Populism

TimW333521 at aol.com TimW333521 at aol.com
Thu Feb 16 17:05:36 MST 1995


I think you take a one-sided view of populism  historically and this may
influence your view of populism today.

It is true that populism arose in the farms and small towns of the middle
west and south.  However, it also had support within cities.  At heart it was
not so much a defense of small business against big business as it was of the
self-employed farmers against big business and finance which strangled them.
 This is why populism was largely absorbed into the early Socialist Party in
many areas, especially Oklahoma, the journal Appeal to Reason was essentially
populist and future Communists like Cannon, Browder, and Foster were heavily
influenced by populism.

The progressive side of populism is the very simple notion that working
people, and the "little people" or "ordinary folk" get screwed in our society
while the rich prosper.  It seems to me that we Marxists ought to be able
grasp the real class against class content within the populist tradition and
pose our ideas in a framework understandable to "ordinary folk."

I won't deal with "liberalism" separate from populism as what is progressive
in the liberal tradition is populist.  I would suggest that we should not
take too much comfort from the "Crisis" of liberalism which to me is no worse
that the crisis of Marxism and the left in general.  Any illusion that bad
times for liberalism are good times for Marxists is just that: an illusion.
 Like the old line of Stalin's: "After Hitler us!"

I suggest it would be more accurate to say that there is a crisis brewing
within the Democratic Party and leave it at that.


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