Edward Bellamy 1892

Western Drift toward Radical Socialism

First Published: August 20, 1892
Source: The New Nation volume II, pages 529-530
Transcription: Cade Jameson
Copyleft: Edward Bellamy Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

A despatch from Larned, Kan., states that the officers of the Farmers' alliance will undertake to furnish the Homestead strikers with flour for nothing as long as they continue to hold out. This may be official action or merely an unofficial expression, but it is entirely in keeping with the tone of the alliance press on the Homestead affair from the first outbreak. Indeed there is no part of the press of the country, not even the labor papers proper, which have been so sweeping in their denunciations of Carnegie and Frick and so enthusiastic and thorough-going in their expressions of sympathy with the utmost claims of the men, as these farmers' papers.

This fact is a striking refutation of the claim of some of our social reformers who, led astray by a vain theory as to the necessarily proletarian origin of any radical social reform, have argued that there could be no real sympathy or basis for common action between the agricultural and wage-earning classes. If such common action is lacking, it is now getting to be evident that it will be the fault of the wage-earners and not of the farmers. The latter have set a pace in this work of social reconstruction which the former will have difficulty to keep up with.

The fact is, the country is most fortunate that the work of radical social reform started where it did, among the farmers of the West. No more intelligent, courageous and morally sound body of men ever set their hands to the saving of society. Beginning with a somewhat narrow notion of the work to be done, based chiefly upon economic distresses especially affecting their own interests, their conception of the scope of any industrial reform that is to be adequate, has broadened day by day. Each successive declaration of purposes, as one looks back three years, appeals to a wider principle and announces a more extensive program. The progress in doctrine has been truly remarkable. The platform put forth by the recent Erfurth Congress of the German social democrats is tame reading compared with the Omaha platform and the various state and congressional district platforms now being adopted by the people's party.

More significant even of the profound and (in a proper sense) revolutionary tendency of the new movement than any explicit declarations of platforms, is the tone of its representative press. Here we find a radicalism of view which is nothing less than startling. The keynote of the reform press of the West and Southwest is the essential injustice and absurdity of inequalities of wealth in a nominal republic. There is no such thing as driving the ploughshare of reform any deeper than that.

The fact is, the population of the West and Southwest is bodily drifting straight and fast toward a general readiness to demand, as the only satisfactory solution of the industrial question, absolute economic equality and a nationalized system of industry as its guarantee.


Note: Edward Bellamy used his newspaper The New Nation to report on contemporary developments in the socialist movement. This article discusses the Homestead strike, the Farmers' Alliance, the People's Party, and how Bellamy viewed the growth of the socialist movement in American in comparison with Germany. It also intimates at Bellamy's theoretical understanding of the transition to socialism.