World Socialist Party of the United States

World Socialist Party of the United States

The World Socialist Party of the United States (WSPUS) is a political party established in Detroit, MI in 1916. It is the American companion party of the World Socialist Movement.

History of the WSPUS

Most of the founders of the WSPUS were auto factory workers and members of the Socialist Party of America (SPA) [1] . Others were members of the Socialist Party of Canada (SPC) or Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) who had left their counties to avoid conscription for World War One. Encouraged by the rapid growth of the SPC and disgusted with what they felt was a growing reformism in the SPA, they left the Detroit Local of the SPA en masse and formed the WSPUS on July 7, 1916 with 42 members. [3]

The founding name of the WSPUS was the Socialist Party of the United States. Threatened by a trademark suit by the SPA, the party renamed itself the Workers' Socialist Party of the US. In 1947 the party's name was again changed to the present World Socialist Party. [3]

The WSPUS participated in the left-socialist circles of the time, especially with the Michigan Socialists expelled from the SPA in 1918 who first helped form the Communist Party of America (CPA) and later formed the Proletarian Party of America. Groups were formed in New York City, Cleveland, Portland and San Francisco. [2] The "proletarian" group and the WSPUS split apart over support for the Soviet Union. The WSPUS applauded the Bolshevik's withdraw from the first World War, but felt that the new USSR could only be state-capitalist and hence should not be supported. The Proletarians regarded the USSR as a workers' state which needed defending.

The WSPUS was given a regular page in the Socialist Clarion, the weekly paper of the SPC, which was widely read in American left-Socialist circles.

During the 1920s, the WSP operated under the title Socialist Educational Society (SES) adopted during the Palmer era repression against revolutionaries. There were 3 locals in the SES period, in Boston, Detroit and New York. The NYC local was the most active and events often included Louis Boudin as guest lecturer. [3] The SES came out as the WSPUS again in 1927 and started publishing their own magazine "The Socialist".

The heyday of the WSP 1930 and 1940s when it had perhaps 150 members. During that time WSP members were quite active in the workers' movement, especially the United Auto Workers union which a number of WSPUS members helped form. WSPUS members were also active in the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and the Typographers unions in New England.

In 1939, publishing of the Socialist Party of Canada's "Western Socialist" magazine was transfered to Boston due to it's ban in Canada for it's anti-war politics. The Western Socialist became a joint publication until the mid-1970s. It ceased publication in 1980.

WSPUS diminished during the Red Scare period of the 1950s. It was unable to capitalize on the upsurge during the 1960s and became moribund following the ending of publication of "The Western Socialist".

The WSPUS rejuvenated in the mid-1990s thanks to the internet. As of Sept. 2008 it has members scattered throughout the US with Local Branches in Boston and Portland. A regional Branch exists in the Detroit-Toledo area.


The World Socialist Party of the United States (WSPUS) was founded in 1916. Originally it was called the Workers Socialist Party. It is a member of the World Socialist Movement, an international movement that began with the founding of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904.

The World Socialist Party of the United States maintains that, since its inception, it has been unique in the history of American labor and socialist parties in as much as it has stood alone in maintaining what it contends to be the original conception of socialism first propounded by its 19th Century theorists, such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and William Morris.

They condemn other parties that call themselves socialist as actually capitalist and reformist. For instance, they criticize the Socialist Party USA for policies such as advocating full employment. The WSPUS also contends that nationalization simply renders capital the private property of the state.

They advocate the abolition of all employment which they argue is a modern form of slavery, and its replacement by a society of voluntary labor that produces wealth for the community to enjoy without the need for buying and selling - free access.

This is the conception of socialism as a truly democratic society without any classes at all, in which humanity has done away with all features of capitalism, including employment, money, and the state itself.

Unlike anarchists, however, the World Socialist Party advocates a political revolution because it argues that as the state is the "executive committee" of the capitalist class, it must be captured by the working class to keep the former from using it against the will of the latter. It also condemns the reformist nature of much anarchist activism.

The WSPUS maintains that the revolution must be carried out by a willing majority organized without leaders, capturing the state by means of delegates elected solely to carry out the wishes of the majority to destroy the state by replacing it immediately with democratic control of the means of production across the entire country, and indeed the entire planet.

It has stood against all wars fought since its inception on the grounds that they always represent the economic interests of the owning class, and never those of the working class. Unlike much of the left, it does not take sides in wars, e.g. not calling for a victory for the Vietnamese against America.

It has opposed the traditional radical opposition to the (usually Republican) incumbent presidents (e.g., anti-Nixonism, anti-Reaganism, or anti-Bushism) arguing that the enemy of the working class is the entire exploitative social system based on ownership of the means of the production, not the presidents elected to run that system efficiently, as such opposition fosters the illusion of "better presidents" rather than an understanding of, and opposition to, the entire economic system based on an owning minority employing a non-owning majority to produce its profits.

ome Important WSPUS members

Taffy Brown - Detroit Labor Journalist for Labor News Agancy

Bill Davenport - Founding Director of the United Auto Workers Education Dept.

J.A. (Jack) McDonald - Former IWW, Industrial Worker Editor, SPC and owner of famous McDonald's Books in San Francisco

Frank Marquart - Helped found the UAW, Education Director of the Briggs Local 313, Dissident against the Ruthers, author of "An Auto Workers' Journal"

Sam Orner - Former IWW Organizer, organized the 1934 New York Taxi Strike, served as the inspiration for Lefty in "Waiting For Lefty"

Bill Pritchard - Former SPC member, Dockworker, founder of the OBU, Defendant in the Winnipeg General Strike Trial, Mayor of Burnaby, BC. Pritchard is famous in Canadian labour [4] , [5]

Issac Rab - Active in Typographers Union as well as in Detroit and Boston socialist politics for 60 years.


[1] An Auto Worker's Journal (1975) Frank Marquart
[2] Outlook for socialism in America, by "ES" Socialist Standard, Dec 1919.
[3] "A Brief History of the WSPUS", Western Socialist, July 1966
[4] Marxists of the Third Way, Peter Campbell
[5] Labour/Le Travail #30

External links

* [ WSPUS Website] An extensive website containing frequently updated news, history and theoretical pieces.

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