The Guardian

The face of American socialism before Bernie Sanders? Eugene Debs | Paul Buhle and Mari Jo Buhle

Eugene Debs addresses a crowd of people, circa 1910. Photograph: Fotosearch/Getty Images

Socialism is in vogue in America. Radical left politics, embodied by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is gaining traction among millennials who came of age during the Great Recession. And conservatives, in turn, have reverted to using decades-old Red Scare tactics in response.

With the hype around a resurgent American left, it might feel like socialism is a newcomer to political discourse in the United States. But only if you don’t know your US history. Long before Bernie Sanders came along, there was Eugene Debs. It is impossible to understand the appeal of socialism in America today without looking at its past. And that inevitably leads to Debs.

An activist and trade unionist, he was jailed for his role in the 1894 Pullman strike – the nationwide railroad strike that changed

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