American Radicals Some Problems and Personalities

By Harvey Goldberg | Go to book overview

11
Daniel De Leon: The Rise of Marxist Politics

DAVID HERRESHOFF

WHILE THE DESS CENTENNIAL OBSERVANCES in 1955 showed that a wide range of American radicals and liberals count Debs among their progenitors, the marking of the De Leon centennial in 1952 had disclosed, in contrast, that there are no claimants to the De Leonist mantle outside the Socialist Labor Party. American radicals, however, live with the heritage of De Leon almost as much as they do with the heritage of Debs. They are stronger for his insights and weaker because of his faults and blunders. Had De Leon never lived, today's American radicalism would be different than it is--for better and for worse. And tomorrow's radicalism, if it is to be an intellectually serious movement, will be unable to blanket him with condemnation or consign him to memory-hole oblivion; it will need to strike a true balance of his work.

Daniel De Leon was so completely absorbed in politics that it would appear plausible to see him simply as the embodiment of his own version of the Marxian doctrine. But no mortal, of course, can be

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