Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign Part 1: Novel is Written

About Upton Sinclair, who during the Great Depression as part of his bid for governor of California wrote a book about his EPIC plan to stem poverty.

Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Campaign

By Michael S. Medved

On a mild summer evening in 1933, the well-known writer Upton Sinclair attended a dinner party at a small hotel by the beach at Santa Monica, Calif. During the course of the meal his friends suggested to him a plan that led to "one of the great adventures of his life." They urged Sinclair to change his registration immediately from the Socialist to the Democratic party and to seek the Democratic nomination for governor of California in 1934. Sinclair was the author of 47 volumes, most of them novels exposing the corruption of the capitalist system, and he had been a Socialist all his life. On 5 previous occasions he had allowed his name to be used as the Socialist party candidate for various offices, but he had never campaigned actively and never received more than a tiny percentage of the vote. But now, at the height of the Depression, with 28% of the California population either unemployed or the dependents of the unemployed, Sinclair's friends were convinced that he could capture the Democratic nomination, and then go on to win the governorship. Without committing himself one way or the other, Sinclair went home to think it over.

A few days later he took a walk from his home to the Beverly Hills City Hall, and quietly reregistered as a Democrat. He then prepared for the coming campaign in a characteristic manner: He sat down and wrote another book. The product of his labors--I, Governor of California and How I Ended Poverty: A True Story of the Future--described in advance Sinclair's successful campaign, his triumphant administration, and the beginning of a new social order in California. The key element in the story was "Governor" Sinclair's EPIC plan--for END POVERTY IN CALIFORNIA. Under EPIC, the State would acquire unused land and idle factories and put the unemployed to work raising food and manufacturing products for their own use. For the 1st time, America would see a system of production for use, rather than production for profit. The workers in the State land colonies and the State-owned factories would be paid in special scrip currency, which could be used to purchase any items from other elements in the EPIC system. When other workers saw the spirit of cooperation, ideal working conditions, and generous salaries that typified EPIC, they would leave their jobs and come to work for the State, and so the capitalist system would slowly collapse as the people took control of their own lives. Sinclair concludes his book with a description of his last acts as governor:

The Governor made a last speech over the radio saying that he had caused a careful investigation to be made throughout the State of California and that the only poor person he had been able to find was a religious hermit who lived in a cave. Therefore he considered his job done, and he purposed to go home and write a novel.

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