Michael Harrington

From Academic Kids

Edward Michael Harrington (February 24, 1928July 31, 1989) was an American socialist.

Harrington was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended 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 radical politics and Catholicism. Appropriately, he joined Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker movement. He was an editor of The Catholic Worker from 1951 to 1953. He ultimately moved towards secular socialism and became a member of the Independent Socialist League, a small organization associated with the former Trotskyist leader Max Shachtman. A strong believer in democracy and socialism, Harrington then became a member of Norman Thomas' Socialist Party when Shachtman and Thomas agreed to merge their organizations. Harrington would back Shachtman's realignment perspective that meant the abandonment of independent socialist organization in favour of working within the Democratic Party, although he would split with Shachtman when he became more conservative; Harrington would lead a number of former Norman Thomas-era Socialists into the Democratic Socialists of America, a democratic socialist organization which still believes in the Shachtman-era concept of working with the Democrats.

He wrote The Other America: Poverty in the United States in 1962, a book that had an impact on the Kennedy administration, and on Lyndon B. Johnson's subsequent War on Poverty. He was probably the most well-known socialist in the United States during his lifetime, a status William F. Buckley once compared to being "the tallest building in Topeka, Kansas." Another unknown commentator wrote, "In any other country, he would have been a prime minister." He was one of the founders of the aformentioned Democratic Socialists of America, 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.

References

  • Harrington, Michael, The Other America: Poverty in the United States, New York: Macmillan, 1962, (ISBN 068482678X)
  • ---- The Accidental Century
  • ---- Toward a Democratic Left: A Radical Program for a New Majority, New York : Macmillan, 1968
  • ---- The Retail Clerks
  • ---- Socialism, New York: Bantam, 1970, 1972. "To the memory of Norman Thomas. And the future of his ideals."
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