By Al Benson Jr.
Those who have finally been forced to admit that there was socialism and Marxism prevalent in this country before the advent of FDR have done so quite reluctantly. Before Donnie Kennedy and I wrote our book Lincoln’s Marxists several years ago this was a subject that was generally ignored. There was information out there before we wrote the book, but it was pretty generally submerged and the professional “historians” who wrote books dedicated to the Lincoln Cult preferred it that way. Our book, by God’s grace, helped to bring some of it to the surface and you can find more out there now than you could before we wrote the book.
I just ran across an article on www.u-s-history.com entitled “Socialism in America.” It gives a brief history of socialism in this country and, interestingly enough, it starts off with: “The roots of socialism in America can be traced to the arrival of German immigrants in the 1850s when Marxian socialist unions began, such as the National Typographic Union in 1852, United Hatters in 1856, and Iron Moulders’ Union of North America in 1859.” Have any of you ever read history books that mentioned any “Marxian socialist unions” at any point in our history, let alone that early? Over the years I’ve heard some say that the labor unions in this country were all communist. Can you begin to see why some folks thought that way? Who knew that you had such groups in this country even before the start of the War of Northern Aggression? And how many of those Forty-Eighters who fought for Lincoln’s “holy cause” may have belonged to those unions? Joseph Weydemeyer, who was a personal friend of Karl Marx, and who had been a Union officer during the War has hailed in a Communist newspaper as a “trade union organizer” among his many other dubious talents, so you do have to wonder.
Recently, I read comments by John Nichols, who writes for The Nation magazine, which is hardly a publication that has the endorsement of those on the right. Someone was interviewing Mr. Nichols and he made a couple revelatory comments. He said: “To give you an example, Eugene Victor Debs frequently referenced Paine and Lincoln as folks who had inspired him toward socialism. So it’s not that this is something that we have just discovered, but it is something that has been sort of lost in recent decades.” Interesting comment. I don’t doubt for a minute that this sort of information has “been lost” in recent decades because it is a very inconvenient truth that, for the political left in this country, in both major political parties, is better off forgotten or ignored.
And Nichols emphasizes this again when he says: “So again this is not hidden history—it’s there, it’s findable, but it’s not a history that has been emphasized. More significantly you bring up Lincoln, and the history of Lincoln is absolutely fascinating, because when you go back to the founding of the Republican Party, there is simply no question that the party was founded by a broad array of folks from many different ideological perspectives and backgrounds, but some of the founders of the Republican Party, in fact key founders, people who called the initial meetings, were socialists and communists. A friend of Karl Marx was one of the key players in the founding of the Republican Party. That is not a debatable point—the history is there—but it is something that has not been emphasized, it’s almost been pushed aside.” Mr. Nichols’ comments here are quite accurate. This is truth that has been purposely ignored, swept under the historical rug, de-emphasized—however you want to say it. How do you think it would look in young folks’ history books if the fact were admitted that socialists and communists played a large part in the founding of the Republican Party? With truth like that floating around, how could Republican candidates go to the public during elections claiming to be the “party of small government?” With truth like that available, they would, if they were honest, have a admit that they were the party of total government and that, in that capacity, the Democrats were only laboring to catch up to them in that quest.
Judging by what I have read of Mr. Nichols’ comments here and there, I don’t believe I would be comfortable with his political ideology. However, I have to admit that, in this case, he has done us a real service by noting these facts. I wish we had had this quote when we wrote Lincoln’s Marxists because it’s a real gem. His comments were published in www.thecoli.com in November, 2013, over two years after Donnie Kennedy and I had the second edition of Lincoln’s Marxists published.
Those who still, ignorantly or otherwise, claim the Republican Party is the party of conservatives, patriots, and “small government” should start doing the homework to discern just how accurate their assertions really are. Some of them would be shocked, but they might be shocked into starting to do some real digging to determine if all they have been told is truth or farce. At that point they could begin to inform others and begin to position the Republican Establishment where it really belongs—in the total government column!
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Thank you, Dr. Al.
Thanks Karl. If I can’t aim to please at least I can aim to inform.