The Socialist Party of the United States of America was formally organized at a unity convention in Indianapolis in 1901. The two merging groups were the Social Democratic Party of Eugene Victor Debs and the "Kangaroo" wing of the older Socialist Labor Party. From the beginning the Socialist Party was the organization for American radicals. Its membership included Marxists of various kinds, Christian socialists, Zionist and anti-Zionist Jewish socialists, foreign-language speaking sections, and virtually every variety of American radical. The Socialist Party historically stressed cooperatives as much as labor unions, and included the concepts of revolution by education and of "building the new society within the shell of the old." The Socialist Party aimed to become a major party; in the years prior to World War I it elected two Members of Congress, over 70 mayors, innumerable state legislators and city councilors. Its membership topped 100,000, and its Presidential candidate, Eugene Debs, received close to a million votes in 1912 and again in 1920.
The outbreak of the war against Fascism and the wartime prosperity weakened all parties on the left. While the Communist Party suffered the most from the McCarthy period, all the left was seriously impaired, and by the mid-fifties little remained of organized radical politics. The Socialist Party was down to about 2,000 members, and had more or less withdrawn from electoral action in the face of the increasingly restrictive ballot-access laws passed by state legislatures around the country. In 1956 the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Federation reunited, under pressure from the Socialist International (with which both groups were affiliated).
By 1970, the Socialist Party was showing a growing tendency toward democratic centralism in practice. At the end of 1972 the Socialist Party, changed its name to Social Democrats USA. Since 1973 the Socialist Party USA has focused its attention more on grassroots and local politics, and has dealt with the controversial issue of Presidential politics on a case-by-case basis. Due to America's restrictive and often undemocratic ballot access laws (which have made it almost impossible to break the two-party monopoly on national politics), the party views the races primarily as opportunities for educating the public about socialism and the need for electoral democracy in the US.
Socialist Party’s Philosophy:
The Socialist Party stands for the abolition of every form of domination and exploitation, whether based on social class, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
They are committed to the transformation of capitalism through the creation of a democratic socialist society. Socialism will establish a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers will take responsibility for and control of production, and residents will take responsibility for and control of their homes, schools, and local government.
For these reasons they call for social ownership and democratic control of productive resources, for a guarantee to all of the right to participate in societal production, and to a fair share of society's product, in accordance with individual needs.
Unemployment: Under welfare capitalism, a reserve pool of people is kept undereducated, under-skilled and unemployed, largely along racial and gender lines, to exert pressure on those who are employed and on organized labor. The employed pay for this knife that capitalism holds to their throats by being taxed to fund welfare programs to maintain the unemployed and their children. In this way the working class is divided against itself; those with jobs and those without are separated by resentment and fear. In socialism, full employment is realized for everyone who wants to work.
Campaign Reform: The Socialist Party supports the public financing of candidates for public office as long as this funding extends to the candidates of alternative political parties. They call for the closing of the loophole sanctioned by the Supreme Court under which candidates can spend an unlimited sum of their personal wealth on their own campaigns. They also call for equal access to media for all political parties.
Word Count: 658
Related Essays on Communism