History and Historiography

What Is True American Populism?

Reposted from thesyndicalistpapers.home.blog

We often see debates on who the true populists are in United States politics. Some say Donald Trump and the conservatives uphold the interests of the American worker, while others will say Bernie Sanders and his social democrats are the true heirs of the populist agenda. There are other political forces who believe that only Marxism or Fascism are the true and real forms of populism. If we look at the original American populists of the 1870s to 1890s (that being the People Populist Party, The Farmer Alliance, the Knights of Labor, the National Labor Union, and the Greenback Party), we find that there are many similarities with common tendencies but, however, many stark differences.

What united the People Populist Party all the way to the Greenback Party was a strong resistance to monopoly capitalism, banking cartels, and support for cooperatives. The Party also believed in the preservation of family farms, craftsmanship, artisans, shopkeepers, and local communities that were being displaced by the centralization of land and capital by corporations and the various banking cartels. The Party was very localist, focused on religious values, viewed immigration negatively, and, in many cases, was agrarian. The members and supporters of the People Populist Party were also devoted to actual tradesmen and workers owning the means of production; not being controlled by large corporate or government bureaucracies. Supporting economic and social policies that enshrine, uphold, and defend the interests of the common American is the heart of the original American Populism.


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