The Socialist Labor Party of America (SLP) is the oldest socialist political party in the United States and the second oldest socialist party in the world.
== Origins ==
The party was founded in Newark, New Jersey, in 1876 as the Workingmen's Party of America. Renamed in 1877, the SLP was a confederation of small Marxist parties from throughout the United States, becoming the first nationwide Socialist party. The SLP is the second oldest of the so-called "third parties" (the Prohibition Party being the oldest). Simon Wing, the SLP's first nominee for President (1892) received 21,163 votes.
In 1890, the SLP came under the leadership of Daniel De Leon, a lawyer who lectured at Columbia Law School until he quit to devote himself full time to the SLP. Since then, the SLP has adhered to the form of Marxism known as DeLeonism. De Leon was famously approvingly referred to by Lenin.
== Early 20th century developments ==
De Leon's opponents, led by Morris Hillquit, left the SLP in 1901 and fused with Eugene V. Debs' Social Democratic Party (USA)and formed the Socialist Party of America. In a dispute concerning the entry of the French socialist Millerand into the French government and the possibility of winning reforms by through parliamentary action that took place in the Second International the SLP firmly opposed the supporters of reformism. Therefore they and others in a similar position became known as Impossibilists. Today the term is still sometimes used with reference to the SLP and the Socialist Party of Great Britain although the two parties differ politically on a number of issues and have no connection.
Despite often being condemned for its supposed sectarianism the SLP carried out work in the trades unions and its members were active in the Knights of Labor. With the collapse of the Knights SLP members were instrumental in setting up a small union federation in opposition to the American Federation of Labor in part because the AFL refused to organise many sections of the working class. This led to De Leon writing as to the need for what he called Socialist Industrial Unions which he speculated would not only defend the working class but would form part of the future socialist society.
Perhaps the greatest impact the SLP and De Leon had was when they took part in the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905. However before too long they had fallen out with the element that they termed 'the bummery' and left to form their own rival Industrial Workers of the World based in Detroit. This body would soon be renamed the Workers International Industrial Union and declined into little more than SLP members. The WIIU was wound up in 1924.
== Later history ==
Always critical of both the Soviet Union and of the Socialist Party's "reformism," the SLP has been isolated from the majority of the American Left, and that isolation seems to be ever-increasing.
The party experienced two growth spurts in the twentieth century. The first occurred in the late 1940s. The presidential ticket, which had been receiving 15,000 to 30,000 votes, increased to 45,226 in 1944. Meanwhile, the aggregate nationwide totals for U.S. Senate nominees increased during this same period from an average in the 40,000 range to 96,139 in 1946 and 100,072 in 1948. The party's fortunes began to sag during the early 1950s, and by 1954 the aggregate nationwide totals for U.S. Senate nominees was down to 30,577.
Eric Hass became influential in the SLP in the early 1950s. Hass, the nominee for President in 1952, 1956, 1960, and 1964, played a major role in rebuilding the SLP. He authored the booklet "Socialism: A Home Study Course" which was well-received. Hass increased the party's nationwide totals and recruited many local candidates. His vote for President increased from 30,250 in 1952 to 47,522 in 1960 (a 50% increase). Although his total slipped to 45,187 in 1964, Hass outpolled all other third party candidates - the only time this happened to the SLP. Aggregate nationwide totals for U.S. Senate nominees increased throughout the late 1960s, hitting 112,990 in 1972.
The increased interest in the SLP in the late 1960s was not a permanent growth spurt. New recruits subscribed to the anti-authoritarian views of the time and wanted their voices to have an equal status with the old-time party workers. Newcomers felt that the party was too controlled by a small clique, resulting in widespread discontent. In 1976, the SLP nominated its last Presidential candidate and has run few campaigns since then.
In 1980, members of the SLP in Minnesota, claiming that the party had become bureaucratic and authoritarian in its internal party structure, split from the party and formed the New Union Party.
They recently have been having trouble funding their newspaper, ''The People.'' Publication frequency was changed from monthly to bi-monthly in 2004, but continued.
== Presidential candidates ==
* 1892 - Simon Wing - 21,163 votes
* 1896 - Charles H. Matchett - 36,356
* 1900 - Joseph F. Malloney - 40,900
* 1904 - Charles H. Corregan - 33,156
* 1908 - August Gillhaus - 14,018
* 1912 - Arthur E. Reimer - 29,374
* 1916 - Arthur E. Reimer - 15,284
* 1920 - William W. Cox - 31,716
* 1924 - Frank T. Johns - 28,746
* 1928 - Verne L. Reynolds - 21,608
* 1932 - Verne L. Reynolds - 34,028
* 1936 - John W. Aiken - 12,818
* 1940 - John W. Aiken - 14,914
* 1944 - Edward A. Teichert - 45,226
* 1948 - Edward A. Teichert - 29,038
* 1952 - Eric Hass - 30,250
* 1956 - Eric Hass - 44,300
* 1960 - Eric Hass - 47,522
* 1964 - Eric Hass - 45,187
* 1968 - Henning A. Blomen - 52,591
* 1972 - Louis Fisher - 53,811
* 1976 - Jules Levin - 9,616
== References ==
* Frank Girard and Ben Perry, ''Socialist Labor Party, 1876-1991: A Short History,'' 108 pages (1991, Livra Books) ISBN 0962931500.
* L. Glen Seratan, ''Daniel Deleon: The Odyssey of an American Marxist'', (1979, Harvard University Press) ISBN 0674191218.
* from bound volume #8 of ''Workers Vanguard'', (International Communist League Fourth Internationalist, Spartacist Publishing, Box 1377 GPO, New York, NY 10116)
** "Was De Leon a DeLeonist?" and "SWP Invites SLP to Build Party of the Whole Swamp," 10 February 1978 ''Workers Vanguard'' #192
** "The SLP and the Russian Question" and letter from former SLPer 24 February 1978 ''Workers Vanguard'' #194
** "The Dictatorship of the Proletariat," 10 March 1978 ''Workers Vanguard'' #196
== External links ==
* [http://www.slp.org/ Socialist Labor Party of America] official website. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
* [http://www.slp.org/tp.htm#anchor185654 '''The People'''] official bimonthly paper of the SLP. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
* [http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/slp/1886/0000-slpnec-socandanarchism.pdf ''Socialism and Anarchism: Antagonistic Opposites'' PDF document]. First published as a pamphlet by the National Executive Committee of the Socialistic Labor Party, New York, 1886. Republished on line at [http://www.marxists.org/subject/usa/eam/ Early American Marxism] website. Retrieved May 3, 2005.
* [http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/slp/1915/0000-slp-socialistmovement.pdf ''The Socialist Movement: Brief Outline of its Development and Differences in This Country'' PDF document]. Published as "Arm and Hammer Pamphlet no. 2" by the Socialist Labor Party, 1915. Republished on line at [http://www.marxists.org/subject/usa/eam/ Early American Marxism] website. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
* Brandon, Joseph. [http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/slp/1925/0801-brandon-wpavsslp.pdf ''The Workers Party vs. The Socialist Labor Party'' PDF document]. First published in '''The Weekly People''', Aug. 1, 1925. Reprinted as "Arm & Hammer Pamphlet no. 8", 1925. Republished on line at [http://www.marxists.org/subject/usa/eam/ Early American Marxism] website. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
* Reynolds, Verne L. [http://www.marxists.org/history/usa/parties/slp/1925/0600-reynolds-partyswork.pdf ''The Party’s Work'' PDF document]. Published as a pamphlet by the Socialist Labor Party, 1925. Republished on line at [http://www.marxists.org/subject/usa/eam/ Early American Marxism] website. Retrieved April 26, 2005.