Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016


The challenge again is to build a

movement and a party that are separate

from what Debs denounced as “the

Republican-Democratic party” which

represents the capitalist class in the class

struggle. As Debs said, “They are the

political wings of the capitalist system and

such differences as arise between them

relate to spoils and not to principles.”

How Upton Sinclair connected with a

radicalising US in 1934

Upton Sinclair was already a famous

socialist writer when he ran to be

California governor in 1934.

His novel, The Jungle, exposed the

appalling and dangerous conditions in the

Chicago meat industry. Later books tore

into Wall Street financiers, the oil industry

and the idle rich.

He supported Debs’ Socialist Party for a

while and was hurled further into activity

by the mass unemployment of the 1930s


“To me the remedy was obvious,” he

wrote. “The factories were idle and the

workers had no money. Let them be put

to work on the state’s credit and produce

goods for their own use, and set up a

system of exchange by which the goods

could be distributed.”

Sinclair had run for governor of California

as a socialist, and won small votes. His

friends convinced him to run again – as a

Democrat. He launched the End Poverty

in California (EPIC) plan. It called on the

state to put unemployed people to work in

co-operatives dedicated to “production for

use, not for profit”.

It was not an openly socialist campaign

but it was rooted in wide scale

mobilisation and threatened to encroach

on the wealth of the elite.

The year 1934 saw three great strikes in

Minneapolis, San Francisco and Toledo

which electrified the working class. The

US was radicalising. The establishment

was terrified that someone who at least

partially reflected the gathering anticapitalist

fury could be elected. But

Sinclair’s most dangerous opponents were

the Democratic establishment. Fearful of

being labelled as “reds”, they turned on

him. Some did a deal with his opponent

and some funded a liberal Progressive

party to channel votes away from Sinclair.


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