United States Of America


United States Of America
   As a significant political creed, the influence of Marxism in the United States has been negligible. The U.S. has, though, provided a string of socialist and Marxist pamphleteers, campaigners and intellectuals, chiefly Paul Baran, Eugene Debs, Daniel De Leon, Michael Harrington, Jack London, Paul Sweezy and William Appleman Williams.
   An explanation for the apparent failure of a genuine mass Marxist movement to emerge in the United States came initially from the German economist Walter Sombart in the form of his 1906 essay “Why Is There No Socialism in the USA?” (Warum gibt es in den Vereinigten Staaten keinen Sozialismus?). This cited multitudinous reasons for the failure of the doctrine to enter the public imagination, from the favorable attitudes of American workers to the capitalist system, and the civil integration offered by full suffrage, to the relative wealth of the U.S. proletariat in comparison with its European counterparts. Over the subsequent century, numerous other explanations for the American Marxist malaise have been put forward, such as the strength of the Democratic and Republican parties in a fiercely nonmalleable twoparty system, the absence of genuine and mass solidarity among the American working class, and the strength of Catholicism.
   In terms of Marxist organizational structures, in the first quarter of the 20th-century left-wing groups, chiefly Debs’ Socialist Party of America, enjoyed fleeting if marginal popularity. However, a schism in that party over support for the Bolsheviks in the 1917 Russian Revolution meant they were never as strong again, and resulted in the formation of what became the Communist Party of the United States of America. In the 21st century, both maintain little more than pariah status, though they are influential within the U.S. anti-war movement. A brief Marxist intellectual renaissance occurred through the 1960s and into the 1970s with the emergence of New Left thinkers such as Baran, Sweezy and Williams, but this was more a reflection of the ideology’s popularity among the intelligentsia than the manifestation of a popular hankering for Marxism.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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