Prologue: The Promise of Revival
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During the Great Depression, the United States witnessed a revival of the socialist movement. Although its membership had declined during WWI, upheavals of the late 1920s and early 1930s created a moment in which socialist ideology inspired intellectuals and activists. Socialists showed signs of success, as capitalist institutions were initially unable to offer adequate solutions for the crisis facing the United States. Socialists, especially Norman Thomas, the Socialist Party’s perennial presidential candidate, provided a viable alternative that was attractive to those suffering from unemployment and its accompanying upheavals. New York City was a focal point for both the crisis and the revitalized movement. It was here that Norman Thomas voiced opposition to establishment politics and young leaders began to form their own political consciousness.