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


This book analyzes the continuity and change within socialist thought in this century and the perception by socialists of themselves as both a part of an American movement having concrete goals yet operating within the ideological framework of social democracy. The author focuses on the socialists' understanding of American democracy and the modern capitalist system and their prescriptions for social change. He examines the moderate socialism of Morris Hillquit, John Spargo, and Victor Berger and the groundwork laid for later radical variants of American socialism found in the writings of Louis Fraina and Louis Boudin. Hyfler explores the links connecting the radical working class socialism of Eugene Debs and the Wobblies with the accommodationism of Samuel Gompers and mainstream labor. Later chapters analyze Norman Thomas' move away from Marxist thinking and Michael Harrington's innovative attempts to create an American socialist perspective that can operate on the center stage of the American polity without compromising the radical traditions of the American left.

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