Nation magazine's deceptive article about socialism in America

Nation magazine is as far left as Fox News is far right. So I wasn't surprised to see this article in the Nation's online edition on Aug. 7: "America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition. DSA Is Reviving It."

It's supposed to impress us with the argument that socialism has been an integral part of American politics and has had some storied successes. Chief among them, according to the article by John Nichols, is Milwaukee.

From 1910 to 1960, the “hotbed of socialism” in America was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time it was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in America—and it was run by Socialists.

And so forth. But what Nichols fails to mention in this long homage

Milwaukee's Socialist mayors: Emil Seidel, Dan Hoan and Frank Zeidler (Milwaukee Public Library)

Milwaukee's Sewer Socialist mayors: Emil Seidel, Dan Hoan and Frank Zeidler. (Milwaukee Public Library)

to Milwaukee "socialism" is that it was widely known as "sewer socialism." It was a variety of municipal reforms that would not be considered socialist or progressive by the likes of Bernie Sanders or his far left supporters.

The Wisconsin Historical Society described it as " a program of political action that, while operating under the name of Socialism, was really a variety of moderate reform."

In other words, municipal ownership of the street cars and utilities and the kind of "good government" today advanced by civic and business groups. The term "sewer socialism" was...

 coined by Morris Hillquit at the 1932 Milwaukee convention of the Socialist Party of America, as a commentary on the Milwaukee socialists and their perpetual boasting about the excellent public sewer system in the city. [From Wikipedia.]

Nichols' omission might not have been intentional, considering the way history is taught these days in schools. But it does, by omission, overstate the extent of socialism's "storied history."


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  • Was the article in The Nation any more misleading than anything broadcast by Fox News? And, in terms of the influence each wields, which one has the most impact would you say?

  • In reply to HHH Is My Hero:

    I wouldn't say that "anything"(i.e. everything) that Fox broadcasts is misleading. Nor would I say that about the Nation. I don't know which has the most impact, but if you want me to guess, I'd say Fox News.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Well the Chicago tribune's Editorial Board can sure "mislead", just about daily. They still love Rauner, the "pretend governor"!

  • Well, for one, I didn't say everything on Fox News is deceptive, but there have been several instances when Fox News has proven to be somewhat less than compliant with journalistic standards of accuracy.

    Presenting opinion as fact is misleading and therefore bad journalism. But as bad as it may be, it is certainly less harmful coming from a relatively obscure source such as The Nation than from a widely disseminated and frequently quoted news source as Fox News.

  • Thanks for the updates here

  • which one has the most impact would you say?

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