Socialism before Sanders: The 1930s Moment from Romance to Revisionism, 1st Edition

  • Jake Altman
  • Published By: Palgrave MacMillan
  • ISBN-10: 3030171760
  • ISBN-13: 9783030171766
  • DDC: 335.43
  • 225 Pages | eBook
  • Original Copyright 2019 | Published/Released October 2020
  • This publication's content originally published in print form: 2019

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The early years of the twentieth century are often thought of as socialism's first heyday in the United States, when the Socialist Party won elections across the country and Eugene Debs ran for president from a prison cell, winning more than 900,000 votes. Less well-known is the socialist revival of the 1930s. Radicalized by the contradiction of crushing poverty and unimaginable wealth that existed side by side during the Great Depression, socialists built institutions, organized the unemployed, extended aid to the labor movement, developed local political movements, and built networks that would remain active in the struggle against injustice throughout the twentieth century. This title brings this overlooked moment in the history of the American left into focus, highlighting the leadership of women, the development of the Highlander Folk School and Soviet House, and the shift from revolutionary rhetoric to pragmatic reform by the close of the decade. As another socialist revival takes shape today, the book lays the groundwork for a more nuanced history of the movement in the United States. Establishes the significance and scope of the socialist revival in the 1930s, the importance of its most radical elements, its successes and limitations at the local level, and how its participants evolved through the 1940s and beyond. Foregrounds the development of two key institutions, Soviet House and the Highlander Folk School Connects the 1930s revival to the successes of the Socialist Party in the early twentieth century and to American politics today.

Table of Contents

Front Cover.
Half Title Page.
Title Page.
Copyright Page.
Prologue: The Promise of Revival.
1: Radical Incubators: New York City and Union Theological Seminary.
2: The Revolutionary Policy Committee.
3: Fruits of the Socialist Revival.
4: Their Party, Their Power: Socialist Women in the 1930s.
5: While the Men Played Revolution.
6: The Great Transition: Channeling “A Mighty River”.
Epilogue: Norman Thomas Nostalgia.