The Road to Rebellion
Class Formation and Kansas Populism, 1865-1900
McNall rejects the traditional view that blames the failure of the Alliance on a turn to mass-based electoral politics, but rather sees the move into national politics by the Farmer's Alliance as part of a rational strategy to better wage their fight for economic justice. The Kansas populists failed, he argues, because of their inability to embrace a broad, working-class base, to provide an effective alternative vision, and ultimately to create a distinct class organization. Debates about how classes come into being, or how democracy is to be realized, cannot be settled in the abstract. McNall's recreation of this heroic struggle is a model in the analysis of class formation. At the same time, The Road to Rebellion is dynamic social history, which holds vital lessons for structuring and realizing alternative political agendas today.