American Writers and Radical Politics, 1900–39: Equivocal by Eric Homberger

By Eric Homberger

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The principal fact the socialists had to teach me was that they themselves existed. 8 One of the tracts which Abbott gave Sinclair was by George D. 9 Herron was a leading proponent of Christian Socialism, and his criticism of the damaging effects of money upon organized Christianity, in his famous sermon 'The Message of Jesus to Men of Wealth', delivered in Minneapolis in 1890, was likely to receive a sympathetic hearing from Sinclair, still strongly influenced by his mother's Episcopalian piety.

26 Trotsky's letter to Joan London of 16 October 1937, perhaps a more familiar source, praised 'the audacity and independence' of London's 'historical foresight': One can say with assurance that in 1907 not one of the revolutionary Marxists, not excluding Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, imagined so fully the ominous perspective of the alliance between finance capital and labour aristocracy ... Over the mass of the deprived rise the castes of labour aristocracy, of praetorian army, of an all-penetrating police, with the financial oligarchy at the top.

39 Avis's inner evolution and betrayal of the revolution carries within itself in an inverted form London's dismay at the betrayal of the Socialist Party, and its inner evolution towards revisionism. The Iron Heel, so widely regarded as an example of left-wing socialist propaganda, is more a monument to his despair at the opportunism of American socialism. London had begun to think about a 'Novel on Literary Struggles' as early as 1902 or 1903. 40 Various manuscript notes and drafts suggest that he returned to the project intermittently over the next five or six years.

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