Marxism, Communism, and Socialism all lifted high the rights of the "Worker." Many of the first labor organizations were coming from these political and philosophical stances. In fact, in Mao Tsetung's little red book, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung ( Peking, Foreign Language Press, 1972) The page before the title page reads " Workers of all countries, unite!" It is interesting to note that the Progressive Movement actually worked to do away with the amatuer in many fields ushering in the era of the professional, the scientist, and the skilled worker as platforms of their reform movements. Although both functioning as radical reform organiations they approached the worker from two sides of the issue. One raised the common, muscled worker with shovel, pick, or hammer to an almost mythic superman position. The progressives did the same thing with the schooled, trained, scientifically based 'new professionals'. This in many ways would greatly marginalize the 'worker.' In the middle was the American middle class - a new and trying to grow group - who were as much in the middle ideologically as they were socially and economically.
In the years between WW 1 and the Great Depression, the socialist party (sometimes also labeled the progressive but this is generally incorrect) in the United States made strong inroads. They had become active in the industrial (mining and rail) strikes of the late 1890's, the farmer's revolts and the Grange movement. Teddy Roosevelt in the 1912 election has witnessed a hostile and bitter election as the three groups struggled for power. Some historians consider it a close call.
In the 1920's, they won increasing numbers of elections, gaining supporters from all walks of life. The 2-party platform of the Democrat and Republican was in severe danger from the growing strength of the Socialist Party and its candidate Eugene V. Debs. Although, the group was not as vigorous as in the previous decade, there were enough unsettled voters that it was growing issue. It was so worrisome that FDR actually began to integrate many of the ideas and suggestions from the Socialist Party platform into the his own campaign and the campaign of the whole Democratic Party. The jobs acts, social security, and other activities of FDR's "New Deal" reforms were all initally (to some degree) part of the platform of the American Socialist Party. In essence, he grafted into the Democratic Party the values and goals of the Socialist movement. It worked, in the end he was able to attract enough Socialist votes to carry the day and the Socialist Party was a minimal independent political power for many years after that.
Forced underground in the 1950's and the era of McCartheyism, the party begant to reassert itself in the late 1960's and since the 1980's have run a Presidential candidate almost every term.
Sources for more reading:
Agnosticism’s strong right arm, Robert G.Ingersoll, figures prominently in two interesting stories from America’s heartland.
In Oklahoma, a tale comes about a grave and W.H. Sade, of Douglas, Oklahoma (http://cybermarsx.mls.lib.ok.us/Folklore/Originals/XI-1_009.pdf). He was reported to have been an infidel whose home was decorated with art and images depicting religious themes in a most sacrilegious manner and raised his family to despise all things religious.
His 15-year-old son, whom he had named after Robert G. Ingersoll, soon came down with an illness similar to appendicitis. He suffered for many days and spat out curses to his father for raising him wrong and telling him, he would suffer. This appears to have occurred as he developed strange ideas. The man believed his son’s illness arose from eating a peach. He became convinced his son would grow into a peach after death. When the boy died he had first did not want him buried in the regular cemetery but in a pasture across the road from the Douglas cemetery. His daughter convinced him finally but he insisted in carving a peach in the reverse of the stone. Years later, she had this moved to his feet and replaced the headstone with a more traditional one. As of 1936, John Miller reported the stone was still there in the cemetery.
One source did identify a grave in the cemetery which matches the description given, Robert G. Sade, b. 1881 and died 1897 (http://www.okcemeteries.net/garfield/douglasunion/douglasunion.htm).
Near Joplin, Missouri, a most horrific event was linked to Robert G. Ingersoll as well in 1899 (http://www.historicjoplin.org/?p=635). James Moss was a 35-year-old worker who was living with his wife and children in an area called the “Kansas City Bottoms.” A stench led some people to the remains of their camp in a tent where the horrific sight of the mutilated bodies of the youngest child outside led to the bodies of the other two children, the mother and Moss. Police determined he had killed his family and then shot himself. A Kansas City paper reported he was attracted to the writings of Ingersoll and his views on Suicide. A general belief seemed to be that his various views all indicated he was insane.
This all leads to the question - can agnosticism, like extremes in of any belief system, make a person mad? Is it possible the wide-eyed, ranting, ignorant, superstitious Bible believing or religious extremist may need to move over to allow room for the wide-eyed, ranting,and murderous agnonist? Opens up all kinds of charector possibilities.