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Chapter 20 - Revolution

Winning the World, Losing the (Middle) Way

from Part II - Settings and Subjects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2021

Tim Dayton
Affiliation:
Kansas State University
Mark W. Van Wienen
Affiliation:
Northern Illinois University
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Summary

American political and literary discourses in the Great War era were infused with revolutionary rhetoric. In 1912, the major-party nominees for president as well as the Socialist candidate, Eugene Debs, promised revolutionary change. In 1914, many initial commentators on the war, whether Vachel Lindsay or radicals of The Masses magazine, recognized its class-war implications. Even as President Wilson led an intervention seeking regime change in Central Europe, the antiwar Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) sought industrial-democratic regime change at home. While the February revolution in Russia was widely applauded by Americans, the November revolution led by the Bolsheviks sharply divided US opinion. Ten Days That Shook the World, by American journalist John Reed, not only defended Lenin’s methods but encouraged their application in the United States. But counterrevolution held the upper hand in the country, as IWW leaders were sentenced to long prison terms and other radical groups were suppressed in the postwar Palmer raids. Upton Sinclair’s novel Jimmie Higgins both deplored the ill-conceived 1918-19 US military intervention against the Bolsheviks and grieved the loss of a legal, parliamentary path to social democracy in the United States.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Revolution
  • Edited by Tim Dayton, Kansas State University, Mark W. Van Wienen, Northern Illinois University
  • Book: A History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War
  • Online publication: 23 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108615433.021
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  • Revolution
  • Edited by Tim Dayton, Kansas State University, Mark W. Van Wienen, Northern Illinois University
  • Book: A History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War
  • Online publication: 23 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108615433.021
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Revolution
  • Edited by Tim Dayton, Kansas State University, Mark W. Van Wienen, Northern Illinois University
  • Book: A History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War
  • Online publication: 23 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108615433.021
Available formats
×