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

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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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745322155
  • Publisher: Pluto Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2004
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

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. He remains an active member of the Party and of the Industrial Workers of the World.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Engels and the Henry George Campaign of 1886: "Historic" Development or Blind Alley 11
3 The Political Party of the Working Class: The Socialist Party and the Labor Party Question 39
4 The Conference for Progressive Political Action: Labor Party or Pressure Group 84
5 The Octogenarian Snail: The La Follette Campaign of 1924 113
6 The Labor Party Question in the 1930s: Trotsky, Thomas and La Guardia 146
7 Labor Party or Green Party: The Nader Campaign of 2000 191
8 Conclusions: The Socialist Alternative 204
Notes 211
Glossary 243
Bibliography 250
Index 257
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