Sunday, July 4, 2010


herein set forth by the Populist Wedge on behalf of Working Family Democrats across the United States.

Proposed in the spirit of "The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America", ratified July 2, 1776; "The Working Men's Declaration of Independence", July 4, 1829; "Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions Woman's Rights Convention", July, 1848; "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" by Fredrick Douglas, July 5, 1852; the "Negro Declaration of  Independence National Independent Political Union", February, 1876;  The Omaha Platform of the Populist (or People's) Party, July 4, 1892; the "Declaration of Interdependence" of the Socialist Labor Party, July 4, 1895; "New Declaration of Independence" by Emma Goldman, July 4, 1909;"Declaration of Workers' and Farmers' Rights and Purposes" of the National Unemployed Leagues, July 4, 1933; The Homestead Steel Workers Declaration of Independence, Summer, 1936; and "Declaring Independence from Big Oil, Big Coal, & other Domineering Corporations", the Shalom  Center, July 4, 2010

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one class to assert its natural rights in opposition to another class and to assume among peoples a political station of equality to which the laws of "nature and of nature's God" as well as the principles of their political compact, i.e. The Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution, entitle them; a decent respect to the opinions of humankind, and the duty owed to their fellow citizens, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to such a separation. We are working class families who make up the majority of the Democratic Party. Below we set out the causes that force our separation from the corporate­ controlled wing of the Democratic Party.

We hold these truths to be self evident:  that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness is dependent on both political and economic democracy. Each individual is entitled to a sharing in community; honorable employment and living incomes; laboring hours conducive to a rhythm of work and rest, that frees time for family, neighborhood, civic involvement, participation in self government, and the expression and nourishment of the spirit; a life­ sustaining share of the earth's abundance; democratic elections not controlled by wealth and legislatures that can respond to the democratic will of their constituents; peace with and among all peoples of the earth; and responsible relationships amidst the whole web of life upon this planet.

We therefore set forth the following precepts and demands:

First: That the working people of all nations share more in economic interest with each other,than the workers of any nation share with the political and economic elites of their own nation. Working people gathered in their trade unions, community organizations,cooperatives,and farm associations are the bulwark of democracy. We demand the end to all unjust wars where America's most important resources, i.e. the lives and health of its young people, are squandered in controlling the destinies of our peoples. We demand an end to all trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT that allow American ­based multinational corporations to send formerly American jobs to foreign countries were the laws allow increased worker exploitation and coercion, along with lower  pollution control standards, and the manufacture of shoddy, often hazardous, goods.

Second: That governments derive all just powers from the consent of the governed. That governments exist for the benefit of the governed and not the reverse. Therefore, it is the duty of the governed to alter and abolish all forms of domination, political, economic, cultural, and religious, that would seek to deny the governed full and complete access to the power which belongs to them alone. We therefore demand a Constitutional amendment providing for all election campaigns funding solely by the United States, or the individual States, paid for by the contributions of natural persons, actual human beings, under limitation set by Congress and the legislatures of individual States. We further demand that all elections in the United States be conducted by Single Transferable Ballot (STV) thus assuring the broadest selection of candidates, parties and positions represented in each election. Further we insist that every electoral constituency be allowed to trigger a recall election for any public official, state or federal when a petition signed by 15% of that constituency be presented to the appropriate office. In the case Federal officials, a petition supported by 15% of the electorate in 2/3's states ought be considered sufficient to trigger a recall election. In addition, a petition signed by 15% of the voters of any constituency should be sufficient to trigger a statewide or federal referendum on an initiative proposed by citizens. We demand the end of the filibuster in all legislative bodies.

Third: That war, by its very nature,is a crime against humanity. Occasionally, it may be necessary for a people to defend itself from attack. This is never an excuse for the imperial acquisition of resources, territory, or an attempt to establish military or ideological hegemony. We therefore demand an immediate end to Western involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and thoroughgoing investigation of all public figures involved with these unwarranted wars. We demand  the resumption by Congress of its Constitutional duties to declare war or initiate military conflict, further, we insist on strict adherence to all international laws, conventions and treaties regarding the conduct of war by the United States and any ally benefiting from its military aid. We insist upon an immediate 50% across the board cut in United States military spending, with the exception of programs that support the health and well being of those in the military services and veterans who have served their nation. These tax payer dollars rightly to be redirected to fund the urgent civilian needs of the American people and people of poverty­ stricken regions around the world. A nation which fails to defend its citizenry from homelessness, poverty, infrastructure degradation, preventable disease, bankruptcy due to medical costs, and to aid less fortunate peoples around the world with equitable humanitarian assistance is not a "super power" by any definition.

Fourth: That the rights of humanity as set forth in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights may never be transgressed by any party no matter how imperiled or aggrieved that party believes itself to be. Torture and the deliberate targeting of non­combatants is never morally justified. Likewise the use of an anti­personnel device, regardless of whether the explosive comes from a fast moving aircraft or is carried in a backpack aboard public transportation or is buried in the ground to indiscriminately kill and maim, is unacceptable. The deliberate, killing, imprisonment, starvation, or displacement of massive numbers of people for political gain is now and forever WRONG! We insist that the United States submit to the jurisdiction the international Criminal Court and join in all international conventions against the manufacture of cluster bombs, depleted uranium and phosphorous projectiles, and land mines. The United States must declare a moratorium on the manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons and move expeditiously and transparently toward a decommissioning its own and the world's stockpile of radiological and chemical weapons.

Fifth: That humankind has a right to be free from the persecution of ethnicity, gender, religious preference, political ideology, sexual orientation, age, or infirmity. Nations are entitled to borders that reflect national sovereignty and realistic concerns for self defense.  While governments have a right to maintain the security of their borders, they lack the right to harass those forced to cross a particular national frontier in order to find gainful employment or shelter from the ravages of war, famine, or natural disaster. We reject all laws that would racially profile any group or punish undocumented workers merely for the crime of attempting to earn a livelihood.

Sixth: We are not cheerleaders for the slaughter of any group of people no matter the ideology of those pursuing the massacre. We will never apologize for tyranny or injustice, regardless what grave exigencies that the tyrant or the insurgency shall claim. We insist that the U.S. premise civilian and military assistance and trade relations with our allies and trading partners on those nations' willingness to respect the human rights of their own citizens and and the peoples of other nations.

Seventh: While people are hungry, homeless, poorly clothed, and without the basic necessities of life, there can be no democratic process. As Thomas Paine said, "Necessitous men are not free men." We therefore insist upon the creation of meaningful jobs by our government and a minimum livable family income for all American residents regardless of a person's age, infirmity, or resident status.

Eighth: People have an inherent right to worship or not worship their Creator(s) and participate in spirituality as their conscience dictates. The state must never be the arbiter of religious thought. Instead, it is the people who must instruct the government as to spiritual and moral precepts. Therefore, it is the right of each person to disagree vehemently with others in their society upon the nature of what is moral. A democratic government cannot take sides. This does not mean that the individual members of an elected government cannot and should not be guided by moral precepts. No one seeking election in a democratic society should be asked to divest him or herself of whatever spiritual and moral precepts he or she holds. We insist on an open political system that ends all discrimination on the basis of one's social views on religion or sexuality. We hold the Defense of Marriage Act and all state laws against same sex unions and the military policy "don't ask; don't tell" to be an infringement on personal liberty that violate the separation of church and state and equal protection doctrines held to be essential to our republic.

Ninth: Human beings are the stewards of the earth, not its masters. No generation has a right to pass on a polluted or degraded planet to the generations that follow. We demand strong international laws to prevent global climate disaster by capping green house­ gas emissions; ending all off­shore oil drilling by July 4, 2015; an immediate moratorium on new drilling; and swiftly moving the US and world economy from fossil ­fuel dependence and nuclear power to renewable energy.

Tenth: That in any prosecution brought for any crime a defendant shall have a right to be heard by himself, and/or through counsel, and shall have an absolute right to examine all evidence, to face all accusers, to call all material witnesses and to make whatever representations to the tribunal which he or she faces, which may seem to the defendant to be exculpatory. The judiciary of a democratic nation must be independent and separate from that nation's legislative and executive branches of government and there must be put into place a Constitutional Amendment that the American judiciary be elected to office in the same manner as other public servants, holding office for set terms and facing recall at the discretion of the voters. All privilege and immunities must be ended for lawsuits brought against public officials for wrong doing.

Eleventh: There is only one cure for the ills of democracy; more democracy! Free people will build a wondrous and diverse culture that will express what it is to be truly human. We therefore demand a Constitutional amendment to pay for all election campaigns solely by public contributions of the United States, or the individual states, paid for by the contributions of natural persons and the banning of all corporate money in elections. Limits for election spending must be set by Congress and various State Legislatures. These limits must also include in-­kind contributions of anything excerpt a citizen's uncompensated time.

Twelfth: The corporate wing of Democratic Party has become destructive of the ends of democratic governance. It has betrayed the heritage of the Democratic Party that brought women's suffrage, social security, Medicare, the right to organize trade unions, civil rights and voting rights into legislative existence. The corporatist Democrats are a minority of bought and paid for big business lackeys that have abandoned the tradition of the New Deal and Civil Rights Movement. As outspoken members of the Democratic Party's populist majority, woprking
families—we insist that our Party fight for the following:  universal single payer health care on"Medicare for all" model; the full implementation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights (reprinted below); full government funding of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Balance Growth Act; and a government assurance of a decent job at a livable wage, maximum 32 hour regular work week and 46 week work year, with paid medical and family leave; the repeal of the Taft-­Hartley Act along with of all statewide anti-­Labor legislation; and the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. We cannot support any Democratic candidate who does not insist on the immediate implementation of the measures we have set forth above and will actively oppose those who try turn the clock back on our nation and our Party. To this end we pledge to each other our lives, our energies, our treasures, our solidarity, and our sacred honor.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's “The Economic Bill of Rights”

Excerpt from 11 January 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one­ third or one ­fifth or one­ tenth are ill­ fed, ill clothed, ill­ housed, and insecure. This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty. As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence."Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self ­evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident,and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well­ being. America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

This rough draft was composed by Gabriel McCloskey-­Ross based on the suggestions of the the other members of the Populist Wedge. It was edited by Seamus Johnston. It is dedicated to the memory of "Red" George Peterson and Mary Jane McCloskey-­Peterson founding members of Americans for Democratic Action,  "Red Eddy" McCloskey, populist mayor of Johnstown, PA for nonconsecutive terms from the late 1920's through 1950's,  George Ross, signer of Declaration of Independence, and to George's daughter-­in-­law, Betsy Ross.  Thanks for the inspiration folks.

If you agree with the sentiments set forth above please add your name by contacting me by email at or by Face Book message, or by calling the Eddy McCloskey Center at 814 410­2545 and asking for a member of the SDUSA-SPUSA staff. The next phone conference of the Populist Wedge will be Sunday, July 11 at 7:30 PM Eastern Time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Founded Democratic Socialism

Who Founded Democratic Socialism?
G L wrote:

 Who founded Democratic Socialism ?

As you are asking a very open ended philosophical question, I will give you a personal response and not an organizational one. The ancient Greeks developed the word democracy. English philanthropist, Robert Owen is credited with coining the term socialism. On a much deeper level, democratic socialism is the political and economic realization that every person shares an inherent dignity with all other human beings. This realization extends across cultures and philosophies.

However as I come from the Catholic Worker tradition, I will point to these passages of scripture:

Genesis 1:27 :

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Then there is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25:

25:31  "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

25:32  Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

25:33  He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

25:34  Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

25:35  for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in;

25:36  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.'

25:37  "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink?

25:38  When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you?

25:39  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?'

25:40  "The King will answer them, 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

25:41  Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels;

25:42  for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink;

25:43  I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

25:44  "Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?'

25:45  "Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.'

25:46  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

This is echoed In his Epistle of James, the brother of Jesus, and the leader of the Jerusalem Church :

2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?

2:15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food,

2:16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled”; and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it?

2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.

2:18  Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith

Finally, I would point to the Acts of Apostles:

2:44 All the believers were together and had everything in common

2:45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

It was obviously from this passage that Karl Marx developed " From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."

So I would say as an individual and not in my official capacity, that democratic socialism is the plan of societal organization developed by th Creator of the Universe for benefit of humankind's harmony in this life and eternal salvation. I would go further to say that social democracy,  i.e. the evolutionary organization of the working class first into unions, then into a political party,  and finally into a government which places answering human needs, on an individual basis, as its highest priority, is the way for people to to be a part of the God's plan for meeting human need.

I have met Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists and agnostics who disagree with me as the nature or even the existence of an after life. I have met almost no one no that has argued that social and economic cooperation do not bring greater social harmony. Though few, including me of us have the courage of St. Basil and St John Chrysostom who both declared, "property is theft." This motto would become the title of a essay by French anarchist leader Pierre Joseph Proudhon 15 centuries later. Many argue that humanity is by nature competitive, acquisitive, and incapable of concern for others. If this fatalistic view of human nature is correct what is the use of life? Truly life would be a cosmic joke.

Who founded democratic socialism?  I would suggest democratic socialism is an age old attempt to fulfilled the will of God.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rembering Rob Tucker, Our First President After The Revival

I posted this to the New America Blog not long after Rob Tucker's death. Another St. David's Day has passed and I still miss my friend, confidant, and comrade more than I can express.

Rob Tucker, the Peaceful Warrior

'I do believe your Majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Davy’s day.’ The king laughs through his tears.

'I wear it for a memorable honour. For I am Welsh, you know’.

Henry V, Act IV, scene 1.

I was pondering this passage of Shakespeare as I remembered my own favorite Welshman, Rob Tucker. Saint David's day was yesterday and I missed being able to call Rob to wish him Cymru Am Byth, or Wales Forever. He ended many of his messages to me with that closing. Rob, among his many pursuits, was an amateur linguist. My branch of the Ross family were Breton freebooters, of Viking descent, who came with William the Bastard to conquer England. They were rewarded with lands in Wales. I do hope that Wales lasts forever. As the family moved on to Scotland and then Ireland, I hope Wales lasts forever, Scotland slightly longer, and Ireland longest of all. And England... well, what would all Celts have to agree about if it was not for England? I would have enjoyed joking with Rob about that.

At Norman Thomas' suggestion Rob wrote an exhaustive treatise on national health care. Then found that was not the greatest career move. How we could use that wisdom now. I wanted to post this to the New America blog. Rob was the first editor of New America, the Socialist Party, USA's newspaper in the 1960's and it seemed fitting.

As I write this I feel like King Hal, seeing the brave Welsh archers he had lost during the battle of Aigncourt and crying. Rob was a Quaker, but he was a warrior for the causes of peace and justice. He was my friend and mentor, I still miss him greatly. He was a gentleman and a gentle man and his comrades all mourn our lost. Rob died on Friday due to complications from a stroke and he is surely at peace in place that will last forever. His brother, David, tells me that the family asks that in lieu of flowers donations can be made to:

American Friends Service Committee
1515 Cherry St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Rob, the Dewie Sant's Day will never pass that I will not remember you, the peaceful warrior.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Task For American Social Democrats


Thanks to Comrades King and Holland for the inspiration for this piece.

Social Democracy began as the a political extension of Labour Movement in rest of the world. Trade union federations such as the Canadian Labour Congress associated with the Canada's social democratic New Democratic Party yo form Labour/ Labor parties. Despite numerous attempts, labor and farmer-labor parties have never gained much traction in the United States. Even with the lack of an actual labor party in USA, there remained what socialist author and activist, Michael Harrington called "a hidden social democracy". This was, as Harrington described it, the action of trade unions and their allies politically. Until, the 1980's the American welfare sate was not far behind that in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and well beyond that in most of Latin America.

In the Reagan-Thatcher era there was a very serious effort across the globe to dismantle all social democratic gains. In the U.S. the effort to undo the gains of the New Deal and Great Society was incredibly successful. Much of the safety net in America was done away with. The conservative movement worldwide was brutally successful in its war on workers and the poor. The assault on the working class did not cease with end of Reagan-Thatcher era. After the conservatives were finally dislodged from office, they were followed by the Neo-liberals, who continued to gut the welfare state.

Labor is in a new era. Unions are trying to rally their members at the grassroots level on things like health care, the Employee Free choice Act, and renegotiating trade treaties to treat workers fairly. At one time Labor joined mass coalitions which were run by people that were not directly on the union payroll. Groups like the Citizen Labor Energy Coalition, Project Vote, Progressive Agenda, The Citizen Action Network, various state Public Interest Coalitions and Democratic Agenda all received hefty sums of Labor money. With the decline in membership, the money simply is not there to fund outside groups and unions learned to do the community organizing work in-house.

The problem is actually motivating unionists at the grass roots. It used to be fairly easy. The unions just paid their "volunteers". Whether it was voter registration, or political campaign work, or picketing, Labor volunteers were paid well. I made 30 dollars in one night distributing leaflets for the Pennsylvania Association of Fire Fighters when I was twelve. Thirty bucks was a great deal of money in 1968. My parents were always paid to work the polls by the Central Labor Council and when I got older, so was I. This created a culture where the idea of doing anything, even in one's own interest, without being paid, is foreign to many union members.

The former Social Democrats, USA leadership lost interest in the SD when no one would pay them to be social democrats, and shell out for those pleasant jaunts to the meetings of the Socialist International. Neither Labor, nor US intelligence was paying the bills, so our former leaders bugged out with all our records, bank accounts, etc, including the membership list. .

Unions have started enlisting activists regardless of their union affiliation. The AFL-CIO began Working America, an effort to begin actual chapters in cities of Labor issue activists. See: Many state and local Labor federations have there own similar efforts. Labor also helps support Americans for Democratic Action' Working Families Win program. See:,

Some unions like the United Steelworkers of America have created an associate membership category. See: This will get you lots of email on workers' issues, as will the United Automobile Workers email list. See: .

At one time the political task of social democrats was to organize the unorganized. Now most unfortunately, it is to organize the organized. Here is a fairly easy way to become a member of your Central; Labor Council. You can join the National Writers Union for as little as $120 a year. You can then ask to affiliate as a one person shop. Pay the per capita and your now a labor council member. For more information on the writer union see: and As a branch of my former employer. the United Automobile Workers Union, I am proud to be a member. For those of you who play music its worth checking out Local 1000 of the American Federation of Musicians, which is a great group for the folk, punk rock, and alternative musician. See:

For nostalgia and just pure hell raising fun, I am also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. See:

So, after you become a union member it is time to form your very own Labor Party. First you invite every one you think might be interested to a meeting of the local Hubert Humphrey Democratic Club. You have already gathered the resource material and depending on the turn out, you pick some issues to work on. You scan this years election returns for your county and see if there were any uncontested races that one of your members could contest as Labor candidate. Try either by running for committee person, or just asking the chairperson for a seat, to become a member of the Democratic Committee. of either the county or the locality were you live Then form a Labor caucus. Congratulations! You are not Karl Kautsky yet, but you are now a real social democrat. You are a labor organizing, politician that can talk to real people about social democracy/ democratic socialism.

I realize this was fairly brief overview. So feel free to call 814 410 2542, email or write to Social Democrats, USA; PO Box 5307; Johnstown. PA. for more details. As we will be launching the first Humphrey Democratic Club this weekend, more details will follow.

Below are links to two books available from Amazon that deal with Social Democracy and Unionism.

Every social democrat should be reading Social Europe:

The blog is currently off do to being hacked, but Harry's Place is seminal place for a " decent left" read. Here is the Wikipedia entry:

Also the Euston Manifesto blog is essential, the article on What Next For A Decent Left. is well worth reading:

Here is my favorite American blog:

And of course the SD's own blog:

There you have lots of information and we will gladly send you more. Social Democracy is not a spectator sport. Get busy.


Gabriel McCloskey-Ros

The Democratic Party Is Neither.....

 Here are a few thoughts on the Democratic Party. First, the Democratic Party is neither democratic, nor is it a political party. The only more oxymoronic title, I can think of is the Holy Roman Empire. After Charlemagne, that kingdom had little to do with Rome, it was never very holy, and, for most of its history, was by no stretch of the imagination an empire. It was more of a federated alliance of Germanic dukes and other minor nobility.

In the same way "the" Democratic Party is a loosely allied confederation of semi-autonomous organizations. I have been a registered Democrat since my 18th birthday and have yet to receive a membership card. That's thirty five years of waiting in vain, folks. I am just about to give up. Also, I have never been invited to a local meeting or a national convention. I even had a hard time finding out when Cambria County Democratic County Committee meetings were when I was a committeeman. I did attend one national convention as a delegate. That is a very, very convoluted story for another time. I am beginning to think that many of the tiny few who actually are paid by the DP don't like socialists much. They don't seem big on democracy either. Well, that is their problem. We did get two comrades nominated in Cambria County for local office twenty-five years ago and one of them actually won. The guy who won unfortunately died, before taking office. Actually the guy that lost died as well, and that was very unfortunate, too. Their early 50's was not the time to lose these friends and comrades. But, we still have two local former office holders active in Laurel Highlands chapter of the Social Democrats, USA. who are very much alive. Hey, you are going to die any way. You might as well leave a more colorful obituary and run for office!

The DP has still never sent me its manifesto (It did does not actually have one and its platform is a waste of good trees) Thankfully, I have never been asked to pay Democratic Party dues. Maybe I am complaining too much. The PA voter registration form asks "In which Party do wish to be enrolled". The DP in fact has no members in PA. The DP enrollees are only people who choose for that election cycle to vote in the DP primary. As Cde. Michael Marino pointed out, that makes the individual States the roster keeper for all "political parties". The State decides who is a member of my Party, outrageous. This jest is every bit as true today as when Will Rodgers said it, "I am not a member of any kind of organized political party; I'm a Democrat!"

The term "political party" means something different to people outside this country. Our political parties are huge catch-all electoral coalitions. In other countries, members of a political party are required to express substantial agreement with the party's programme(Generally a 200 page book), pay dues (generally substantial ones), and participate in electoral campaigns. The British Labour Party, one of the parties with which I regularly have contact, has less than 200,000 members. Yet, it governs a nation of more than 80 million. The same structure exists in nearly all the member parties of the Socialist International. Dues paying members choose the party's candidates for office, not those who become members "du jour" of the party on primary election day. My cousin, Larry and his wife, Liz are among those 200,000 members of Brirish Labour Party. That is 27 pounds a month for the two of them. They both have dual citizenship. Liz, is an Aussie, and is bombarded with Australian Labor Party emailings and regular mail. Larry, a Yank, never hears from Democrats Abroad, except during presidential elections. It is just a guess, but I bet Democrats Aboard has a bigger budget than the national Australian Labor Party. Of course, if Liz dropped her membership in the "down under" Labor party she would likely have a freer inbox. Fortunately, she has not done so. God bless her! And, I have not misspelled "Labor" in this context.

Socialist author and Democratic Party activist, Michael Harrington, was fond of saying, "The Democratic Party contains some of the worst and most of the best people in American politics." He also pointed out that small left wing sects, like the Socialist Workers' Party, have more people on national staff than the Democratic Party does in non-presidential election years.
The national Democratic Party only exists once every four years. It holds a convention and then, mercifully, it hibernates for three years. Harrington, was also fond of saying the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in non-presidential years has less people on staff than the Socialist Workers' Party. The idea that there is the massive top down machine called the Democratic Party is a joke.

If there was a Democratic Party in Congress health care reform would have already happened. In any parliamentary democracy the party whip would demand a party line vote on cloture of debate. A member would either vote the party line or "cross the aisle" to join another party. Only Winston Churchill ever survived the next election for the Commons after crossing the aisle in the British Parliament. If there was a party line vote on health care in the U.S. Senate on health care, the Dems and their two allied independents have a 60 seat majority. As the Republicans would still be a minority, they could not guarantee the seniority of six or so defectors from the Democratic Caucus. No senator would risk every committee appointment, and hence all power and fund raising ability, to defect to the Republicans. However, the Democrats are not a disciplined parliamentary party and real health care reform is still a dicey proposition. Can we all agree Joe Lieberman is not a Churchillian figure? If the Democratic Senate Causus cannot hold together as a national entity, why would anyone assume any national membership party could?

The "national Democratic Party" does not run presidential or state campaigns. That is left to independent organizations like Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or D, triple C, for short. The D, triple C, has only a very tenuous relationship with the DNC. It raises money for the local Democratic congressional nominees. Yet, the D,triple C's relationship with local campaigns is generally only a loose advisory one. There is another operation for the Senate campaigns and still another for presidential campaigns. To top off all that there are the College Democrats and the Young Democrats which are loosely tied to the DNC.

The DP nationally and locally does little training for its committee people, Young and College Democrats leaders, even its county chair people. In many areas of the nation, the local Democratic County Committee expects donations from Democratic nominees, rather than providing donations to the candidates. In most counties in the U.S. the DP in all its incarnations has no full time staff. It is a totally volunteer effort. So, those who volunteer control the local Party.

The question arises, isn't the Republican Party in the same fix? Yes and no. The hardcore right wing has a stake in Republicans and trade unions in the Democrats, or at least that is how they see it. Once you get elected you need to form the government with someone. I will pass on working with the Sarah Palin fan club. I will go one step further. If the national Democratic Party platform were neutral on abortion, there would not be a Republican Party in most of PA's 66 counties. The Commonwealth would be a one Party state. I am not at all sure if that would be good or bad, but it would be the facts on the ground. In PA, the Democratic pols are by and large pro-lfe and pro-Second Amendment and the Republican Party pols are survivalists, religious fanatics, and radical economic libertarians, conspiracy buffs, and Richard Mellon Scaife's family and employees.

The problem is definitely not that the structure of the Democratic Party has no room for socialists, liberals and progressives. There is all the room we need, or what "independent social space" as Antonio Gramsci might put it, in the DP. The problem is that groups who have tried to enter the DP lack discipline themselves. The Labor Movement provides about half the people for Congressional and larger races within the DP. Labor could certainly force non-negotiable demands on the DP from the county to the national level. If Labor were united, that is. We don't even have a single all encompassing Labor federation in the U.S. Since, Labor doubts its own strength to do more than, "help its friends and punish its enemies," as Sam Gompers put it, there can be no national "labor party" no matter how much we socialists might want one.

The problem has always been that groups that enter the Democratic Party with a message end up worried about the back room politics of the DP. This was true of the black Civil Rights Movement of the 60's, the Peace Movement, and it has been true for the Communist Party. The CP,USA has made the most disciplined effort at "entryism" into the DP of any group so far. Unfortunately, until the advent of the 21st century the CP's tactics were tied to what was going on or had gone on in the Soviet Union.

Some level of the DP can always offer a promising young activist a good job or perphaps an elected position. The offer usually comes just as an activist is maturing and realizing she or he cannot live on movement wages. Barack Obama comes to mind here. So does John Conyers, Bella Abzug, Gary Hart, John Lewis, Julian Bond and hundreds of others. Gay activists have been less co-opted, probably because their struggle remains so intense. Yet, don't expect to see Rep. Barney Frank speaking at many Gay Rights rallies, or even opposing "don't ask, don't tell".

So what can be done? Socialists need to build a movement which "speaks its own name" and works in the Democratic Party. Working in the DP to me does not mean joining or forming letter head coalitions or email list organizations. I am on the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) mailing list, which I guess makes me a member. The same is true of Democracy for America and 21st Century Democrats and every other group I can join for free. I even pay to belong to Americans for Democratic Action. I don't really see the sense of taking over an email list organization in a few counties across the country as the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism is doing with PDA. There is nothing wrong with coalition building, but why give life to an organization that can then take credit for your hard work? The old Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee worked in the DP as very "in your face socialists". Alas, DSA today has no such goals or resources.

However, every candidate is his or her on coalition. Everybody can't be Fiorello La Guardia and be "his own balanced ticket". But every candidate who runs has people who will get involved for just her or him. These might be friends, workmates, family, etc. There are hundreds of winnable offices at the municipal level that self described democratic socialists can win. In early November the national chair of the Social Democrats, USA, Richard D'loss will be elected to the Carnegie,PA borough council. Rick has won both the Republican and Democratic nominations. Rick will join Bernie Sanders as the only publicly self identified socialists in public office come January. As Sanders is not a member of either the Democratic Party or DSA, that will mean the SD,USA has the most currently elected officials among its ranks of any socialist party or group in the United States.

Sorry about the commercial above. Oh, the hell, I am. The home team is winning. Hurray!

I certainly don't see Rick D'Loss as borough president of Carnegie, PA ending poverty, war and injustice. He can however, call hearings using the municipal building on unemployment, health care, even the environment, or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as long as he relates the hearings to Carnegie. All the substantial progressive political forces in the Pittsburgh, PA area could at least get their messages out at such hearings and perphaps get some wider publicity besides. It is certainly the beginning of a "long march". But what's the alternative? The police went nuts during the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh. For everybody except those of us who were manhandled and especially those still facing charges it is all but forgotten. Well, I personally will always remember the Long Rang Acoustic Device (LARD). It was kind of like having your head stuck in the tweeter speaker at a Slip Knot concert. Well only having one working ear for the last month means I have heard only half as many stupid things.

Despite the myth, Eugene Debs was not the turn of the century Socialist Party of America all by himself. There were Socialists elected to congress, state legislatures, and city councils across the land. The SPA was destroyed by the combination of the Palmer Raids and the defection / expulsion of the Communists. When the Socialist Party, USA, as it was then called, stopped running third party candidacies in the early 60's, it then reached its second zenith of influence. The Civil Rights Movement of the early 60's was lead by Socialists. After the Party broke in three the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee/ Democratic Socialists of America once counted three members of Congress, the mayors of New York City and Chicago and dozens of other office holders in its ranks. Michael Harrington's death was a heavy blow, but it should not have crushed the organization. Mike's strategy was not dependent on Mike. That is especially true as idea did not originate with Harrington. DSOC members were elected to the school board in Ann Arbor, MI, the state legislature in Maine and North Dakota, and numerous city councils across the land. They won with help of their locals and not the national DSOC/DSA. The same is true of the committee people elected in NY state, Virgina, PA, and elsewhere.

Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was the definition of insanity. If that be true, isn't not doing what has worked repeatedly, like running local socialist candidates insane? Isn't pursuing schemes that have never worked, like creating a nationwide third party, a truly pervasive form insanity? Or, maybe it is just feel good politics. Let me say this again, the Democrats and Republicans with all that corporate money have never been anything remotely akin to national political parties. The issue is distance, not determination, or resources.

The "independent politics" socialist says, "I ran for Senator, traveled all over the state and got .005 percent of the vote and I am revolutionary!" Sorry, no. At best, most people will see you as an also ran and more likely as a nut.I got a chance to catch folksingers David Rovics and Anne Feeney's show the other night. Please view Dave's "I'm a Better Anarchist Than You" for more on this topic. Winning is not built on losing. To wield power, one must be elected. With no resources and the established media firmly against us, we need to win. So pick a race you can win.Then run. As Michael Moore says you can't screw it up worse than the person currently in that office.

I will gladly walk you through all the steps from filing, fund raising, door to door canvassing, etc. You can win. I know. I have done it. The help is free. There are a few conditions. Please pick a race where you can actually do some good. If you have never sought elective office, don't start with the state legislature. Run as an open and proud socialist / social democrat. Try the Democratic ballot line. Vermont is very different than most parts of the U.S. politically. If you can't win a primary you can't win a general election. When you get elected encourage others to run. Get a member of your personal coalition to run. If, like Bernie Sanders, you keep saying. "I am a democratic socialist", the invitation from the moneyed interests will never come to join the fat cat club. That's about all the party discipline we need. If this sounds like a great deal of very hard work, it is.

I will close with the prayer attributed to moral theologian and Socialist Party member, Reinhold Niebuhr,

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

A Biography Of David McReyonlds

David McReynolds:Socialist Peacemaker

By Paul Buhle

Armed Forces Day Parade, 1979. Photo: Grace Hedemann.
A quiet tradition exists (and persists) within the larger and louder traditions of pacifist and socialist movements, crossing boundaries and creating a unique space between them. Call it socialist-pacifism or pacifist-socialism, if you like. Whatever you call it, David McReynolds has been the torchbearer on these shores for forty years (and counting!). In relating his career, it's worth reaching back into the historical context, out of which his politics developed.

One could easily enough go as far back as William Lloyd Garrison's 1838 appeal to abolish at once slavery and every military force, every appropriation, every celebration and even every war monument. But the Civil War, the mass strikes of the late 19th century and the phantom of a capitalist breakdown bringing socialism like the morning sun all helped to push the urgency of antimilitarism off the map. Apart from incredibly brave and highly personal appeals to U.S. soldiers in the Philippines to lay down their arms, the tradition awaited the outbreak of the First World War and the collapse of European Socialist movements.

Following the lead of Norman Thomas, young Christian pacifists around Devere Allen took up the international appeal of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, founded in Switzerland as the war began (and renamed International Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1919). A section of U.S. socialists, mostly intellectuals intrigued by their own promised role in President Woodrow Wilson's proclaimed new world order, abandoned socialism to support the war, but the bulk of the socialists stood firm. Within the largest socialist movement that the United States has ever seen, in the face of mass arrests, cancellation of public meetings, vigilante attacks, suppression of newspapers and jail terms, a new pacifism took definitive shape. Public sympathy gradually moved toward the pacifist position, and if not for the Red Scare and the Reds (the U.S. followers of Bolshevism who formed Communist organizations), a mixture of socialism and pacifism might have emerged stronger than ever from the war.

Thomas' Tomorrow'
It did not. But out of the horror of the war and popular revulsion againstit, the U.S. FOR milieu formed a wider circle around a new monthly magazine, The World Tomorrow (1921-34). Not only Norman Thomas-catapulted into fame as a voice for moderate socialism-but also famed Christian figures Sherwood Eddy (a leader of the global YMCA and of the Sherwood Eddy Seminars for ministers) and Kirby Page gave The World Tomorrow moral standing and liberal prominence far beyond socialist ranks.
Within a Socialist Party now badly reduced by the Red Scare, Norman Thomas and The World Tomorrow seemed almost larger than life. A Trotskyist lawyer joked, a bit later, that the Communists attracted industrial workers while the Socialists attracted the YMCA workers, and there was more than a little truth to the crack-except that neither attracted very many during the 1920s. In 1923, however, a small group of socialist pacifists including feminist professor Jessie Wallace Hughan founded a U.S. section of the year-old War Resisters International, the War Resisters League, where David would find his political home almost four decades later. Unlike FOR, WRL was explicitly secular; but it was not explicitly socialist. Over the next decades, both the Christian and secular socialist-pacifists highlighted the importance of Gandhi and the Indian movement for independence, the suffering of the Third World under U.S. as well as European domination and the importance of linking anti-imperialism (and anti-racism) with the ideals of nonviolence. More than a few old-time socialists (like Hughan and famed story-teller and editor of the Oklahoma Guardian, Oscar Ameringer) felt attracted to what these young folks had to contribute to the cause.
Conscientious Support

The Depression brought two more great moments of socialist-pacifism. The Socialists' Student League for Industrial Democracy spearheaded the massive campus strikes in the middle 1930s against militarism, a movement which petered out after the Communist-led American Student Union abandoned pacifism for anti-fascist "collective security." The Socialists reorganized in the Youth Committee Against War, whose relatively small following was magnified by the popularity of Norman Thomas, resolute against U.S. intervention until 1941. The Socialist Party itself had by this time collapsed again, more completely than before; hardly anything remained but the boosters of Thomas and a small pacifist following which bent itself upon support for conscientious objectors.

Enter David McReynolds, only gradually becoming aware of the grand tradition he had inherited. Member of the pro-United Nations World Fellowship Club in his Los Angeles high school and increasingly critical of early Cold War rearmament, McReynolds followed Yankee traditions (including mine) by first becoming a Prohibition Party agitator. The days of the feminist-socialist-prohibitionists were by then long gone. But the public speaking and popular writing that he learned would come in handy. In 1948, at UCLA, when he wrote for the college paper against the Cold War, the Socialist Party contacted him for its Luncheon Club: He was theirs.
Too bad the Socialists had so little to offer a promising young activist. For decades to come, the pacifist tail of World War I days would wag the socialist dog. Then again, socialism needed redefining after the Second World War, as capitalism recovered (to the Marxists' surprise and disappointment) with military outlays underwriting future economic development (surprising even conservative Republicans). Meanwhile, some of the most exciting developments of U.S. radicalism, like the new Pacifica radio stations (founded by WRL activist Lew Hill) or the politically orientd literary avant-gardists like Lawrence Ferlinghetti were pacifist and anarchistic rather than Popular Front-ish or social democratic.

The peacetime draft passed Congress in 1948 and the prospect of McReynolds himself being drafted grew likely. He had some hard thinking to do (and some scripture to read, if he were to claim a religious basis for conscientious objector status) before passing the first hurdle and being halted at the second (the redefinition of existing classifications). He escaped jail on a technicality, as it turned out, but the cloud hovered and educated, as it would the Vietnam War generation radicals down the road.
Bayard Rustin, although destined in later decades to become one of the great disappointments of socialist and pacifist movements, made a world of difference to young McReynolds. A son of West Indian immigrants, initially drawn to the Communists, Rustin had joined the FOR staff during World War II and publicly engaged in civil disobedience for well over a decade. Rustin was also an enormously attractive figure, singing with his guitar (a talent he honed while imprisoned for draft resistance), popularizing civil rights and peace tunes. In 1947 Rustin personally organized the famed Journey of Reconciliation, the first "freedom ride" testing the legality of segregated interstate bus service (members of WRL took part as well). He soon traveled to India that year to meet Gandhi, and learn the philosophy of nonviolence from the master.

No wonder, then, Rustin had an overwhelming impact upon McReynolds at a 1949 Los Angeles church meeting. For Rustin and now for McReynolds, nonviolence was the logical as well as moral way to deal with the necessary struggles against injustice and ultimately for an egalitarian society. The other ways had failed. The young man quickly evolved into a leadership role, squarely between socialism and pacifism, an articulate voice for Rustin's ideas among Los Angeles youths facing the Korean War draft.
Bohemian Pacifism

Perhaps, Reader, it's best to pause and take a breath for a moment here to be reminded about another side to the socialist and pacifist movement of the 1940s-50s. I can only remember the tail end of this era as seen from the provincial Middle West, but there was no doubt that the milieu was not only radical in politics, but also bohemian in culture and quietly non-judgmental in its personal life. Rustin-who would move to WRL in 1953 after the California arrest that ended his FOR career-Paul Goodman, Allen Ginsberg and McReynolds were among the many gay (and some lesbian) activists at home here. Deeply nonconformist, determinedly interracial, a happy alternative for artists and intellectuals of every sexual persuasion turned off by Cold War liberalism and the collapsing Marxist sects, it offered the best contemporary setting for personal growth. It probably saved our lives, and it certainly helped provide the bodies for the scattered anti-militarist protests by WRL and other groups of the early 1950s, as it secured white supporters for the civil rights movement of the South moving gradually north in campaigns against discrimination.

The founding of the WRL offshoot Liberation magazine in 1956 marked another major stage of thinking and mobilization. Goodman, Barbara Deming, Staughton Lynd, David Dellinger and A.J. Muste, among others, set out both to popularize pacifist ideas and to explore the political possibilities opening up with the Hungarian Uprising and the global movement (marked in the U.S. by the founding of SANE in 1955) for nuclear disarmament. The funny thing is, McReynolds came East in 1956 to take a job at Liberation and found it already filled. Happily, he stayed on anyway.

Pretty soon he did work for Liberation, but he also engaged in civil rights actions (under the guidance of Rustin and the legendary Ella Josephine Baker, among others) across the East Coast. In 1960 he joined Ralph DiGia, Jim Peck and Bayard Rustin in the WRL as Field Secretary at $70 per week, as the legend of those Beekman Street days goes (in this case, perfectly accurate). Much of the rest of the factual history will be known to long-time readers of this publication. But McReynolds has been extremely modest in describing his influence upon the antiwar movement and the assorted "new social movements" to follow, and to that subject I now turn.
It would be nearly impossible, even at this late date, to emphasize how greatly Liberation and the milieus around it contributed to what was new, positive and constructive for young people within the New Left. It is almost as difficult to describe how the undertow of Cold War Liberalism, its mentality and above all its institutions, especially the leadership of the AFL-CIO, quashed the revival of the socialist movement and exaggerated the destructive side of the New Left (and Black Power) movements.

Hippie Pacifism
The student movement and the associated underground press that emerged in 1965-66 mirrored Liberation and the WRL with a virtually instinctive pacifism, emphasizing and even exaggerating the bohemian element. WIN magazine, founded in 1966 as a joint project of WRL and the Committee for Nonviolent Action, went even further, consciously merging the new lifestyles and new politics. I don't wish to say that the WRL position paper on Vietnam drafted by McReynolds in 1964 and signed by A.J. Muste and others was universally read in campus circles. Its meaning was absorbed, however, in ways that historians have not yet analyzed. The notion that the U.S. had no moral choice but immediate and total withdrawal was understood perfectly by those facing a draft call. Older antiwar and antistate traditions of various kinds, ethnic and religious-some of them dormant for generations-flowed into the generational "make love not war" sentiment for which McReynolds had formulated and the WRL had broadcast the perfect phrases.
The same notion was understood just as well but perversely by labor leaders and influential veteran socialists who had come to view U.S. leadership as mandatory for orderly world progress. In these circles (and they soon included Bayard Rustin), the heresy of Immediate Withdrawal was proof of Communist sympathies, while "moderate" positions (bombing or fighting at somewhat reduced levels) offered the open sesame to apparently unprecedented prestige and further influence within the Democratic Party. The young people were overwhelmingly on McReynolds' side; the leadership of the Socialist Party, in which he had quietly participated since coming to New York, stood at the other extreme.

Heretic McReynolds went so far as to run for Congress on the Peace and Freedom line in 1968, with Eldridge Cleaver (how hrd it is to imagine now!) at the head of the ticket. That campaign offered a rare moment of true mass education through the electoral process, one vanishing all too quickly into the familiar bipartisan routines. In the 1972 election-the end game for the socialist coalition-the social-democratic hawks furiously boosted "the Senator from Boeing," Henry Jackson, before finally preferring Richard Nixon over George McGovern; the moderates led by Michael Harrington formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee to remain in coalition with McGovern and the Democrats; David McReynolds led a crew of independent-minded socialists for a distinct and independent Socialist Party. In 1980, he ran for president on the SP ticket (and incidentally, that's how I met David in person, during his swing through Providence), one of the most inviting third party figures of recent decades.

There is much more to tell, but many readers of this magazine know it better than I.. The need for a nonviolent, cooperative and ecological alternative to the New World Order with its perpetual arms race and its economic "race to the bottom" is more evident with each passing decade. Hardly anyone has been so clear on these subjects, so persistent with his ideas, so eager (and affable) to engage in difficult tactical and strategic discussions, so faithful to the ideals of his youth. David McReynolds, on behalf of the socialist traditions that I understand and pacifist traditions that I admire, thank you for being yourself, so very long and so cheerfully!

Paul Buhle is co-editor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left and of Images of American Radicalism (which includes a photo of David from a 1980 Pentagon demonstration) among many works on the radical tradition. He teaches at Brown University

The Evitablity[sic] of War, Revolution, Socialism

A fascinating look at American socialism by one of its leaders:
David McReyonlds' "Long Article".

I will reply at length. Thanks for permission to post, David.

Gabriel McCloskey-Ross

Two And A Half Camp


by David A. Hacker

The late James T. Burnett was the chair of the Young Peoples'Socialist League and he was also an activist in the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Burnett was a National Committee member of both the orginal Socialist Party, USA and Social Democrats, USA. Jim was a mentor to many of us in the revived SD. Burnett was the editor of the "Appeal to Reason", named after the famous socialist newspaper in the early decades of the 20th Century. The Burnett's paper was published by the SD Local in San Francisco, beginning in 1974. It became an independent publication in 1982. Burnett was one of the first voices to support a reunification of the democratic socialist movement. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Burnett wrote the following statement that I believe is still the best declaration concerning the issue of the relevancy of the concept of socialism in today’s society and expresses where the revived SD,USA stands on this crucial issue and on the general orientation of our approach toward foreign policy issues:

"1. The Relevance of Socialism

The conventional wisdom these days is that the collapse of the Soviet empire represents the demise of Socialism. This is ridiculous. We never believed the identification of Stalinist totalitarianism with socialism during all of the decades when proclaimed by both Stalinists and right-wing reactionaries. Why should we believe it now?  We should reclaim the socialist ideal-- a just society, a society not based on invidiousness and narrow-minded "individualism". This is not the time for us to become traitors and cowards. The basis of Socialism  -- communism in its unfalsifiable sense -- remains as valid, even more valid, than ever. We want and need a society of collective justice where everyone gets food, shelter, health care, education, and the ability to actualize his or herself. Why not? We're civilized, aren't we? We will win our most valuable support by asserting an ideal, not by ambiguity and misdirected "moderation". We need a cadre before we can aspire to mass influence and few people of character or  intelligence have ever been able to get excited about moderation. I want to make a point about symbols. This is hardly something that would be taken up in an official document, but is important socially, I do not think we should give up the word "socialist, the term "comrade", the red flag, or the Internationale. They are symbols of a commitment and a brotherhood and sisterhood that is invaluable. There is no such thing as "only" a symbol. Our era has seen many outstanding champions of equity and freedom not the least have been Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Julius Martov, Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, Max Shachtaman, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Michael Harrington, and the students of Tienanmen Square. I stand in their tradition".

2. Foreign Policy

“The collapse of the so-called “Communism” is both a victory and a challenge. It is a victory insofar as it removes (although not completely so far) a hateful and reactionary system that, worst of all, paraded under the name of socialism. Long ago, Max Shachtman, pointed out that if Stalinism was indeed a kind of socialism, then all of the worst criticisms that the enemies of socialism had ever made were true, and a thousand times over.

How things will settle down in the world is impossible to tell. Who could have told just a year ago how things would be now? Theory is not fortune-telling. It is a set of principles that can be used to guide action under probable conditions.

The idea that the end of the Soviet empire represents the triumph of capitalism is lunacy – understandable lunacy, but lunacy nonetheless. It is like a hangover. Sooner or later it will go away, probably sooner than later as the peoples of Eastern Europe find out what the so-called free market really means. We should call for what was valid in the basically-flawed communist ideal while inviting the “capitalist” reforms that are in the interest of the people. If we do not do so, others will. They already are.

a, The Importance of the Socialist International and SD,USA’s Membership in that Organization

“The Socialist International is a major organization in which people of our political tendency have exercised surprising political influence in spite of our ridiculously small numbers. This organization represents millions of workers and other people throughout the world. It is, in fact, the largest voluntary organization on the planet. We should be proud that our political comrades were the first to begin a mass-membership international group. Within the International, our main efforts should be:

-To oppose any remnants of romantic attraction to terrorist and totalitarian causes.

-To maintain the democratic socialist ideal.

-To encourage all possible aid to the emerging free labor and social-democratic movements in the former Stalinist countries and the developing world.

-To resolve trade and other economic conflicts on the basis of international labor solidarity.

-To promote greater international cooperation toward the ultimate aim of a world government under world law.

Above all, we should be proud to be members of the Socialist International and strive to maintain and expand our influence in it. We should propose that the document, “Aims and Tasks of Democratic Socialism” that was the basis for the re-foundation of the International at the end of World War II, be reviewed to meet the changing realities of the last half century, while retaining its fundamental values and emphases. {Since Burnett wrote this in 1992, the SI has revised this document.} It should become the basic statement of purpose of international social democracy/democratic socialism in the late twentieth century and now in the early twenty first century. We are entering an era where, with astute leadership, the lines of our anthem could become true: ‘The international working class shall free the human race.’ I even think that the words of the French original will come true: ‘L Internationale serait la genre humaine.’ {The provisional NC
of the revived SD,USA has voted to adopt the ten principles of the Party of European Socialism.}

b, How we view the role that the United States plays in the World

America is not the unique ill-doer in the world. Hardly anything, other than the direct sight of injustice in my own society, infuriates me more than the notion that all of the problems of the world can be blamed on the United States. The US has been guilty of enough crimes. Chief among them are our genocidal campaign against Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans and generations of unspeakable mistreatment of their descendents, our imperialist relations with Mexico. And this is just to name a few.

The United States has also been a friend of freedom. Without the US war effort, the world could probably not have defeated fascism. We condoned slavery, but we also overcame it, at the cost of much blood. We rebuilt Western Europe through the Marshall Plan. It is true that we had ulterior motives – stopping Communism –but who demands pure motives in the real world? Good motives are good enough. Could anybody really say that the US wanted to make Japan and Europe into its most formidable economic rivals now? No, we had altruistic motives as well.

At the same time, this does not mean that anything any American Administration does is OK. This is especially true now that the overriding concern about the ‘evil empire’ is gone. Incidentally, one of the greatest lessons of the post-cold-war period is that the two exploitative class societies can no longer use one another as excuses for their misdeeds. The eclipse of Stalinism represents a profound crisis for capitalism – a point too little recognized. The relationship between capitalism and the pseudo-socialist despotism and their mutual co-existence and their mutual termination are very important topics to be analyzed.

Another - actually the same – theme that requires consideration is epitomized by a remark made by a modern social democrat decades ago when he quoted a British Fabian to the effect that the French Reign of Terror and Napoleon had set back reform in England for a hundred years and opined that Soviet “socialism” had at least as reactionary effect in our times. I do not agree about the historic role of the French Revolution, but I do about the subsequent analogy."

Today, we can add to Burnett’s statement the new threat of totalitarian Islamism exemplified by the September 11, 2001 attack by Al Qaeda on the United States. We believe that only the development of a true democratic foreign policy for the United States can defeat terrorism. In fact, we advocate not merely containing international terrorism, but eliminating it at its roots. However, we maintain that it will only be a government that espouses the values of democratic socialism and the wider Democratic Left that can do this. We have seen the failure of the preceding right-wing American administration, which included some of our own former comrades, who have become neoconservatives ideologues, in their attempts to diminish and combat this threat. In fact, many of their own actions in the world have served as a recruiting call for totalitarian Islamism.

Specifically, the war on Iraq is an issue that invited dissent and I believe has critically harmed the effort against totalitarian Islamism (which should not be confused with the actual tenets of Islam.) This does not mean dissent about Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and malevolent intents, but about the appropriate means of dealing with him. To say that the “only correct” approach was military intervention or economic sanctions are equally simplistic. However, the facts are that the sanctions were working and the Administrations rational for going to war has been proven false. The initial justifiable NATO conflict against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan was neglected, with the effect that the totalitarian Islamists are gaining a resurgence in that embattled country. In the meantime, there has been the loss of hundred of thousands of Iraqis and over four thousand American lives in this war of choice in Iraq.

I believe that the Iraq war and the present economic conditions in the United States have illustrated the bankruptcy of the ideas of the conservative movement in this country. Similarly, as Comrade Burnett pointed out, back in 1992, to place “the collapse of the Soviet Union, into some kind of victories for the self-serving reactionary right in the United States would be an indictment of the intelligence of the democratic left in this country. Such imbecility is almost impossible to comprehend, no matter how many Republican press releases are sent out on its behalf.”

Combating so-called Islamofascism is not Right-Wing, as even our Third Camp Comrades, maintained in this article, "Only a Democratic Foreign Policy Can Combat Terrorism", by Thomas Harrison in the Winter 2002, edition of New Politics magazine.  While I have several differences with Comrade Harrison's position, a large portion of the revived SD,USA forthcoming statement on this issue will parallel his call for a new democratic foreign policy to combat Islamofascism.  We will not blindly follow a "Third Camp," approach, as certain aspects of Obama's foreign policy positions deserve our critical support.  Nevertheless, even here, our position will be broadly defined as being in support of democracy and religious pluralism vs. anti-democracy and religious fundamentalism.  In the anti-democratic camp are not only the remaining Communist regimes, right-wing dictatorships, and Islamic fundamentalist governments, but also multi-national corporations who have no
allegiances to any nation or creed except how to make the most profit. Thus, we have multi-national corporations dealings with China and Vietnam when those regimes have controlled work forces, government dominated trade unions, and imperial ties to Third World countries.

Therefore, the revived SDUSA's foreign policy program can be euphemistically be called a 2 and 1/2 camp position.  We do see Islamic extremism as one of the major dangers in the world today.  Thus, we will stand with the democratic West and moderate Muslims, vs. Islamic fundamentalism. We continue to affirm the best of bourgeois democracy, but we also recognize the imperialistic aspects resulting from its Capitalistic nature, particularly the activities of the multi-national corporations. Thus in the contest of the West against Islamic fundamentalism, we also still struggle against Western imperialism. Our support for democracy should not be confused with that of the neo-conservatives.  We do not make a fetish of Capitalist democracy and we do not believe that it can be militarily imposed from the outside.  Rather, we support all the authentic Democratic Left elements everywhere, including in the Muslim world.  We believe that U.S. foreign policy can
only be truly democratic if it becomes social democratic in nature.

Thus, as the new SDUSA continues to adhere to this position, no one will be able to confuse us with the old leadership and the neoconservatives. In future issues of the Torch & Rose and in our International Affairs resolution that will be approved at our forthcoming Re-foundation National Convention, we will further detail our concept of a 2 1/2 camp position

What the Revived Social Democrats, USA is Not:
Six Common Misconceptions that Our Critics still make about the SDUSA

by David A. Hacker

The Long Strange Posthumous Life of Leon Trotsky, by David McReyonlds

A very interesting piece by David McReynolds.  David is not and never has been a member of the SD, USA. He has done yeomen service for the cause.This reflects David's view of the split in the original Socialist Party, USA. We are thankful for his permission to post this article.  

(EdgeLeft is an occasional column by David McReynolds, it can
be circulated without further permission)

The Long Strange Posthumous Life of Leon Trotsky

Historically the Socialist Party USA had two major splits. The
first was after the Russian Revolution, when there
was an international split in all socialist parties between
those who accepted the leadership of Lenin's Third
International and those who didn't. In the US, Debs, who had
proclaimed himself "a Bolshevik from the tip of my head to
the tips of my toes" -- reflecting the overwhelming
international support for the Russian Revolution -- then led
the Socialist Party in rejecting Lenin's "21 demands".

There followed the split which led to the formation of the
Communist Party. The second major split - (actually two
in almost one year) - was the right wing split in 1936 by the
Social Democratic Federation which wanted to support
Roosevelt, breaking with Norman Thomas, and the split by the
Socialist Workers Party which, under James Cannon,
had entered the Socialist Party and then in 1937 split, taking
much of the youth of the Socialist Party with it.

By the 1960's (in fact even by 1951, when I joined the
Socialist Party) both the Socialist and Communist Parties were
shadows of the past, battered by various currents. The
Communist Party was never able to build a mass base here
after the Cold War began - Communism was seen not simply as
"radical" but as "treasonous". The Socialist Party, in no
small part because, fearful it might be accused of being
communist, spent too little time on what it favored,
and too much time making sure its skirts were clean. (There is
nothing simple about this - the Communist Party always
had internal dissent, and there was a serious left wing in the
Socialist Party, which I joined when I came into the SP).

Thus when we leap forward to the "final split" in the SP in
1972 we are talking about midgets. Max Shachtman took out
his people to form the Social Democrats USA (actually, he had
the majority at the 1972 convention, so for a brief moment
he was the SP - it is ironic that it is Shachtman's group
which has since totally vanished). Michael Harrington
finally broke with Shachtman and split to form the Democratic
Socialist Organizing Committee which morphed into
today's Democratic Socialists of America. The remnants of the
old Socialist Party, some on the left, some on the right,
regrouped under Frank Zeidler in 1973 to form what is today
the Socialist Party USA, and which is, pretty much, the
legitimate heir to the party of Debs and Thomas. (It is under
the banner of this group that I ran for President in
1980 and 2000).

In the real world nothing is static. The Socialist Party,
which has about 1,000 members, has attracted newer members
who are not aware of the history, and whose radicalism
includes an admiration to Lenin and Trotsky. The SP is
not anywhere near another split - only genuine Trotskyist
groups can split when they have less than a 1,000 members.
But I've been fascinated by this odd posthumous life of
Trotsky, and want to reflect on it here.

There really aren't any Leninists running around - there are
lots of people who belong to "Marxist/Leninist" groups, such
as the Communist Party, but there are simply not a dozen
different Marxist/Leninist groups in this country. There are
large numbers of socialists who are not even aware that there
was a Marxist tradition before Lenin, and independent
of Lenin. There must be a few Stalinist groups, I am sure I
could find them on google, but not even the
Communist Party today counts as Stalinist. Stalin has almost
no heirs. In fact, the interesting thing about
Stalin is that almost no one wanted to duplicate his politics.
The Japanese and Italian Communist Parties broke with
Moscow very early, not long after Tito had taken Yugoslavia
out of the "Communist Bloc". Mao (a man Stalin
once thought might best be "eliminated") defied Stalin almost
from the beginning. The Vietnamese were careful,
in taking aid from both China and the Soviet Union, not to
duplicate the Soviets in their own political patterns
(there were never any purge trials in Vietnam to equal those
in the Soviet Union). And Cuba stands almost in
its own tradition, bending to Russia when it depended of
Moscow's aid, but building on Cuba's own traditions.

It was as if everyone looked at Stalin and thought "there is a
lot there we don't want to repeat". Even the Soviets, to the
astonishment of the West, broke with their own "tradition"
when Stalin died, and, after the murder of Beria, allowed
a peaceful transfer of power to Khrushchev.

But Trotsky while dead, is still very much alive. Sometimes as
a ghost on the far right - Max Shactman became the first
true neo-conservative, embracing the system. His followers
took key positions in the Reagan Administration and in the
right wing of the Democratic Party. Younger readers may find
it hard to believe (I admit that even I do) that Shachtman,
who went into the Communist Party in its early years, traveled
to the Soviet Union, was a significant leader
of the American Communist Party, ended his life supporting the
US invasion of Cuba (the Bay of Pigs), the US
invasion of Indochina, shifted from a position critical of
Israel to one of fervent support of Israel. I knew Shachtman
well, and while I didn't like the man, or trust him, I would
never have thought he would have ended in the camp of the

The original Trotskyist movement in this country formed in the
late 1920's, headed by James Cannon and Max
Shachtman. It was authentically revolutionary, had an
honorable tradition of work in the trade union movement.
It reflected the international split, following Lenin's death,
between Stalin, the General Secretary of the Soviet
Party, and Trotsky, the brilliant, courageous military leader
of the Red Armies. Stalin insisted that a world
revolution was not in the cards history had dealt, that the
only hope was to build "socialism in one country".
Trotsky, by far the more revolutionary, and internationalist,
argued that "socialism in one country" would become
bureaucratic, militarized, and fatally "deformed". Both men
were right. There was to be no world revolution.
Germany, which had a powerful socialist movement, did not have
a revolution and could not rescue the young Soviet
Union. Trotsky was right, the Soviet Union became a police
state. There was one crucial shift, however, which
caused Trotsky to the end of his life to argue that the Soviet
Union had to be defended in any conflict with
the West - private property had been collectivized, and the
old class had been destroyed. Shachtman split over
the matter of the Soviet invasion of Finland, setting up what
would beome the Independent Socialist League, which
lasted until it merged into the Socialist Party in 1958.

Some contempoary Trotskyist groups, such as the ISO
(International Socialist Organization) represent what
might be called Shachtman's radical positions of the 1950's.
The official Trotskyist group, the Socialist Workers
Party, long since became a cult, focused on support of Cuba
largely ignoring its own Trotskyist past. There are
other groups which owe a debt to Trotsky - Solidarity, while
hardly an orthodox Trotskyist group,
comes out of that background. New Politics, founded by Julius
and Phyllis Jacobson (and a journal on which I was once a
member of the editorial board) had its origins in a kind of
"left Shachtmanite" position. I felt I served as
the "shabbas goy" on the editorial board, since I was
primarily a pacifist, and had never been a Trotskyist.
At one point - and perhaps the last intellectually significant
split in the Trotskyist movement - Bert Cochran formed
a new publication, the American Socialist, which had a brief
useful life but could not be sustained.These groups
have made real contributions to the American Left.

They made, for the most part, a very serious effort to uphold
the best of the Russian Revolution, while being
frank about the disaster of Stalin. Some of the Trotskyists
did finally face the problems inherent in Leninism,
the vanguard theory of change, the concept of democratic
centralism, and the fact Trotsky himself was not
really any nicer than Lenin. There are always apologies made
for the violent suppression of the workers
uprising at Kronstadt - and I wish the Trotskyists, and
Leninists, some of whom are now in the Socialist
Party, would realize that if one can justify mass murder
because the situation demanded it, they should be
much more hesitant in writing off the Socialist Parties in the
West because they, too, made compromises. I guess
my question to the Leninists is why are crimes and mistakes
acceptable if committed by the followers of Lenin,
but not if committed by the non-Communist left. (Thus far the
best answer I've heard is that in the name of the
revolution, murder, while regrettable, is defensible).

The Workers World Party, formed in 1956, when the Socialist
Workers Party had a split over the Hungarian
Revolution, (WWP supported the Soviet invasion of Hungary)
became a thorn in the side of many of us, with its
range of front groups - the International Action Center,
ANSWER, etc. In due time WWP had a split of its own,
the Party of Socialism and Liberation, which took ANSWER with
it. WWP still exists.

If one had time and the inclination, the list of those who
were in the Trotskyist movement, or touched by it, is truly
remarkable. Dwight Macdonald's Politics, Dissent Magazine, and
literally dozens of small Trotskyist groups.
My own primary mentor, A. J. Muste, was briefly - very briefly
- in the Trotskyist movement. The Trotskyist movement
has had one great advantage over the Communists - with very
few exceptions they never actually had power.
And thus they could be pure. All those who hold state power
will find that it forces compromises.

So much for this very too brief run down. I have read Trotsky,
and Lenin, and Stalin, and a number of others from
that period. I liked Lenin and still do - I just don't agree
with him. My own path led me to Gandhi. I liked Trotsky
a bit less, though I concede he was brilliant. Issac
Deutscher, in one of his three volumes on Trotsky, cites the
case where, in one of the inner-party fights, Trotsky felt he
had to make a temporary peace with Stalin. The price
which Stalin exacted was that Trotsky withdraw his support
from two of his own key allies. Which Trotsky did. Not
surprisingly, his allies, once abandoned, sided with Stalin in
the next round of in-fighting and helped seal Trotsky's

All of which brings me to a deeply flawed film I rented from
Netflix - Exile in Buyukada.Deeply flawed because
while showing Trotsky's arrival in Turkey, where he spent the
first period of his exile, the sound track, featuring a
narration by the wonderful actor, Vanessa Redgrave, is
"buried" under the music. There are occasional
sub-titles, but essentially the film is only worth watching
for the sense of that period. And it is to that sense that
I now want to turn my attention, (while, by pure chance,
listening to a new recording of a Shostakovitch work,
featuring the Internationale).

Let's leave aside the manipulations of Shachtman, the
betrayals of the Neocons, the chaos created by Workers
World . . . and turn back to the events in the Soviet Union.
That Trotsky would be expelled from the Communist
Party and sent into exile was unthinkable. He had been
essential to the revolution. He did not leave the young
Soviet Union as a dissident - he left it as a believer in the
revolution. He and his wife knew they faced death
wherever they went, from Stalin's agents (who did finally
murder him when he was in Mexico).

Trotsky had no allies within the socialist movement. He
despised the socialist parties of the West. The problem
was that he had no allies at all except for the opposition to
Stalin which, in the Soviet Union, could not be
expressed without risking certain death. In the West the
Trotskyist movement was a small splinter in the
side of the Communist movement, under steady ideological
attack as "agents of the State". To support Trotsky
was genuinely heroic - no one was going to pay you! You had no
chance at career advancement. You had
no allies in power anywhere in the world. The Communists would
check out books by Trotsky from public
libraries in order to destroy them (and I knew one
Shachtmanite who checked out those same books from
public libraries in order to save them from destruction -
theft in the name of love).

The Communists held power in the Soviet Union. Their parties
in Western Europe were strong. And strong even
as far away as Indochina, and China, and Japan.

So those of us who have basic disagreements with Trotsky -
essentially the same disagreements we have with
Lenin - should pay the history of Trotsky some respect. He was
no a democrat. It has been said, by one of those
in post-Soviet Russia, that if Trotsky had won the fight
against Stalin the outcome would have been just as
many executions - but with a far more literary flavor. The
sadness of Trotsky's life is that once the internal fight
in the Soviet Union had been decided, Trotsky was an heroic
but lost figure. His followers in the US ended
on the subversive list, were hounded from their jobs by the

But always and always, those who took Trotsky's side cannot
help but look back and think what the Soviet
Union might have been if only Stalin had lost that fight. I'm
very much among those who feel that American
socialists need to look to American history - not Russian or
Chinese or Cuban history - to chart our course.
But no one who has looked back at the early part of the 20th
century can fail to be thrilled
by that moment when it seemed as if the workers were actually
in control of history. It was this
painful memory Trotsky carried with him as he began the first
of his exiles in Turkey.

May I suggest - though my Trotskyist and Leninist friends will
not hear me - that the greatest honor one could
pay to Leon Trotsky would be to let him rest with the honor he
earned. And, as he broke with Stalin, so let us
break with all undemocratic efforts at revolution, which would
make human beings merely "means to the
end". Humanity - each life - is an end in itself. As A.J.
Muste said, "there is no way to peace - peace is
the way". So too, revolution begins now, as we empower
ourselves to think for our own time.

(David McReynolds worked for the War Resistes League for 39
years, retired in 1999, and lives with his two cats on the
Lower East Side. He is a former Chair of the War Resisters
International. He can be contacted at:

Michael Harrington's Legacy--A Book Review By Rob Tucker

Apostle of Lesser-Evilism

The Other American:
The Life of Michael Harrington
By Maurice Isserman

Review by R.W. Tucker

U.S. antiwar sentiment owes much to the Socialist Party. The SP steadfastly opposed World War I; its leader, Eugene Victor Debs, was jailed for his speeches against the war. In 1920 Debs ran for president from jail, his fifth try, and garnered about a million votes.

After he died a new leader emerged, Norman Thomas a pacifist, though he wavered for a while after World War II. Thomas ran for president six times, through 1948. In the 1960s, in his eighties, he barnstormed against the Vietnam War. By then he had become beloved far beyond his party's ranks. Unlikely U.S. leaders hailed him as the conscience of America.

Who would succeed him? The evident answer was Michael Harrington. He was a brilliant and extremely engaging speaker; he was a debater with few peers. And he had written an important best-seller, The Other America: Poverty in the United States, in which, in a clear, readable, unsentimental style, he discussed the fact that the poor had become mostly invisible and delineated their plight by categories. Everybody saw him as the next leading spokesperson for the Left.

It didn't happen. In the early'70s, the Socialist Party suffered a devastating three-way split. Harrington ended up heading one of the three successor organizations, the one now called Democratic Socialists of America. Thereafter for years he urged socialists to support Democrats in the name of lesser-evilism. (his term). His books on socialism are the modern standard, and at the time of his early death from cancer in 1989 he was honorary chairman of the Socialist International. But a great many socialists thought of him as a betrayer. This biography will greatly interest people who admired Harrington, and no less, those who were disappointed in him.

Realignment and Vietnam
Maurice Isserman has done a huge amount of research. He writes well, with an eye for the telling detail and many flashes of humor. The first hundred pages of The Other American narrate Harrington's claustrophobic Catholic upbringing, his education by the Jesuits and his time in the Catholic Worker movement. The Jesuits used to boast, Give us the boy and we will give you the man, and though Harrington in time abandoned pacifism, the Catholic Worker, and the Catholic Church itself, Isserman suggests that the Jesuit influence was pervasive: Harrington thought about Marxism in Jesuitical ways. In particular, he adopted and adapted Jesuit teachings about choosing the lesser evil.

In 1959, Max Shachtman, a Marxist ideologue and Harrington's mentor, began preaching Realignment. to his Socialist Party comrades. Socialists must go where labor is, he argued, and labor was in the Democratic Party. What America needed was not a third party, but a second party. The reactionary Southern Democrats must be driven to the Republicans, creating a true conservative-liberal choice. SPers bought this argument, and in 1960, for the first time, put up no presidential candidate. They had become discouraged by their ballot failures, and Shachtman had put a positive spin on withdrawing from the fray.

Harrington, though, bought Realignment with the fervor of a true believer. Thanks to the Realignment doctrine, he was free to join with aides to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in working out details of the War on Poverty and the Great Society. The Other America was their Bible. Although, as Isserman shows, Harrington was uneasy about the Vietnam War, an attack on Johnson over the war would surely have ended his influence on the anti-poverty program. Others told him that the war was destroying the anti-poverty program, but for years he apparently couldn't see it. Realignment had also given the SP close ties with George Meany, the conservative head of the AFL-CIO, along with labor staff jobs for many SP members; going where labor is had turned out to mean going where the top labor bosses were and the labor bosses supported the war.

In 1962, Harrington lost a chance to play elder brother to the early New Left at the organizing meeting of Students for a Democratic Society, at Port Huron, MI. He hectored and bullied its early leaders for popular frontism. This he later apologized for. But he never apologized for his disgraceful behavior at the 1970 SP convention. As chairman, he presided over a spurious expulsion of the entire Wisconsin delegation, consisting of 22 antiwar delegates, and then bullied through a resolution on the war that in effect supported it. To those of us who knew his personal opinion of the war, his behavior was incredible.

Isserman says only that hundreds of members of the old party voted with their feet, as the party majority moved steadily rightward. This misstates what took place. Most of the state organizations, with the huge exception of New York, withdrew from the old party, which then changed its name to Social Democrats USA and more-or-less invented neoconservatism. Those who had withdrawn reconstituted the Socialist Party; they included almost all the pacifists, the older leadership, and pretty much the entire party as it had been in 1957.

The reconstituted SP came out against the war. Its members decided the Realignment strategy was bankrupt, so in 1976 they resumed running token candidates. Harrington might have been welcome among them had he come wearing sackcloth, but instead he called the reconstituted SP a sect, because it opposed Realignment. So when Harrington, in turn, could no longer stomach the Social Democrats pro-war policy, he formed his own group. He spoke of the total collapse of the Socialist Party and the need to start all over again, as if the renewed SP did not exist. A few months before his death, I asked him if there was any hope of the organizations reuniting, and he literally shuddered: Oh no, no, no, no. Isserman's failure to explore this attitude is a major flaw in his biography.

DSA in some ways became the most successful political organization on the Left. But it continues to be in Harrington's shadow. For instance, it was unable to take a position on the recent bombing of Serbia. Now it wanders in the wilderness, because all the goals of Realignment have been met, with the result that both major parties have moved rightward. Isserman has given us an object lesson in the perils of lesser-evil thinking.

R.W. Tucker worked closely with Michael Harrington from 1958 to 1962.