The sphinx's riddle of the nineteenth century. The labour question and socialism in the United States, the Netherlands and Spain
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As much as socialism has shaped European societies, as little influence socialism seems to have had in the United States. In 1906 Werner Sombart published his famous book Why is there no socialism in the United States? In one of the most industrialized countries in the world, he was surprised to find only weak and small socialist parties and unions. The debate Sombart started still continues today. The failure of socialism in the United States has caused a scholarly debate about so-called ‘American exceptionalism’. This debate has been the inspiration and starting point for my thesis. Why socialism was successful in some countries and unsuccessful in other countries is a question very suitable for the comparative method. Since socialism can be seen as a big, even worldwide, ideology that is connected with the process of industrialization, it is interesting to investigate the varying degree of success of socialism in different countries.