preserve rather than

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1
There is considerable literature on socialist-Populist relations. See Chester M. Destler , American Radicalism, 1865- 1901, Essays and Documents ( "Connecticut College Monograph," No. 3 [ New London, 1946]), pp. 1-31, 162-74, 212-54; J. Martin Klotsche, "The 'United Front' Populists," Wisconsin Magazine of History, XX ( 1937), 375-89; Edward B. Mittelman, "Chicago Labor in Politics, 1877-1896," Journal of Political Economy, XXVIII ( 1920), 407-27; Georqe H. Knoles, "Populism and Socialism, with Special Reference to the Election of 1892," Pacific Historical Review, XII ( 1943), 295-304; James Peterson , "The Trade Unions and the Populist Party," Science and Society, Vol. VIII, No. 2 (Spring, 1944), pp. 143-60; Anna Rochester, The Populist Movement in the United States ( New York, 1933), pp. 120-24; Kerby, Le Socialime aux États Unis, pp. 144-75.

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The Forging of American Socialism: Origins of the Modern Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Note on the Second Edition x
  • Contents xi
  • I. Marxism Comes to America 3
  • Ii. Failure of Boring from Within 37
  • Iii. Bellamy Makes Socialism Respectable 72
  • Iv. the Christian Socialist Crusade 103
  • V. Deleon Molds the Socialist Labor Party 142
  • Vi. Wayland Plants Grass Roots Socialism 175
  • Vii. Socialism Faces Populism 210
  • Viii. Non-Partisan Socialism 247
  • Ix. the Communitarians' Last Stand 280
  • X. American Socialism Comes of Age 319
  • Xi. Socialist Unity Achieved 350
  • Bibliographical Essay 389
  • Index 395
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