The Rising Phoenix: Socialist Party of America rejuvinated as American Socialist Party

Posted on April 22, 2010 by


The Indianapolis-based Socialist Central Committee is asserting its claim as rightful heir to America’s historic socialist legacy.

An odd thing has been occurring. Americans have historically been attracted to Socialism during years of financial distress; but for the past two years, Socialist Party-USA’s membership has been in rapid decline. This situation demonstrates just how off-message SP-USA’s activities have become. SP-USA, a New York City based special advocacy group, would have seen natural growth caused by the current financial crisis if the organization was an authentic socialist party.

A group of socialists connected with the original Socialist Party of America incorporated the Socialist Central Committee to fill the void being caused by SP-USA’s mismanagement. Today the Socialist Central Committee is absorbing concerned citizens across America that SP-USA’s special interest advocacy has alienated. The Central Committee, as the true heir to the Debsian legacy, is returning Socialism to mainstream America by focusing on a centric, economy-based message.

Socialists across America are familiar with the Eugene Debs story. A synopsis of that story has been republished on numerous socialist websites. The synopsis always ends with the same myth – SP-USA has carried on the Debsian tradition. But, that myth is false. SP-USA has been a destructive force to American socialism during its 37 years of existence.

Here are the FACTS: Socialist Party – USA destroyed the Socialist Party of America
To retain political hegemony, both republican and democratic parties absorbed socialist principles. This absorption had to occur because the socialist message is quite appealing to the working class. During the 1930s – mid 1960s, socialist taxation and policies created the strong national economy enjoyed in the United States.

There was a growing rift in the Socialist Party of America. Many affluent socialist leaders were working through the republican and democratic parties to gain ballot access. In effect, what difference does it make what party someone belongs to as long as socialist policy is promoted? Socialism is a form of economics that flourishes independently from a political party. Nevertheless, counter-culture fanatics worked to undermine the socialist party rather than repair the internal differences. And, the loss of the socialist party voice caused the message of socialist-economics to vanish.

The single most destructive act to American socialism was when the counter-culture fanatics from New York City and Northern New Jersey broke from SPA to form their own competing organization in 1972. This group acted as a Pied-Piper, promoting cause-based excitement to attract young socialists away from Socialism’s rather dull, but fundamentally important economics-centered message. The SPA collapsed financially with the loss of the young membership to the lure of Protest; and, their Pied-Piper in 1973 took on the name – SP-USA.

SP-USA’s failure to promote an authentic mainstream, economics-based socialism has contributed to the erosion of socialism’s position in America’s political thought. SP-USA’s transformation of socialism into a fringe absurdity running around in grungy clothes allowed the republicans and democrats to purge their parties from 1980 to the mid-1990s of well-meaning socialists. The absurd fringe positions that SP-USA promoted alienated mainstream America, which Ronald Reagan harnessed to erode much of the social progress made by socialists during the past 8 decades.

Theodore Roosevelt

The Untold Truth: Historical Connections
As previously stated – When the self-serving New York-based counter-culture group broke away from SPA to form their own socialist party, the loss of membership caused the Socialist Party of America to spiral into financial collapse. But, SPA’s membership did not disappear along with the organization. Hard working Americans across America have continued to believe in the virtues and economic benefits offered by socialism. Indeed, many of the Socialist Party of America members are still with us today.

One of Indiana’s leading socialists, Kurt Vonnegut, died in 2007. Nevertheless, Indianapolis is still home to many older socialists that can trace their socialist roots back through SPA directly to Indiana’s Eugene Debs. Younger socialists that were 20 in 1972 would be 58 today. Older members in their mid-40s are today in their 80s.

One of these old timers who was a close Kurt Vonnegut friend is Ron Haldeman. Ron has been the Indiana Socialist Party Chairman for several years. He remembers the glory years of Socialism. And, he has shared his knowledge with other Hoosiers over the years. Ron’s health, however, is in decline; he is finding it necessary to remove himself from party politics. But, before doing so, Ron has quietly instilled an understanding of TRUE socialism to the next generation of socialists.

Ron Haldeman

Four of those Haldeman proteges were responsible for establishing and incorporating the Socialist Central Committee. Unlike what the special interest advocacy – SP-USA may say concerning the rise of the Socialist Central Committee, the Socialist Central Committee is the true heir of mainstream, Midwestern socialism promoted by Eugene Debs and Kurt Vonnegut.

Fighting Bob LaFollette

Socialist Central Committee, Ltd. has as its acting spokesman – Timothy Platt. Platt moved to Indianapolis from southcentral Wisconsin. Platt was raised within the region that promoted progressive-republican socialism; the form of socialism made famous by Teddy Roosevelt and Fighting Bob LaFollette – the foundational socialism incorporated into FDR’s New Deal reforms. From Roosevelt and LaFollette to Roosevelt, and from Debs and Vonnegut to Haldeman, the Socialist Central Committee and the American Socialist Party is America’s Socialist Party.

Show your support
German immigrants established a strong socialist base in America’s Midwest. Their Midwestern descendants nurtured and developed mainstream American Socialism. And, today their descendants reclaim Socialism in behalf of all mainstream, centric American workers. The phoenix of the SPA is rising. Its name is the American Socialist Party. The ASP is America’s Socialist Party. Come join the movement.

Posted in: General Interest