Historical Tidbits

Crockford provides some interesting third party historical tidbits:

In 1966, in a speech given in Frogmore, South Carolina, the Reverend Martin Luther King said, “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums …. we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong …. with capitalism …. There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

Reverend King’s astute observation of the need to move toward socialism did not come without scrupulous observation and study. Both he and Rosa Parks were trained at the Highlander Folk School, a labor organizing and training center with socialist underpinnings located in Tennessee.

Likewise, the Black Panther Party - known for its community programs to alleviate poverty - matured politically through the study and adoption of socialism and socialist ideas.

In the San Joaquin Valley, in the African-American community, in the Immigrant community, among the poor, the wage earners, and in our youth, we see an awakening to the oppressive and discriminatory nature of capitalism. More and more people are choosing to identify themselves and finding political solidarity as “anti-capitalists.”

Another thing which stood out in that article was something of which I wasn’t aware:

For the many socialist parties throughout the country - including California’s Peace and Freedom Party - discussions are underway to form affiliations that could ultimately lead to a unified socialist party within the U.S.

As a Libertarian, I know how difficult it can be, at times, to unite various ideological factions under the same roof. It may be interesting to see if such unification will occur.

12 Responses to “Historical Tidbits”

  1. will Says:

    as a ex-socialist party member, I would find it very unlikely that a unified party could emerge, all these little parties are sticklers about their party line, and what tradition of Marxism or socialism they represent.
    the sp candidate has a high profile peace and freedom running make, which means that the peace and freedom party and might become a state affiliate of the SP.

    the greens usually get the backing of the ISO, probably the largest socialist groups in the USA, its explicitly Trotsky inspired.

    the “socialist alternative” backs the greens

    a few other other socialist parties run every year but most have even less name recognition. the only possible variable would be if Brian Becker, the leader of the anti war front group “Answer” chooses to run. I forget what his breakaway party is called, something like the party for liberation and socialism.

    im excited so many blacks are running for the green nomination, that might help solidify some socialist parties into supporting the greens in 2008.
    as a little not im not a socialist, and don’t support centralized planning. but I support some of the socialist principles like mutual aid.

  2. Fred C. Says:

    The chair of the PFP had an article on their campaign site some time ago saying she was contacting other state parties to build some kind of coalition for 08, but I haven’t seen any more updates from their side that progress was made. Maybe someone from one of the parties contacted can fill in the blanks?

  3. Sean Scallon Says:

    What, the Greens aren’t socialist enough for some people?

    That’s the problem with socialist unity right there.

  4. Deran Says:

    The quote by Dr. King is interesting. I’ve wondered how party politics might have developed in the late 1960s had Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were not assassinated. Both were major political figures who were talking more and more abt a critique of the current configuration of capitalism, and the two party system. Had Kennedy not been murdered, and the Dem Party apparatus kept him from getting the nomination, I could see an indy progressivist/Leftist party developing in that case. Had Kennedy gotten the Dem nomination I would think the Wallace Dems that split and formed the American Party may well haev stayed out and the AP remaining more viable over the long run?

    Regarding the PFP: they’ve been a hotbed of “party building” efforts since their creation. IN 1984 they hosted a SCULPT (Search Committee for a United Left Presidential Ticket} conference in LA I think. As is par for the course, the event was domianted by sectarian efforts to take over the project. In this case both the now defunct Trotsyist party Internationalist Workers Party (?), and the Newmanite cult, the then New Alliance Party.

    I think there will never be a mass multi-tendency socialist party in the US until regular (as compared to those of us obsessed with politics) want something like that in response to economic crisis. And, looking ahead at what may transpire economically in the next year, who knows!

  5. [email protected] Says:

    Socialist politics in the US has been hopelessly fragmented since shortly after the Russian revolution.

    The Comintern quickly became less “the vanguard of international socialist revolution” than a front for protecting Soviet interests, and American socialists split on lines between building an American revolutionary movement or following the Soviet line. Then, when Trotsky was exiled, new offshoots came into existence as well.

    Probably the last time American socialists were even nominally united was in 1936. The Socialist Party, under “moderate/pragmatic” leadership, endorsed FDR’s Democratic candidacy for re-election. Their hardliners walked out and joined the Communist Party—which promptly did exactly the same thing on orders from Stalin.

    These days, there are more socialist parties in the US than you can shake a stick at, and identifiable socialist fronts in the Democratic Party (a number of Dem congresscritters are members of Democratic Socialists of America) and Republican Party (much of the “neoconservative” wing of the GOP, including the late Jean Kirkpatrick, Paul Wolfowitz and the American Enterprise Institute’s Joshua Muravchik, are, or were formerly, affiliated with Social Democrats USA).

  6. David Schaich Says:

    Just a quick note that the Socialist Party ran a presidential ticket of Norman Thomas and George Nelson in 1936. They only received about 200,000 votes (~0.5%), down from around 900,000 (~2%) in 1932. (And for what it’s worth, the Communist Party ran a presidential ticket of Earl Browder and James W. Ford in 1936, gaining around 100,000 votes.)

    You may be thinking of the Social Democratic Federation, a more conservative group that broke off from the Socialist Party in the mid-1930s, then re-merged with it in the mid-1950s. They did endorse FDR in ‘36.

    More broadly, I agree that the First World War, Russian Revolution, and subsequent Red Scare played a major role in the fragmentation of the US socialist movement.

    I don’t think there are any actual DSA members in Congress at this point (Bernie may be, I’m really not sure). Ron Dellums was the last one I’m sure about.

  7. Gene Berkman Says:

    Note to Deran - The International Workers Party is the cadre group that runs the New Alliance Party - and Newman was head of both.

    For several years there has been an attempt to bring together third parties on the left. They operate as the Independent Progressive Politics Network @ www.ippn.org

    My friend who runs the local Peace & Freedom Party told me IPPN is in decline because alot of the people involved have been supporting the Democrats since Bush took office.

  8. Robert Milnes Says:

    That’s what I said in subsequent article comments. Leftists are under enormous pressure to choose the dems over reps. This in addition to wasted vote & fear of revolution-leftists-socialists-McKinney/greens et al will mostly wind up voting dem.

  9. Tom the Trotskyist Says:

    Finally a good discussion about socialism. Indeed, the Stalin-Mao etc socialists who took over after the revolutions were capitalist/fascist agents who defeated the real socialists from within. As in libertarian politics, this is what happens in socialist politics in America and many other countries. What needs to happen is for the Democratic Party to become a true socialist party, possibly changing its name to something like the Socialist Alliance for Democracy.

  10. [email protected] Says:

    Tom the Trotskyist:

    The Soviet Union was practicing “state socialism” under the NEP long before Stalin’s takeover.

    The real question is whether the Soviet Union remained, per Trostky/Shachtman, a “degenerated workers’ state” (degenerated by “bureaucratic defamation”) under Stalin, or whether, per Burnham, that “bureaucratic deformation” had robbed the Soviet Union of its “workers’ state” character entirely.

    BRIAN: Brothers! Brothers! We should be struggling together!

    FRANCIS: We are! Ohh.

    BRIAN: We mustn’t fight each other! Surely we should be united against the common enemy!

    EVERYONE: The Judean People’s Front?!

    BRIAN: No, no! The Romans!

  11. G.E. Says:

    In addition to being a womanizer, MLK’s advocacy of state violence is another reason he’s not the hero we’re taught he was.

    Of course, MLK’s brand of egalitarian socialism posed a real threat to the establishment’s Fabian/Keynesian social-fascism. It’s probably why he was killed.

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