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The Socialist Party USA (SP USA) is a democratic socialist multi-tendency party established in 1973. The party is one of the heirs of the Socialist Party of America which dissolved in 1973. The other successors have either dissolved or stayed inactive. Socialist Party of America dissolved when Max Shachtman got firm control over the party, Shactman wanted the party to re-align with the Democratic Party. This led to the creation of the Union for Democratic Socialism (UDS) in 1972, in 1973 the party created the Socialist Party USA.

In the 2004 presidential election, Walt Brown and Mary Alice Herbert earned the most votes in the history of the party, earning over 10 thousand votes. It also marked the best election for a United States socialist party since the 1952 presidential election. Under Brian Moore, the party saw a decline in voters losing around four thousand voters from the previous election.

The party is opposed to both to "capitalism" and "stalinism" and wants to see the elimination of big businesses through public ownership. It has refused to endorse any of the Democratic and Republican politicians, and in newer events clearly stated that Barack Obama is not a socialist. According to Business Week the party has a membership around 1,700 to 3-thousand. Its youth affiliate is the Young People's Socialist League.


The Socialist Party USA evolved from the deteriorating Socialist Party of America, after the party split into three groups between 1972-73, the Socialist Party USA became one of three organizations to emerge from the split. In 1958, the Trotskyist Independent Socialist League led by Max Shachtman dissolved to join the SPA. Shachtman, whose politics had begun to move sharply to the right since his days as a Trotskyist leader, argued both for militant opposition to Soviet-style Communism and that the Socialist Party should attempt to simply re-align with the Democratic Party, losing independence. By 1972 Shachtman's Unity Caucus had taken control of the Socialist Party and blocked a resolution opposing the Vietnam War. In the 1972 presidential election, Shachtman's caucus initially backed hawkish Cold Warrior Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, then adopted AFL-CIO President George Meany's position of neutrality between the two candidates nominated by the major parties.

In response, two groups broke off: the first being the Coalition Caucus led by Michael Harrington supported antiwar Democrat George McGovern and went on to form the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (later becoming the Democratic Socialists of America), while the left-wing Debs Caucus backed People's Party anti-war candidate Benjamin Spock. The Debs Caucus formed the Union for Democratic Socialism, which became the Socialist Party USA in 1973, when the Shachtmanites who remained in the SPA renamed their organization Social Democrats USA. Numerous local and state branches of the old SPA, including the Wisconsin, California, Illinois, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. branches of the Party participated in the formation of the Socialist Party USA.

The Socialist Party experienced substantial growth in the early years of the 21st century, expanding from only around 600 members to around 1,700. The party surprised the American media in some elections during the late 1980s to the early 1990s. In 1992, Socialist Iowa Citymarker Councilwoman Karen Kubby won her re-election with the highest vote totals in the Iowa City Council's history, and was continually re-elected until retiring from the Council in 2000. In Milwaukeemarker, in 2000, Socialist Wendell Harris received almost 20% of the vote for Mayor. In 2008, Socialist Jon Osbourne pulled in 22% of the vote for Rhode Island'smarker 34th District State Senate seat, while listed on the ballot under the Socialist Party USA label.

The SP focuses on grassroots activism in addition to electoral politics. It has conducted "Socialist Summer" activist campaigns in recent years to address issues such as counter-recruitment and fighting to end the military-industrial complex; promoting socialized health care; supporting immigrant workers and battling persecution of immigrants following the September 11, 2001 attacks; and promoting civil liberties and civil rights. To promote activism, the SP has set up a dual structure of "Commissions" in addition to geographical local and state affiliates, which allow members with common interests to network and conduct campaigns. Active commissions include the Women's Commission, Labor Commission, Faith and Socialism Commission, Queer Commission, People of Color Commission, Environmental Commission, and others.

Platform and principles

The Socialist Party USA describes itself as a democratic socialist party. It is opposed to both capitalism and Stalinism. The Party's principles and platform call for the elimination of the power of big business through public ownership and workers' control, production for use instead of profit, and the establishment of a classless society. The party is also strongly committed to internationalism and the struggle against racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. The party calls for the abolition of the death penalty, as well as the criminal justice system's orientation to the prison-industrial complex.

As a multi-tendency party, the party rejects those models of organization referred to as cadre groups, as well as the practices commonly called "democratic centralist," meaning that SP members are often free to disagree publicly with party policy. However, dues-paying members are required to confirm their agreement with the SP's Statement of Principles, "Socialism as Radical Democracy" and abide by its Constitution. Since there are varying views within the membership on the means of achieving socialism based on the Statement of Principles, there is occasionally disagreement over what actions by members are appropriate and what merit censure. The party also strives to achieve a relative unity in action.

While some SP members favor a more gradual approach to socialism, most others envision a more sweeping or revolutionary transformation of society from capitalist to socialist through the decisive victory of the working class in the class struggle. Some SP members also advocate revolutionary nonviolence or pacifism, while some consider armed struggle a possible necessity. The Party's Statement of Principles rejects equating socialism with a "welfare state" and calls for democratic social revolution from below. Many party members consider contemporary labor struggles to be of particular importance, and work in the party's Labor Commission.

The party is strongly committed to socialist feminism and strives to carry out its internal practices in accordance with feminist process. It requires gender parity among its elected National Convention delegates, National Committee members, and national Co-Chairs and Co-Vice Chairs of the Party, and organizes pro-choice activities. Its platform considers abortion a part of women's health care rights. It has an active Women's Commission which publishes the magazine Socialist Women.

Presidential tickets

See also

State affiliates:


  1. "A Century of Struggle: Socialist Party USA: 1901-2001"
  2. " Tactics and Organizing", Socialist Party Handbook.
  3. Labor Commission.
  4. Faith and Socialism Commission.
  5. Directory of Commissions.
  6. Statement of Principles
  7. Platform.
  8. " Defining Democratic Socialism", Socialist Party Handbook.
  9. Constitution
  10. feministprocess
  11. Socialist Women.

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