Social Democrats, USA

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Social Democrats, USA


(until December 1972, Socialist Party), a party formed in 1900-01 through the unification of the Social Democratic Party of the United States (founded 1897-98 by E. Debs) and a group led by M. Hillquit and M. Hayes, which had left the Socialist Labor Party (SLP). Unlike the SLP, the Socialist Party devoted a great deal of attention to the establishment of links with trade unions and participated in election campaigns, promoting its own program.

The Socialist Party made a substantial contribution to the dissemination of socialist ideas and to the struggle against monopolies. Eventually, however, opportunists became dominant in the party leadership. At the party’s congress in 1912 they forced through a resolution rejecting revolutionary struggle. A large group of the left, headed by W. Haywood, withdrew from the party. This split aggravated differences that had arisen over the party’s attitude toward World War I (1914-18) and the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia.

In 1919 members of the left wing that had split from the Socialist Party founded the Communist Party of the United States of America and the Communist Labor Party of America. Thereafter, the influence of the Socialist Party declined. Since World War II (1939–45), the party has become an association of small groups and has mainly propagandized “democratic socialism.”

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