“Aside from the pig-headedness of the German sectarians one special factor endemic to the American environment worked very strongly against an immediate acceptance of socialism. Even before the Civil War, Marx and Engels had noted with chagrin the escape-valve qualities of the great western hinterland (again a chagrin contrasting sharply to the attitude of other European social radicals toward the frontier). Workers dissatisfied with their condition in the eastern cities did not rebel .- they merely moved. Both Marx and Engels had counted on the rapid rise of American capitalism after the war to nullify this factor, but as late as 1892 Engels was still pointing to the unmanning effect of the American West on proletarian class consciousness. The West did not merely offer the oppressed eastern worker a place to go – a way out and up. Even more damaging to a struggling socialist movement, the large land reserve often turned the laborer into a speculator (or, at least, a potential speculator) and kept his mind running in the same bourgeois circles. Engels wrote, “Only when the land – the public lands – is completely in the hands of the speculators, and settlement on the land thus becomes more and more difficult or falls victim to gouging – only then, I think, will the time come, with ‘peaceful’ development, for a third party. ‘Land’ is the basis of speculation, and the American speculative mania and speculative opportunity are the chief levers that hold the native-born worker in bondage to the bourgeoisie. Only when there is a generation of native-born workers that cannot expect ‘anything’ from speculation ‘any more’, will we have a solid foothold in America” (25). The paradox of a bourgeois-minded proletariat had long bothered Engels in analyzing the English masses. In England and America, he knew, the disturbing phenomenon of workers who admired bankers and industrialists and scorned their own class owed much the the relatively high wage scale prevailing there” [Lawrence R. Moore, European Socialists and the American Promised Land, 1970] [(25) Engels to Sorge, Jan. 6, 1892, ‘Letters to Americans’, 239]

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