Jewish socialism [has] become a colorful trauma in the process of adjustment, to be stored in the attic of memory, just as religion had been dismissed as a mere sublimated version of unfulfilled historical yearnings or a mere social agency holding in check oppressed masses. In both cases, the explanation explains away too much too easily. The historians refuse to confront Jewish radicalism in its own right.
Historians write a lot about middle-class Jews — their neighborhoods, their synagogues, habits of consumption and so on, but mostly ignore the many Jews who never made it into the middle class or somehow fell from it…American Jewish history has thus been turned into a celebration of winners for whom winning comes easily and without costs. Themes of loss, alienation, ambivalence, disappointment and rebellion — all prominent in American Jewish fiction and autobiography (in Yiddish and English) barely exist in the major works of American Jewish history…In the success story that American Jewish history has become, the radical experience has been made irrelevant.
From the vantage point of 1920….socialism had made Jews more conspicuous, so much so that many people viewed it as a specifically Jewish trait. Jews may not have been the only radicals in America, but, according to the AFL’s New York director, they were among “the worst offenders.”
There should be no doubt that the capitalist leaders are generally guilty for this, who do all in their power to extract as much profit as possible from their capital even if it costs thousands of lives! On the altar of capitalism, that bloodthirsty idol, which is never quenched with human blood, burned these 149 young lives!
Lipsky shows how Cahan’s radical socialism emanated from his fears about the plight of the Jews — not only those who had made it to America, but also the vast number still suffering in Europe… He was convinced that after the elimination of capitalism there could not be “an economic or political reason for anti-Semitism.” It would take almost half a century for Cahan to disabuse himself of this and other Marxist fantasies.