In 1913 Socialist Party (SP) leader Morris Hillquit contended that the United States had embarked on the path toward socialism. He argued that the “modern principle of control and regulation of industries by the government indicates the complete collapse of the purely capitalist ideal of non-interference, and signifies that the government may change from an instrument of class rule and exploitation into one of social regulation and protection.” He then asserted that like “the industries, the government is being socialized. The general tendency of both is distinctly towards a Socialist order.” This fit with his understanding of the stages a nation underwent as it progressed first from a society with little to no state involvement in the economy, to a social democracy with state regulation of corporations and protections for workers, to, finally, a socialist state where a government which the people elected managed the economy.
John Enyeart teaches in the American Studies Program and is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Social Science History Institute at Stanford University. His forthcoming book, Progressive Unionism, Party Politics, and Political Economy: The Rocky Mountain Working Class, 1870–1924, is under contract with Stanford University Press.
1 I am grateful to Richard Schneirov, Diana Di Stefano, and Constance Clark for their many helpful suggestions.