Monday, February 25, 2019

50 Years Ago: The Law and Homosexuality (2016)

The 50 Years Ago column from the May 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

With the election out of the way, Wolfenden ― or rather his famous report ― may get back into the news again. This document, presented to Parliament in September 1957 after more than three years of painstaking work, called forth at that time a mixed public response of support and violent opposition. The government of the time fairly quickly implemented the committee’s main recommendations on prostitution (incidentally with a resultant increase in call-girls and a more highly organised poncing system), but did not make any move concerning the law on male homosexuality.(…)

In May last year, Lord Arran managed to get a second reading in the Lords for his Bill to make private homosexual acts between consenting male adults no longer a criminal offence. But a similar measure introduced into the Commons a fortnight later by Labour MP Leo Abse was defeated, the opposition to it having been led by that self styled guardian of our moral welfare and champion of intolerance Sir Cyril Osborne, Tory MP for Louth. However, not long before the election, a Bill on the same lines was sponsored by the Tory Humphrey Berkeley and managed to survive a second reading. (…)

When the law is eventually changed, then, a minority will be released from the shadow of vindictive penalties (although only in one provision of Wolfenden is this so; his proposal for the under twenty-ones is that the penalties be retained and in some cases even increased), but this will not be the end of the homosexual’s problems. Apart from the backlog of fear, ignorance and prejudice which will impinge on his life still, the legal change will at most be an offer to absorb him, so to speak, more easily into the present set up. Which will mean, if he is a worker (and most homosexuals certainly are), that the grey day-to-day existence and struggles to make a living will still be there.
(From article by E.T.C., Socialist Standard, May 1966)

Rear View: Rage against the machine (2016)

The Rear View Column from the June 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

Rage against the machine
‘Decelles, a scientist at Princeton, has just published some very telling research that illustrates the broader social costs of unequal treatment by focusing on a very specific instance. She looked at what happens when those travelling in economy class on a plane pass through the first-class section on the way to their seat, and found that this encouraged bad behaviour . . .  Much less predictable was the discovery that when economy-class travellers have shuffled past the luxurious first-class seats on their way to the back of the plane, first-class travellers become more badly behaved too. In fact . . . it’s possible the first-class traveller is just as prone to raging at the cabin crew as the one in economy, when – and this is the bit that matters – they both are made unavoidably aware of the difference in their status’ (theguardian.com, 4 May). These remarks would come as no surprise to Marx. He made a similar observation: ‘a house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain’.


Work, work, work
Socialism will not see the end of all boring work, but many occupations considered so will simply not exist as a result of automation or historical redundancy. A world of production for use not profit will have no use for banks, bookmakers, cashiers, economists, estate agents, loan sharks, security staff, stock brokers, etc. This should be of interest to wage slaves everywhere, including 44-year-old Parisian Frédéric Desnard, who ‘. . .  is demanding more than $400,000 from his former employer, a perfume enterprise, as compensation for the boredom it allegedly caused. According to the Frenchman, the company should be held responsible for mental and other health damages’ (washingtonpost.com, 5 May). Frederic also states that he was ‘ashamed to be paid to do nothing’. Usually being paid to do nothing, or nothing useful, is the preserve of the capitalist. Bored members of the 1 percent are welcome to apply for membership of the Socialist Party and do something more meaningful instead. Capitalism stinks: vive la révolution!


Money first, medicine second
Who needs gods when we can make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk and bring back the dead? We can perform many other miracles, but capitalism rather than lack of ardent prayer gets in the way. We can cure many diseases once considered fatal. ‘Hepatitis C-related deaths reached an all-time high in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday, surpassing total combined deaths from 60 other infectious diseases including HIV, pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis. The increase occurred despite recent advances in medications that can cure most infections within three months’ (cnn.com, 4 May). Treatments are developed with profit not people in mind. Can’t pay, can’t have. This is the situation throughout the world. In central and west Africa as many as five million AIDS sufferers have no access to anti-retroviral drugs. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki promoted alternative remedies such as vinegar rather than ARVs, which saved the state’s funds at cost of at least 300,000 lives.


Abortion
‘There are 49 countries in the world today where abortion is still completely illegal. In many more, it is legal only under the narrow pretext of saving a woman’s life, and many other countries have strict regulations relating to abortion that ultimately take away a women’s control over their own bodies even in cases of rape or incest’ (indy100.independent.co.uk, 1 May). Celibate men dressed in frocks, often with more interest in young boys than women, expect their pronouncements on sex to be taken seriously. Lack of sex education and access to contraception as well as the pervasive poison of long dead generations are driving pregnancies among girls and women throughout the world. Lack of pre- and postnatal care for millions results in unnecessary deaths. You know the solution.


50 Years Ago: China’s Bomb (2016)

The 50 Years Ago column from the June 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

Good news for all lovers of militarism and destruction was that China detonated her third nuclear bomb ― it may even have been a hydrogen one.

Good news, also, for all lovers of the distortion of words was that this latest test was described by Peking as ‘a great victory for the party’s general line of Socialist construction.’

Good news for all connoisseurs of hypocrisy was that the State Department condemned the test because of its effect on the atmosphere ― as if the United States had never exploded nuclear weapons in the air, and as if they are not continuing to test the things underground.

The Chinese bomb is yet another lap in the desperate nuclear arms race which has been in progress since Hiroshima. As each new country joins the race it justifies its presence with lies about its concern for peace and world security.

And the countries who are already in the race always ‘deplore’ and ‘condemn’ and murmur about having a disarmament conference somewhere, sometime ― because they are concerned about any threat to their dominant standing in the world.

China is a rising capitalist power, and she has paid for her entry in the race in the coin which all the others have used and which is the only one universally recognised ― force.

If it were not so terrifying it would be laughable that this onward march to destruction should be called Socialism. We live now in a society of madness, in which the very words we use often lose all sense and meaning.

Happily, there is one band who work determinedly to keep the word Socialism sane and clean, and who will not have it confused with the terrorism and hypocrisy of capitalism.
(From News in Review, Socialist Standard, June 1966)


Rear View: A Load of Koch (2016)

The Rear View Column from the July 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

A Load of Koch
If you wish to have some understanding of what is happening and how the 99 percent are suffering in Venezuela, who better to call than Daniel Mitchell? He has a PhD in economics and is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, originally known as the Charles Koch Foundation. With such a background, Mitchell’s musings should come as no surprise: ‘I feel sorry for the Venezuelan people, but I’m perversely glad that the country is collapsing. That’s because it’s nice to have proof that Margaret Thatcher was right when she famously warned that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. To be sure, we already had proof from Greece, France, the Soviet Union, Brazil, and many other places. But it’s still nice to have another piece of evidence that big government eventually produces very dire results. I also confess that I’m enjoying Venezuela’s economic decay because I get a warm feeling of Schadenfreude when watching leftists try to explain what’s happening in that formerly rich nation ‘(cnsnews.com, 2 June).

Mitchell takes pleasure in the suffering of our class but conveniently forgets to mention that a small minority continue to enjoy the comforts available in what blogger Agustin Otxotorena describes as the ‘upscale sectors of Caracas’. Shopping shelves there are not empty as elsewhere. ‘If you have money’ there is champagne, vodka, Belgian chocolates, lobster, brand-name clothes, etc. Exclusive restaurants, nightclubs, beaches, yachts, golf clubs, private schools and universities form ‘a whole country within a country where there are no poor’ – other than those working there. Such ostentatious privilege exists regardless of the government’s orientation – left, right or centre.

Thatcher was right, at least when she stated: ‘There is only one economic system in the world, and that is capitalism. The difference lies in whether the capital is in the hands of the State or whether the greater part of it is in the hands of people outside of State control’ (House of Commons speech, 24 November, 1976). Venezuela is not and never has been socialist. Neither are or were Brazil, Greece, France or the Soviet Union. Lenin wrote of Russia in 1918: ‘reality says that State capitalism would be a step forward for us; if we were able to bring about State capitalism in a short time it would be a victory for us’ (The Chief Task of Our Time). That same year, the old lie about Russia being socialist or communist (Marx and Engels used the terms interchangeably) was exposed in the August 1918 edition of this very journal. The idea of socialism in one country is rather like being a little bit pregnant.


Parasites beget parasites
The 1 percent exist worldwide, in Russia and Venezuela, Norway and Italy. ‘The world’s youngest billionaire is worth an eye-popping $1.2 billion, around £862 million. Alexandra Andresen comes in as one of the richest people on the planet, after inheriting millions from her businessman father Johan Andresen. The Andresen family own Ferd, a long-running private investment company’ (mirror.co.uk, 2 June). We are also informed later of one major reason for Alexandra’s wealth. ‘her great-great-great grandfather bought J.L. Tiedemanns tobacco factory in 1849, which later became the country’s market-leading cigarette maker.’

Elsewhere (aljazeera.com, 4 June), we learn that ‘the tobacco industry has annual revenues of nearly $500bn. The number of cigarettes manufactured and sold has risen to six trillion every year worldwide – nearly double what it was four decades ago. Tobacco stocks outperformed the market in 2015 and have in fact done so for the past decade. The . . . electronic cigarette market is now worth $7.5bn.’ Our labour, that of adults and children as young as five years old, is the source of this wealth. The tobacco products are then sold back to us at a profit and kill an estimated six million of us annually.

Wealth is product of human labour, acting upon nature-given materials, that is capable of satisfying needs. We work, they take and pass on. Some of today’s capitalists have many centuries of legalised theft behind them. The richest families in Florence have been at it for the past 600 years. This fact was confirmed recently by two economists doing useful work for a change. Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Mocetti studied the records of Florentine taxpayers in 1427 with those in 2011 and after comparing the family wealth to those with the same surname today, concluded the richest families in Florence six centuries ago remain the same now.


God, Broadband and Buddhists (2016)

The Halo Halo Column from the July 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

Back in November David Cameron pledged that by 2020 every home in the UK would have access to fast broadband, although there was some doubt as to whether this could be achieved.

Now, however, the Church of England has come to his aid and is to allow some of its churches to have their spires adapted as broadband beacons bringing broadband access to the approximately one million homes in remote or rural areas of the UK still without it (Guardian 17 May).

We don’t have the full details of God’s involvement or his IT expertise yet, but think of the possibilities. Gone will be the hassle of using that old technology where you had to get on your knees to pray whenever you wanted to contact the Almighty. Now (as long as heaven has a reliable connection) you will have direct access to God whenever you want, and from the comfort of your own home or laptop.

Hopefully Judaism and Islam will modify their synagogues and mosques to operate a similar service for Jews and Muslims, and all the smaller, independent gods will get in on the act too. Assuming all areas of heaven have the necessary technology and are aware of the marvels of Skype, everyone down here will be able to enjoy a face to face discussion, confession, or whatever, with the god of their choice, whenever they want.

One advantage is that by allowing us to see what God gets up to in heaven it may put an end to all that bickering about which god is the best: well, nearly all the bickering, Zen Buddhism may still present a bit of a problem.

It’s like this. Although Buddhists appear to be mainly inoffensive ex-hippies whose only concerns are meditating and not stepping on beetles, some Christians are concerned about what they actually believe in. They may not sacrifice babies to Beelzebub, but they don’t have a bible, they don’t have a god, and to be honest, they don’t appear to be in any kind of hurry to get one.

And according to another Guardian report (18 May), this is causing a bit of friction at York Minster were some evangelicals have been complaining that Zen Buddhism just isn’t Christian enough.

What has happened is that for the past two years, much to the annoyance of the regular users, Zen Buddhists have been meeting in the cathedral precinct every two weeks for ‘silent meditation’ sessions. These were set up by the canon chancellor of the Minster who himself practices Zen meditation, describes himself as ‘religiously bilingual’ and admits that ‘there are those who think I’m an out and out heretic’. ‘There is a recognized phenomenon now’ he said, ‘called “dual religious belonging” where people have a foot in more than one religious camp’. Well, if religion is all it’s cracked up to be what’s wrong with having two, or more, different ones?

Christian Concern however, the conservative evangelical organization, are wary about putting their feet anywhere where the Buddhists have been meditating. ‘The archbishop of York must take swift action’ said one member of the Church of England’s general synod,  ‘this type of confusion undermines the Church of England’s current initiative to encourage Christian prayer’.

Don’t know how you’re going to sort that one out God, have you tried teaching them to love their neighbours?
NW

The SPA: Dashed on the Rocks of Compromise (2016)

Book Review from the July 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard

Other than in our Socialist Party, way too much thought on revolutionary socialist organisation gets written advocating Lenin’s way as the one and only way and applying historic conditions under Russian feudalism to Western democracies today, and whose justification amounts to thinly veiled apologetics for ‘history is written by the victors’. The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History by Jack Ross, published last year, joins the comparatively smaller range of literature not from this vanguard perspective, and even opposed to it. Ross declares that the Socialist Party of America was unique in the history of American politics as a minor party that enjoyed a consistent level of public support, a wide ranging impact and respected place in the national conversation for half a century. The term ‘social democracy’ he argues, captured more accurately and precisely their goals marked also by a commitment to the ballot box as a means of advancing a political economy in the interests of the working class represented by the trade union movement.

Eugene Debs
The Socialist Party of America (SPA) was formed in 1901 by the merger of the Populist movement remnant led by Eugene V. Debs and the dissenting faction led by Morris Hillquit of the ‘increasingly sectarian’ Socialist Labor Party (SLP) of Daniel De Leon. Before Lenin, revolutionary insurrection was not the goal and Marxists looked to the electoral success of the German SDP. The founding principles, the Rochester platform from 1899, adopted by 125 delegates, were compromised from the start, adopting the short and succinct list (albeit as an addendum) of ‘immediate demands’ of the Social Democrats such as Debs, Job Harriman and Victor Berger.

The SPA believed in independent action on class conscious lines and refused to seek to wrest control of the main trade union body, the American Federation of Labor (AFL). They believed themselves worthy of trade union support. A Chicago convention they packed in 1901 saw them voting down forming a Labour party. They respected the autonomy of unions engaged in struggle and rejected movement towards a general strike. Ira Kipnis wrote in The American Socialist Movement 1897-1912 that ‘by the 1904 convention, the party had already divided into three loose factions, left, right and center.’ Ross argues this history is discredited and no-one in the SPA pre-1905 rejected the ballot box outright but the adoption of ‘immediate demands’ (other than socialism) was to prove its undoing.

In 1904 these ‘immediate demands’ were an eight hour day, social insurance, an income tax, inheritance tax, abolition of child labour, women’s suffrage, the initiative referendum and recall at all levels of government. A resolution also passed against the syndicalist idea of dual or ‘revolutionary’ unionism. Ross says it was probably in the platform debates of 1904 that the label ‘impossibilist’ emerged describing the ‘utopian’ belief that socialism was impossible through legislative reform and could only be created through revolution. Nevertheless SPA Presidential candidate Eugene Debs declared ‘Government ownership of public utilities means nothing for labor under capitalist ownership of government’ and won just under three percent of the vote.

In 1908 the immediate demands from 1904 were made ‘more comprehensive’, ‘but still concise, establish[ing] the general program that would remain largely unchanged through the end of the 1930s’ and a train ‘the Red Special’ was even leased for the 1908 presidential campaign. The American trade union body the American Federation of Labor (AFL) endorsed the Democratic Party, a rare constant for the twentieth century. Sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset argues the obstacles could all have been overcome had the AFL endorsed the SPA. This conclusion is the wrong way round and the AFL probably quite correctly judged the Democrats as better able to deliver immediate demands, and the immediate demands of the SPA as a poor imitation departing from socialism. Ross tacitly acknowledges ‘popularity of the SPA did not come from any ‘boring from within’ of parliamentary trickery whereby the unions were to be put on record as supporters of socialism, but by socialists … converting them to their way of thought.’

Keir Hardie visited in 1909 calling for an Independent Labour Party as a united formation. Thankfully this wasn’t without opposition, although (p. 139) Ross seems to conflate the majority ‘impossibilist’ opposition (and the IWW) with the minority ‘Left-wing’ opposition (under International Socialist Review).  One member W.E. Walling summed it up: ‘Labor parties adopt the ethics and philosophy of capitalism . . .  denying the class struggle.’

That anti-Labor party impossibilism was not synonymous with ‘the Left wing’ was aptly demonstrated when Berger, Hillquit, Harriman and Spargo all agreed ‘any member who opposes political action or advocates crime, sabotage or other methods of violence as a weapon of the working-class to aid in its emancipation, shall be expelled.’ Even Debs was ‘against sabotage, and every other form of violence and destructiveness suggested by what is known as direct action.’ Both peak vote and peak membership were achieved in 1912 when Debs ran for President and achieved six percent of the vote and membership reached 150,000 paying dues.

At this point, it should have been clear that a long-term strategy of rejection of Labor party immediate demands, commitment to the ballot box and rejection of direct action insurrection and respect for trade union autonomy was not only sustainable but an effective strategy. If their strategy was good, the same could not be said for their policy. Immediate demands were kept, with Roosevelt ‘annexing a large slice of the reform program’ and the large Debs vote was misleading (‘The Pseudo Socialist Vote’, Socialist Standard January 1913).

There were two other factors that came into play, one was World War I and the other was Bolshevism. The mainstay SPA publication Appeal to Reason (under new ownership) came out in favour of the war, and while Keir Hardie was helping conscription efforts in Britain (contrary to Ross’ assertion on p. 157 that Hardie was anti-war), Eugene Debs was locked up for publicly calling to resist conscription. This imprisoning of those perceived as socialists was part of the first Wilsonian Red Scare. The Daily Kos review of Ross’s book (LINK) comments ‘organized labor swung firmly behind the war effort … There is little evidence to support the idea that the anti-war tradition would have continued to be dominant in a genuine Labor Party.’

As we commented in the Socialist Standard at the time: ‘Victor Berger, one of the most anti-Socialist leaders of the SPA, has also been given 20 years, though he supported the Mexican War and militarism. He was widely known as a pro-German. While Berger wrote the pro-German articles for the Milwaukee Leader, Simons did the pro-Ally work on the same periodical.’ ‘The mass of S.P. membership can be estimated by their continual support of the official clique and by their sticking to such a rotten organisation. Morris Hillquit, the “brains of the S.P.,” one of the many lawyers on the National Executive, offered to organise an army of Socialists to help to explain democracy to the Germans overseas. He also admitted that if he had been a member of Congress he would have voted for the war’ (‘Class Struggle in the USA’, Socialist Standard, September 1919).

At this point, 42 SPA members left the Detroit local. With others who had not been SPA members they formed the Socialist Party of the United States on July 7 1916. They later described the SPA as confused reformers and confused direct actionists (Western Socialist #4 1966). The SPA threatened them with a lawsuit over their name and so they renamed themselves the Workers Socialist Party of the United States. No mention is made of them in Ross’ book.

The second factor of interest, was a personal visit by Trotsky to an SPA member in Brooklyn on Jan 14 1917 who ‘personally initiated and inspired much of the left-wing fury, … motivated by his pathological hatred for Hillquit in particular.’ At the 1919 August 30 convention, John Reed assaulted SPA chair Julius Gerber leading one member to comment ‘Many believe it is not only possible to follow the Russian example but mandatory. They declare that they alone hold the secret of success and it is their duty to impose it on the party.’ Ross mentions the expulsion of John Keracher’s Proletarian Party from Michigan as a ‘tiny sect almost entirely based in Detroit until the end of the 1960s.’

A measure of the socialist understanding of the members of the SPA was the anti-war St Louis Platform. This lost more pro-war members from the SPA than were lost to Bolshevism and the American Communists who boasted that they could change their line in 24 hours. Victor Berger commented ‘in this game of would-be radical phrases, the emptier the barrel the louder the sound.’

Norman Thomas
The 1919 conference saw the ‘Communist Left-Wing’ depart the SPA to form their own party. And in 1920 the SPA reaffirmed its disinterest in a Labour party by declaring its refusal to work with other groups. In 1927 the SPA launched its own radio station called WEVD which managed to broadcast until the 1980s. Two founding figures were lost when Eugene Debs died in 1926 and Victor Berger in 1929. A new faction rejecting the ballot box appeared, called the Militant faction proving past lessons hadn’t been learned.

In 1934 the SPA held a rally at Madison Square garden which was attacked by Communist Party members. Against the insurrectionary rhetoric of the Militant Faction inside the SPA stood the ‘Old Guard’ of the SPA who issued a 1934 restatement of principles calling themselves the Committee for the Preservation of the Socialist Party. It argued for education and propaganda not direct action and insurrection. In 1935, the SPA went on the offensive, Norman Thomas debated Earl Browder the new leader of the Communist Party and the ‘Old Guard’ dissolved twelve New York Militant branches.

The new presidential candidate Norman Thomas’ vote peaked in 1932, proving not quite as popular as Debs. New president Franklin D. Roosevelt received Norman Thomas and Morris Hillquit at the White House following the 1932 election shortly before Hillquit died a year later. Roosevelt’s New Deal would successfully co-opt all radical opposition and the following election in 1936 saw the SPA not on a record number of state ballots. This is the dire consequence of political trading with shrewd operators like Roosevelt.

Some resolve prevailed intermittently, with Norman Thomas observing and commenting: ‘Trotsky and above all Stalin, pioneered in that contempt for pity, and that Machiavellian ruthlessness in which Hitler has become so adept’ and expelled Trotskyist entryists in the SPA, leading one prominent Trotskyist, Hal Draper, to form the Socialist Workers Party (US). The SPA unambiguously opposed World War II and in 1940 expelled the Militants, but on the other hand also watered down even their immediate demands.

It is strange that Ross should neglect to mention at all (even in the footnotes) the World Socialist Party, a non-Leninist and non-reformist group but he also dismisses the SLP (US) as ‘sectarian’ without fully explaining why (where Kipnis devotes at least one chapter to the SLP). The SLP (US) expelled SPA members from the IWW union, seemingly disenchanting the SPA with syndicalism, before the SLP (US) found themselves expelled (see ‘Marxism in the USA’, Socialist Standard December 1968). To explain this would highlight Ross’ attachment to syndicalism and forming a Labor party by trade unions. Ross casts the 19th century Populist Party and the early 20th century Progressive Party as missed opportunities for the SPA. Ross claims ‘a Labor party, had it emerged would have profoundly differed from post-war liberalism’. This is to go against the experience of the Labour Party in Britain.

Trotskyism and the New Left
In 1952, the SPA presidential candidate Darlington Hoopes polled so disappointingly poorly that the SLP (US) outpolled them for the first time ever, and the SPA stopped fielding presidential candidates for good not long after. The SPA had survived the Commies in 1919 and survived the Militants in 1934, but it was one-time Trotskyist Max Shachtman who would prove their undoing in the 1960s.

One SPA member wrote ‘I can’t see why the official pacifist groups have to spend so much time on piffling projects like those temporary fasts, White House picketing etc. when all it does is impress its terrible weakness applying some of the minor Gandhi tactics where their chance of success is infinitely smaller that it makes them look ridiculous’.

Ross observes ‘This transformation of the American left that began with the rise of the Popular Front in the 1930s amounted to the displacement of historic American Socialism by a deeply undemocratic approach to politics. Throughout the 1960s, Erich Fromm’s ‘Let Man Prevail’ SPA manifesto was constantly in demand from the national office whereas Max Shachtman’s tome on the development of Stalinism, ‘the Bureaucratic Revolution’ gathered dust on the shelves’.

Ross writes ‘The Shachtmanite SPA majority endorsed the Democrats at the 1968 SPA conference.’ ‘A long wave of SPA resignations began.’ ‘In November 1970 the SPA and Democratic Socialist Federation jointly sponsored a rally for Israel, a merger had been in the works since 1969.’ ‘In December 1972 the SPA announced it would be known as the Social Democrats USA. The Wisconsin Socialists passed a resolution that they interpreted this to mean the SPA had ceased to exist.’ ‘In 1980 the SDUSA endorsed Ronald Reagan and invited the Nicaraguan contras to speak at their 1985 conference’.

The Socialist Party of America ceased to be in 1972 when the Chairman, Michael Harrington, resigned in October. Then in December it changed its name to ‘Social Democrats, USA.’ There was a minority without legal entitlement to the membership or assets, determined to continue. One minority later launched the SPUSA, a ‘broad multi-tendency democratic socialist’ organisation which exists to this day. It runs candidates for President and is doing so again this year.

Ross writes that the SPA was an exceptional party in an exceptional nation. The review of his book  in the American Conservative argues ‘Ross pays little attention to ideas and proceeds chronologically rather than analytically’ and concluded that socialist parties in Europe embraced much the same blend of social welfare, economic corporatism, and militarized internationalism that had defined the Democratic Party at least since FDR. So perhaps America is not exceptional after all.

Two excerpts from our history demonstrate the foresight of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and our American companion party and provide a rather more fitting conclusion:
  ‘If the Socialist Party of America had preached Socialism and got votes for Socialism, neither Republican nor Democrat could have enticed their votes away’ (‘Lessons from the American Elections’, Socialist Standard, January 1929). 
‘Labor Parties are the same everywhere. They are all parties of reform. Names mean nothing. The Social Democratic Party of Germany, The British Labor Party and the Socialist Party of America—where the P. P. came from in 1919—are Labor Parties, whose purpose is to reform the capitalist system. They gather into their ranks all kinds of cranks and misleaders voicing hazy notions of a land of promise somewhere in the future. Their history shows that their leaders were ever willing to betray the workers. During the war all the Labor Parties supported their respective governments. Even now in Britain where the Labor Government rules, nothing has or will be done to endanger the steady flow of profits into the coffers of the capitalists’ (The Socialist, March 1930).
DJW