Egalitarianism is an American Tradition

In the year 2017, many people mistakenly assume that concepts like communism and socialism are strictly European traditions that migrated around the world to various places when being adopted. This mistake is largely associated with the immense crackdown of anything resembling Soviet communism and Marxist theories of that nature that took root in Europe and Asia in the 20th century. Events like the Cold War perverted terminology and distorted history to the point that many forget that there is a deep historical root of communalism and socialized egalitarianism that conceived ideas in both theory and practice that parallel with the theories developed in Europe during the same time periods such as with Karl Marx and the communist philosophy.

Decades before Karl Marx wrote his Communist Manifesto, the Massachusetts mill girls in the 1840s were the first in the United States to call for the democratization of the work place following the early industrial revolution. They made their argument by saying "workers who work in the mills should own the mills"; a question that placed intense emphasis on the rationality of the Boss-Worker relationship, given democratic councils of the worker themselves would distribute the economic surplus value extracted from the collective labor of the workers in a manner that fit the worker interests rather than the interests of the boss. This rationality of democratizing factory work paralleled with the questioning of the Master-Slave relationship that perpetuated the markets that relied on institutional slave labor of the chattel variety.

By the time the Civil War started to break out, calls to abolish the wage labor system became prevalent to the point that abolishing chattel slavery and wage slavery, as it became called, went hand-in-hand throughout the abolition movement. Calls for abolishing wage slavery for being on par with chattel slavery was within the original Republican Party platform. Many who fought for the Union did so under the pretense that both systems would be abolished. The Master-Slave relationship was exposed as completely antithetical to any democratic pre-text even if the illusion of democracy was perpetuated by the aristocracy slave master class. It was recognized that not only was slave master aristocracy and their plantation system illegitimate and antithetical to American traditions and values; so too were Industrialist aristocracy deemed illegitimate for similar reasons. Over the next few decades, that industrialist aristocracy became known as Robber Barons.

Calls to democratize the workplace intensified after the Civil War with militant labor wars and entire worker uprisings occurring during the 1870s-1910s. The Robber Barons established such power that roughly 300 individuals/families owned most of the US economy at the time. They attempted to retain their power and economic dominance through perpetuating the Boss-Worker hierarchy to the point that workers were held in line and factories were kept going by the barrel of a gun and threats of violence and death. This eventually led mass worker revolts, entire cities and towns rising up; and establishing successful democratic communes and councils to operate the institutions within their regions. One of the largest most successful of these were during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 where numerous cities, including Chicago, rose up in worker rebellions. These strikes and conflicts continued for decades, The United States saw the most violent and bloody labor wars seen in any industrialized nation. Thousands died; tens of thousands injured, blacklisted, or ostracized in one form or another.

Momentum towards democratizing the economy saw boost during the anti-trust busting era of Theodore Roosevelt and his progressive wing, worker movements continued with a wide spectrum of ideologies from socialist, communist, and anarchist, to radicals and progressive liberals. These forces were making rapidly more progress; that is until the United States entered the First World War. Upon entering, the United States passed legislation such as the espionage act and alien sedition act that justified the state intervention and break up/dismantling/destruction of numerous organizations on the economic and political left that were systematically uprooted and left husks of their former selves. This dismantling and destruction continued through the red scare of the postwar years, the post World War II years with legislation passed by Harry Truman following the end of the war, the McCarthy era, the FBI's COINTELPRO, and even to the modern day Occupy Movements.

While the forces of mobilized response to the antithetical existence of the Boss aristocracy class of US society has been broken, it has not been forgotten. Every act to crush and suppress these egalitarian movement only invigorates the next generation to push forward strong and greater. The history of this egalitarianism may be attempted to get distorted and disguised by historical revisionism and biased mythology; but the United States has a deep history of egalitarianism that rivaled the European traditions. And in some cases, the US varieties bore greater fruits and learned wiser lessons than the egalitarian counterparts elsewhere on the planet.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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