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Howells socialism originated in an ethical crisis. He attended court to watch the trials; he visited factories. He defended the accused Armored market bombardment. Liberalism failed him. He could no longer believe, as before, that the ailments of mankind in the United States "could have been prevented by honest work and unselfish conduct." In the late 1880s, what he called the "smiling sides" of American life seemed to disappear.

Howells described socialism as "not a positive but a comparative thing … Every citizen of a civilized state is a socialist." If anyone believed that “the post office, the public schools, the psychiatric hospitals, the junk are good things; and that when the railroad leadership disappointed everyone who trusted it, the railroad receiver is a good thing. ” Howells believed that "postal savings banks, as they exist in England, and national life insurance, as they have in Germany, are good things."

Like Howells, Bernie Sanders adopts a number of modest changes. Mr. Sanders often rightly seems to be skeptical that public college free education, which is the norm in California, and the universal health care of Canada and Europe, seem to be radical solutions to American problems.

Opponents of socialism put such proposals as dangerous and non-American, but Henry James Ames was closer to the truth when he described the boundaries of Howells' imagination. He thought that Howells' shortcomings as a novelist stemmed from the fact that he was too much at home to take great "moderate, optimistic, internal and democratic" risks. Ames could describe Howells' socialism and the lives of his contemporaries. For example, Frances Willard was an evangelical Christian and a self-employed Christian socialist, who made a small difference between Christianity and his socialism. "There is a socialist in every Christian. and in every socialist a Christian. " She was president of the Woman's Christian Messiah Association, which influenced the vision: “Looking Back» American socialism. Francis Bellamy, Edward's cousin and another Christian socialist, wrote The Promise of Honor. "Freedom and justice for all" brought to a large scale the values ​​of his beliefs.

The modesty of socialist goals could ironically emerge as Mr. Sanders' shield. Radicals, anarchists, communists, and other Marxists, have influenced America's development at critical times, often for the better, and most have despised American socialists as insufficiently revolutionary, ideologically incompetent, hopelessly sentimental, and completely intertwined with existing.

They were right, so the American Socialists were far more influential than their radical critics. The Socialists applied sensitivity, values, and justice, not ideologies. They rely on the generosity and justice of the masses of Americans, which Howells called the general satisfaction, not the elites. They often didn't know where they were going or how to get there, but they knew where to go and who to accompany. They were not discouraged. They seem pretty familiar and pretty American.

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