Upton Sinclair and Socialism
Socialism has always been hard for me to understand. I never really grasped the concept of it until I read the book The Jungle and began to research for this paper. Before I begin I would like to go through a condensed version of the history of Socialism. It was founded in 1901 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Two groups came together to form the Socialists, the Social Democratic Party and the “Kangaroo” wing of the older Socialist Labor Party. These parties contained mostly immigrant workers from big cities (Jurgis from The Jungle was one such fictional worker). The new party expanded and included every type of extremist. They stood on the motto of “reform vs. revolution” and focused mainly on the labor union’s, “this included the concepts of revolution by education and of ‘building the new society within the shell of it’s old.’
In 1912 they had elected two members of Congress and more than seventy mayors. The most members it every attained at this time was 100,000 and even had a presidential candidate, Eugene
Debs, who received almost a million votes. However soon the party began to have internal problems due to diverse ideologies. During the war half did not believe in the war and half believed in Stalin and his
Communist ways, therefore, the party split.
The party had become weak and did not enter a political candidate for the presidential election. However, once the Great
Depression began the Socialist party took a turn back to full tilt and gained strength. It ran Norman Thomas as their Presidential
Candidate. He never won but continued to run, loosing votes every time he ran. Finally in 1948 with only 80,000 votes Thomas declared,
“a Socialist presidential race was a futile effort and an utter waste of the party’s resources.”
This warning was pushed aside and the party ran Darlington
Hoopes in 1952. He received merely 20,203 votes and in the next election he received only a woeful 2,126 votes in the race of 1956.
The Socialist Party in this nation had come to a crashing final end in terms of elections. It now only had an underdeveloped 2,000 members nationwide. In 1960, the first time since 1924 the Socialist party did not enter a presidential candidate on the ballot.
It was at th...
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...d writer believed in the power of Socialism during the times on the late 1800’s to the mid 1970’s. It was felt that it was the only true way to end the “ army of the unemployed”.
Sinclair may have not been a great writer in terms of structure or the use of symbolism . He was more interested in politics rather than the inner reaches of a man’s mind. His character’s lacked development beyond a static figure. He had no formal education as a writer and except for The Jungle he is hardly remembered at all and has no bearing on modern writers. He simply attempted to make literature functional and express his ideals concerning Socialism and perhaps persuade a few younger members to join. He seemingly failed to grasp the concept of literature in a whole “reveals life as complex and difficult to fathom”. He merely wanted to simplify it. In spite of all this, he remains a mystery, an enigma to critics the world round.
“Even within a larger realization of his literary weaknesses and intellectual ambivalences, and taking into account even his blindness to racial oppression, Sinclairs’s commitment to social justice commands respect.”