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Download True Mission: Socialists and the Labor Party Question in the U.S. eBook

by Eric Thomas Chester

Download True Mission: Socialists and the Labor Party Question in the U.S. eBook
ISBN:
0745322158
Author:
Eric Thomas Chester
Category:
Politics & Government
Language:
English
Publisher:
Pluto Press (April 20, 2004)
Pages:
272 pages
EPUB book:
1319 kb
FB2 book:
1698 kb
DJVU:
1105 kb
Other formats
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Rating:
4.8
Votes:
583


Eric Thomas Chester was Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. In the 1960s, he was active in the civil rights movement, the movement to oppose the war in Vietnam and Students for a Democratic Society

Eric Thomas Chester was Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. In the 1960s, he was active in the civil rights movement, the movement to oppose the war in Vietnam and Students for a Democratic Society. He was the vice-presidential candidate of the Socialist Party in 1996.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Start by marking True Mission: Socialists and the Labor Party Question in the .

Leading scholars discuss ideology and hotly contested post-structuralist theory. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Yet the US Left lost out, a casualty of the two-party system. The most contentious issues dividing the Left in the United States have been those related to the Democratic Party. This is a pattern which has been repeated many times over the years.

The 1996 Socialist Party USA presidential ticket of Mary Cal Hollis and . True Mission: Socialists and the Labor Party Question in the . a b Chester, Eric Thomas (1943-), Contemporary Authors, Thomson Gale, 2006.

He campaigned for the SP's presidential nomination for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 elections, but lost to David McReynolds, Walt Brown and Brian Moore, respectively. He twice ran for Congress from Massachusetts's First Congressional District, in 2002 and 2006. Chester taught economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston (1973–1978; 1986) and San Francisco State University (1981).

3 The Political Party of the Working Class: The Socialist Party and the Labor Party Question.

Published by: Pluto Press. 3 The Political Party of the Working Class: The Socialist Party and the Labor Party Question. By 1912 the Socialist Party of America had become an influential force in . A scant eleven years after its formation in 1901, it had grown from 10,000 to more than 120,000 members, while electing mayors, state representatives, and even one Congressperson.

Finding books BookSee BookSee - Download books for free. Category: Общественные науки прочие.

Eric Thomas Chester (born 6 August 1943) is an author, socialist .

Eric Thomas Chester (born 6 August 1943) is an author, socialist political activist, and former economics professor. Born in New York City, he is the son of Harry (a UAW economist) and Alice (a psychiatrist née Fried) Chester. He has published four books, focusing especially on "the hidden secrets of . foreign policy" and "the connections between . foreign policy and social democrats, in this country and abroad". "Contemporary Authors", Thomson Gale, 2006.

In "True Mission", socialist Eric Chester forcefully argues that this is the wrong approach to take. This book explores the crucial moments in US history where the stranglehold of the two-party system was nearly broken. He analyzes various attempts to create labor parties over the last 120 years to show that they have all failed completely, and that their failure is not difficult to understand. The progressive parties or organizations hailed as labor parties (or potential precursors to labor parties) were typically unwilling to break with the two-party system.

Eric Thomas Chester's Documents. Learn how we and our ad partner Google, collect and use data.

In the election campaign of 2000, Al Gore and Ralph Nader polled many millions more votes than George W. Bush. Yet the US Left lost out, a casualty of the two-party system. This is a pattern which has been repeated many times over the years. The most contentious issues dividing the Left in the United States have been those related to the Democratic Party. This book explores the crucial moments in US history where the stranglehold of the two-party system was nearly broken. Presenting a detailed history of Labor party politics, beginning with Henry George's campaign for mayor of New York City in 1886, proceeding to Robert La Follette's independent presidential campaign of 1924, and the Socialist party's relationship to New York's American Labor Party in the early twentieth century, Eric Chester explores the history of Left in America up to and including the Nader campaign of 2000.Chester identifies key reasons why burgeoning political movements have failed. He examines the part played by trade union-based political parties. He also looks at the inabililty of populist middle-class parties to establish ideological or organisational groundings for a viable third party. Looking to the future, Chester proposes an alternative: drawing on the success of the Socialist Party at the turn of the last century, he lays out ideas for a mass-based socialist party as the only way forward towards genuinely independent politics.
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According to 'orthodox' Marxism, as capitalism developed workers would become conscious of their class and flock to the socialist parties that represented their interests. This hasn't exactly happened in the United States. The failure of socialist parties in the US to quickly gain the allegiance of the majority of workers led many American leftists to advocate the creation of a non-socialist "Labor Party" that they hoped would attract mass support. Ideally this labor party would be formed around unions, like the British Labour Party. Once it had become a major party by advocating mild reforms, it was assumed that its policies would inexorably -- indeed, inevitably -- be driven to true socialism by the internal dynamics of capitalism.

More bluntly stated, socialist supporters of labor parties aimed to quickly gain power by temporarily abandoning, or at least moderating, their actual politics.

In "True Mission", socialist Eric Chester forcefully argues that this is the wrong approach to take. He analyzes various attempts to create labor parties over the last 120 years to show that they have all failed completely, and that their failure is not difficult to understand. The progressive parties or organizations hailed as labor parties (or potential precursors to labor parties) were typically unwilling to break with the two-party system. Instead they tended to view themselves as pressure groups trying to promote progressive elements in the Democratic (or even Republican) Party. Additionally, they often coalesced around celebrity candidates such as Henry George, Robert La Follette, Henry Wallace and Ralph Nader, who had little interest in the parties themselves and did little if anything to support them or assist independent politics in general following their electoral defeat.

"True Mission" is very clearly argued and organized, and written in a style that is accessible, though somewhat dry and academic. Chester focuses mainly on the period from Henry George's run for president in 1886 until the late 1930s, which saw the effective end of significant left-wing challenges to the two-party system. A final chapter skips to Ralph Nader's 2000 run for President, which Chester argues exhibited many of the same weaknesses as the earlier labor parties. Also included are extensive notes and documentation, a glossary of important people and organizations, a useful bibliography and slim index.

Chester traces the occasional creation and quick collapse of labor parties and progressive parties such as United Labor Party of 1886 and American Labor Party of 1936, focusing on socialist support for them. He argues that it should have been clear to these socialists, had they not been blinded by their dogmatic orthodoxy, that they were pursuing entirely the wrong course. Not only were Socialists typically unwelcome in these labor parties, but the parties' continued ties to the two-party system, support for Democratic and Republican candidates, and dependence on charismatic but uncommitted celebrities all provided ample evidence that they were not going to be around for long, and weren't going to accomplish much if anything during their brief existences. Chester is especially critical of many of the "moderate" leaders of the Socialist Party of America (SPA), who were almost comically eager to submerge the SPA into any reform party they could find, despite the SPA's relative electoral success and rank-and-file opposition to such mergers.

So what is to be done? According to Chester, socialists need to abandon the scam of watering down their principles in order to increase their mainstream appeal. Instead we should return to the tactics pursued during the heyday of the SPA and championed by its left wing, standing up as independent democratic socialists and offering no apologies. "The true mission of a socialist party is not to rapidly achieve electoral success. Taking this as a goal can only point toward a morass of opportunistic compromises. Instead, socialists need to present a clearly defined radical perspective, to raise the demand for fundamental reforms that stretch the boundaries of the existing system, and to articulate a coherent vision of a new and egalitarian society" (209).

Well, "True Mission" convinced me; I'm signing up.

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Engels and the Henry George Campaign of 1886: "Historic" Development or Blind Alley

3. The Political Party of the Working Class: The Socialist Party and the Labor Party Question

4. The Conference for Progressive Political Action: Labor Party or Pressure Group

5. The Octogenarian Snail: The La Follette Campaign of 1924

6. The Labor Party Question in the 1930s: Trotsky, Thomas and La Guardia

7. Labor Party or Green Party: The Nader Campaign of 2000

8. Conclusions: The Socialist Alternative
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Chester details the various ways leftist (non-capitalist) parties have tried to gain political power through the USA political process. He demonstrates that the high water mark politically occurred for leftists during the Eugene Debs' presidential campaigns. As a candidate for the Socialist Party, Debs' campaigns not only garnered a substantial number of votes, but they also catapulted Socialist Party candidates into office from various local, statewide and congressional races.

Not content to build on these victories, many leftists turned to founding, joining or endorsing various reformist-capitalist parties based mostly on the Labor Party movements in Europe. The hopes and ambitions motivating their shift are quite familiar:

· The fear that leftist party politics would steal the margin of victory from more progressive candidates and, thereby, give the elections to more traditional or elite constituent candidates.

· The hope that successful USA labor-based politics would create the political and cultural environment in which leftist parties and their candidates could succeed.

· The desire by some leftists to trade their endorsement of labor-based candidates for a share of political power should the labor-based candidates succeed.

Chester demonstrates persuasively that labor-based politics didn't succeed and leftist politics suffered from its compromises and stratagems. Chester's prediction that future leftist politics in the USA can expect similar results when it makes similar compromises proves prescient. The Green Party's 2004 "safe-states" presidential campaign weakened it politically and did not give John Kerry the margin of victory. (Chester might not agree with this analogy since he rightly considers the Green Party to be a reformist-capitalist party.)

Yet Chester doesn't adequately address another specter haunting the prospects for political power for leftist parties: viz., the legacy of successful slander of leftist political values made culture-wide by the red-scare and cold war propaganda campaigns. Of course, this concern doesn't fall within the purview of his historical subject matter, but it is a rather large variable that simply cannot be overlooked in assessing the merit of leftists participating in the two-party system or in reformist-capitalist third parties.

Although I have this reservation about Chester's analysis, I am giving his work a five-star rating because Chester has written a one of the most well-written, thought-provoking political works I've read and, my reservation notwithstanding, Chester could easily be correct.