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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Disillusionment with the Socialist Party

Pedigo explains why his belief in the Socialist Party began to wither by the end of the 1930s. While Pedigo was organizing and participating in union activities in Roanoke, Virginia, during the 1930s, he had become increasingly interested in radical politics and had associated with the Socialist Party; however, according to Pedigo, the Socialists were increasingly fixated on placing themselves in opposition to Communism. Pedigo believed they should focus more on other issues, but their failure to do so led to his disillusionment with the Party.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Joseph D. Pedigo, April 2, 1975. Interview E-0011-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WILLIAM FINGER:
How long did you remain active in the party?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Up until I left the plant. I attended a couple of meetings after I left the plant and went on the staff, but I never took an active part. As matter of fact, the local just withered and died on the vine and I got pretty thoroughly disillusioned myself and I recall that the last person that came to me was a person named Ken Douty who was an old Socialist friend and his wife was a very ardent Socialist. She came to me and wanted to know why I wouldn't get active again. I was pretty sarcastic about it and told her that if the Socialists would get one more damn plank in their platform besides fighting the Communists, I might get interested in getting back active again. I just got disillusioned because there were so many things to do on a day to day basis and all the Socialists could do was fight Communism. God damn it, we had plenty to do besides that.
WILLIAM FINGER:
Why was that such a big thing?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Well, it was quite a question of doctrine and I was in New York, while I was still in the plant, a friend of mine took me up to a meeting, Art Krager and MacDonald, some of the top Socialists of that time. So, I as suitably impressed, being invited to that kind of a meeting and we went to a swank apartment on Riverside Drive and we sat around there and …
WILLIAM FINGER:
Was Buck Kester there?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
No, I don't recall him. But all that was done that night was just long discourses on the evils of the Communist party and the error of their theories.
WILLIAM FINGER:
But not on the evils of capitalism?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
No. When we were going back to the hotel and this friend of mine asked me what I thought about it I said, "Well, to tell you the truth, I didn't hear them say a damn thing that was going to help put bread on anybody's table. It was just ‘Fight the Communists."’
WILLIAM FINGER:
What year was that, do you remember?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Yeah, that would have been about 1938, somewhere along in there. I came out of the plant in 1939.
WILLIAM FINGER:
So, you stayed going to Socialist Party meetings the whole time, '31, '39, that era?
JOSEPH PEDIGO:
Off and on. The party itself, the local, just withered away in Roanoke.