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We Americans are all socialists now. That’s news. Since at least 1906, scholars have contended just the opposite. What happened in 1906 was that Werner Sombart, a now-obscure German sociologist, published a book titled “Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?” Unlike Europe, America was hostile to socialism, Sombart argued.

Prosperity was one cause; it weakened revolutionary consciousness. The economy enjoyed some natural advantages: fertile land, ample resources and good harbors. But the larger cause was the resistance of American workers. Obsessed with “getting ahead,” they felt that socialism might hold them back.

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