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Socialist Party

Socialist ideas and publications have circulated in Argentina since 1870. El Obrero appeared in 1890 to communicate these ideas, and the German socialist club, Vorwärts, initiated the formation of the International Committee, which called on workers in particular to organize themselves and demand protective laws. La Vanguardia, a newspaper, founded in April 1894, called for a meeting of socialist groups to form the party. The party was formally established in 1896 when the First Congress approved the Minimum Program. Its Statement of Principles declared that workers were oppressed and exploited by capitalists and that the proletariat was responsible for reforming the situation. To bring about this socio-economic transformation, the party promoted universal suffrage and worker organization.

The Minimum Program was drawn up, with different variants, on the basis of electoral platforms: an eight-hour work day, improvement of working conditions, elimination of indirect taxes, taxation of large-property ownership and inheritance, extension of the vote to women, separation of Church and state, and divorce. The party encouraged industrial development to increase the power of the worker class, but strongly opposed all protectionism and defended free play of supply and demand. It promoted cooperativism, a mutual support association where people get together by their own free will to solve common economic, social and cultural needs, through the creation of a democratically controlled company.

Juan B. Justo became the indisputable head of the Socialist Party and the defender of gradual and progressive change. The main basis of the party was the ongoing mobilization of its adherents, and it gave priority to the education of workers. It participated in the political system but denounced fraud. Its most resounding triumph was the election of Alfredo Palacios in 1904 as national deputy.

The electoral reform of 1912 set a stage that was more favorable to political organizations. The Socialist Party faced hard competition from the Radical Party, which it considered a part of the old political structure. A significant increase in the electorate in the federal capital, Buenos Aires, resulted in several deputies and senators being elected. Although the electorate of Buenos Aires gave its support to the Socialist Party, the party could not consolidate a solid structure in the country's inland provinces.

The party always had a difficult relationship with workers' organizations and with the diverging opinions of many of its members. Different waves of opinion formed within it, causing several splits. Like Palacios, Manuel Ugarte was considered more nationalist than internationalist. Palacios was expelled from the Socialist Party for challenging its leadership and went on to found the Argentine Socialist Party, which was short-lived and had little success.

In 1912 another faction founded the Karl Marx Studies Center, which defended orthodox Marxism. Tensions increased when party members were forbidden to simultaneously hold membership in the Young Socialists, and due to the group's stance on the 1914 war. Several members were expelled, including José Penelón, Rodolfo Ghioldi, Vittorio Codovilla, and Alberto Palcos, and in 1918 they founded the International Socialist Party, which supported the Russian Revolution and eventually became the Communist Party.

Between 1916 and 1930 Argentine politics underwent an important change that had a significant impact on democratic movements in the country. The military coup of September 6, 1930, broke the continuity of constitutional government, and conflicts within the Socialist Party resurfaced. In the 1930s the party opposition from the Left was expelled and formed the Socialist Workers Party, which in turn underwent several internal crises until its dissolution. An Independent Socialist Party also was formed.

The emergence and consolidation of the Peronist Party drained militants from the Socialist Party, which lost many of its members to the growing Peronist movement. The Socialist Party opposed Peronism, and many of its leaders left for exile. With the fall of Perón in 1955, the Socialist Party was reactivated, with a renewed hope of attracting members from among the masses, but these new members failed to materialize as workers did not leave the Peronist ranks.

After 1955 Argentina was unstable. Plagued by repeated military coups, the Socialist Party remained on the political scene through its various rifts. In 1958 it split again, forming the Democratic Socialist Party, which continues in the early twenty-first century, as well as the Argentine Socialist Party. The latter was a coalition of socialists, Castroists, and Maoists; their differences prompted the party's division into the Argentine Socialist Party and the Vanguard Argentine Socialist Party, which further split into the Popular Vanguard Party (which self-dissolved in 1972 to join the Justicialist Party) and the Communist Vanguard Party. In 1966 the Argentine Socialist Party split again when Juan Carlos Coral was expelled from the group and joined a Trotskyite group to form the Workers Socialist Party, which ran candidates in the national elections of 1973 and was banned by the military dictatorship in 1976. In 1972 the socialists of the Argentine Socialist Party, along with other scattered minor groups, created the Popular Socialist Party.

See alsoCodovilla, Vittorio; Ghioldi, Rodolfo; Justo, Juan B.; Palacios, Alfredo L.; Ugarte, Manuel.


Adelman, Jeremy. "El Partido Socialista Argentina." In Nueva Historia Argentina, Vol. 5: El progreso, la modernización y sus límites, 1880–1916, ed. Mirta Zaida Lobato. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 2000.

Aricó, José. La hipótesis de Justo. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1999.

Camarero, Hernán, and Carlos Miguel Herrera, eds. El partido socialista en Argentina: Sociedad, Política, e ideas a través de un siglo. Buenos Aires: Prometeo, 2005.

Oddone, Jacinto. Historia del socialismo argentino. (1934). Buenos Aires: CEAL, 1988.

Walter, Richard. The Socialist Party of Argentina, 1890–1930. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977.

                                        Mirta Zaida Lobato

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The Socialist Party entered the Depression years with high hopes for revival, and exited in near collapse. The party's greatest weakness was internal disunity, but the ultimately debilitating conflicts reflected the dilemmas of a radical movement in the age of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By the time of the stock market crash in 1929, the once-strong Socialist Party had reached internal collapse. Pockets of ethnic labor and local voting strength, notably German, Jewish, and Slovenian, had been greatly heartened by the emergence of Norman Thomas, a former minister, as perpetual candidate and replacement for the late figurehead Eugene V. Debs. But many younger radicals had defected to Communist circles, and the deep-set bureaucratic mentality of older, influential party figures sometimes proved as much of a liability as a benefit, offering a gloomy prospect for the near future.

Nonetheless, a fresh generation of socialists found themselves in the movement of the unemployed, leading the Workers Alliance and the Young People's Socialist League, while older hands enjoyed a revival of municipal victories in heavily Germanic Milwaukee and Reading, Pennsylvania, and strong turnouts in scattered spots. The Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID) prospered on some campuses amid the rise of antiwar sentiment. Presidential campaigner Thomas, winner of a straw poll among college students in 1932, expected to win millions of votes that year and actually received 800,000, a promising turnout.

Communist blunders contributed to a renewal of interest in the Socialists and to their hopes for a major revival, but those hopes were deeply disappointed within only a few years. Often sectarian and highly rhetorical during the early 1930s, Communists left open opportunities for organizing projects within existing unions and for the creation of a labor party. Novelist Upton Sinclair, who mobilized socialistic constituencies for his run for California governor—but within the Democratic Party—marked yet another promising way forward despite his defeat by a Republican candidate in 1934. For a moment it seemed that the Socialist Party membership of approximately thirty thousand might be multiplied by its influence within union locals, certain urban neighborhoods, and college or middle-class reform milieus.

Two key factors reversed these gains. The proclamation of a "Second New Deal" by the Roosevelt administration in 1935 killed the labor party initiative at the national level and drained off many important activists who were earlier involved in Socialist electoral campaigns. The announcement of a Popular Front by world Communist parties brought American Communists into the New Deal coalition just as the labor movement expanded rapidly into industrial unionism and cultural innovation flourished at every level. Communists benefited, absorbing the radicalized writers, artists, and musicians, as well as most militant unionists and African-American activists and intellectuals, while Socialists lost out decisively at almost every level.

The Socialist failure was presaged by their practical absence from three major strikes in 1934—in Minneapolis-St. Paul (led by followers of Leon Trotsky), in Toledo (led by members of the American Workers' Party under A. J. Muste), and in San Francisco (led by Communists). The Trotskyists and "Musteites" actually merged with the Socialist Party in 1936, after joining with each other, but this project of creating an alternative to the Communists occurred too late. A walk-out of oldergeneration Socialist conservatives, who took along the Rand School, radio station WEVD, and the weekly New Leader, left the party badly weakened.

The merger of unemployed groups and student groups into entities more influenced by the Communists better indicated the New Deal's magnetic attraction. Radicalism had become reformism, and pacifist rejection of war had evolved into antifascist support of armed resistance to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The dramatic fall of Norman Thomas's presidential vote in 1936 to less than half his 1932 total suggested that little remained of the organization but a personal following of Thomas as "Mr. Socialism," America's voice of conscience.

This conclusion would, however, underestimate the ability of local Socialists to rebound within particular circumstances. Socialists held their own and gained new electoral ground in immigrant-heavy Milwaukee, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Reading, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, scattered sections of the party led autoworkers, coal miners, and various other groups. As the nation tilted increasingly toward war, a particularly pure strain of pacifism influenced liberal Christian pastors and the laity with a socialistic interpretation of approaching global trauma. Socialist support for the "Keep America out of War" Congress in 1938 marked a final high point.

This was the Indian summer of a movement that could not recover its momentum. Severe internal wrangling with the followers of Trotsky ended with the expulsion of the minority in 1938. The inevitability of war and the 1941 entry of the United States doomed pacifism to a moral outcry that was not supported in most of the ethnic milieus where Socialist sympathies had remained alive. Opposition to Communist ideology and tactics, once made from attacking compromises with the Roosevelt administration, now slipped toward the center, as influential Socialists, especially within the labor movement, poised to become cold warriors.



Bell, Daniel. "The Background and Development of Marxian Socialism in the United States." In Socialism and American Life, Vol. 1, edited by Donald Drew Egbert and Stow Persons. 1952.

Socialist Party of America Papers. Duke University Libraries, Durham, NC.

Warren, Frank A. An Alternative Vision: The Socialist Party in the 1930s. 1974.

Paul Buhle

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Socialist Party

A conglomeration of various Marxist groups—the Nueva Acción Pública, the Acción Revolucionaria Socialista, the Partido Socialista Marxista, the Orden Socialista, and the Partido Socialista Unificado—became the Socialist Party on 19 April 1933. Created to fill a political vacuum caused by the collapse of the Carlos Ibáñez government and the failure of the Socialist Republic of 100 Days, the party endured repression at the hands of the Arturo Alessandri Palma government, which exiled many of its leaders, including Marmaduke Grove Vallejo. The Socialists created a special niche for themselves: they favored the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and opposed capitalism and imperialism, particularly that of the United States. But while ideologically akin to the Communists, they refused to accept the domination of Moscow.

Initially acting alone, the Socialists urged an alliance with other left-wing parties to form the Bloque de Izquierda in 1935. Two years later, the Communists joined the Socialists and other elements, including the Radical Party, to establish the Popular Front. Although they held various ministerial portfolios in the Aguirre Cerda government, some dissidents accused the party's leaders of betraying Socialist principles by supporting the reformist, but hardly revolutionary, Aguirre Cerda government.

This dispute, which led to the creation of the Socialist Workers Party (Partido Socialista de Trabajadores), constituted the first of many splits which shattered the party's cohesion. Grove later led another splinter group out of the Socialist fold and into the Partido Socialista Auténtico when radicals criticized his support of the Ríos regime. Given the party's eclectic composition, it is not surprising that schisms appeared. By 1946 the Socialists had formed three parties, and not surprisingly, their collective fortunes declined in the elections. Two years later, the party coalesced into just two factions: the Partido Socialista de Chile and the Partido Socialista Popular.

The Partido Socialista Popular unexpectedly supported the candidacy of Carlos Ibáñez, a former dictator associated with conservative policies. Although the party attempted to rationalize this policy, its decision represented an attempt to jump on the Ibáñez bandwagon in order to win back some of its former supporters. This opportunistic policy bore fruit when the party won certain ministerial posts and increased its congressional representation. But when Ibáñez's policies began to misfire, the Socialist faction withdrew its support. In 1957 the Socialists managed to reconcile their two factions. Earlier, in 1956, the Socialists had joined the Communists to create the Popular Action Front (FRAP), which would nominate Salvador Allende as its presidential candidate in 1958 and 1964. They also participated in the 1970 Popular Unity government.

The largely working-class Socialists sought to establish a broad-based authoritarian government to reorder drastically the nation's economic, social, and political priorities. Unlike the Communists, the Socialists believed that Chile's own experience should shape the revolutionary process. The Socialists became more vociferous during the Allende period, advocating armed revolution, seeking the abolition of the bourgeois state, and refusing to compromise with the Christian Democrats. Many believe that Socialist intransigence prevented Allende from compromising on certain essential issues, thus hastening the collapse of his government.

Since 1973, the party has split into various factions, including one led by Ricardo Lagos, which appeared willing to compromise with non-Marxists, and another under the control of the more radical Clodomiro Almeyda Medina, which was not. Despite these differences, the Socialists cooperated with the anti-Pinochet forces, helping to elect Patricio Aylwin in 1989 and electing representatives to both houses of Congress. Continuing their partnership with other leftist parties, the Socialists won the presidency in 1999 with candidate Ricardo Lagos. Again, in 2006, the socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet won the presidential contest and also became Chile's first female chief executive.

See alsoAlessandri Palma, Arturo; Allende Gossens, Salvador; Aylwin Azócar, Patricio; Bachelet, Michelle; Chile, Socialist Republic of 100 Days; Grove Vallejo, Marmaduke; Ibáñez del Campo, Carlos; Lagos, Ricardo.


Julio César Jobet Burquez, El socialismo chileno a través de sus congresos (1965) and El partido socialista de Chile, 2 vols. (1971).

Miriam R. Hochwald, "Imagery in Politics: A Study of the Ideology of the Chilean Socialist Party" (Ph.D. diss., UCLA, 1971).

Paul W. Drake, Socialism and Populism in Chile, 1932–52 (1978).

Benny Pollack and Hernán Rosenkranz, Revolutionary Social Democracy—The Chilean Socialist Party (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Baño, Rodrigo, ed. La Unidad Popular treinta años después. Santiago: Departamento de Sociología, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Chile, 2003.

Ponce Durán, Pedro. Oscar Schnake Vergara: Comienzos del socialismo chileno, 1933–1942. Santiago: Ediciones Documentas, 1994.

                                      William F. Sater

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The Socialist Party of the United States of America (SP-USA) is one of several parties claiming to be the heir to the country's original organized Socialist movement, the Socialist Labor Party (SLP). Support for the party has fluctuated over the years, but it remains a vigorous advocate of radical change of economic and social policy in the United States.

Originally called the Workingmen's party when it was organized in 1876, the party was renamed in 1877. Most of its members were immigrants from the large industrial U.S. cities. In 1890 Marxist Daniel De Leon joined the SLP and became editor of its newspaper, The People. Under De Leon's leadership the SLP adopted a Marxist view that advocated revolution in order to free workers from the bonds of capitalism. In 1892 the SLP ran Simon Wing as a presidential candidate. The SLP continued to run presidential candidates for many years; however, electoral strength for the party reached a peak in 1898 when the SLP candidate fielded 82,204 votes.

In 1898 eugene debs and other veterans of the American Railway Union's national strike against the Pullman Company organized the Socialist democratic party (SDP). The majority of SDP members were laborers who had been born in the United States. In 1901 one wing of the SLP merged with Eugene Debs' Social Democratic Party (SDP) at a unity convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. The newly merged Socialist Party of the United States of America was a mix of people harboring moderate to radical views including Marxists, Christians, pro-Zion and anti-Zion Jewish reformers, pacifists, populists, anarchists, and others. The continuing reform versus revolution debate was blunted by the adoption of platforms that envisioned revolution as the ultimate goal, while advocating immediate reform measures, but the party faced continuous internal conflict due to the variety of opinions held by its members.

The Socialist party sought to become a major component of the American political system. Debs ran as the party's presidential candidate in 1908, 1912, and 1920, polling over 915,000 votes in 1920. In 1919 a major ideological divide within the party caused a number of members to split off and form what eventually became the Communist Party of the United States. In 1924 the Socialist party did not field a presidential candidate, but instead it supported the campaign of Senator robert la follette of Wisconsin who ran on the progressive party ticket. La Follette polled 5 million popular votes but carried only his home state. The Great Depression of the early 1930s increased support for the Socialist party; its 1932 presidential candidate, Norman Thomas, received 896,000 votes.

After that election the membership and political impact of the Socialist party began to decline. The heterogeneity of views led to conflicts among various party factions, and over the years these factions were subject to numerous splits and mergers. Some members left to join the Communist party because they felt the Socialist agenda was not sufficiently radical. Others became Democrats, theorizing that working with a major political party was the most viable means of achieving reform.

In 1976 the Socialist party ran a presidential candidate for the first time in 20 years. Since then the party has fielded presidential candidates in 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000. In 2000 the presidential candidate, David McReynolds, a peace activist and former party chair, earned ballot status in seven states. Since 1973, the Socialist party has concentrated on grassroots organizing and having an impact on local politics.

further readings

Fried, Albert., ed. 1992. Socialism in America: From the Shakers to the Third International: A Documentary History. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Lipset, Seymour Martin, and Gary Marks. 2001. It Didn't Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States. New York: Norton.

Miller, Timothy. 1998. The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America: 1900–1960. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse Univ. Press.

Socialist Party of the United States of America. Available online at <> (accessed August 11, 2003.


Marx, Karl Heinrich; Socialism.

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SOCIALIST PARTY OF AMERICA was formed in July 1901 by a union of the Social Democratic Party of Eugene V. Debs and Victor L. Berger, and Morris Hill-quit's wing of the Socialist Labor Party. The Socialist Party gave to American radicalism, normally fragmented and divided, a unique era of organizational unity. The party was well entrenched in the labor movement: the Socialist candidate captured almost one-third of the vote for the presidency of the American Federation of Labor in 1912. In that year, too, the Socialists reached the high point of their electoral success: Eugene V. Debs, running for the U.S. presidency, gained 6 percent of the vote; and some twelve hundred Socialists were elected to public office, including seventy-nine mayors.

The party's growth stopped after 1912, but the following years can be characterized as a time of consolidation rather than as a time of decline. For once departing from its policy of inclusiveness, the party, in 1913, cast out the syndicalist wing led by William D. Haywood. By eliminating the one group not committed to political action, the party became more cohesive without altering the balance between the right and left wings. World War I severely tested, but did not undermine, the Socialist movement. During wartime persecution, Debs and many others went to prison; vigilante action and the barring of Socialist literature from the mails weakened outlying bodies, especially in the western states. These setbacks were more than counterbalanced by the rapid growth of the party's foreign-language federations and by the tapping of antiwar sentiment, as was evident in the party's strong showing in wartime elections.

The Bolshevik revolution in Russia (1917) was the turning point for the party. The problem was not the event it self—this was universally hailed by American Socialists—but whether it provided a model for the United States. The left wing, and especially the foreign-language federations, believed that it did, and they were sustained by instructions coming from the Third Communist International in 1919. The party leaders thought otherwise: they did not think that the United States was ripe for revolution, nor were they willing to reconstitute the party along Leninist lines. With the left wing about to take over, the established leadership in May 1919 suddenly expelled seven foreign-language federations and the entire Michigan party, and invalidated the recent elections to the national executive committee.

A decisive break with the past had occurred. Not only was American radicalism permanently split between Communists and Socialists, the latter had lost their authenticity as a movement of radical action. By 1928, Socialist membership was not even one-tenth of the 1919 level, and, although it experienced some revival during the 1930s under Norman Thomas, the party never regained either its popular base or the electoral appeal of earlier years. After 1956 the Socialist party ceased to nominate presidential candidates and increasingly viewed itself as an educational rather than a political force.


Shannon, David A. The Socialist Party of America: A History. New York: Macmillan, 1955.

Weinstein, James. The Decline of Socialism in America, 1912–1925. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967.

DavidBrody/a. g.

See alsoCommunist Party, United States of America ; Radicals and Radicalism ; Social Democratic Party ; Socialist Labor Party ; Socialist Movement .

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Socialist Party

The first guilds and associations with Marxist orientations appeared in Uruguay at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1901, with some support from progressive Masons, they ran in municipal elections and were defeated. In 1904, Emilio Frugoni attempted to organize the Socialists in support of Batllismo and electoral collaboration, but this plan failed. The Socialist Party was formed on 12 December 1910 with the intention of participating in elections, and a seat was finally won.

Uruguayan socialism arose as a radical response to Batllist social reform. This is in part why the majority of the PS formed the Communist Party in 1921. With this split, the Socialists lost their parliamentary representation until 1928, and they developed a more Western and reformist stance under the direction of Frugoni. In the mid-1950s a new generation of militants encouraged an ideological redefinition that radicalized the PS into a revolutionary and anti-imperialist body. In 1962, with factions that had split from the National Party, the Socialists ran in elections as part of the Popular Union, but the attempt failed roundly. Frugoni distanced himself from the party permanently. At the same time, young militants began to develop a clandestine armed wing, which, after its separation from the party, gave rise to the National Liberation Movement, or Tupamaros.

The Socialist Party was outlawed in 1967, then legalized again in 1971, when it became a founding member of the Frente Amplio and won a parliamentary seat. In 1972 it assumed a Marxist-Leninist ideological stance, which it renounced in 1985. The party was outlawed along with the rest of the Left following the 1973 coup d'état, and it remained so until 1984, when it was formally incorporated into the negotiations for the movement toward democracy. In 1989, the successful Frente Amplio candidate for mayor of Montevideo was the Socialist Tabaré Vázquez. The Socialist Party has continued its relationship with the Frente Amplio. In 2004 the alliance won the presidential campaign, and the leader of the party, Reinaldo Gargano, became minister of foreign relations.

See alsoBatllismo; Frugoni, Emilio; Masonic Orders; Uruguay, National Liberation Movement (MLN-T).


Carlos Real De Azúa, "Política, poder y partidos en el Uruguay de Hoy," in Luis Benvenuto et al., Uruguay Hoy (1971).

Gerardo Caetano et al., De la tradición a la crisis: Pasado y presente de nuestro sistema de partidos (1985).

Fernando López D'alessandro, Historia de la Izquierda Uruguaya, 3 vols. (1988–1992).

Additional Bibliography

Caetano, Gerardo, Javier Gallardo, and José Pedro Rilla. La izquierda uruguaya: Tradición, innovación y política. Montevideo: Trilce, 1995.

Crespo Martínez, Ismael. Tres décadas de política uruguaya: Crisis, restauración y transformación del sistema de partidos. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, Siglo Veintinuo de España, 2002.

Sosnowski, Saúl, and Louise B. Popkin, eds. Repression, Exile, and Democracy: Uruguayan Culture. Translated by Louise B. Popkin. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993.

Vescovi, Rodrigo. Ecos revolucionarios: Luchadores sociales, Uruguay, 1969–1973. Barcelona: Nóos Editorial, 2003.

                           Fernando LÓpez D'Alessandro

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Socialist Party US political party. It was formed in 1901 by the unification of the Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Labor Party. Dedicated to the state ownership of all public utilities and important industries, its best-known leaders were Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas.

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