Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations and Maps

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

This book has a large ambition—to reorient our thinking about the American middle class. Indeed, I argue that there is no such entity as the American middle class. Scholars’ belief in such a creature has been unwise and inaccurate at best—and, at its worst, part of most intellectuals’ often unconscious, although too often conscious, antidemocratic dogma. Ordinary middling folks, however, have generally been much more acute in their...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xxiii

The cardinal rule of the petite bourgeoisie is exploitation of the family economy, and I have unfortunately taken far too much advantage of this strategy during the production of this book. Not only is it my pleasure, but it is my obligation, to thank Anne, Sandy, and Isaac Johnston for the huge amount of kindness and sustenance that they have given me, as well to acknowledge the many hardships that they have endured in the service of this project. First and foremost...

PART I. REHABILITATING THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS

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One • Rethinking the Middle Class: Politics, History, and Theory

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pp. 3-17

Arguably no class in human history has received so much comment, but so little systematic study, as the American middle class. And although the great multitude of ordinary Americans have been favorably disposed toward the solid and upstanding middle class, intellectuals have by and large held a different view. In scholarly circles, the middle class has, to put it mildly, an image problem. We cannot, therefore, even begin to think straight about— much less systematically...

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Two • Curt Muller and the Capitalist Middle Class: Social Misconstructions of Reality

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pp. 18-28

The heart of this book is an exploration of some of the most significant ways that ordinary Portlanders sought, primarily through politics, to create different kinds of middle classes. Indeed, Portland politics during the Progressive Era revolved around struggles over the very meaning of the category. Who would be part of the middle class? What role would white-collar workers have in the...

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Three • Harry Lane and the Radicalism of Middle-Class Reform

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pp. 29-46

Middle-class opposition to capitalism in Portland was no mere impersonal force. Rather, it became embodied in the lives of particular individuals. We must resist the ways in which the American middle class has become, in the hands of scholars, not just a demon, but even more an abstraction. Look through almost every history book about the middle class—from C. Wright Mills to those of the present day—and you will not see any faces. Theory and scholarly argumentation...

PART II. THE POPULIST POLITICAL ECONOMY OF PROGRESSIVE ERA PORTLAND

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pp. 47-50

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Four • The Contours of Class in Portland

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pp. 51-73

Portland is an ideal place to examine the politics and social life of middling folks, if only because both the lay and scholarly representations of the Rose City so resolutely depict a kind of middle-class utopia—perhaps the closest that Americans have been able to get to an urban Ecotopia. Like most myths, the idea that Portland is “middle class” is not completely wrong, but it does require considerable exploration. The result will be the discovery of new ways of looking at the middle...

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Five • Capitalism, Anticapitalism, and the Solidarity of Middle Class and Working Class

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pp. 74-89

One critical conclusion arises from the exploration of Portland’s class structure. As in almost all other cities in the United States, a simple polarization between “the business class” and “the working class”—to use the Lynds’ terms from Middletown—much less between bourgeoisie and proletariat, simply does not describe the city’s social relations. The simultaneous increase of corporate and elite...

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Six • Petit Bourgeois Politics in Portland and World History

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pp. 90-98

Did the somewhat abstract issues of republican political economy, alliances between workers and middling folks, and the Question of Capitalism make a difference in the mundane realm of Portland’s political arena? They did, as we can see through an exploration of the basic outlines of Portland’s tumultuous municipal politics, which culminated in the near victory in the 1917 mayor’s race of a remarkable petit bourgeois radical, Will Daly. And these issues...

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Seven • Will Daly: The Petit Bourgeois Hero of Labor

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pp. 99-114

Historians relying on conventional wisdom might find it difficult to think of Will Day at the time of his election to the city commission as a prime candidate for radicalism, precisely because he was so “middle class.” A prosperous small business owner, Daly managed his own printing enterprise until his election to the city commission. The chief plank of his platform was hardly revolutionary; Daly simply called for economy in municipal expenditure. Yet Daly was no...

PART III. “THE MOST COMPLETE DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD”: THE POPULIST RADICALISM OF DIRECT DEMOCRACY

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pp. 115-118

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Eight • Direct Democracy as Antidemocracy? The Evolution of the Oregon System, 1884–1908

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pp. 119-126

The American cultural and political Establishment has recently decreed, with a remarkable degree of consensus, that the People have gotten out of hand. Liberals in particular have sought to delegitimize direct popular control of government through the initiative and referendum. In the process they have needed to “anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle slogans and costumes in order to present the new scene of world...

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Nine • Direct Democracy’s Mechanic: William S. U’Ren

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pp. 127-137

Paul Douglas, the staunchly liberal U.S. senator from Illinois, tells a story in his memoirs. A graduate student at Harvard during the teens, he became fast friends with the prominent economist F. W. Taussig. Douglas unfortunately also had a professor whose best days were behind him. C. J. Bullock, supposed to teach a course on pre-Smithian economic theory, instead “spent most of his time in virulent attacks on Woodrow Wilson, Jane Addams, and William S. U’Ren,...

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Ten • From the Grand Reorganization to a Syndicalism of Housewives: Feminist Populism and the Other Spirit of ’76

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pp. 138-158

William U’Ren and his comrades diluted their class hostility and democratic radicalism in the movement to extend the Oregon System from 1902 to 1908, but their populism returned to the fore during the most critical years of Progressivism. From 1909 to 1914, when the fate of reform was most fundamentally at stake, the advocates of People’s Power attempted a much more drastic restructuring...

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Eleven • The Political Economy of Populist Democracy: The Single Tax Movement in Portland, 1908–1916

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pp. 159-176

Historian Richard Hofstadter’s fundamental critique of direct democracy, which he drew from Herbert Croly, was that “the impulse toward popular rule was without meaning whenever it was divorced from a specific social program.” Yet the challenge of Portland populism did not lie merely in the political realm, in what we might call structural reform designed to change the rules of the electoral game. Drawing on the middle-class moral economy, the Portland direct democracy...

PART IV. A POPULISM OF THE BODY: THE RATIONALITY AND RADICALISM OF ANTIVACCINATIONISM

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Twelve • A Deluded Mob of Ignorant Fools? The Historiography of Antivaccination, and the Risks of Vaccination

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pp. 179-190

It is an understatement to note that my argument differs considerably from mainstream scholarly analysis of those who resisted vaccination. Invisible to nearly all historians, antivaccinationists receive their most insightful treatment from scholars willing to recognize some of their grievances while simultaneously denying the legitimacy of their ideas. At least that is better than the academic analysis that continues to use labels common at the time, calling those who resisted vaccination—as has one recent scholar—“the deluded, the misguided...

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Thirteen • Shutting Down the Schools: Parents and Protest in Mt. Scott

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pp. 191-196

Ultimately we can only address the basic philosophical question raised by global antivaccinationists—the issue of democratic coercion versus democratic respect for individual rights—in public conversations about citizenship and its attendant obligations. As sociologist Peter Baldwin has noted, preventative public medicine casts up “the basic problem of reconciling individual and community in the most fundamental, pressing and unavoidable of terms.” I will refrain here from engaging in that kind of philosophical reflection. Answers to...

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Fourteen • From the Death of a Child to Sedition against the State: The Life and Ideology of Lora C. Little

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pp. 197-206

The antivaccination uprising in Mt. Scott merely served as the prelude for the most sustained early-twentieth-century attempt by Portlanders—indeed by any Americans—to apply the methods of populist democracy to medical and scientific matters. The energy of activists who opposed vaccination soon went into the 1916 initiative, the brainchild of an obscure individual named Lora C. Little. Little...

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Fifteen • Direct Democracy and Antivaccination

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pp. 207-217

The stakes were high as Little went about her duties both to save democracy and to use its tools by gathering, “largely single-handed[ly],” signatures as the chief petitioner for the anti–compulsory vaccination initiative in 1916. The initiative had its roots in the previous year’s legislative session, when powerful senator Gus Moser introduced a bill to make it a felony for any school, employer, or public official to require vaccination. Lora Little, saying she “represented...

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Sixteen • The Success and Radicalism of Antivaccination

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pp. 218-220

What kind of overall evaluation should we offer for such a strange, but strong, mass movement? First, we have to recognize the movement’s true power, well beyond its victories in European countries. In the United States, despite the movement’s many formal defeats and its gradual dispersal, the campaign to prevent compulsory smallpox vaccination was in crucial ways spectacularly successful. It is difficult for us to imagine today how a movement so antagonistic...

PART V. THE USES OF POPULISM AFTER PROGRESSIVISM: THE 1922 SCHOOL BILL AND THE TRIUMPH OF THE KU KLUX KLAN

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Seventeen • School Boards and Strikes: Petite Bourgeoisie against Elite

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pp. 223-226

The first signs of the movement that eventually blossomed into the School Bill crusade came during the most mundane of political affairs, the June 1921 Portland school board elections. This annual event did not often generate much attention, because it occurred separately from the city and state elections. In 1921, however, a surge of interest resulted in the largest vote in the history of the city’s school elections, with more than twice as many voters going to the polls as in...

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Eighteen • Liberal Populism: The Compulsory Public School Bill

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pp. 227-233

The social atmosphere in Portland surrounding strikes, unions, and labor radicalism does not merely furnish local color for an analysis of the 1922 election. Rather, showing that politicians, newspaper editorialists, business owners, and religious leaders gave their support to workers whom civic officials classified as revolutionary provides a tantalizing glance at how fluid the relationship between the middle class and the working class remained. The background of the...

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Nineteen • Corporate Tools: The Middling World of the Portland Klan

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pp. 234-247

White supremacist Lothrop Stoddard declared in 1919, “One of the most interesting and perhaps momentous developments of this momentous time is the ‘Middle Class Movement.’ ” Indeed, the fact that the School Bill fit snugly into the traditions of middle-class populism should be no surprise to scholars of the 1920s. For one of the most important recent revisions of this period has highlighted...

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Twenty • The Producer’s Call and the Portland Housewives’ Council: The Tenuous Survival of Petit Bourgeois Radicalism

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pp. 248-254

Despite the Klan onslaught, left-wing populism in Portland did not die out. For also launched in 1922 was the appropriately named Producer’s Call. The Call provided a continuing voice for the small-propertied radicalism that had sustained the most serious Progressive Era radicalism in the Rose City. This populist newspaper served as the mouthpiece for a successful anticorporate recall effort in 1922...

PART VI. CONCLUSION: POPULISM, CAPITALISM, AND THE POLITICS OF THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS

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Twenty-One • The Lower Middle Class in the American Century

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pp. 257-265

Even as ardent a defender of the populist political heritage as Christopher Lasch believed that the heroic days of the radical middle class had largely passed by the end of the Progressive Era. Yet the reality is much more complicated. Once again, we can uncover our complex past only by moving away from staid stories of declension, finally fully acknowledging the tenacious political messiness of American ideas about the class structure. For example, the...

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Twenty-Two • The Fate of Populism: Moral Economy and the Resurgence of Middle-Class Politics

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pp. 266-278

The petite bourgeoisie has survived the vigorous attempts by modern intellectuals to kill it. Despite occasional flare-ups, however, its anticapitalism was eclipsed as an oppositional ideology during the American Century of growthoriented welfare state corporate capitalism, from roughly the 1930s through the 1960s. For example, Alan Brinkley has convincingly established the exhaustion of...

Appendix 1. Tables

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pp. 279-290

Appendix 2. Map, Voter Registration Density by Precinct, 1916

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pp. 291-292

Abbreviations

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pp. 293-294

Notes

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pp. 295-380

Index

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pp. 381-394

Other Works in the Series

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pp. 395-396