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

By Robert Hyfler | Go to book overview

line and a contempt for the ever developing sensibility of their rank and file.

However, the radical variants of working-class socialism were clearly expelled from American society in a nakedly shameful fashion. Their defeat came at a time when they had neither lost their vitality nor compromised their integrity. As the most promising of socialist variants, they offered an outlook on both revolution and reform which could have served a growing movement well. Their surgical removal from the American polity is the single satisfying explanation of their failure.

To be sure, within the more formalized Marxist circles of left-wing socialism, a perspective did arise which facilitated the subjugation of radical socialism to Stalinism and failure. In its earlier forms, as found in the writings of Louis Boudin, it appeared as an intellectual complement to the more emotive insights of Debs. In the writings of Louis Fraina, however, it took complicating turns which had tragic implications. It is to these theoretical endeavors that we now turn.


NOTES
1.
Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World ( Chicago: Quadrangle, 1969), p. 147.
2.
Ibid.
3.
Frank Bohn and William D. Haywood, Industrial Socialism ( Chicago: Kerr, 1910), pp. 5-6.
4.
William Haywood, "Pick and Shovel Pointers," International Socialist Review [ISR] 11 ( February 1911):458.
5.
Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, p. 152.
6.
Bohn and Haywood, Industrial Socialism, p. 9.
8.
Eugene V. Debs, "Outlook for Socialism in the U.S.," ISR 1 ( September 1900):135.
9.
Despite his consistently left position, all shades of socialists tended to claim Debs as one of their own. To Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the Wobbly turned Communist, he was the "American Bolshevik"; Emma Goldman once exclaimed, "Why Mr. Debs, you are an anarchist!"; and Lincoln Steffens dubbed him the "keeper of the socialist heaven." In Debs, ed. Ronald Radosh (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971), pp. 103, 105, 115.
10.
Eugene V. Debs, "How I Became a Socialist," N.Y. Comrade, April 1902.
11.
Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States,

-91-

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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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