De Leonism


De Leonism

De Leonism, occasionally known as Marxism-Deleonism, is a form of syndicalist Marxism developed by Daniel De Leon. De Leon was an early leader of the first United States socialist political party, the Socialist Labor Party of America.

De Leon combined the rising theories of syndicalism in his time with orthodox Marxism. According to De Leonist theory, militant industrial unions (specialized trade unions) are the vehicle of class struggle. Industrial Unions serving the interests of the proletariat (working class) will bring about the change needed to establish a socialist system. The only way this differs from some currents in anarcho-syndicalism is that, according to De Leonist thinking, a revolutionary political party is also necessary to fight for the proletariat on the political field.

Contents

Tactics

According to the De Leonist theory, workers would simultaneously form Socialist Industrial Unions in the workplaces, and a socialist political party which would organize in the political realm. Upon achieving sufficient support for a victory at the polls, the political party would be voted into office, giving the De Leonist program a mandate from the people. It is assumed that at that point, the Socialist Industrial Unions will have attained sufficient strength in the workplaces for workers there to take control of the means of production.

The De Leonist victory at the polls would be accompanied by a transfer of control of the factories, mines, farms and other means of production to workers councils organized within the industrial unions. De Leonists distinguish this event from the general strike to take control of the workplaces advocated by anarcho-syndicalists, and refer to it instead as a general lockout of the ruling class.

The existing government would then be replaced with a government elected from within the Socialist Industrial Unions, and the newly elected socialist government would quickly enact whatever constitutional amendments or other changes in the structure of government needed to bring this about, adjourning "sine die". Workers on the shop floor would elect local shop floor committees needed to continue production, and representatives to local and national councils representing their particular industry.

Workers would also elect representatives to a central congress, called an All-Industrial Congress, which would effectively function as the national government. These representatives would be subject to a recall vote at any time. De Leonism would thus reorganize the national government along industrial lines with representatives elected by industry, not by geographic location.

Comparison to other forms of socialism