The Socialist Labor Party (SLP) is the original party of socialism in America. Organized as the Workingmen's Party in 1876, the Party was renamed in 1877.
As the only nationally organized party of socialism in America until 1900, the SLP attracted Socialists of all tendencies to its ranks. However, the Marxist element became dominant by 1890, when the Party was reorganized on a Marxist basis.
The SLP has played a prominent role in the economic and political life of the United States. It ran the first socialist presidential campaign in 1892, and fielded national tickets in every presidential campaign through 1976.
During the early 1890s, the SLP attempted, unsuccessfully, to convert the American Federation of Labor and other unions into militant working-class organizations. In 1896, the Party endorsed the Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance, the first attempt in this country to build a revolutionary union movement. The SLP supported the ST&LA until the latter merged into the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1905. When the original IWW, based in Chicago, was captured by anarcho-syndicalists in 1908, the SLP participated in the formation of a new IWW based in Detroit. The Detroit IWW, later renamed the Workers International Industrial Union (WIIU), was disbanded in 1924.
The SLP's goal is a classless society based on collective ownership and control of the industries and social services, these to be administered in the interests of all society through a Socialist Industrial Union government composed of democratically elected representatives from all the industries and services of the land. Production would be carried on for use instead of profit. The SLP program for achieving this revolutionary change from capitalism to socialism is based on the Marxist tenet that socialism can be achieved only through the classconscious action "of the working class itself."
The core of the SLP program points up the need for classwide political and economic organizations. A primary role of the political organization is to challenge the political apparatus of the capitalist class and its monopoly of state power, while promoting worker classconsciousness and emphasizing the need for organizing working-class strength on the economic field. The objective of economic organization is to unite the workers at the point of production so as to render them capable of taking control of the entire productive process and democratically administering and operating it in society's collective interests.
The Socialist Industrial Union program, as the SLP program is known, developed by Daniel De Leon (1852-1914), is a continuation of Karl Marx's ideas on a workers' government. In all essentials--political and economic classwide organization, the breakup of the state, workers' democracy, the seizure of social power by the organized producers and their socialist reorganization of the economy--the SIU program of the SLP conforms to the democratic premises underlying Marx's concept of socialism.
The basic unit of SLP organization is the local section. A National Convention of democratically elected delegates is the Party's highest body and is held every two years. National officers and a National Executive Committee of five members are elected by the convention for two-year terms. The elections are subject to approval by a general vote of the Party's membership.
Official Journal: The People, founded in 1891, is published six times a year.
Publishing Department: New York Labor News, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218.
National Secretary: Robert Bills.
Finances: The Party derives its support from the voluntary contributions of its members and supporters.
Membership in the SLP is open to any responsible person of good character who is (1) in basic agreement with the Party's principles and program, (2) willing to abide by its Constitution and majority decisions, (3) at least 18 years old, and (4) has severed all ties with other political parties. Applications for membership must be approved by the membership of the local section, or by the National Executive Committee when no section exists where the applicant resides. Applications for membership, or to form a section composed of five or more persons, are available from the Party's national office. For more information about membership or forming a section write to: Socialist Labor Party, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218.
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