Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States, 1828-1928

By Nathan Fine | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
FOUNDING OF THE SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY

"THE beginnings of modern socialism appeared on this continent before the close of the first half of the nineteenth century, but it took another half century before the movement could be said to have become acclimatized on American soil." When Morris Hillquit, one of the foremost American socialists, wrote this sentence in 1903 there was evidence that at last a socialist party had taken hold in the United States. In 1919, however, the American Socialist Party was rent asunder. A national labor party was launched, apart from and independent of the organized socialists. Hillquit has written of the Socialist Labor Party that the endeavor to Americanize the socialist movement was the keynote of its activity throughout its entire career. Up until 1928 the Socialist Party has not fully succeeded where the Socialist Labor Party had largely failed. For, had the Socialist Party been truly acclimatized, neither the war, nor the Russian Revolution, nor America's relative prosperity could have beaten it down.

The mission of the Socialist Labor Party, the Socialist Party, and the Workers' (Communist) Party was and is still fundamentally the same as when they were first founded: to propagate and establish socialism. And this also was the mission of the individual and organized radicals who introduced and promulgated Marxian socialism for twenty years before the Socialist Labor Party was born in 1876. Socialism and the socialist movement are a reflex of particular periods, countries, peoples, and are not the same things at all times and in all places. In the

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