What Really Happened to American Socialism?
Smirking Chimp - October 10, 2019
"In the face of outright fascism and corporate corruption, it’s time to reclaim the legitimate mainstream acceptance of American Socialism. The idea that our citizenry is entitled to ownership of our nation’s core economic institutions is as American as apple pie. So is opposition to empire and a deep, abiding commitment to real grassroots social democracy."
Despite the corporate hype, Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy are deeply rooted in the mainstream of our nation’s history.
The lie that they’re “foreign ideologies” starts with the fascist assault Woodrow Wilson waged against them during and after World War 1.
Their marginalization today by corporate Democrats and Trump Republicans is itself profoundly unAmerican.
Here’s the reality (as explained in greater length in my new People’s Spiral of US History):
In the decades after the Civil War, Robber Baron corporations captured the core of the American economy. Led by JP Morgan and John Rockefeller, they pushed family farmers and urban workers deep into the depths of poverty.
In the west and south, agrarian activists formed the People’s (Populist) Party to demand public control over the monopoly capitalist forces that were destroying their lives. Their socialistic platforms demanded democratic rule over the money supply, banks, railroads, telecommunications and much more. They wanted female suffrage, direct election of Senators, referendum and recall.
But in 1896 the Populists were sabotaged by wimp Democrat William Jennings Bryan, who begged their support, then back-stabbed them in a presidential election he lost (of course) to the corporate Republican, William McKinley.
Soon thereafter the great labor leader Eugene V. Debs became an outspoken socialist. Debs had formed the American Railway Union and led a great 1895 national rail strike that shut the nation. He was jailed by President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat he’d previously supported.
While imprisoned in Woodstock, Illinois, Debs renounced corporate capitalism. He called instead for an economic system owned and operated by America’s working people. The means of production would be socialized for the good of the public, he said. All citizens would be guaranteed a decent living, including food, housing, education, medical care and more. “I am for Socialism,” he said, “because I am for humanity.”
Amiable, charismatic and incorruptible, the tall, slim Indiana-born Debs gathered a huge national following. Tens of millions of Americans accepted Debsian Socialism as a legitimate part of the national dialogue. The party elected hundreds of local officials throughout the country, including many mayors and two US Representatives. Millions—-including many conservatives—-assumed (especially while Gene was around) the US might someday have a Socialist president. ...
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