ex-Vobbly”i to Hubert Humphrey to Fritz Mondaie teils antale. Even Eugene D’ebs. the most successful Presidentialncandidate of the American Socialist Party, was, as hisnbiographer puts it, “The classic example of an indigenousnAmerican radical.” After a brief infatuahon with the Russiannrevolution near the end of his life. Debs cabled Leninnto protest the execution of non-Bolshevik reolutionariesnand defended his own independence on the grounds ofn”having no Vatican in Moscow to guide him.” Mostnsignificantly, Debs—even in the throes of pro-Soviet fervornin 1917—refused to support American involvement innWorld War I just because Russia was now “democratic.”nNorman Thomas, who led the Socialist Party for a greatnpart of the century, opposed American entrance into WorldnWar II, partly because he saw no reason for supporting onentotalitarian regime against another. Contrast the steadfastnessnof Thomas and Debs with the oscillahons of thenAmerican comrades before and after the Hider-Stalin pact.nTo the end of his days, Thomas was a bitter critic of thenSoviet regime. It does not take a profound knowledge ofnpolitics to understand why the Communists and their tocdsnhave hated Norman Thomas and either treated Debs withncontempt or cast him in the role of )ohn the Baptist (annallusion which the Christian Debs would have appreciated).nDebs, to say nothing of Thomas, refused to take orders fromnthe Comintern. They were the worst of all things—yellownsocialists, revisionists, syndicalists. What is worse, theynremained essentially loyal to their country.nThe case of the most famous American radical. Big BillnHaywood, is more complicated. Bill came from goodnAmerican stock: his ancestors had fought in eery major warnin which this country was involved. His father was a PonynExpress rider turned miner. Bill also tried mining, as well asncowboying and farm labor, before he found himself caughtnup in the struggles of the Western Federation of Miners. Hisntrial for the murder of the ex-Governor of Idaho made himna celebrity. After his acquittal, he became a hero of thenlabor movement aiid one of the driving forces of thenIndustrial Workers of the World—the Wobblies. The onlynreally dishonorable thing Bill Haywood is known to haendone was to jump bail and flee to the U.S.S.R. rather thanngo back to a 20-year jail term imposed by one of thosensuperpatriots we could just as well have lived without (JudgenKennesaw Mountain Landis). When Bill finally met hisnhero, comrade Lenin, he was anxious to find out if thenworkers really ran the factories in Russia. Lenin assurednhim, “Yes, Comrade Hayvood, that is communism.” (PoornHaywood was really a syndicalist and didn’t know enoughnMarx to get onto the platform committee of the DemocraticnParty.)nLenin could afford to be cynical. He had caught himselfna real-live American revolutionary. Most of the socialistsnand communists in America, especially the leaders, werenimmigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe, who couldnnot be expected to understand, much less support, Americanntraditions. They spent most of their energies attackingnthe Wobblies for their de’iation from the Part’ line. Butnthere was a third group: well-to-do Americans of impeccablenbackground, who had never hit a lick in their life. Whatnwere they doing in the various Communist Parties thatnsprang up at the turn of the century? -Big Bill met many ofnthem in Greenwich X’illage when he was trvmg to raisenmonev for the Patterson strike: bohemian socialites likenMabel Dodge, the muckraking journalist Lincoln Stetfens.nand a voung Harard graduate who wanted to know whatnthe revolution was all about. Bill initiated the boy into thenmysteries and ga’e the world John Reed.nManv American working men, women, and childrennhad reason to be dissatisfied with S6 for a seven-dav week ofn12-hour days. But as soon as conditions improved, theynbecame quiet citizens. What was eating at the vitals ofnSteffens. Reed, and the former corporate lawyer ClarencenDarrow? What made such men turn against their country?nTo judge of the cause of causes is infinite, as Baconnobserved, but there are certain tendencies in Americannhistory which seem to converge on the America-hatingnradicalism of the 20th century. Consider their great hero,nJohn Brown, the murderer celebrated by Emerson andnThoreau. He and his abolitionist supporters were willing tondestroy the Constitution, raise up insurrecdon. and preachnthe massacre of the citizens of one-third of the U.S., simplynbecause they objected to a social institution which, howevernimmoral it might have been, was undoubtedly constituhonal.nThe sane and reasonable abolitionists like William H.nSeward, as welhas many Union generals, were almost asnfrightened by the radicals as the South. But the extremistsnlonged for war. As Lincoln remarked when he met HarrietnBeecher Stowe, the authoress of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, “So,nyou’re the little lady who made this big war.” Like theirnspiritual descendants—prohibitionists, feminists, andncommunists—the radical abolitionists had all the answers.nThey knew precisely how other people ought to live. In thisnquality they resembled many of the Puritan leaders whonsettled New England. In old England, their friends had keptnthemselves busy murdering a king and imposing martial lawnon a onccrhappy nation. When they came to America, theynlost little time in imposing their own peculiar views ofnreligion and society on the not-always-willing populace ofnMassachusetts.nWhat fueled the Puritan intolerance was their vision ofnperfection: they were here to do God’s work on a conhnentnruled by the Devil. The most humane of their leaders.nCotton Mather, saw America as the battleground betweennthe forces of light (the Puritans) against the forces ofndarkness (Indians, the Catholic Spanish, Anglicans). It wasnup to God’s people to create a paradise in this heathennwilderness. The religious fires of the Puritans waned rathernquickly—but not their real zeal to reform the human race.nEmerson and his transcendentalist friends were not e’ennChristians, let alone Puritans, but they still carried on thenold struggle for perfection.nThe Puritans and their residues could not learn to lovenAmerica, because it was flawed and fleshly. The Conshtution,nalthough it made union possible, was not just annimperfect document: it was a pact with the De’il. You werenon one side or another, good versus evil. Sensible men likenDaniel Webster, Henry Clay,^nd that great statesman fromnIllinois, Stephen Douglas, were excoriated for defendingnAmerica as America.nAll of this might have been nothing more than a localn(continued on page 32)nnnNOVEMBER 1985/5n