LINCOLN AND THE SOCIALIST ROOTS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people. —Abraham Lincoln, from his first speech as an Illinois state legislator, 1837
Everyone now is more or less a Socialist. —Charles Dana, managing editor of the New York Tribune, and Lincoln’s assistant secretary of war, 1848
The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world. —Karl Marx and the First International Workingmen’s Association to Lincoln, 1864
These quotations begin a chapter in John Nichols new book, The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition—Socialism. He wrote The “S” Word in response to Newt Gingrich’s comment, in 2010, that “the socialist infiltration of American government and media is even more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists.”
Although both Republicans and Democrats pretend that socialism is a foreign idea antithetical to the “American Way,” Nichols argues that socialism has a long, proud history in America. He writes about Tom Paine who admired early socialists, Horace Greeley who employed Karl Marx as a correspondent for the New York Tribune, and Helen Keller who was an avowed socialist. But one fascinating chapter, reprinted in full at the International Socialist Review, reveals that Republican president Abraham Lincoln had not only immersed himself in the ideas of European Utopian Socialists, and German Communists, but spoke about them publicly.
There is nothing more American than knowing our very rich history of democratic socialism, Bernie Sanders brought it back into public discourse. Now, more than ever, it seems important to celebrate its relevance and importance. We owe a debt of gratitude to some very legendary historic figures who were not afraid of the “socialist” label, and to those who helped weave into the very fabric of this nation. Shunning our “socialist” roots is actually very un-American.Mom Cat, Smarmie Doofus, twenty and 4 othersleveymg, Peace Patriot, Spanishprof27, Lucas Jackson like thisDemocracy, in this late stage of capitalism, has been replaced with a system of legalized bribery. All branches of government, including the courts, along with the systems of entertainment and news, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. Electoral politics are elaborate puppet shows.- Chris Hedges
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