A mixture misunderstood by many

Like other Socialists with a national audience, Bohn misunderstood the basic social foundation of his own movement’s appeal. In the person of Debs, in the vibrant movement in the Southwest, and in communities such as St. Mary’s, religious belief and a deep-rooted patriotism did not inhibit the growth of a strong class awareness. That awareness developed within a specific political and cultural context that provided it with a most powerful ally: through these men and women and their specific traditions a class analysis—so at odds with the dominant ideology of individualism—entered American culture and its political discourse with a power and force otherwise unimaginable. Misunderstood by many, that mixture of biblical appeal, democratic ideology, and growing class awareness was the great strength of the Debsian Socialist movement and remains today its most potent legacy.

—Nick Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist. Urbana, Chicago, London: U. of Illinois Press, 1982. p. 240


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