Labor Politics in a Democratic Republic: Moderation, Division, and Disruption in the Presidential Election of 1928

By Vaughn Davis Bornet | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
The Socialists Organize for Struggle

THE SOCIALIST PARTY of the United States called itself in 1928 the party of factory, farm, mine, and office workers: "the producing classes."1 It proclaimed that every great political struggle in American history had been a struggle for property interests,2 and it called politics a matter of class power.3 The party led by Norman Thomas had a goal toward which to work: the socialist state. How did the leaders of this tiny party expect to attain that goal in a democratic nation? Was its participation in the election of 1928 in any sense a cloak for revolutionary plotting? Did the party descended from Eugene V. Debs and inherited by Morris Hillquit, Norman Thomas, and others really differ in any vital sense from the Workers (Communist) Party? It is important to know the form that Socialists hoped trade union political activity would take in the United States. The basic change they intended to make in the American two-party system needs to be analyzed and weighed. This is an attempt to describe from public and various

____________________
1
Platform of the Socialist Party, in The Intelligent Voter's Guide. Official 1928 Campaign Handbook of the Socialist Party ( New York, 1928), p. 11.
2
Editorial, "The Politics of Property and the Road to Power", New Leader and American Appeal, September 15, 1928. This was the party newspaper. (Hereafter cited New Leader, since the rest of the name was dropped in October, 1928.)

-79-

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