Why did a Socialist or Labor Party never gain traction in the United States?
2000 WordsApr 23, 20198 Pages
Why did a Socialist or Labor Party never gain traction in the United States? According to Marxist revolutionary theory, advanced capitalism is a necessary precondition to the development of socialism. Capitalists would ruthlessly exploit workers, accumulating capital from the workers’ labor but not sharing it. This would result in the workers developing a collective class consciousness, overthrowing their oppressors, and replacing their bourgeois government with a dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., socialism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels expected that, because the United States had the most advanced form of capitalism in the world, it was the most likely setting for a proletarian revolution, yet, no socialist or labor party has…show more content…
According to Marxist theory, it should have been impossible for Russia to achieve socialism. It was the least industrialized country in Europe, and most of its population consisted of peasants rather than a class-conscious proletarian working class. The first socialist country should have been a country like the United States, but proletarian revolution did not occur in the United States first or ever. Over the course of the past 110 years, historians, political scientists, and economists have all attempted to explain why. The bulk of this historiographical essay will address Werner Sombart’s 1906 assessment of the failings of American socialism, Eric Foner’s critical reinterpretation of the question from 1984, and these works’ conversation with each other and other studies. German economist and sociologist Werner Sombart agreed with the basic Marxist assertion that the development of socialism was “a necessary reaction to capitalism,” and thus was most likely to occur in the United States first. When no such thing had transpired by the first years of the twentieth century, Sombart conducted the first book-length study on the question: Warum gibt es in den Vereingten Staaten keinen Sozialismus? (Why is there no Socialism in the United States?), published in 1906. Sombart does not offer a straightforward answer. Rather, he examines a litany of issues which hindered the growth of