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Edward Michael Harrington was an American democratic socialist, writer, political activist, professor of political science, and radio commentator.Early lifeHarrington was born in St Louis, Missouri He attended St Louis University High School, College of the Holy Cross, University of Chicago MA in English Literature , and Yale Law School As a young man, he was interested in both leftwing politics and Catholicism Fittingly, he joined Dorothy Day s Catholic Worker movement, a pacifist group that advocated a radical interpretation of the Gospel Above all else, Harrington was an intellectual He loved arguing about culture and politics, preferably over beer, and his Jesuit education made him a fine debater and rhetorician Harrington was an editor of The Catholic Worker from 1951 to 1953 However, Harrington became disillusioned with religion and, although he would always retain a certain affection for Catholic culture, he ultimately became an atheist.Becoming a socialistThis estrangement from religion was accompanied by a growing interest in Marxism and a drift toward secular socialism After leaving The Catholic Worker Harrington became a member of the Independent Socialist League, a small organization associated with the former Trotskyist leader Max Shachtman Harrington and Shachtman believed that socialism, the promise of a just and fully democratic society, could not be realized under authoritarian Communism and they were both fiercely critical of the bureaucratic collectivist states in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.Harrington became a member of Norman Thomas s Socialist Party when the SP agreed to absorb Shachtman s organization Harrington backed the Shachtmanite realignment strategy of working within the Democratic Party rather than running candidates on a Socialist ticket.Socialist leaderDuring this period Harrington wrote The Other America Poverty in the United States, a book that had an impact on the Kennedy administration, and on Lyndon B Johnson s subsequent War on Poverty Harrington became a widely read intellectual and political writer He would frequently debate noted conservatives but would also clash with the younger radicals in the New Left movements He was present at the 1962 SDS conference that led to the creation of the Port Huron Statement, where he argued that the final draft was insufficiently anti Communist Arthur M Schlesinger, Sr referred to Harrington as the only responsible radical in America, a somewhat dubious distinction among those on the political left His high profile landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents.By early 1970s Shachtman s anti Communism had become a hawkish Cold War liberalism Shachtman and the governing faction of the Socialist Party effectively supported the Vietnam War and changed the organization s name to Social Democrats, USA In protest Harrington led a number of Norman Thomas era Socialists, younger activists and ex Shachtmanites into the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee A smaller faction associated with peace activist David McReynolds formed the Socialist Party USA.In the early 1980s The Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee merged with the New American Movement, an organization of New Left veterans, forming Democratic Socialists of America This organization remains the principal U.S affiliate of the Socialist International, which includes socialist parties as diverse as the Swedish and German Social Democrats, Nicaragua s FSLN, and the British Labour Party.Academician and public intellectualHarrington was appointed a professor of political science at Queens College in 1972 and was designated a distinguished professor in 1988 During the 1980s he contributed commentaries to National Public Radio Harrington died in 1989 of cancer He was the most well known socialist in the United States during his lifetime.
- 197 pages
- The Next Left: The History of a Future
- Michael Harrington
- 21 November 2018 Michael Harrington