030: Allen Ruff pt 1, the Socialist Party of America

Episodes 30 and 31 are two parts of an interview with my friend and comrade, historian Allen Ruff. Allen is an independent scholar who has published numerous articles, most recently an extended series on the legacy of World War 1; he is a weekly radio host on WORT 89.9 FM in Madison, and the author of We Called Each Other Comrade: Charles H. Kerr & Co. Radical Publishers, reissued in 2011 by PM Press. He blogs at Ruff Talk.

The topic of this interview was Allen’s book about the Kerr Company, the role of socialist education, movement building, political independence, democracy and turns in early American history. In order to talk about the specific lessons we can learn from the Company, I asked Allen to start by giving a history of the arc of the party and the context of prewar American socialism.

Socialist_Party_of_America_-_LogoAs I mentioned in the interview, there are numerous books exploring different aspects on the Socialist Party of America and often with different theses or conclusions about what the history means. I asked Allen to synthesize and comment on both the history and the debates.

Part two of the interview will cover the story of Charles H. Kerr and the Kerr Company, as well as Allen’s thoughts about the significance of the period.

Related Books and Readings

  • The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912; Ira Kipnis
  • Decline of Socialism in America, 1912-1915; James Weinstein
  • Something to Offer: Debs and Black Liberation; William P. Jones
  • The Roots of American Communism; Theodore Draper
  • Why Did the Socialist Party Decline? Arne Swabeck
[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/blacksheeppod/030__Allen_Ruff_pt_1_Socialist_Party_of_America.mp3]

Right-click here to download this episode.

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