tv Lectures in History CSPAN August 30, 2015 12:02am-1:15am EDT
national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are watching american history tv. follow us on twitter @c spanhistory four hours schedule of programs. >> each week, american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1:00 p.m.. this week, columbia university history professor eric foner discusses the rise of socialism in america in the 21st century. professor foner discusses the socialist party in new york city and milwaukee and the campaigns of eugene debs. this class is one hour and 10 minutes. prof. foner: this is cae
american radical tradition. we started with the american revolution and have been going through the abolitionist movement, early feminism, the civil war reconstruction, labor conflict in the gilded age, the populist movement -- now we are entering into the 20th century. in the next couple of weeks, we will look at the progressive era, a period of a lot of labor unrest, industrial workers of the world, the women's suffrage movement coming to the fore, municipal reform, many other things. but today, our subject is the socialist party.
the rise of socialism as a key element of american radicalism in the early 20th century. on a reading list, the chapter by michael casing gives a good quick summary of this moment in the various kinds of socialism at that time. from 1860 at least onward, there had been some kind of socialist presence in the u.s. but largely confined to immigrants from europe, particularly germans, english. the emergence of a mass socialist movement with a base in the u.s. political system follows the final flowering of the 19th century radical tradition and the defeat of the populist party in the 1890's. the inheritors of 19th century radicalism were forced to kind of think about new ways of confronting the problems and inequities of the rapidly changing industrial society of that time. it is often said by those who write about the history of socialism that american socialism was particularly untheoretical.
very few americans produced theoretical works about this. many more socialists here were influenced by their experience in populism. or just the experience of the labor movement than reading karl marx's das kapital. by the 20th century, all socialism, in some way or another, derived from the thinking and writing of karl marx, although interpreted in very different ways. one could give a whole course on karl marx, which i will not do. what people learned from marx is that history is the history of class struggle. that is the driving force of history. he claimed that under capitalism, society is being
divided inexorably into two classes, the working-class, or proletariat, and the bourgeoisie, the owning class. production is concentrated in fewer hands, giant corporations. the gap between, what i guess today they call the 1% and the 99%, the gap between the very rich and everyone else would inevitably get wider and wider. some of this resonates, of course, to the present day. 30 years of the administrations of ronald reagan and bush and clinton and bush and obama have done more to confirm marx's prediction of the rich getting richer and everyone else falling behind than 75 years of the soviet union. what was appealing in marx was that at the time of this dominant free contract ideology,
which the supreme court and others were implementing social darwinism, that the marketplace is a site where equal participants compete, the result is best for all. marx pierces through to the underpinning of the labor market and labor relations. he shows that it is based on inequality, exploitation, and wage earners not getting what they deserve. something that has, of course, being an idea floating among american radicalism for a long time. what was different is that he insisted capitalism was inevitably creating the instrument of its own destruction. that was what he called the proletariat, workers whose coming self-awareness would lead them to seize power and change the whole system. not because they were any better than anyone else, but because
the very nature of their social existence made it inexorably pushed towards changing the whole system. they cannot abolish the inhuman conditions of life without abolishing all the inhuman conditions of present-day society. oddly in the year 2000 and soon after that, there was a flurry of rediscovery of karl marx. the new yorker, at the time of the millennium in 2000, published an article saying, "man of the 21st century: karl marx." why? because marx, among other things, is the prophet of globalized capitalism. the man who saw through, that capitalism must expand to make itself a global system. unlike the previous american radicals, marx analyzes
capitalism as a system, not as bad individuals, not trusts corrupting the political system, not non-producers trying to conspire. the system itself has a logic which has to be understood. in a way, you can put marx, and many people do, under the same category of thinkers as darwin. darwin tried to understand the underlying principles of the natural world. or freud, a little later, tried to understand the underlying principles of the internal human mind. marx is trying to understand the underlying principles of the economic system, the economic world. the first principle is, as he says -- i will just read a couple sentences from the communist manifesto. it is a political polemic, highly oversupplied. then you waded through the 3
ultradense volumes of das kapital. what did they find when they turned to this manifesto? first they found that the revolutionary element in the world is capitalism. the bourgeoisie cannot revolutionize without changing the instruments of production, and with them the whole relations of society. conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form. constant revolutionizing production, interrupted disturbance of all social conditions is what capitalizes the present world, he says. all frozen relations are swept away, all new forms once become antiquated before they can ossify. the often quoted sentence, "all that is solid melts into air." that is our condition right now. all that is solid melts into air.
that is the essence of the system. the constant revolutionizing of everything. there is no nostalgia here. marx is not like earlier radicals trying to go back to a previous golden age. there is no previous golden age. the nature of life now is just this constant change of everything. then, as i say, it's not a national system. the need for a constantly expanding market chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. it must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere. the bourgeoisie and its exploitating of the world market has given a cosmopolitan character in every country. national industry is destroyed, he says. this is 1848. national industry destroyed? it's just getting going. today, that is what is happening. national industries destroyed by the inexorable forces of globalization. more than 150 years later.
all established national industries have been destroyed or are being destroyed. we find new wants, requiring a satisfaction by the products of distant lands and climbs. national one-sightedness becomes more and more impossible. in other words, this is a global system, a global world, a global interchange. and that's good. this is not a critique. that is good. that is part of the progress of history because capitalism is creating the conditions in which a humane life is possible. it is overcoming the barriers of nature and population to massive production. the possibility for an equal or fair distribution of wealth around the world is, for the first time, created by advanced capitalism. many people who read the communist manifesto are very
surprised that most of it is praising capitalism for sweeping away all these old systems that are an obstacle to progress. marx -- many of the people that follow marx thought of him as scientific. later on its called scientific socialism, because he tried to understand the system. there are very few predictions in marx. much of his writing is analytical, not predictive. even though there is a teleology, i mean history is moving in a certain direction, it's not inevitable by any means. although later, readers would see it as an inexorable progress to a predetermined end. john swinton, a labor journalist, went to england and
interviewed marx. he asked marx, what do you see for the future? and marx answered, thought for a minute, and answered in one word -- struggle. the future will see struggle. he didn't say the end of that struggle is inevitable. he didn't say what that struggle is going to lead to. as we will see in a minute, many people saw in marxism a way of predicting the future, which i think is not the essence of what he is talking about. the point is the whole analysis suggested that once you marry the productive capacity, the radical productive capacity of socialism to a more equitable distribution, and a more democratic control of the economy, it's a utopian world. it's like bellamy, his utopian world of equality. socialism appealed to people on an ethical level as much as on an analytical level. it was an unbounded dream.
an italian socialist said, all children will grow up to be galileos under socialism. marx had shown, according to people that followed him, that it was inevitable in a way. not exactly inevitable, but the process of history working in that direction. but ultimately, especially the u.s., the ultimate appeal of socialism is ethical, moral as much as analytical and economic. eugene debs -- capitalism, said debs, is simply wrong. the vast inequality is simply wrong. it's a kind of christian underlying notion of morality beneath the sort of scientific analysis.
anyway, in the 1890's -- we mentioned this last time -- the main expression of socialism in the u.s. was a tiny socialist labor party, headed by daniel de leon. de leon, a very strange and difficult guy, was one of the first to think in the u.s. of some of the modern problems of radicalism. the rise of mass culture. what does that mean for alternatives? already you are getting mass newspapers and magazines and things like that. what should radicals do in a society where a certain dominant culture -- this goes back to goodwin -- is permeating the society? he concluded the way to do that is to form an uncompromisingly radical party that would work with radical unions to mobilize workers, to get them to think in a radical way.
not a new idea. but he also concluded that the entire labor movement was basically an obstacle to this. particularly the american federation of labor, which he said was dominated by "labor fakers" and that the immediate role of socialism was to destroy the existing labor movement and create new radical unions. you can imagine that the existing unions were not too happy with the notion that the role of socialism was first to destroy their units. some of them had joined the socialist labour party in the 1890's. then they said, wait a minute, why is my political party trying to destroy the union i am working with? many of them left rather quickly. de leon, as i say, his views actually would influence the industrial workers of the world, which attempted to mobilize those mass productive workers.
when the socialist party of america is founded in 1901, de leon and his group are the socialists that remain outside of this group. so who does come together in 1901 to form this umbrella group called the socialist party of america? a conglomeration of people. after the defeat of bryan in 1896, some followers of eugene debs and others formed the group called the brotherhood of the cooperative commonwealth. they wanted to move en masse to some western state with limited population and basically take over the state by people moving in. they thought about planned colonies in the state of washington or something. it didn't get anywhere, but i
was the old unitarian ethos. the brotherhood of the commonwealth is part of this socialist party. many people who were disaffected by the failure of populism, quite a few labor unions, the american railroad union of debs. under this umbrella they formed the socialist party of america. very small group. within a decade or so, up to world war i -- this is really the point -- between 1901 and world war i, which breaks out in 1914. socialism grows to become a significant part of the political discourse in the united states. a factor in american life.
not a majority by any means. but not a fringe, sectarian group, as it would later become. the first thing we have to do to think about this is to remember my admonition, which i mentioned before, to read history forward, not backward. you cannot understand the socialist party of the pre-world war i. people who read the pre world war i period without forgetting about the russian revolution, the cold war, and many other things that will happen in the history of socialism, then communism, which will split socialism into sectarian groups, which will discredit it in many ways. but nobody knows that is coming in the period of 1901-1917. today, socialism, to the extent that it exists at all in our political discourse, is just an all-purpose term of abuse,
right? you hear on tv, "obama is a socialist." what do the people who say that mean? they don't understand either obama or socialism. it's just a way of saying "i don't like obama." "i don't like the things that he's done," fair enough. but to call him a socialist is absurd. we have to go back before that, before all these events of the 20th century to understand his context. it is difficult to do because the historical literature doesn't help us all that much. liberal historians, which is probaly the majority, think socialism is really irrelevant, because the real story is the rise of 20th century liberalism, with woodrow wilson through the new deal of fdr to the great
society. that is the trajectory, and socialism is just irrelevant next to that. on the other hand, communist historians who wrote in the 1930's and 1950's saw the socialist party as lacking in revolutionary fervor. it seemed kind of moderate and mild compared to the radicalism of communists later on. they did not think much of it either. the fact is that a broadly based socialist movement did exist in america in the two decades coming up to world war i. at the height of their influence, the socialist party had 150,000 dues-paying members. today to be a part of a political party, you just have to vote in the primary. but they had dues. there were hundreds of socialist papers scattered across the country.
debs, in 1912, got nearly one million votes running for president in the four-way presidential election of 1912. more than 1000 public officials were elected by the socialist party, from places like ridgeport, connecticut to milwaukee. congressmen from new york. in industrial areas, but also in the west. local socialist legislators, mayors, etc. when the american federation of labor had their annual meeting, at least 1/3 of the unions were headed by people who call themselves socialists of one kind or another. moreover, the socialist party was not a narrow fringe. it was a kind of umbrella, in which many people passed or took part, who were connected to major movements of the time. women's suffrage, for example,
connected to the socialist party in some ways. municipal reform. labor legislation of this era. demands for public ownership of utilities like streetcar lines and gasworks. in other words, it was a broad, amorphous all-encompassing party. many leading figures at the time either work in it were connected to it, or sympathetic in some way or another. the idea of socialism was a rather vague idea to many people, but it was part of the political discourse. the socialist party had many diverse elements. there was often tension between them. often it is described as left versus right, radical versus reformer, within the socialist party. what held the party together, what did they have in common? one central thread, which takes us back into the radical
tradition of the 19th entry, was a faith in education as the way to build a mass socialist movement. marx wrote of socialism in the communist manifesto as a revolutionary doctrine. a doctrine of revolution. but american socialist were not revolutionaries, although had some revolutionary rhetoric. the way social change would come is like education, convincing people. you could convince people to be socialists by talking to them, by giving them things to read, etc. as long as you did it in the language of american society, not in this european jargon, as many socialists said. a leading socialist writer at the time says, "too long are
socialist writings brought up by the application of a german metaphysics to english economic theory with a french vocabulary. the great task of socialist writers in the next two years is to interpret american experience in a language and style which will appeal to the american people." in a straightforward, common sense, non-theoretical, non-european language. and this writer himself tries to do this in not uninteresting works of american history. in 1905, he publishes first socialist history of the u.s., called "class struggles in american history." it's written in a very popular manner. it's essentially, in a way, borrowed from frederick jackson turner, who had developed the frontier thesis in the 1890's. american history starting in a very democratic mode. then the rise of corporations,
greater inequality, leading up to a socialist movement. that is his effort to bring socialism into people in that language. the notion of education is broader than that. and we should understand this, being in a great university like this. marxists saw themselves as heirs of the western tradition. this is hard to understand when people see socialist ideas as alien. they were the heirs of the enlightenment, they felt. the heirs of the western tradition. socialism was part of legacy of the enlightenment. the rational, the effort to analyze society rationally. and to understand it and to try to improve it.
back in the 1980's, one of these french movies, i can't remember the name. a bunch of guys sitting around talking for two hours. that's it, that's the movie. low-budget, but still. i kind of like these movies. this was about the so-called new philosophers at the time. one was asked in his movie by the narrator, do you think that marx is dead? his answer, i thought was interesting. "if marx is dead, that means shakespeare is dead, einstein is dead, and i'm not feeling all that well myself." in other words, this is part of an intellectual heritage. it doesn't mean you have to accept it or not accept it, but you have to know it. you have to find out what it is. and indeed, the socialist press, even though were talking about americanizing it, published articles not only about pompeii and other radicals, but about aristotle, about plato. education of workers is a
general education. since we are on tv, i won't even comment on the notion floating around in our political discourse that people don't really need to go to college and learn anything. socialists believe we did need to learn. even ordinary workers have a right to learn. high culture. they believed in high culture, not popular culture. culture, to them, was high culture. we are getting now to the point where my own family history begins to intersect with the rest of history. i once asked my mother, who grew up in this world of new york city socialism about the yiddish theater. she came from a socialist family in russia. they didn't even go to the yiddish theater as a kid. "no, we went to see shakespeare.
we don't want to go to the yiddish theater." shakespeare was actually done in yiddish in some of those theaters. but the notion of high culture, that this is part of what people are entitled to. it can be rather condescending toward others. the socialists didn't have much interest in other expressions, like african-american culture, which was a thriving narrative product of our society. it was more this higher enlightenment version of civilization. but that study, to them, insisted that what marx suggested was happening. monopolies and corporations were consolidating. working-class life was pretty bad in the 20th century. socialism was coming. that was the study. when, exactly how, they didn't know. all these socialists held that view of education and progress
with a capital p. the differences in the socialist party are sometimes described as left versus right, or maybe it is more political action versus other action. in a way, the same debate that took among the abolitionists. have you operate to change society? do you work within the system, or immediate reform? or do you try to make a standard of radical reform, and not accept compromise? what is the relationship tween immediate change and long-term goals? nobody has ever really solved this. they all debated it. the problem in the u.s. is exacerbated by the fact that the official labor movement, the american federation of labor, is becoming more and more conservative at this time. if you believe that the working-class is the agent of change, well, how do you deal
with a conservative labor movement? do you just try to destroy it like de leon said, work with it in some way, or try to build another labor movement, like the iww does? the more moderate socialists wanted to make socialism relevant to the everyday life of ordinary people by stressing immediate reforms. the socialist party platform, 1904, 1908, 1912 fudge this for immediate reforms and radical change. the socialist platform includes issues like public ownership of the railroads, free university education, not a bad idea. aid to the unemployed. some of these have come about. the referendum and recall.
the progressive your reforms which try to give ordinary people more say on how the government operates. and they said the class struggle is irreconcilable and the ultimate aim is to transform society, get rid of capitalism and have a socialist society in which the means of production are controlled by a democratic state. the more conservative, the so-called right-wing socialists, were you might say evolutionists. like a bellamy, it would just happen. you can read marx to say we do not have to do much. capitalism is evolving in this direction, let's wait for it to happen. the trick is to help it along. this is what kaisen talks about.
the notion of history evolving in a particular known direction. now, the so-called moderate or right-wing socialists, the two centers were new york city and milwaukee. since we're here in new york city, let's look at the great socialist culture that emerged in new york city in world war i era. centered in german and particular jewish immigrants, immigrants from the czarist empire who came in larger numbers in the 1890's and early 20th century. the foundation of jewish socialism was the super exploitation other jewish working class. the garment workers, women workers in factories in the sweatshops. the leaders were professional
people like louie boudein, writers. the leaders were quite familiar with marx and studied him and interpret him to mean a revolution does not just come about but a slow process. and at goal is to propagate socialist ideas and run socialist candidates for office isn't the way you educate people. run candidates for office. a wonderful cartoon from a yiddish newspaper of that time. here is karl marx kind of as moses, right? leading the children of israel into the promised land with socialism. you are absorbing marx into this jewish heritage, right? somewhat brought over from russia in hebrew. you know, in the yiddish language.
there is marx leading the people to the promised land. and, new york city is a time here, in new york city as i say, i will give you one other picture here. the workers, the working women -- here are women at a sweatshop, ok? i am not sure the year. a lot of migrant women, italian women producing clothing for tiny wages. it is the rise of socialist organizations and the labor movement. the garment workers union and others. the lower east side, that is where -- in every year 1920, so many immigrants living in
manhattan, the population density of manhattan was greater than the city of calcutta and india. there were almost three times as many people living on manhattan island then there are now. packed densely mostly into the working-class districts way downtown. mire london was elected to congress in 1914. london, another guy, speaking the language of socialism in the american tradition. says london, just as the parties preceded the civil war, how much of the abolitionist shaped this thinking of later radical spring just as the numerous parties preceded the civil war had the slavery as its issue, parties today dividing the issue of
whether the industrial oligarchy should survive and democracy parish or the republic will survive and wage slavery will perish. it is the abolitionist movement of the 20th century. great quote for you the socialist movement is the abolitionist movement of the 20th century. the trajectory of american radicalism. in new york city, not only on the lower east side but also yorkville, upper east side which was heavily german population at the time and even in other districts, a full, vibrant socialist counterculture developed. something like goodwin talks about based on massive labor unrest. the strikes a 20,000 women garment workers in 1919.
male cloak workers. and many other strikes in new york city which became outpourings of communities of community support. a description of 1916, the streetcar drivers went on strike in new york city. we had been crisscrossed with the streetcars before building the subway. the parade of striking streetcar workers from uptown yorkville like 86 and lexington down to union square, 14th street. as they left yorkville, relatives and friends cheered for two hours. great lines lined at madison. it reached the cloak of making district and a windows of the factories were black with workers. men ceased work on buildings to cheer as the carmen passed. teamsters parked their cars and
a policeman grand and manifested their pleasure. this was the era of constant parades in new york city. there were election parades, eight hour day parade, musical entertainment from around the world like france. there was a protest parade of over 100,000 people in 1911. after one of the great disasters of this era, the 100 anniversary, the triangle fire. down in greenwich village where over 146 young women, jewish and italian were killed when a fire broke out in the triangle shirtwaist factory which is on the top of the floors of an eight story building. this is a picture i like. it does not seem very dramatic.
people looking up at the fire but these are the dead bodies of women who had leaked to avoid the flames and are now lying on the ground. leaped 8 stories. the latter's would only reach -- ladders would only reach to the 5th floor. it led to the first serious issue to regulate conditions of work. the city and state moving into beginning the process of actually trying to make sure safe working conditions and things like that. it's kind of galvanized the protest in new york city. the socialist party, an era of different -- no tv, no internet, no big campaign ads. people campaigned door-to-door and on street corners. the socialist party was adept at street corners speaking.
and a socialist press in new york, for example, the daily newspaper published commentary on different street corners. what should you sound the street corners? how do you spread the message? for example, 96th and 2nd avenue, theoretical, marxist speeches do not go down easily. keep it simple. and then one irish neighborhood, they are talking about, religious discussions no matter how well conducted have no place in a propaganda meetings here. kill capitalism, like -- let the other fellow kill god. do not worry about that. do not get into religious controversies. one of the most popular streetcorner speakers in new york was a guy named gerald
fitzgibbons. and -- this is an account of him as a speaker. fitzgibbons never used mysterious phrases. for one hour he was funny. much funnier than any vaudeville act. when he described how the rich lived, the audience nearly died laughing. when he described how the poor suffered, they laughed too. he will star with a working man getting up at dawn and a sloppy breakfast and the field the shop and has to lunch -- feel the shop and the hasty lunch. 6 days of it was ever marx may have said, fitzgibbons knew his stuff.
when the audience was tired of laughing, he would shout, fools, how long will you stand this slavery? he explained the economics of capitalism. the trouble was the people who worked were robbed by the people of means and to let on the wealth produced by those who operated the means. what was the solution? abolish the system. turn the private organization over to the people. very simple. fitzgibbons was very popular. here in new york socialism was a movement that transcended the division between workplace and public place and existed and the public as well transcended ethnic boundaries for some irish, fitzgibbons, not that many, many ethnic groups attracted to the socialist
party. this is very important in terms, internationalists, socialism is the first american radical movement that thinks of itself fully as part of an international movement. the abolitionist had that connection with england and transatlantic, no question. women's suffrage, back and forth. socialists were global in a sense. talked about the irish struggle for independence and talked about india and anti-colonialism and talked about russian revolution and what happened. they talked about the liberation of the jews in the czarist empire. they taught people they were part of a worldwide movement. they spoken american language but not an exceptionalism that said we are so superior to everybody we do not to think
about anything happening in other countries. and they did. bridging the gap between high culture and maybe a little culture. many writers were associated with the socialists, they had public event free isadora duncan -- event. -- isadora duncan. you would not have it today without isadora duncan. came to new york from california and gave benefit performances for the socialist party. they were at the cutting edge of culture. as well as you know, political thought. there was even, believe it or not, a socialist persons at columbia university. an article from "the new york times" january 1911. shelters socialist, professor
boyson is one. here is what is said. a professor at columbia was lecturing some time ago the smaller new england colleges and made in the course of rooms marks radical observations. one of the other professors came to discuss series with him. i would have been surprised to hear a college professor setting forth such ideas except you are from columbia. [laughter] prof. foner: we all know how radical columbia men are. no women at the time. the university is not radical, the president and trustees are perfectly prepared to stand in the old paths for an indefinite period. there are radicals. when eugene debs spoke on socialism before the students at columbia, the audience that wanted to hear him was so large that none of the university
halls were big enough. umm -- all right. the other great center of what is called moderate right-wing, non-revolutionary was milwaukee. milwaukee, wisconsin. the leader there was a man named victor berger. german born, a teacher, politician, newspaper editor who in the 1890's formed a social democratic society of milwaukee with close ties to the populist movement and trade union, american federation of trade unions in milwaukee. and brought his group into the socialist party in 1901. berger said socialist have to win the trade union, the skilled craft union. and to win elections and local
offices and that's the way to get to socialism. run candidates for offices. and when you get into office, you govern in a good way and when people's confidence. it is evolutionary process. we educate, he said. we enlighten and we reason. we also bring law, reason, discipline, and progress. socialism offers a way out of the conflict that is wrecking american society. berger disliked talk of revolution. the social democrats he said do not expect success from a revolution. that is a riot. he sees revolution as an aimless riot. but from a real revolution, the revolution of mind, you convince people. that is a revolution not just take it to the street, he said. the social democrats refused to break off the threat and when he
-- and anyone plays. a seamless web that does not just break as people advocating revolution says berger. berger offered socialism as a way to prevent class conflict from degenerating as had happened in caesar's column, remember the great book of donnelly? socialism is the way to avoid that. and to have peaceful evolution to a better society. moreover, the concentration of industry was created the conditions. capitalism is doing the socialist work, bringing more and more for production under fewer and fewer hands and eventually taking over. it was all like the new york socialist tied in with the
women's movement. berger is a strict family man, patriarchal, understanding with the men, head of the family and the woman at home. he is rather racist and anti-black. very few blacks at the time but he can use racist language like any other politician at the time. milwaukee is the best example of municipal socialism, at the city level. the socialist could win control. slidell is elected for the socialist party. and they actually govern quite well. in fact, ironically, the credit rating of milwaukee rises under the socialist administration. unlike the main parties, they are not stealing everything. they are not corrupt and not a political machine.
if you law money to the socialist government, you're likely to get into that. people are impressed with his honesty. slidell is related not because everybody is a socialist but he ran in honest municipal government. he provides aid to the unemployed and arbitrate strikes refused to allow the police to intimidate strikers. they improved public health. very typical progressive era urban reform. try to get control of the chaotic situation of the new industrial cities in the socialist party as part of it in many cities. connected in new york, reading, pennsylvania, you can run down city after city, socialist administrations come to power and operate as progressive era reformers. other socialist say it is not good enough. a great journalist starting out
at the time as a writer, as a socialist said, if socialists is to make anything of political action, we have to distinguish ourselves from the progressives and at least cut the returns to properties. try to cut down on the profits of business. they tried to run a good, honest government based on the skilled unions, the nativeborn white. it is an old-fashioned kind of working-class, particularly german immigrants and their children which is governing in milwaukee. and in other cities. berger's position is what we call the left of the socialist party. industrial unionists like bill haywood that say no, was socialist have to do is organize the unorganized workers. the unskilled workers, the
factory floor. the workers who are left out of the american federation of labor, skilled organizations. lift up the lowest ranks of labor. haywood say it is not socialist, just middle-class reformers. the left was strongest, first of all, in places where socialism was weaker, no chance of winning elections. you may tend to gravitate to more ideologically pure and radical position. particularly in the west. haywood comes out of the west, mining regions of colorado, idaho, etc., some of the old populist regions. the center of the left wing so to speak of the socialist party.
they said the problems the left had to address are the unskilled workers, the new immigrants and a new factory. it is more workplace conflict, how to improve and increase socialist commitment and change society not a by electing people to office. again, strong and these mining areas. the timbre workers of places like washington and oregon. place were the class struggle was raw, really raw in your face. pretty violent. timber workers often with bitter labor struggles. unlike in the east where workers, you might almost say made an accommodation with capitalism through the afl. debs when he ran for president got 1/3 of his vote east of the mississippi.
that is where the centers of more radical socialist work. the strongest was actually oklahoma. not to associate with socialist proclivities. that is where debs did the best. the populist tradition flows into the early socialist party, farm tendencies is extensive. oklahoma is sort of a segregated state but not part of the old confederacy. it does not have the weight of the civil war sitting on political alignment the way states like louisiana or georgia, making it difficult for any insurgency. oklahoma gave debs 16%, 1/6 in 1912. in fact, debs was popular among the prisoners. the warden of the state
penitentiary in oklahoma took a poll and the majority all the white prisoners voted for debs. the majority of the black prisoners still would've voted for the republican, the party of lincoln. the other stronghold of the left is in the states of montana, washington, idaho, nevada. all of the states debs got over 10% from mine workers in timber workers. these westerners were suspicious of what do they consider the respectability of eastern socialists like berger or the new york city socialists. in 1912, the national convention of the socialist party was held in indianapolis. jacob pankin, a jewish delegate from new york, arranged to have
dinner with a group or oregonian delegates and i walked around looking for an appropriate restaurant. pankin saw a place that looks nice and the oregonians said we are not going to the place with tablecloths. to bourgeois. they pick the place called the red devil. now for its cuisine but for its name that sounded kind of radical. the ballot in the east, they thought to elect people, if you controlled municipal government, you could always prevent the police from used against strikes, etc. the western socialist, the victories in milwaukee as not really socialist in essence. finally, standing with one foot in each camp and is the only
leader around whom the socialists could unite nationally was eugene debs, the greatest of all the socialist leaders. here is debs addressing a very large crowd. he is way on the left. in chicago, chicago, yeah. i am not sure what part. debs speaking to a large crowd. debs was a symbol of both the class consciousness and the idealism of socialism. he came out of the american railroad union remember which has suffered the great defeat in 1894 of the national because of the use of federal troops. they both confronted devastating losses in the 1890's.