Socialism and America

Irving Howe, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $17.95 (225p) ISBN 978-0-15-183575-1
In a balanced, dispassionate analysis, Howe looks at the prospects and pitfalls of socialism in America. He recalls the 1920s when America's populist faith made socialist leader Eugene Debs as popular with Lower East Side immigrant Jews as he was with Oklahoma farmers. But Debs, according to Howe, spread the naive notion that capitalism and socialism are the only two choices facing humanity. Socialists of the 1930s were among the first to criticize Stalin's tyranny, yet this insight was not widespread among those on the left. Thirties socialists also foundered, Howe maintains, because they failed to grasp that capitalism is highly adaptable, as exemplified by Roosevelt's welfare state. A key chapter analyzes Werner Sombart's 1906 classic Why Is There No Socialism in the United States? Howe refutes Sombart's assertion that the masses enjoy ""steady material abundance.'' The author of World of Our Fathers points out that an American socialist movement, in order to succeed, must position itself as a partial ally of liberalism, yet as an ally that goes beyond liberalism to fight for true economic democracy. A carefully reasoned polemic. October 30
Reviewed on: 10/01/1985
Release date: 10/01/1985
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-15-683520-6
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