The Centennial of Norman Thomas

The Centennial of Norman Thomas

I should like to argue with Norman Thomas who, I will assume, is present in absentia. As Irving Howe said earlier, in Norman Thomas’s later years, this celebrated socialist leader concluded that his career had been a failure. So I say to you, Norman, if that’s the way you feel, it is not the first time you’ve been wrong.

I claim the right to quarrel with Norman now because I believe that no one in this room quarreled more with him than I did. In all the years that I worked with Norman Thomas, I never felt that his brand of socialism was mine. To me, the socialist movement was composed of three major strains. There were the utopian socialists, whose modern incarnation was the League for Industrial Democracy. There were the Christian socialists, whose approach was embodied in Norman Thomas. And then there were the “scientific socialists,” like me.

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