Marxism-De Leonism Glossary

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This page reflects an attempt to describe, with gradually increasing accuracy and completeness, the way terminology is used in the branch of Marxian socialism known as De Leonism. This movement was developed mainly through the work of Daniel De Leon (1852-1914), press editor of the Socialist Labor Party of America.

Phrases that do not appear in quotation marks may be viewed as the opinions of the web site editor, and perhaps in use only tentatively, pending criticism and correction. Some terms are listed without definitions as reminders to define them at a later time.

The editor responsible for this page studies the history of the socialist movement, but is not formally affiliated with a political or economic organization. Much of the information of this page is abstracted from the literature of the SLP, but the party has not authorized or approved the contents of this page. The reader is urged to link directly to the SLP web site to find the party's official literature and documents.

Another web site that defines Marxian terms (although I disagree with some of their definitions) is  >>  encyclopedia of Marxism .


15 Questions About Socialism
See Fifteen Questions About Socialism.


Abolition of Poverty
In 1911 the Jesuit priest Thomas I. Gasson delivered an address in Boston entitled "The Menace of Socialism". De Leon replied to Gasson's misconceptions in a series of nineteen newspaper editorials entitled "Father Gassoniana (I)" through "Father Gassoniana (XIX)". The collection of articles is published today as a pamphlet entitled Abolition of Poverty. Information PDF File
"After me the deluge" or "After us the deluge"
A remark, après moi le déluge or après nous le déluge, attributed variously to the 18th century King Louis XV of France or to his consort Madame Jeanne-Antoinette de Pompadour. The phrase expresses the desire, typical of members of ruling classes, to profit at the present time, although, after one is gone, it will leave society ruined. (Literally, the deluge was the flood in the fable of Noah.)
"What experience shows to the capitalist generally is a constant excess of population, i.e., an excess in relation to the momentary requirements of surplus-labour-absorbing capital, although this excess is made up of generations of human beings stunted, short-lived, swiftly replacing each other, plucked, so to say, before maturity. And, indeed, experience shows to the intelligent observer with what swiftness and grip the capitalist mode of production, dating, historically speaking, only from yesterday, has seized the vital power of the people by the very root - shows how the degeneration of the industrial population is only retarded by the constant absorption of primitive and physically uncorrupted elements from the country - shows how even the country labourers, in spite of fresh air and the principle of natural selection, that works so powerfully amongst them, and only permits the survival of the strongest, are already beginning to die off. Capital that has such good reasons for denying the sufferings of the legions of workers that surround it, is in practice moved as much and as little by the sight of the coming degradation and final depopulation of the human race, as by the probable fall of the earth into the sun. In every stockjobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety. Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society. To the out-cry as to the physical and mental degradation, the premature death, the torture of over-work, it answers: Ought these to trouble us since they increase our profits? But looking at things as a whole, all this does not, indeed, depend on the good or ill will of the individual capitalist. Free competition brings out the inherent laws of capitalist production, in the shape of external coercive laws having power over every individual capitalist." --Marx, Capital, Chapter 10, Section 5 More
"The bourgeois factions in coalition, however, are already condemned, since they take flight from the only possible form of their united power, from the most potent and complete form of their class rule, the constitutional republic, back to the subordinate, incomplete, weaker form of monarchy. They resemble the old man who in order to regain his youthful strength fetched out his boyhood garments and suffered torment trying to get his withered limbs into them. Their republic had the sole merit of being the hothouse of the revolution. March 10, 1850, bears the inscription: Après moi le déluge! After me the deluge!" -- Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850; Part III More
"They may say, as Louis XV, 'after me the deluge, ruin, and confusion.'" -- Engels in the article "The Decline and Approaching Fall of Guizot - Position of the French Bourgeoisie", 1847 More
"But what about all the finance that would have to be approved, when those few years after 1848 had cost so much money, so increased the national debt and raised taxation to such heights? - Gentlemen, you are the representatives of the youngest constitutional state in the world, and you do not know that constitutional government is the most expensive form of government in the world? Almost more expensive than Bonapartism even, which -- après moi le déluge -- pays off old debts by constantly incurring new ones and thus mortgages a century's resources in ten years?" -- Engels, in the 1865 article "The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party" More
"But society stands helpless before these evils and keeps going about in a circle like a horse in a treadmill, a picture of impotence and stupidity. They who would like to act, are still too weak; they who ought to act, still lack understanding; they who might act, do not wish to. They rely upon their power and think, as Madame Pompadour expressed it: 'Après nous le déluge!' (May the deluge come after we are gone!) But what if the deluge should overtake them?" -- August Bebel, in Woman and Socialism, Chapter 19 More
"Despite all warnings, the situation will continue to deteriorate as long as the capitalist system continues to exist. As Karl Marx trenchantly observed in his historic work, Capital, 'After me the deluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and every capitalist nation.' Accordingly, the capitalists will defend their source of profits by every means in their power -- and we will edge ever closer to the brink of social disaster." -- from the article "Changing Weather Raises Fears of Global Cataclysm", The People, January 27, 1996
"European capitalism is more sensitive to the need to throw sops at the working class than its American counterpart, whose contempt for the working class runs much deeper. Why bother with sops, especially potentially expensive ones, when you don't believe the working class will budge from its lethargy--not even when their survival is at stake? The Bush mentality is: Profits first, then the deluge. The European mentality is: After us the deluge, but to get there we must keep the working class at bay." -- from the article "Bush Plays Politics With Global Warming", The People, July 2001 PDF file
Socialist activities intended to induce people to take part in the types of discussion and debate to which they may not be accustomed, hopefully raising several fundamental topics and questions. Methods may include public speaking, literature distribution, etc.
all-industry congress, or all-industrial congress
A term Marx used most extensively in his Economic and Philosophic Manucripts of 1844, although the concept, if not the word, is also apparent in Capital, which he wrote decades later. In German, either Entfremdung or Verfremdung, literally estrangement, increased distance, loss of familiarity. The concept is adapted from the philosophies of Hegel and Feuerbach. In Hegel, related to the production of human history by a self-estrangement occurring within God. In Feuerbach, related to the assignment of ideal human qualities to a fictitious God, causing people to worship their own fabrication. In Marx, refers to the workers' loss of their own creative power due to the system of wage labor and commodity production, such that the workers' own products oppress them.
"All these consequences follow from the fact that the worker is related to the product of his labor as to an alien object. For it is clear on this presupposition that the more the worker expends himself in work the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, the poorer he becomes in his inner life, and the less he belongs to himself. It is just the same as in religion. The more of himself man attributes to God, the less he has left in himself. The worker puts his life into the object, and his life then belongs no longer to himself but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the less he possesses. What is embodied in the product of his labor is no longer his own. Ther greater this product is, therefore, the more he is diminished. The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, assumes an external existence, but that it exists independently, outside himself, and alien to him, and that it stands opposed to him as an autonomous power. The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force." -- Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manucripts of 1844
amendment clause, the
A name commonly used by the SLP to refer to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which describes how the Constitution can be amended.
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate." -- U.S. Constitution, Article V
"The Constitution that the Revolutionary Fathers set up is the first in recorded history to legalize revolution -- a marked innovation in the spirit and traditions of the political State -- an innovation that meant nothing less than the contemplation, and rendering at least theoretically possible, of institutional change without the hitherto inevitable accompaniment of violence and stoppage of industry. The Constitution accomplished the feat of legalizing revolution by means of its amendment clause, thereby providing for the overthrow of the institution which itself had reared, and thereby also providing for the method, political action, thereby raising the revolutionary propaganda above the murky and murky-thoughts-promoting level of conspiracy, and thereby enabling the revolutionary propaganda to preach and teach, and clear the way for Revolution in the open." -- De Leon, in the editorial Haywoodism and Industrialism, in the Daily People, April 13, 1913
"We have a Constitution that provides for its own amendment, or, in other words that legalizes revolution. In the language of Abraham Lincoln: 'The right of peaceable assembly and petition and by Article V of the Constitution -- the right of amendment -- is the constitutional substitute for [armed] revolution.' This means that by organizing politically the working class places itself firmly upon the institutions of civilization, and avails itself fully of the constitutional right of political agitation and the ballot. This is the peaceful method." -- The SLP leaflet Socialist Industrial Unionism: The Workers' Power
American Federation of Labor (A.F. of L.)
Ancient Society (book title)
The major written work by Lewis Henry Morgan , published in 1877. The complete title is Ancient Society : Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery, through Barbarism, to Civilization. Note the book's technical rather than the modern judgmental use of the words savagery, barbarism, and civilization . The book cites the inventions of various "arts of subsistence" (pottery, bow and arrow, domestication of animals, etc.) as the boundaries of the epochs of human history.
Marx and Engels considered Morgan's work to be an independent discovery of the materialist conception of history, similar to their own conception. Morgan, like Marx and Engels, observed the association among several social inventions, those of property, slavery, and the political form of government. Marx and Engels noted the indictment of capitalism implied by the book's conclusion that "A mere property career is not the final destiny of mankind, if progress is to be the law of the future as it has been of the past." Reading Ancient Society inspired Engels to write The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.
Some anti-socialist anthropologists today dismiss Morgan's work entirely. They do this by ignoring his fundamental discussion of the role in world history of property, classes and the state, and pointing instead to several errors that he made when he attempted to classify the differences among the world's family relationships, traditions and languages.
arm and hammer
The emblem used by the SLP on literature and on ballots for political campaigns.
As To Politics
... 1907 PDF File


Bakunin, Mikhail
(1814-1876) A Russian anarchist with whom Marx and Engels had many disagreements about the correct role of a political party and the state in a working class revolution. Engels' 1972 letter to Theodore Cuno provides one of the clearest summaries of that disagreement: "Bakunin maintains that it is the state which has created capital, that the capitalist has his capital only by favour of the state. As, therefore, the state is the chief evil, it is above all the state which must be done away with and then capitalism will go to hell of itself. We, on the contrary say: do away with capital, the appropriation of the whole means of production in the hands of the few, and the state will fall away of itself." More
Bang, Gustav
(1871-1915) A Danish historian several of whose essays on world history from a Marxian perspective were serialized in the SLP press and later collected in the SLP pamphlet Crises in European History PDF File
According to the system of cultural anthropology developed by Morgan, the period of human history after the invention of pottery but before the invention of phonetic writing; that is, after the end of savagery but before the beginning of civilization. During the epoch of barbarism, the species achieved such inventions as agriculture and irrigation, the domestication of animals, and smelting metal. More
Bauer, Bruno
Bebel, August
(1840-1913) ........
Berger, Victor
(1860-1929) Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin in 1911 on the ticket of the Socialist Party. De Leon criticized Berger for making only speeches and proposals that were consistent with capitalism.
Bernstein, Eduard
(1850-1932) Member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, promoted the belief that a socialist program should consist of reforms of capitalism (revisionism), a belief that De Leonists strongly oppose.
best of all possible social systems
A phrase used frequently in SLP literature to paraphrase the viewpoint of those who claim that capitalism is the ultimate system of society, and nothing better can possibly be conceived.
"Capitalism is the prevailing social system in most of the world. Its apologists say it is the best of all possible systems. In the U.S., capitalists shun the word 'capitalism.' They prefer names that evoke a more pleasing image, such as 'free enterprise,' 'people's capitalism,' or even 'democracy.' Historically, however, 'capitalism' is the accepted name for the economic and social system that emerged out of feudalism, and under which mankind has achieved phenomenal technological development and economic growth, though accompanied by brutality and at the cost of countless human lives." -- from the SLP leaflet Which Would You Choose? -- Capitalism, State Despotism, or Real Socialism
The expression is sometimes used ironically, in contrast to capitalism's tendency to cause severe social problems. In one editorial, De Leon indicts capitalism as the major cause of war and militarism, and concludes: "Carnage is a specter that dogs the heels of capitalism -- that 'best of all possible social systems.'" -- From "Why War?", The People, March 20, 1898, reprinted in the pamphlet Daniel De Leon, Capitalism Means War, 1941.
The expression is sometimes used in the captions of editorial cartoons.
De Leon's inspiration for the phrase may have come from a passage by Marx: "... the trite ideas held by the self-complacent bourgeoisie with regard to their own world, to them the best of all possible worlds." -- Marx, Capital, volume 1, chapter 1
Marx was probably alluding to the argument by the 17th-18th century German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz that we live in "the best of all possible worlds." Voltaire satirized Leibniz's viewpoint in his novel Candide, in which the fictitious character Dr. Pangloss cites ludicrous examples to show that we live in "the best of all possible worlds." The attitude that the capitalist system is perfect has sometimes been described as Panglossian.
Bills, Robert
(born 19??) National Secretary of the SLP from 1980 to the present
Blanc, Louis
Blanqui, Louis-Auguste
Adjective: pertaining to the capitalist class or capitalist society. Example: "... the bourgeois organization of society...." -- Marx, Grundrisse
Noun (singular or plural): a member or members of the capitalist class. Example: "Do not the bourgeois assert that the present-day distribution is 'fair?'" -- Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme
Synonym for capitalist class. Example: "Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other -- bourgeoisie and proletariat." -- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
brotherhood of capital and labor
De Leon's term to paraphrase the views of his opponents, such as A.F. of L. president Samuel Gompers, who claimed that workers and capitalists have common interests. The phrase continues to be used in modern SLP literature.
"... people who prate about the 'mutuality,' the 'brotherhood,' the 'identity' of interests of the capitalist, or employing class, and the working class ... want of you that you believe it possible to divide an apple between two men in such a way that each shall have the bigger chunk." -- De Leon in Socialist Reconstruction of Society
"The formation of unions by workers proved that capital and labor have conflicting interests. When unions fell under the control of leaders who spoke instead of a 'brotherhood of capital and labor,' a struggle began to build a 'new unionism' based on sound principles. It was the SLP that championed this 'new unionism,' and that put it into practice with the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance in 1896." -- from the SLP document The Socialist Program -- What It Is and How It Developed Link to site
"The AFL-CIO's centennial focuses attention on its claim to represent the interests of American workers. However, even a brief survey of the AFL's history reveals that from the start it was built on the false premise of the brotherhood of capital and labor. Rather than uniting workers, it has divided them. Rather than serve as an instrument to advance workers' interests in the class struggle, it has opposed all currents of radicalism, militancy and revolutionary socialism within the labor movement." -- from the SLP statement The AFL-CI0 -- What Has It Done for America's Workers? Link to site
bummery, the
A nickname given by De Leon to the IWW after the SLP and IWW ceased to be allies in 1908. Refers to the IWW song, "Hallalujah, I'm a Bum." The phrase seems to imply the accusation that the IWW's anarcho-syndicalism sometimes attracts undesirable personalities.
bureaucratic state despotism, or bureaucratic statism, etc.
See statism.
Burning Question of Trades Unionism, The
The title of a public address delivered by De Leon in Newark, New Jersey in 1904, and the pamphlet which contains the transcript of that address. PDF File


capital (economic term)
"It would be absolutely wrong to say that the portion of labor's product used to improve the means of production in a socialist system was 'capital.' Capital, like exchange value, is a social relation. Its economic character stems not from its form, e.g. machinery, raw materials, etc., but from its social function. In bourgeois society, capital is a portion of labor's product used to exploit wage labor, produce commodities and recreate the conditions of capitalist production. In socialist society, which has neither wage-labor nor commodity production, the resources allocated in line with a democratic plan to improve social production do not in any way function as capital." -- -- from "An Exchange on Value", The Weekly People, October 30, 1976
Capital (book title)
Das Kapital -- A book by Karl Marx of which he completed and published Volume 1, consisting of 33 chapters, in 1867. He was never satisfied with his notes for his proposed Volume 2 and Volume 3, and left his papers incomplete at the time of his death. Engels completed the manuscripts for Volume 2 and Volume 3 and published them. Therefore, Volume 1 unquestionably expressed Marx's conclusions, whereas the degree to which the posthumous volumes can be called Marx's viewpoint is debated.
The book proposes an algebraic model for laws of economics, and thereby explains how wages, prices and profits are determined. It is considered, not a moral indictment, but a scientific analysis of the workings of the system in which the workers produce all social wealth but receive back only part of it, the bulk of the wealth being appropriate by the capitalist class that doesn't contribute anything necessary to production.
"Capitalist production only then really begins, as we have already seen, when each individual capitalist employs simultaneously a comparatively large number of labourers; when consequently the labour-process is carried on on an extensive scale and yields, relatively, large quantities of products. A greater number of labourers working together, at the same time, in one place (or, if you will, in the same field of labour), in order to produce the same sort of commodity under the mastership of one capitalist, constitutes, both historically and logically, the starting-point of capitalist production." -- Marx, Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 13
"Capitalism is that social system under which the tool of production (capital) has grown to such mammoth size that the class that owns it rules land and sea like a despot, inaccessible and undethronable by economic competition, and steadily swelling the number of its slaves, the wage slaves, thereby itself recruiting the forces that will overthrow it, and push civilization onward to the Socialist Republic." -- De Leon, Daily People, Jan. 23, 1906 More
"Capitalism --- economic system in which (1) private ownership of property exists; (2) aggregates of property or capital provide income for the individuals or firms that accumulated it and own it; (3) individuals and firms are relatively free to compete with others for their own economic gain; (4) the profit motive is basic to economic life." -- Barron's Dictionary of Finance and Investment Terms
Noun: "The capitalist buys labour-power...." -- Marx, Capital, Chapter 7. "... the capitalist, the owner of the means of production, employs, for wages, laborers...." -- Engels, 1892 English language introduction to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
Adjective: pertaining to the capitalist class or capitalist society. Examples: "... the capitalist mode of production...." -- Marx, Capital, Chapter 6; "... the capitalist epoch...." -- Marx, Capital, Chapter 6.
capitalist class
noun: "The property found today in the private hands of the capitalist class is none other than stolen property. Labor alone produces all wealth. The capitalist class does no manner of useful work, directly or indirectly."-- De Leon in "A Test Point", editorial in The People, Aug. 11, 1895
central directing authority
"All combined labour on a large scale requires, more or less, a directing authority, in order to secure the harmonious working of the individual activities, and to perform the general functions that have their origin in the action of the combined organism, as distinguished from the action of its separate organs. A single violin player is his own conductor; an orchestra requires a separate one." -- Marx, Capital, Chapter 13
"The revolutionist recognizes that the present machinery and methods of production render impossible -- and well it is they do -- the individual freedom of man such as our savage ancestors knew the thing; that today, the highest individual freedom must go hand in hand with collective freedom; and none such is possible without a central directing authority." -- De Leon in Reform or Revolution
chattel slavery
chessboard conception of society
A term De Leon used in his 1901 public address Socialism versus Anarchism. It was inspired by the assassination of U.S. president William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz, who described himself as an anarchist. De Leon reviewed several historical stories, real or mythical, in which the continuation of governments was said to depend on the continuation of their leaders. Refering to Alexander the Great: "One day, Alexander died. What became of his empire? Immediately upon his death, it shattered into a dozen different fragments." [page 14 of the 1962 reprint edition]. De Leon said that an anarchist mistakenly believes in that "governmental conception..... the social conception that the people do not count in society, except, at best, as food for cannon.... It is the chessboard conception of society. One may have all his men on the board, but if the king is checkmated, the game is lost.... And that conception is the essence of anarchism." [pages 19-20].
circulating capital
According to the system of cultural anthropology developed by Morgan, the period of human history that began with the invention of phonetic writing, and during which the species invented political government (the state) and systematic forms of private property, slavery and class division. Civilization is the third epoch of history, coming after the first, which is called savagery and the second, which is called barbarism.
A group within the population that has a particular relationship to the means of production, i.e., whether or not one own's them, and whether or not one labors to operate them, and this in turn determines the source of income, and therefore the economic interests, of the members of that class.
A typical arrangement for a class-divided society is that a minority of the population own the means of production but do not operate them, and the majority of the population operate the means of production but do not own them.
Some of the most common errors that many people make when refering to social classes are: (1) to assume that one's class is based on the amount rather than the source of one's income; (2) to assume that classes do not exist since there are no exact boundaries to permit the identification of the class status of every individual; (3) to assume that classes do not exist because some individuals occasionally move from one class to another.
class consciousness
To be aware of the economic interests of one's economic class and to act accordingly.
"...the German working-class in 1867 ... was only to a very small extent filled with class consciousness ...." -- W. Liebknecht, in No Compromise -- No Political Trading
"Craft divisions hinder the growth of class consciousness of the workers, foster the idea of harmony of interests between employing exploiter and employed slave." -- from the Industrial Union Manifesto of January 1905 More
class division
The following is an example of the use of economic statistics to describe the concentration of wealth. The document refers to statistics taken from the Federal Trade Commission Report of 1926.
"Government statistics establish that 59 per cent of the nation's wealth is owned by 1 percent of the population; that 33 per cent of the wealth is owned by 12 percent of the population, thus finally establishing that 92 percent of the nation's wealth is owned by 13 per cent of the population, leaving the vast majority, the working class, or 87 percent of the population, the owners of but 8 percent of the nation's wealth. The ownership of the bulk of the nation's wealth by the few is conclusive evidence that labor is robbed of the major portion of the product which it alone produces. Thus the worker is denied the means of self-employment, and, by compulsory idleness in wage slavery, is deprived of even the necessaries of life." -- from Declaration of Fundamental Principles, Socialist Labor Party of America, Adopted in National Convention, Assembled in the City of New York, April 29, 1940
class interests
class rule
"... the abolition of all class rule...." -- Marx, Preamble of the International Working Men's Association
class struggle
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another...." -- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
classless society
In the terminology of Marx and Engels, generally synonymous with "socialism", with these exceptions: (1) While the word "socialism" was always their preferred word, they used the word "communism" during the years in which the word "socialism" was popularly associated with the utopian movements of Owen, Fourier and St. Simon; (2) They chose the word "socialism" when an overly broad or sarcastic usage was intended, as when referring to feudal socialism, bourgeois socialism, or utopian socialism; (3) the classless structure of early tribal societies is called primitive communism.
The Marxian usage should not be confused with the terminology used by Lenin and his followers, according to which socialism and communism are described as separate phases of development in a post-capitalist society. Lenin proposed that distinction between the two words in his 1917 pamphlet, The State and Revolution. It is almost a universal error for writers to attribute the Lenin's terminology to Marx. On one known occasion, Marx speculated about a "first phase", in which individual would be paid incomes which they would spend to acquire goods, followed by a "higher phase", in which goods would be distributed for free. In the Marxian concept, class division would be discontinued immediately at the beginning of the first phase, and the idea of phases refers only to the abolition of money. Lenin distorted the Marxian discussion of two phases, to describe a first phase in which the class division would continue to exist for an indefinitely long period of time, which Lenin called socialism, and classless society projected in the distant future, which he called communism.
Communist League
The international organization, founded in 1947, of which Marx and Engels were members, and which published the Communist Manifesto.
Communist Manifesto
A document written in 1847 and published in 1948 by Marx and Engels, who were elected by the Communist League to compose it. Originally entitled Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, that is: Manifesto of the Communist Party, although no such party existed. It outlines the history of the world with emphasis on the role of class struggle, and summarizes both the achievements and failures of capitalism. It answers several conservative objections to communism. The manifesto doesn't offer a program for the organization of the working class, or describe a new social system that should be the goal of such organization. It lists proposals for centralization of industry in the hands of the state, but the Marx-Engels preface to the 1872 edition retracted these proposals, and the Engels preface to the 1888 edition reemphasized the retraction. Text
Communist Party [in the U.S.]
A political party formed in the U.S. in 1919 that until 1991 received its funding and its instructions from the government of the Soviet Union, while pretending to be home-grown American working class party. The CP unconditionally supported every policy of the Soviet Union, and reversed its policies immediately whenever the Soviet government reversed itself.
concentration of wealth
conspiracy of silence
A term that has been used several times in SLP literature to refer to the policy of the capitalist class of avoiding any constructive mention of socialism in the print and broadcast media. Examples of this policy are the media's use of the term "socialism" to refer to Stalinist dictatorships, while intentionally failing to mention the existence of socialist movements that condemn those dictatorships. The term was first used by Pope Pius XI to refer to persecution of the Catholic Church in totalitarian regimes.
constant capital
Constitution of the Socialist Labor Party
PDF File
Constitution of the United States
craft union


Daily People (newspaper)
An English-language daily newspaper published by the SLP from 1901 to 1914, with De Leon as the editor during most of that period.
Debs, Eugene Victor
(1855-1926) ...
De Leon, Bertha C.
The wife of Daniel De Leon. She was born Bertha Canary, and after her marriage she usually signed her name as Bertha C. De Leon.
De Leon, Daniel
(1852-1914) A law instructor at Columbia College in New York City whose sympathy for organized labor caused him to become Marxist, joined the Socialist Labor Party, and was elected to the office of the party's press editor, public speaker, and occasional political candidate.
De Leon, Solon
(1883-1975) Son of Daniel De Leon and Bertha C. De Leon. Came to support the liberal reformism of the Socialist Party, after which the father and son had a poor relationship.
De Leonism
De Leonist
Adjective ...
Noun ...
dictatorship of the proletariat
Government enforcement of a political mandate for socialism; for example, the legal prosecution of those opponents of socialism who commit acts of insurrection against it. Indicating the enforcement of a democratically elected policy to have socialism, it is unrelated to the modern connotation of the word "dictatorship", that is, a lack of democracy.
"Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." -- Marx, in Critique of the Gotha Programme
"Now as for myself, I do not claim to have discovered either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle between the classes, as had bourgeois economists their economic anatomy. My own contribution was 1. to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production; 2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; 3. that this dictatorship itself constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society." -- Marx, letter to Weydemeyer, March 5, 1852 Text
"Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat." -- Engels, 1891 introduction to the 20th anniversary edition of Marx, The Civil War in France Text
"The dictatorship of the proletariat means the inhibition of capitalist production. The capitalist mode of production becomes an impossibility under a proletarian regime." - Karl Kautsky, The Bolshevik Uprising Text
"But socialist democracy is not something which begins only in the promised land after the foundations of socialist economy are created; it does not come as some sort of Christmas present for the worthy people who, in the interim, have loyally supported a handful of socialist dictators. Socialist democracy begins simultaneously with the beginnings of the destruction of class rule and of the construction of socialism. It begins at the very moment of the seizure of power by the socialist party. It is the same thing as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Yes, dictatorship! But this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, but in energetic, resolute attacks upon the well-entrenched rights and economic relationships of bourgeois society, without which a socialist transformation cannot be accomplished. But this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not of a little leading minority in the name of the class -- that is, it must proceed step by step out of the active participation of the masses; it must be under their direct influence, subjected to the control of complete public activity; it must arise out of the growing political training of the mass of the people." -- Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, chapter 8, "Democracy and Dictatorship" Text
direct action
A term used by the IWW to refer any type of labor struggle activity that workers can do by and for themselves, without reliance on delegation, such as a strike, in contrast to any activity that requires delegation to someone represent the workers' interests, such as electing a representative to public office.
SLP writers have sometimes accused the IWW of using the term as a euphemism for a tolerance toward the tactics of violence or vandalism. In an attempt to avoid that connotation, the IWW sometimes uses the alternate phrase "direct economic action". The SLP is unconvinced by the IWW's clarification, noting that any program to bring about a revolutionary change to society, but doesn't also propose the use of the political process, must imply the use of [to use the SLP's pejorative expression] "physical force".
See also sabotage.


An elected office in the SLP, principally to edit the party's official newspaper, but sometimes also to write pamphlets.
"Educate first, organize afterward."
Engels, Friedrich
(1820-1895) [Occasionally spelled his first name as 'Frederick' in his English-language writings] .....
exchange value


Father Gassioniana
See Abolition of Poverty
Feuerbach, Ludwig
(1804-1872) ...
Fifteen Questions About Socialism
SLP pamphlet first published in 1914, consisting of answers to questions asked by a Catholic newspaper. Includes some detailed discussion of the workings of a proposed socialist economic system, such as the use of labor time vouchers instead of money. PDF File
"First, lick the British."
A comment that De Leon attributed to General George Washington in the pamphlets Fifteen Questions about Socialism and Socialism vs. 'Individualism'. It is intended to indicate that someone learning about socialism shouldn't demand information about relatively minor details about the workings of a socialist society.
fixed capital
Fourier, Charles
Franklin, Benjamin
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!"


general strike
(Singular noun) The clan that was the contituent part of the tribe in primitive communist society, as described in the ethnology of Morgan in his book Ancient Society. Plural noun: gentes. Adjective: gentile.
"A mere property career is not the final destiny of mankind, if progress is to be the law of the future as it has been of the past. The time which has passed away since civilization began is but a fragment of the ages yet to come. The dissolution of society bids fair to become the termination of a career of which property is the end and aim; because such a career contains the elements of its self-destruction. Democracy in government, brotherhood in society, equality in rights and privileges, and universal education, foreshadow the next higher plane of society to which experience, intelligence and knowledge are steadily tending. It will be a revival, in a higher form, of the liberty, equality and fraternity of the ancient gentes." -- Morgan in Ancient Society More
"As the classic form of this original gens, Morgan takes the gens among the Iroquois, and especially in the Seneca tribe. In this tribe there are eight gentes, named after animals: (1) Wolf, (2) Bear, (3) Turtle, (4) Beaver, (5) Deer, (6) Snipe, (7) Heron, (8) Hawk. In every gens the following customs are observed.... The gens elects its sachem (head of the gens in peace) and its chief (leader in war).... The gens deposes the sachem and war-chief at will.... No member is permitted to marry within the gens ...." -- Engels, in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, chapter 3
De Leonists believe that future socialist society will restore the direct human interaction which gentile society featured, unlike the long intervening period of class divided society in which human relationships were subjugated by private property, geographical territory and the political state.
"The Gens social system was built upon men; territory was reached only through men. The Gens period was the period of the early communism of the human race. Out of the Gens grew the present political State; it is built upon territory; in it, men are reached only through territory. The political State marks the culmination of the march of the human race from primitive communism to capitalism. In its spiral march the human race is now headed, not backward, but upward to higher communism. The break up of capitalism means a reversal to Gens conditions, only upon the higher plane that capitalism makes possible. The form of government that the Gens system required had to make way for the form of government required by capitalism; inevitably, therefore, the form of government of capitalism must and will be supplanted by another, which shall be the true shadow and reflex of the changed material conditions that mark this third revolution." -- De Leon, in "Morgan and the 'Federalist'", Daily People, Sept. 6, 1905 More
See gens
See gens
geographical constituencies
(Also called territorial constituencies.) The subdivisions of a government when it is based on such nested areas as towns, counties, provinces, etc. Most De Leonists advocate the abolition of this structure.
"Civilized society will know no such ridiculous thing as geographic constituencies. It will only know industrial constituencies. The parliament of civilization in America will consist, not of Congressmen from geographic districts, but of representatives of trades throughout the land, and their legislative work will not be the complicated one which a society of conflicting interests, such as capitalism, requires but the easy one which can be summed up in the statistics of the wealth needed, the wealth producible, and the work required - and that any average set of workingmen's representatives are fully able to ascertain, infinitely better than our modern rhetoricians in Congress."
-- De Leon in The Burning Question of Trades Unionism
"And now, as to the structure of a political party. Look closely into that and the fact cannot escape you that its structure also unfits the political movement to "take and hold" the machinery of production. The disability flows inevitably from the "reason" for politics. The "reason" for a political party, we have seen, is to contend with capitalism upon its own special field - the field that determines the fate of political power. It follows that the structure of a political party must be determined by the capitalist governmental system of territorial demarcations - a system that the socialist republic casts off like a slough that society shall have outgrown.
"Take Congress, for instance, whether Senate or House of Representatives. The unity of the congressional representation is purely politically geographic; it is arbitrary. The structure of the congressional district reflects the purpose of the capitalist State political, that is, class tyranny over class. The thought of production is absent, wholly so from the congressional demarcations. It cannot be otherwise. Congress - not being a central administration of the productive forces of the land, but the organized power of the capitalist class for oppression - its constituent bodies can have no trace of a purpose to administer production. Shoemakers, bricklayers, miners, railroadmen, together with the workers in all manner of other fractions of industries, are, accordingly, jumbled together in each separate congressional district. Accordingly, the political organization of labor intended to capture a congressional district is wholly unfit to "take and hold" the plants of industry. The only organization fit for that is the organization of the several industries themselves - and they are not subject to political lines of demarcation; they mock all such arbitrary, imaginary lines.
"The central administrative organ of the Socialist Republic - exactly the opposite of the central power of capitalism, not being the organized power of a ruling class for oppression, in short, not being political, but exclusively administrative of the producing forces of the land - its constituent bodies must be exclusively industrial."
-- De Leon in Socialist Reconstruction of Society
George, Henry
Gompers, Samuel
(1850-1924) Founder and first president of the American Federation of Labor (A.F. of L.). Criticized by De Leon for being a supporter of craft unionism and an opponent of industrial unionism. During World War I, Gompers promoted nationalistic and militaristic attitudes.
"Gompers championed 'business unionism,' advising union leaders to build their unions and bargain with employers for economic gains. For Gompers the aims of labor were better wages, hours, and working conditions, not political reform. He was viewed as essentially conservative: opposed to industrial unions, government regulation, and the widening of the labor movement to include blacks, women, and unskilled workers." -- Groliers Encyclopedia on CD, 1991 edition
Gracchi, the
The common name for the two brothers Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus, leaders of a reform political party in the Roman empire of the second century BCE. They were assassinated while striving for a redistribution of the land owned by the upper or patrician class, for the benefit of the lower or plebean class. In his pamphlet Two Pages from Roman History, De Leon drew a parallel between the ancient events and the limitations of reformism under capitalism. De Leon described this historical lesson as "the warning of the Gracchi."
"great man" theory of history
The term alludes to the comment by Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, "The history of the world is but the biography of great men." An expression of the idealist conception of history which Marxists oppose.


Haymarket Riot
A pro-labor demonstration on May 4, 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago at which violence took place. Someone in the large crowd threw a bomb that killed a police officer and injured bystanders. Police reacted by shooting randomly into the crowd, killing four protesters and injuring others. Although there were no reports from witnesses as to who threw the bomb, the government used the event as an excuse to prosecute anarchists. Eight men were convicted of murder. Of these, four (George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Albert R. Parsons, and August Spies) were executed by hanging, one (Louis Lingg) committed suicide while awaiting execution, two (Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab) had original sentences of execution changed to life imprisonment by the Illinois governor but were pardoned in 1893, and one (Oscar Neebe) was sentenced by the court to fifteen years in prison but pardoned in 1893.
Hass, Eric
(1905-1980) Editor of the Weekly People from 1938 to 1968, author of several popular SLP pamphlets, and the party presidential candidate in the elections of 1952, 1956, 1960 and 1964.
Haywood, William D.
"Big Bill" Haywood (1869-1928) Member of the IWW and the Socialist Party. Convicted of disagreeing with U.S. participation in World War I, jumped bail and defected to the Soviet Union.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
Hill, Joe
(1879-1915) IWW organizer convicted of murder in Utah and executed. The IWW regards him as a martyr.
Hillquit, Morris
(1869-1933) A wealthy lawyer from New York. A member of the SLP before he led the Kangaroo conspiracy of 1989-1900. Left the SLP because it supported industrial unionism and avoided demands for political reforms of capitalism. He helped to establish the Socialist Party, which supported craft unionism and political reforms of capitalism. Denounced by SLP writers as a leading betrayer of socialist principles in America.
historical materialism
A synonym for the materialist conception of history


idealist conception of history
immediate demands
Goals of a labor organization that are less than the complete replacement of capitalism by socialism.
"Steps in the right direction, so called 'immediate demands', are among the most precarious. They are precarious because they are subject and prone to the lure of the 'sop' or the 'palliative' that the foes of labor's redemption are ever ready to dangle before the eyes of the working class, and at which, aided by the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class, the unwary are apt to snap and be hooked. But there is a test by which the bait can be distinguished from the sound step, by which the trap can be detected and avoided, and yet the right step forward taken. The test is this: Does the contemplated step square with the ultimate aim? If it does, then the step is sound and safe; if it does not, then the step is a trap and disasterous." -- De Leon in The Burning Question of Trades Unionism
"The economic movement may take a little at a time. It may do so because its function is ultimately to take and hold the full plants of production and save them for the human race. The political movement, on the contrary, has an entirely different function: its function is wholly to tear down the political burg of capitalist tyranny. It follows herefrom that the political movement of labor may not even remotely partake even of the appearance of compromise. It exemplifies the revolutionary aim of the labor movement; it must be uncompromisingly revolutionary." -- De Leon in Socialist Reconstruction of Society
"Only the economic organization may and must reach out after crumbs -- 'improved conditions' -- on its way to emancipation.... Otherwise with the political organization. It must be 'whole hog or none.'" -- De Leon, in the editorial "Demands -- 'Immediate' and 'Constant'", The Daily People, June 21, 1911 Read More
Contrast with reform , palliative , sop
A derogatory term to designate a revolutionary movement that does not seek reforms of the system that is to be abolished, used by those who believe that revolutionary change must be accomplished by a series of gradual reforms.
industrial constituencies
industrial democracy
industrial feudalism
industrial field, the
industrial form of government
industrial republic
A term for socialism intended to emphasize the facts that: (1) industrial managers in a socialist system would be the workers' democratically elected representatives, such that a workplace would be a republic; (2) the new system would use the industrial form of government
industrial union
A form of labor union in which all workers in a given industry, regardless of their type of work, are organized into the same union. For example, a janitor in a school is classified as an education worker, in the same department as the teachers. The opposite of craft union, in which union structure is based on work type.
In the socialist industrial union program proposed by De Leon, the industrial union has the wider mission of inaugurating a socialist system and thereafter operating as the administrative system. De Leon wrote in 1913: "Industrial Unionism is the Socialist Republic in the making; and the goal once reached, the Industrial Union is the Socialist Republic in operation. Accordingly, the Industrial Union is at once the battering ram with which to pound down the fortress of Capitalism, and the successor of the capitalist social structure itself."
industrial unionism
Industrial Unionism: Selected Editorials
A pamphlet composed of thirteen editorials by Daniel De Leon. These articles describe the "mission" of industrial unionism as a necessary part of the socialist program. They also criticize the syndicalists for failing to advocate political organization, which causes their strategy to be one of "physical force." PDF File
Industrial Workers of the World
A union that opposes capitalism and supports workers' control of industries. The SLP helped to form the IWW in 1905, but stopped supporting the IWW in 1908, after the IWW amended the preamble of its constitution to delete the phrase that had called for the political organization of the working class. Information
An alternate term used by De Leon for industrial unionism, pasticularly socialist industrial unionism. "Industrialism is that system of economic organization of the working class that denies that labor and the capitalist class are brothers; that recognizes the irrepressible nature of the conflict between the two; that perceives that struggle will not, because it can not, end until the capitalist class is thrown off labor's back; that recognizes that an injury to one workingman is an injury to all; and that, consequently, and with this end in view, organizes the WHOLE WORKING CLASS into ONE UNION, the same subdivided only into such bodies as their respective craft-tools demand, in order to wrestle as ONE BODY for the immediate amelioration of its membership, and for their eventual emancipation by the total overthrow of the Capitalist Class, its economic and political rule." -- De Leon, from the editorial Industrialism in the Daily People, January 23, 1906 Read More
intensity of exploitation
International Women's Day
(March 8) Generally recognized annually in the SLP press with the publication of historical articles.
International Working Men's Association (IWMA)
A confederation of working class organizations and individuals from various countries founded in 1864 and disbanded in 1876. Karl Marx was a member of its general council. There was a continuous conflict in the International between Marxists, who advocated the use of both political parties and labor unions, and anarchists, who opposed the working class organizational of political parties. After 1889 the disbanded IWMA was sometimes refered to as the "First International" to distinguish it from reformist organization established in 1889 and which adopted the name "Second International."
Internationale, the
A socialist song with its melody and French lyrics composed by Eugene Pottier in 1870. The lyrics have been translated into numerous languages, and the music has been arranged into many styles. MP3 recordings Sheet music, pdf file
"[The] spirit of internationalism ... remains alive because the internationalist nature of the socialist movement has its roots in the common oppression experienced by all laboring classes and in the international character of the capitalist system itself. 'Capitalism is international; so is socialism to be,' Daniel De Leon once wrote, adding elsewhere, 'There are but two nations in the world today -- the capitalist class nation, which exploits and lives upon the sweat of the brow of the working class nation, the sweat of whose brow, through unrequited toil, feeds, clothes, houses and fattens the capitalist class nation.'" -- Weekly People, May 3, 1975 More
De Leon discussed inventors in his address, What Means This Strike :
"Right here let me lock a switch at which not a few people are apt to switch off and be banked. Some may think, 'Well, at least that machine capitalist is entitled to his profits; he surely is an inventor.'
"A grave error. Look into the history of our inventors, and you will see that those who really profited by their genius are so few that you can count them on the fingers of your hands, and have fingers to spare.
"The capitalists either take advantage of the inventor's stress and buy his invention for a song; the inventor believes he can make his haul with his next invention; but before that is perfected, he is as poor as before, and the same advantage is again taken of him; until finally, his brain power being exhausted, he sinks into a pauper's grave, leaving the fruit of his genius for private capitalists to grow rich on; or the capitalist simply steals the invention and gets his courts to decide against the inventor.
"From Eli Whitney down, that is the treatment the inventor, as a rule, receives from the capitalist class.
"Such a case, illustrative of the whole situation, happened recently. The Bonsack Machine Co. discovered that its employees made numerous inventions, and it decided to appropriate them wholesale. To this end, it locked out its men, and demanded of all applicants for work that they sign a contract whereby, in 'consideration of employment' they assign to the company all their rights in whatever invention they may make during the term of their employment.
"One of these employees, who had signed such a contract, informed the company one day that he thought he could invent a machine by which cigarettes could be held closed by crimping at the ends, instead of pasting. This was a valuable idea; and he was told to go ahead. For six months he worked at this invention and perfected it; and, having during all that time received not a cent in wages or otherwise from the company, he patented his invention himself.
"The company immediately brought suit against him in the federal courts, claiming that the invention was its property; and the federal court decided in favor of the company, thus robbing the inventor of his time, his money, of the fruit of his genius, and of his unquestionable rights."
involuntary servitude
involuntary poverty
involuntary unemployment
iron law of wages
According to the theory of Lassalle, a law of economics that makes labor unions so ineffective that it is a waste of effort to establish them, and therefore political party organization is the only worthwhile mode of workers' organization.
According to Lassalle, the economic law causes consumer prices to rise automatically and almost immediately in response to any general rise in wages, so that workers who previously received bare subsistance wage levels will one again receive bare subsistance wage levels.
Marx disagreed, saying: "A general rise in the rate of wages would result in a fall of the general rate of profit, but, broadly speaking, not affect the prices of commodities.... Trades unions work well as centers of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. The fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wages system." -- Marx, in Value, Price and Profit
A typical De Leonist analysis may include the role of strikes as part of the process of wages gravitating around, rather than below, the living wage level:
"The question of keeping workers employed, or paying at least a living wage, concerns the capitalists not at all. Hence, the workers, employed in decreasing numbers, were offered wages that fell far below those received during the war. To their credit the workers have rebelled. They have refused to sell their labor power below its value, that is, below the amount required to maintain the minimum in a bare living." -- Petersen, 1946 preface to De Leon, What Means This Strike
De Leonists also disagree wholely with the suggestion that the price gravitation effect makes union organization unnecessary, because unionism is a crucial part of establishing socialism.
See Industrial Workers of the World


Jefferson, Thomas
Author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the U.S. Jefferson has been criticized unjustly, according to Arnold Petersen's pamphlet "Reviling of the Great" PDF File
Johnson, Olive M.
(1872-1954) Editor of The Weekly People from 1918 to 1938, author of several SLP pamplets


Nickname for several dozen SLP members who attempted unsuccessfully in 1989-1900 to take control of the party away from its membership-elected office holders, published counterfeit editions of the party press in which they claimed that they were the real SLP, and held their own 1900 convention at which they nominated a separate slate of political candidates. Morris Hillquit was their main leader. Information
Karp, Nathan
(1915-2000) National Secretary of the SLP from 1969 to 1980.
Kautsky, Karl
Knights of Labor (K. of L.)
The first labor union in the U.S. to adopt the industrial unionism structure, established in Philadelphia in 1868 by Uriah S. Stephens
Kuhn, Henry
(1859-1930) National Secretary of the SLP from 1891 to 1906. Kuhn was N.S. during much of the time that De Leon was the editor of the party press. Kuhn was allied with De Leon at the time of the SLP's support for the industrial union ST&LA and opposition to the craft union A.F. of L, and throughout the 1889-1901 split within the SLP during which some members left to form the Socialist Party.


1. Human activity that acts upon the materials provided by nature, thereby producing all of the goods and services in society. Labor usually uses various kinds of tools, which are themselves the products of past labor.
2. People who perform labor.
The ability of a person to perform labor by the possession of a body and mind the use of which the person can sell as a commodity on the labor market.
labor faker
labor lieutenants [of the capitalist class]
labor market
"Taking another order of capitalist authorities on Capitalism -- without exception they use the term 'Labor Market.' By all the canons of philology such a term implies the merchandise feature of the thing that designates the market. On the identical principle that the term 'Cattle-Market' indicates that cattle is a merchandise; on the identical principle that the term 'Money Market' indicates that money is a merchandise; on the identical principle that the term 'Hay-Market' indicates that bales of hay are merchandise;-on that identical principle the term 'Labor-Market' indicates that Labor is a merchandise, either 'on the hoof,' like cattle; or in bales, like hay." -- De Leon in "Father Gassioniana (VIII)"
"We are merchandise just as are pork and beef; we are sold in the market just as are shoes and stockings; we are enslaved. Look as you may into the works of our Revolutionary Fathers, never once will you come across the term 'labor market.' The workingman was not then merchandise. Opportunities -- natural and social -- were then open to all; each man could be, and was, the architect of his own fortune, or misfortune. In those days, had anyone used the term 'labor market,' he would have been understood as little as if he had used the word 'monoplane'; neither of the two was yet in existence. Like the latter, so is the term 'labor market' a subsequent development, and that development is indicated by the pregnant expression 'labor market' -- we are enslaved." -- De Leon, from "Uncle Sam and Brother Jonathan" dialogue #5, 1900
labor time vouchers
A proposed kind of unit of economic exchange in a socialist economy, used to compensate workers for their personal work and redeemable for products at stores. The unit differs from money in that a quantity is intentionally correlated with the duration of time that each individual chooses to work. Unlike money, the value of which requires a stable quantity in circulation, labor time vouchers would come into existence when work is done and cease to exist when individuals redeem them at the store. Originally conceived in the 19th century as a use of paper certificates, but usually envisioned today as a computer application. Whether the vouchers should be transferable among individuals, to facilitate barter or trade in a socialist system, has been debated.
Marx wrote in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Programme:
".... the co-operative proceeds of labor are the total social product. From this must now be deducted:
"cover for replacement of the means of production used up.
"additional portion for expansion of production.
"reserve or insurance funds to provide against accidents, dislocations caused by natural calamities, etc.
"... Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society -- after the deductions have been made -- exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another."
labor union
laissez faire capitalism
A type of capitalism without laws to limit the abusive behaviors of businesses, e.g., without a legal minimum wage, government-mandated health or safety inspections of workplaces, or government anti-poverty programs.
Supporters of laissez faire usually say that their goal is personal freedom. A typical socialist response to that claim might be similar to: "Whose freedom? Not the freedom of one individual in relation to another, but freedom of Capital to crush the worker." -- Marx, Address on Free Trade
Laissez faire is advocated today in the U.S. by the so-called Libertarian Party.
Lafargue, Paul
(1842-1911) French socialist who married Laura Marx, daughter of Karl Marx. Author of several books and pamphlets.
Lassalle, Ferdinand
(1825-1864) A contemporary of Marx who broke away from Marxism to promote an alternative concept of socialism. He maintained that the working class should organize only politically, not into labor unions, and that the main purpose of that political movement is to influence the state to pay the funding to establish workers' cooperatives. He established the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Germany to promote his theory. Marx disagreed with the idea that state-funded cooperatives were part of the path to social ownership of the means of production. Lassalle also asserted that the iron law of wages makes labor union organization useless, a distraction from the necessary political organization, a viewpoint that Marx opposed.
Law of Value
"We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value of any article is the amount of labour socially necessary, or the labour-time socially necessary for its production. Each individual commodity, in this connexion, is to be considered as an average sample of its class. Commodities, therefore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or which can be produced in the same time, have the same value. The value of one commodity is to the value of any other, as the labour-time necessary for the production of the one is to that necessary for the production of the other." -- Marx in Capital, Chapter 1
".... the law of value of modern bourgeois political economy, according to which the value of a commodity is measured by the socially necessary labour embodied in it." -- Engels, in Anti-Dühring, Part 1
".... Marx gives an example to show how in a definite case, a definite law, the law of value, manifests itself and exercises its motive power in competition." -- Engels, in Anti-Dühring, Part 2
"In Chapter I, Section 1, the derivation of value from an analysis of the equations by which every exchange-value is expressed has been carried out with greater scientific strictness; likewise the connexion between the substance of value and the determination of the magnitude of value by socially necessary labour-time, which was only alluded to in the first edition, is now expressly emphasised." -- Marx, 1973 Afterword Second German Edition of Capital
Lawrence, Massachusetts strike of 1912
An article, usually printed on inexpensive newsprint, intended for widespread distribution in public places.
SLP web site: Statements and Leaflets Link to site
Examples in local files: text
Lenin, Vladimir
libertarian socialist
(Opinion by M.L., web site editor) A term which, to date, SLP writers and speakers have generally not applied to themselves, and have sometimes rejected, but which, according to a popular usage of the phrase, does include the SLP. The term indicates any movement or organization that (1) calls for social or collective ownership of industry, and simultaneously opposes state or government ownership or control of industry, because, contrary to popular belief, the "state" is not synonymous with "society"; (2) condemns such systems as the Soviet Union, which, although they claimed to be "socialist", were in fact the regimes of ruling classes for subjugating the exploited classes. Other than these characteristics, various types of libertarian socialists don't necessarily agree on any other points about the meaning of socialism or the methods needed to establish it.
Liebknecht, Karl
(1871-1919) Cofounder, with Rosa Luxemburg, of the German Marxist organization, the Spartacist League. Son of Wilhelm Liebkneckt.
Liebkneckt, Wilhelm
(1826-1900) A collaborator of Marx who was elected to the German Reichstag (parliament) in 1874 and continued to be advocate Marxism, fighting the anti-socialist oppression led by the chancellor Bismarck.
Lincoln, Abraham
Sixteenth president of the U.S. Frequently quoted by socialists because he acknowledged that workers, not capitalists, are the producers of wealth. Example: "Inasmuch as most things are produced by labor, it follows that all such things of right belong to those whose labor has produced them. But it has so happened, in all ages of the world, that some have labored, and others have without labor enjoyed a large proportion of the fruits. This is wrong and should not continue. To secure to each laborer the whole product of his labor, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government." -- Lincoln, Dec. 1, 1847 More
lion's share of the wealth
An expression found in several SLP publications. The phrase "lion's share" is an allusion to an ancient fable by Aesop, and refers to taking the largest portion of something that has been divided. The SLP usage refers to the fact that the capitalist class expropriates from the working class the major portion of the wealth that the workers produce.
Little, Frank
An IWW organizer who was lynched in 1917 by assassins hired by the owners of copper mines.
Lowell, Massachusetts strike of 1912
A strike of 18,000 textile workers carried out by the IWW.
Luxemburg, Rosa
(1870-1919) Cofounder, with her associate Karl Liebknecht, of the German Marxist organization Spartacist League. Opposed both the reformism of the Social Democrats and the undemocratic tendencies of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Viewed by the SLP as an "uncompromising Marxist", a laudation that the SLP has bestowed on very few post-Marx, non-SLP activists.


Marx, Karl
(1818-1883) A German writer who made a complete theory of society by combining the materialist conception of history , the implications of the class struggle , and the economic model based on the law of value . Adherents to his methods believe that Marx established a scientific basis for the criticism of capitalism and the achievement of socialism.
The philosophical position that matter existed before the mind, and that the mind is not a spiritual entity contained within the body, but a physical process taking place in the brain.
"An unbodily substance is the same absurdity as an unbodily body. Body, being, substance, are but different terms for the same reality. It is impossible to separate thought from matter that thinks. This matter is the substratum of all changes going on in the world." -- Engels in Anti-Dühring, reprinted in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
materialist conception of history
May Day
A holiday, also called International Workers' Day or International Labor Day, celebrated every May 1. It was established by a motion passed by the Second International in 1890. Information
means of life
means of production
membership (in the Socialist Labor Party)
See the SLP information package, "Join the SLP" Link to site
merchants of death
A nickname for capitalists who make profits from the sale of weapons of war. Consistent with the source of their income, such capitalists often contribute funds to the campaigns of pro-war politicians, encourage nationalistic emotions, etc. The term was not originated by the SLP, but has been used frequently in SLP literature since the early 20th century.
mode of production
Morgan, Lewis Henry
(1818-1881) A New York State lawyer, member of the state legislature, and advocate for the rights of native American tribes. Became an amateur cultural anthropologist. Author of the book Ancient Society.


national convention of the SLP
National Executive Committee of the SLP
National Secretary of the SLP
See 'National Executive Committee'
New York Labor News Company, The
The publishing department of the Socialist Labor Party of America, retaining its original name after the main office moved from New York to California during the 1970s. Link to site


official organ
An SLP term for a periodical wherein the content expresses the official positions of the organization, except for such obviously unofficial viewpoints as those in letters submitted by readers.
A compromise behavior that reduces the adherence to fundamental principles, in the hope of acquiring such benefits as additional members, votes, publicity or financial contributions. The practice is condemned by De Leonists.
"Do not be deceived by those who, lacking a revolutionary program and principles, opportunistically trade on the word 'Socialism.'" -- From the SLP leaflet Who Speaks for Socialism?, 1956
"Most union leaders started out as sincere and honest men, but the harsh realities of capitalism quickly disillusioned them. The more hopeless the plight of the rank and file appeared, the more the union leaders turned to feathering their own nests. Careerists and opportunists rose to the top, exploiting the workers' instinct for solidarity to promote their own bureaucratic interests." -- From the SLP of Canada leaflet, How to Build a Real Union, 1970
See also: uncompromising , reform
"original accumulation"
A subject that De Leon discussed in What Means This Strike .......
A recurrent economic crisis under capitalism which Marx's economic theory correctly predicted must occur periodically. The repeated observation of the effect is recognized as a verification of Marx's theory. The initial cause of the economic breakdown is the fact that each capitalist maximizes profits by resisting wage increases and workday reductions, even though productivity of an hour of labor increases over time. The aggregate effect is that workers in all industries, as a class, are not paid sufficient wages to buy back their own products. A resulting decline in sales increases unemployment, which further reduces the buying power of the working class, and this causes additional unemployment. This spiraling failure of the capitalist economic system is called a recession or depression. Economists frequently announce that the reason for the widespread poverty is that workers "produce too much." Socialists typically respond to the economists' mystification by clarifying: "They mean: too much to be sold, not too much for people to use." Sometimes the crisis ends temporarily by the acquisition of foreign markets for selling goods, but the fact that the system and the problem are international limits the discovery of foreign markets. Wars are sometimes fought to determine which country shall have its capitalists acquire a greater number of the existing foreign markets. The depression can also be ended temporarily by government buying products only to destroy them, so that the economic system is frequently revitalized during a war. Then government and business may dread the arrival of peace, which would mean the reappearance of the recession.
"It is enough to mention the commercial crises that, by their periodical return, put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity -- the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed. And why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce." -- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
"And we, the useful producers, who constitute the vast majority, produce everything. But we are permitted to work only so long as a market exists for the goods we produce. When there is no profitable market for our products, plants close down, and we starve. Because we receive in wages only a fraction of the value of the goods we produce, we can buy back only a fraction. This means that despite the waste in capitalist production and distribution, despite the wealth that the capitalist class squanders recklessly, despite the ever growing demands of the bureaucratic capitalist political State, much of the goods we produce still cannot be disposed of profitably by the capitalist class. The result is periodic industrial stagnation, when we are told that overproduction exists, and we must suffer want because we have produced too much. But in this so-called overproduction, in this want in the midst of plenty, lies the seed of the grimmest horror of all - world war, inevitable global conflict. For in order to dispose of the so-called surplus, in order to find a temporary safety valve to relieve the economic pressures at home, our capitalist class and its government seek foreign markets and spheres of influence and sources of raw material. And in this search, and the resulting competition with other nations facing the same or similar problems lie the root cause of war." -- from the SLP leaflet The Promise of Socialism, 1960 More
"Indeed, the crisis that hit the U.S. after 1929 is directly linked to the crisis of recent years. Then, as now, the problem was so-called 'overproduction -- more goods and services produced (or producible) than could be profitably sold. Not more than the American people needed. Just more than the owners of industry could sell. Result: As orders for their offerings dried up, capitalist employers cut back production and laid off millions of workers. Millions of them remained unemployed until World War II and U.S. involvement in it." -- from the SLP leaflet Have YOU stopped listening?, 1972 More
Owen, Robert


A reform intended to placate exploited people by allowing them to have a certain fraction of that to which they are entitled entirely.
"Request a little, when you have a right to the whole, and your request ... works a subscription to the principle that wronged you.... The palliative ... steels the wrong that is palliationed." -- De Leon in Two Pages from Roman History
"How alien from the program of socialism, a program that demands the social revolution, palliations and 'immediate demands' are is proven by Mr. Debs' own admission that Roosevelt has 'burglarized' the platform of his party. The program of revolution is revolution. Palliatives are props to that which the revolution intends to overthrow. No such prop can be within the contemplation, hence part of the program of, socialism." -- De Leon in the editorial Debs on the Program of Socialism, in The Daily People Sept. 9, 1912
"The political action of the labor leaders does not seek the abolition of capitalism; it seeks, rather, the palliation of the effects of capitalism." -- Eric Hass, 1945 preface to De Leon, As to Politics
"... efforts of every ruling class to palliate the suffering of the workers with 'cradle to grave security plans'...." -- Hass, Ibid.
Contrast with sop , reform , immediate demand
A booklet with a paper cover, and usually thinner and faster to read than a typical book. The sale of inexpensive pamphlets is favorite public education medium of small political parties that don't have access to the capitalist media. Engels reprinted a selection from his 1877 book Anti-Dühring in the form of his 1880 pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.
Paris Commune, the (historical event)
The control of the city of Paris by the working class for several months in 1871 as a result of a popular rebellion during the Franco-Prussian War. Experiences during that time are interpreted by Marxists as the source of strategic lessons, e.g., the need for workers to have the power to democratically recall their representatives.
Paris Commune, The (book title)
SLP edition combining several of Marx's works related to the Paris Commune. Includes The Civil War in France and his communications with the International Working Men's Association. PDF File
Petersen, Arnold
(1885-1976) National Secretary of the SLP from 1914 to 1969.
People, The (newspaper)
plan of government
In the theory of Morgan, organization of human society based on the clan and tribe (the first plan of government) and later on the state (the second plan of government). De Leon described his proposal for an industrial union form of government as the third great plan of government. [Source TBD].
"It may be here premised that all forms of government are reducible to two general plans, using the word plan in its scientific sense. In their bases the two are fundamentally distinct.
"The first, in the order of time, is founded upon persons, and upon relations purely personal, and may be distinguished as a society (societas). The gens is the unit of this organization; giving as the successive stages of integration, in the archaic period, the gens, the phratry, the tribe, and the confederacy of tribes, which constituted a people or nation (populus). At a later period a coalescence of tribes in the same area into a nation took the place of a confederacy of tribes occupying independent areas. Such, through prolonged ages, after the gens appeared, was the substantially universal organization of ancient society; and it remained among the Greeks and Romans after civilizations supervened.
"The second is founded upon territory and upon property, and may be distinguished as a state (civitas). The township or ward, circumscribed by metes and bounds, with the property it contains, is the basis or unit of the latter, and political society is the result. Political society is organized upon territorial areas, and deals with property as well as with persons through territorial relations. The successive stages of integration are the township or ward, which is the unit of organization; the county or province, which is an aggregation of townships or wards; and the national domain or territory, which is an aggregation of counties or provinces; the people of each of which are organized into a body politic."
-- Morgan, Ancient Society, Part I, Chapter I, Ethnical Periods
"The idea of Industrial Union Government is Daniel De Leon's crowning contribution to social science, and specifically to Socialism. He projected and developed the third "great plan of government," the Socialist Industrial Republic, which will replace the outmoded political State (government over men through territorial constituencies), and establish the Marxian "administration of things." This is the non-political government of democratic, industrial representation and administration."
-- from "Socialist Industrial Unionism", publisher's appendix to De Leon, Socialism Versus Anarchism More
"De Leon ... formulated his great discovery in social science, his 'plan' for the future constitution of civilized society -- 'the third great plan of government,' to borrow a phase from Morgan's Ancient Society."
-- Petersen, Daniel De Leon: Social Scientist, 1945, p. 25
Plekhanov, Georgi
(1856-1918) A Russian Marxist who wrote extensively about the materialist conception of history. The inventor of the phrase "dialectical materialism."
Control of government by the wealthy class. Dictionary definitions
political clause, the
A nickname for a statement that appeared in the original (1905) version of the IWW preamble that the workers must "come together on the political as well as the industrial field." In 1908 the IWW amended the preamble to remove the statement, and adopted the viewpoint that political party preference is "personal", in the same category as religion. The SLP, holding that political organization and industrial organization are both essential, responded in 1908 by discontinuing its support for the IWW.
political field, the
political party
political state
Preamble of the IWW constitution
A statement of fundamental principles at the beginning of the IWW constitution. Emphasizing the significance of the class struggle, its first sentence is, "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common." Unique among unions today, although in the 1800s there were other unions which said so, the Preamble declares "It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism." One sentence, "Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work,' we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wage system'", is taken almost word for word from Marx's pamphlet Value, Price and Profit.
Note the similarity between the passage in the the IWW Preamble -- "The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old." -- and the famous comment from a 1913 De Leon editorial -- "Industrial Unionism is the Socialist Republic in the making; and the goal once reached, the Industrial Union is the Socialist Republic in operation. Accordingly, the Industrial Union is at once the battering ram with which to pound down the fortress of Capitalism, and the successor of the capitalist social structure itself."
First adopted in 1905, the Preamble has been amended several times. The addition of the phrase "... live in harmony with the Earth." was one of the most recent amendments. Link to site
poverty in the midst of plenty
A favorite phrase among some SLP writers for describing the feature of capitalism in which poverty and the mass production of wealth exist simultaneously.
primitive communism
"The people of primitive society could not have survived without the democracy of the gens (commonly called 'clan'), or without their primitive communism, with its obligation of all to contribute to the common store of the requirements of life." -- from "Labor News Notes -- Democracy: Past, Present and Future", The People, January 2000
production for use (or: production for social use)
"Socialism .... Production for use -- In the class-divided world of today the primary consideration is: Does it pay? In the Socialist World of tomorrow the chief question will be: Is it needed, desirable and socially beneficial? In short, Socialism means production of things to satisfy human needs and wants and not, as under capitalism or bureaucratic statism, for sale and profit." -- From the SLP leaflet "Which Would You Choose?"
An organization's strategy for implementing its goal.
"The SLP program for achieving this revolutionary change from capitalism to socialism is based on the Marxist tenet that socialism can be achieved only through the classconscious action 'of the working class itself.' The core of the SLP program points up the need for classwide political and economic organizations. A primary role of the political organization is to challenge the political apparatus of the capitalist class and its monopoly of state power, while promoting worker classconsciousness and emphasizing the need for organizing working-class strength on the economic field. The objective of economic organization is to unite the workers at the point of production so as to render them capable of taking control of the entire productive process and democratically administering and operating it in society's collective interests." -- From Facts About the SLP.... Link to site
"To enable us to get where we want to go, the SLP program calls upon the workers to take two kinds of action: 1. Political action. We, the worker majority, must form our own political party to advocate the change from capitalism to socialism, to articulate the need foi workers to organize a classwide revolutionary economic organization, to challenge the political power of the ruling class, and to capture the existing state machinery in order to dismantle it. 2. Industrial action. Only a classwide economic organization can consummate a revolutionary transformation of the means of production and] distribution from privately owned property to socially 1 owned property under the democratic control of the worker majority that operates them every day. By organizing into socialist industrial unions, workers will be able not only to effect such change but also to provide the organizational framework for a democratically administered socialist society." -- From the article "Position and Program", The People, Aug. 30, 1986, pages 4,5.
"How can we get such a society? The answer is easy. It is within the power of the working class to establish such a society as soon as they recognize the need for it and organize to establish it. The program of the Socialist Labor Party of America points the way. By supporting that program at the ballot box you will say that you demand the end of capitalism and the establishment of Socialism. This is the civilized way of revolution. This is the peaceful way to revolution made possible by American conditions and traditions. Our American Constitution is itself the product of social revolution. But, in addition, the working class must organize its might to back up the mandate expressed at the ballot box, to insure that this political mandate is heeded by the outvoted capitalist class. This might lies in industry -- in the industries that the workers already run from top to bottom. Organized into one great Socialist Industrial Union, the workers would constitute an irresistible power to back up their overwhelming vote. Organized into such a union, they could take, hold and operate the industries in their own interests, rather than for the profit of a numerically small class whose continued ownership and despotic control of the means of life have become a great social crime." -- From the 1960 leaflet "The Promise of Socialism" More
Noun: a member of the working class. Example: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win." -- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
Adjective: pertaining to the working class. Example: "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority." -- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
Synonym for working class.
"Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other -- bourgeoisie and proletariat." -- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
"What is the proletariat? The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor -- hence, on the changing state of business, on the vagaries of unbridled competition. The proletariat, or the class of proletarians, is, in a word, the working class of the 19th century." -- Engels, Principles of Communism
Literature and speech intended to "propagate" an idea, that is, to generate publicity for the idea as well as to provide persuasive arguments for the truth of the idea.
"The idea of property was slowly formed in the human mind, remaining nascent and feeble through immense periods of time. Springing into life in savagery, it required all the experience of this period and of the subsequent period of barbarism to develop the germ, and to prepare the human brain for the acceptance of its controlling influence. Its dominance as a passion over all other passions marks the commencement of civilization. It not only led mankind to overcome the obstacles which delayed civilization, but to establish political society on the basis of territory and of property." -- Morgan in Ancient Society
Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph
Pullman railroad strike massacre
A massacre of picketing workers on July 4, 1893 in Chicago by federal troops. The American Railway Union had organized a strike and boycott in response to wage cuts and layoffs by the Pullman Palace Car Company. The strike continued despite an anti-strike injunction issued by a federal court on July 2. On July 4 soldiers sent to the site by President Grover Cleveland fired upon the picketers. 25 workers were killed and 60 were injured. Afterwards, no government officials were cited for wrongdoing, but union officials were imprisoned for violating the injunction. Socialists later criticized the hypocrisy of Cleveland when he signed into law the bill establishing Labor Day.
De Leon's term to describe the unworkable strategies for workers to organize only politically (pure-and-simple political organization) or only industrially (pure-and-simple industrial organization), without recognition of the fact that both kinds of organization are necessary. The origin of the phrase was a remark by Samuel Gompers that he supported "pure and simple trade unionism."



A social change that doesn't alter the fundamental type of economic system or form of government. Contrast with revolution.
"Reforms naturally imply belief in the usefulness, or indispensability, of the thing to be reformed. A garment may be renovated or repaired over and over again, but the point is eventually reached when the effort and cost of repair exceed the replacement cost of the garment. To continue to repair must eventually, and inevitably, lead to a result directly opposite to that at which the process of repairing is aimed." -- Arnold Petersen, 1947 preface to De Leon, Reform or Revolution
Contrast with palliative , sop , immediate demand
"Reform if you would preserve"
A phrase used in a campaign speech by F. D. Roosevelt, who was paraphrasing a remark made over a hundred years earlier by a member of the British parliament. Roosevelt's use of the phrase has been cited frequently by SLP writers and speakers as an admission by a capitalist that the true purpose of reformism is to save capitalism from abolition.
"I support this measure as a measure of reform, but I support it still more as a measure of conservation. That we may exclude those whom it is necessary to exclude, we must admit those whom it may be safe to admit. At present we oppose the schemes of revolutionists with only one half, with only one quarter of our proper force. We say, and we say justly, that it is not by numbers, but by property and intelligence that a nation ought to be governed. Yet, saying this, we exclude from all share of government vast masses of property and intelligence, vast numbers of those who are the most interested in preserving tranquility and who know best how to preserve it. We do more. We drive over to the side of revolution those whom we shut out from power. Is this a time when the cause of law and order can spare one of its natural allies? Turn where we may -- within, around -- the voice of great events is proclaiming to us, reform, that you may preserve."
-- Thomas Babington Macaulay, speech before the House of Commons, March 1, 1831. Source: Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 1831, page 1204. ebook
"The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative. Never has a nation made greater strides in the safeguarding of democracy than we have made during the past three years. Wise and prudent men -- intelligent conservatives -- have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, 'The voice of great events is proclaiming to us, reform if you would preserve.' I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal."
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt, speech at the Democratic Party state convention in Syracuse, New York on September 29, 1936 [primary source to be determined]
"The objective of the liberals in seeking to retain or modify existing welfare provisions, or to enact additional ones, is and always has been to bolster the capitalist system, which is quite the same as the objective of the conservatives. On this point we have the blunt testimony of no less an expert on welfare than Franklin D. Roosevelt himself, who, during a campaign speech on Sept. 29, 1936, declared: 'The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise [fundamental characteristics of capitalism] by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it.... Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative....' The voice of great events is proclaiming to us -- reform if you would preserve.'" -- Nathan Karp, in the article "'Class Warfare' Rhetoric Masks Truth About the Class Struggle", The People, May 13, 1995 More
"Particularly since the days of the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the reforms instituted under that administration's New Deal, the liberals have enjoyed the reputation among millions of workers and their families as the forces of social progress. But, in truth, the New Deal was a massive and concerted effort to save the capitalist system from the brink of destruction. Roosevelt himself in his oft-repeated quote, 'reform if you would preserve,' equated liberalism as 'the protection for the far-sighted conservative.' In his reelection campaign he bragged, 'It was this administration which saved the system of private profit and free enterprise after it had been dragged to the brink of ruin by these same leaders who are now trying to scare you.'" -- Nathan Karp, in the article "'Liberalism' Versus Socialism", The People, May 27, 1995 More
"Capitalism has long since reached the stage where it should be utterly destroyed, to make room for its successor, Socialism. Its persistent lingering on the stage of history is producing all the familiar symptoms of decay and corruption. First, starvation in the midst of plenty; unemployment and idle machinery, men and machines forcibly kept apart, yet with a great and tragic need confronting us of the good and useful things that could be produced by bringing idle men and idle machines together. Further, crime, corruption and all the social vices known to man in the past, and many he (lucky fellow!) never knew; and finally the mad slaughter called war-the insane, purposeless, cruel destruction of millions of human lives, the systematized destruction of wealth, the wanton waste of the fruits of man's ingenuity and painful labor. All this, and more, are the convulsions of a body stricken with incurable diseases and racked with consuming fevers. And yet, there are those who would reform this social system in the expectation of saving and preserving it. Among the outstanding reformers of capitalism in this country stands Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of these United States -- united, that is, in theory, but divided in fact. Divided into classes -- the capitalist class and the working class; divided in interests, socially and economically; divided functionally, the capitalists merely owning wealth, and the means of producing wealth, the working class (the overwhelming majority) producing all the social wealth, yet owning nothing, or nothing really worth owning. And this is the society which its comparatively few beneficiaries wish to reform -- to reform so that it might, as after a short time it surely would, once again plunge mankind into the same nameless horror-this is the social system (or, rather anti-social system!) to whose beneficiaries Mr. Roosevelt said a few years ago: 'Reform if you would preserve [capitalism]'! One asks: How much additional proof must be submitted to satisfy these gentlemen that neither capitalism nor its parasitical beneficiaries are capable of being reformed, even if it were desirable to reform them?" -- Arnold Petersen, in the pamphlet From Reform to Bayonets, 1941 PDF File
In his pamphlet Capitalism is Doomed -- Socialism is the Hope of Humanity, 1952, Arnold Petersen paraphrased the remark in the form of "Reform if you would survive." PDF File
Reform or Revolution
The title of a public address delivered by De Leon in Boston, Massachusetts in 1896, and the pamphlet which contains the transcript of that address. PDF File
Not to be confused with a pamphlet with the same title by Rosa Luxemburg.
Support for reform as a substitute for basic changes to the political and/or economic system.
Replying to a letter from a reader, the SLP described the Social Democrats elected to political offices in various countries: "Corrupted by the capitalist class, the Social-Democratic parties rejected Marxism in favor of reformism -- leaving the capitalist class firmly in control of the means of production." -- from The People, February 6, 1993
(In German, Verdinglichung) Marx's term for the tendency of people to treat certain abstract ideas as through they were reality, to give symbols or metaphysical ideas greater emphasis than concrete facts, to assume that present social institutions are eternal, etc.
"Commodities, which exist as use-values, must first of all assume a form in which they appear to one another nominally as exchange-values, as definite quantities of materialised universal labour-time. The first necessary move in this process is, as we have seen, that the commodities set apart a specific commodity, say, gold, which becomes the direct reification of universal labour-time or the universal equivalent." -- Marx, Critique of Political Economy Text
"The means of production are not means by which he can produce products, whether in the form of direct means of subsistence, or as means of exchange, as commodities. He is rather a means for them, partly to preserve their value, partly to valorise it, i.e. to increase it, to absorb surplus labour. Even this relation in its simplicity is an inversion, a personification of the thing and a reification of the person, for what distinguishes this form from all previous ones is that the capitalist does not rule the worker in any kind of personal capacity, but only in so far as he is 'capital'; his rule is only that of objectified labour over living labour; the rule of the worker's product over the worker himself." -- Marx, Economic Manuscripts of 1861-1863 Text
relations of production
"You've read the lie that socialism is against religion, that it is atheistic. The fact is that the socialist position on religion is the same as that of the Constitution of the United States! Religion, we say, is a private matter -- a matter of individual concern and personal preference. However, when organized religious groups enter the field of politics, and, behind the cloak of religion, defend the morally and socially criminal capitalist system, and when in that defense they attack and vilify and misrepresent socialism, we tear aside the religious masquerade, and expose such political machines as defenders of capitalism and enemies of the workers." -- From the 1953 SLP leaflet, You've Read the Lies about Socialism ... Now Read the Facts! Text
"The moment religion organizes into a specific creed it becomes a political force. From Moses down to Brigham Young, every creed-founder has been a State-builder. Creeds being in their essence political, they fatedly reflect economic and social, in short, material conditions -- and struggle for the same. As a final consequence, every creed, like every political party, naturally and sincerely holds all others wrong, itself alone the one entitled to survive.... It is important to realize this great historic fact. It tears away the mask of religion behind which political aspirations love to conceal themselves. The tearing away of the mask serves the double purpose of thwarting deception, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, of promoting a spirit of intelligent fair play on the part of any one political body toward all others, including of course the unmasked political bodies as well." -- De Leon, from "An Open Letter", Daily People, April 24, 1912, as reprinted in the pamphlet, Daniel De Leon, The Vatican in Politics, 1962 reprint, p. 40. Quoted more fully in Petersen, Theocracy or Democracy, 1944, page 3 of the online edition.
"Man emancipates himself politically from religion by banishing it from the sphere of public law to that of private law." -- Marx, from On the Jewish Question
"We know that violent measures against religion are nonsense; but this is an opinion: as socialism grows, religion will disappear. Its disappearance must be done by social development, in which education must play a part." -- Marx, Chicago Tribune, January 5, 1879, "Interview with Karl Marx"
"Religious poverty is, in one, the expression of real poverty, and in another, a protest against real poverty. Religion is the sigh of a heavy laden creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people." -- Marx, in Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right
A social change that alters the fundamental type of economic system or form of government. Contrast with reform.
"Reform means a change of externals; revolution - peaceful or bloody, the peacefulness or the bloodiness of it cuts no figure whatever in the essence of the question - means a change from within." ..... "Whenever a change leaves the internal mechanism untouched, we have reform; whenever the internal mechanism is changed, we have revolution." "We Socialists are not reformers; we are revolutionists. We Socialists do not propose to change forms. We care nothing for forms. We want a change of the inside of the mechanism of society, let the form take care of itself." -- De Leon in Reform or Revolution
Ricardo, David
(1772-1823) A London economist who theorized that the "natural price" of a commodity is its cost of production. Marx's discovery of the Law of Value was partly due to his study of Ricardo.
right to revolution, the
The principle, frequently acknowledged by founders of the United States, but almost never mentioned by politicians today, expressed in such forms as: "An oppressed people are authorized whenever they can to rise and break their fetters." -- Henry Clay, speech before the House of Representatives, March 14, 1818; "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their Constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -- Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address
Robert's Rules of Order
A popular book of parliamentary procedure (electing a chairperson, making motions, etc.), first published by Henry Robert in 1876. Adopted in the SLP Constitution as the set of procedures selected for use at party meetings.


A term used by the IWW for any intentional removal of the efficiency or quality of work as a labor tactic, such as a slowdown strike or a work-to-rule strike. One of several possible kinds of direct action. From the French word "sabot" (literally, wooden shoe), a metaphor for a clumsy performance of an act. Misunderstanding has been generated by the popular use of the same word to refer to the destruction of property, a connotation that is not intended by the IWW use of the word.
Saint-Simon, Claude Henri
According to the system of cultural anthropology developed by Morgan, the first period of human history, during which the species achieved such inventions as complex languages, uses for fire, and the bow and arrow, but before the invention of pottery, which marks the beginning of the next historical epoch, called barbarism. More
Sanial, Lucien
(1836-1927) Editor of the SLP newspapers Workmen's Advocate and The People for a short time. Failing eyesight made it necessary for him to resign in 1892. Replaced by Daniel De Leon. text
scientific socialism
The decision not to collaborate or not to unite with certain other groups, for reasons which are believed to be important matters of principle, but which, in the opinion of those who describe the decision by this term, are not sufficient reasons. De Leonists are sometimes charged with being sectarian because they do not unite with those who have fundamentally different definitions of the socialist goal or strategy, such as those who promote the belief that socialism can be achieved through gradual reforms.
A local organization of SLP members. It is often but not always organized at the county level, e.g., Section Cook County, Illinois.
"A section is the basic unit of organization of the SLP, entitled to elect delegates to the SLP's biennial national conventions, which are the highest decision-making body of the party." -- From The People, March 20, 1993, page 7
Single Tax Movement
SLP (or S.L.P.)
See Socialist Labor Party
Smith, Adam
(1723-1790) A Scottish philosopher and economist. He argued that the competitive marketplace of capitalism is the best economic system; however, he recognized the Law of Value that later became the basis of Marxian economics, and wrote in his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations: ""Labor, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangable values of all commodities."
Social Democrats
social problems
social question, the
A common term used by De Leon and his successors, usually to refer to the capitalism versus socialism debate or to the study of scientific socialism: "There is no woman question, neither man question; there is no race question, nor color question, nor religious question. What there is is the humanity question -- the social question." -- De Leon in The People, Jan. 14, 1900
"The great social question of our age which demands immediate solution is: Are we going to keep the system of private ownership?" -- The SLP leaflet Socialist Industrial Unionism: The Workers' Power
Sometimes used to refer to the actual replacement of capitalism by socialism:
"... that ideal so dearly pursued by the Socialist - the peaceful solution of the social question." -- De Leon in Socialist Reconstruction of Society
"Question: The social question is an economic question. Why should not an economic organization be enough? The Speaker: The social question and all such questions are essentially political." -- from Reform or Revolution, question-and-answer session following the address
social wealth
"... society openly and directly taking possession of the productive forces which have outgrown all control, except that of society as a whole." -- Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
"The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialized means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialized character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialized production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible." -- Engels, in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
"Socialism is the collective ownership by all the people of the factories, mills, mines, railroads, land and all other instruments of production. Socialism means production to satisfy human needs, not, as under capitalism, for sale and profit. Socialism means direct control and management of the industries and social services by the workers through a democratic government based on their nationwide economic organization." -- From the SLP statement What is Socialism? More
"Socialism is that social system under which the necessaries of production are owned, controlled and administered by the people, for the people, and under which, accordingly, the cause of political and economic despotism having been abolished, class rule is at an end. That is socialism; nothing short of that." -- De Leon, Daily People, Jan. 23, 1906 More
"For it cannot be too strongly insisted that Socialism means but one thing, and that is the abolition of capital in private hands, and the turning over of the industries into the direct control of the workmen employed in them. Anything else is not Socialism, and has no right to sail under that name." -- De Leon, _The Daily People_, November 2, 1908 More
Socialist Industrial Union
Socialist Industrial Unionism
Socialist Labor Party (of America)
The third oldest political party in the U.S., the first socialist organization in the Western hemisphere, formed in 1876 without definite Marxian principles and reorganized as a Marxist party in 1890. Link to site
Socialist Landmarks
A popular pamphlet of several hundred pages published by the SLP, combining four De Leon addresses (which are also available separately) . These four addresses, in which the speaker explained the most fundamental socialist principles, are: Reform or Revolution , What Means This Strike , The Burning Question of Trades Unionism , Socialist Reconstruction of Society
Socialist Party [in the U.S.]
Socialist Reconstruction of Society
The modern title given to a public address delivered by De Leon in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1905, and the pamphlet which contains the transcript of that address. The original title of the address was The Preamble of the I.W.W.. PDF File
Spargo, John
(1876-1966) An activist in several socialist as as well as pseudo-socialist organizations in the early 20th century. Born in England; moved to the U.S. in 1901. Author of several books. His book Socialism clarifies such topics as the concentration of wealth and Marxian economics. His book Bolshevism is critical of the absense of democracy in the Soviet Union. Link to books by John Spargo at Project Gutenberg
Socialist Trade & Labor Alliance (ST&LA)
.... founded in 1895.... Endorsed by the SLP National Convention of 1896 .... merged into the IWW in 1905.
Socialist Workers Party [in the U.S.]
socially necessary labor time
"Some people might think that if the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of labour spent on it, the more idle and unskillful the labourer, the more valuable would his commodity be, because more time would be required in its production. The labour, however, that forms the substance of value, is homogeneous human labour, expenditure of one uniform labour-power. The total labour-power of society, which is embodied in the sum total of the values of all commodities produced by that society, counts here as one homogeneous mass of human labour-power, composed though it be of innumerable individual units. Each of these units is the same as any other, so far as it has the character of the average labour-power of society, and takes effect as such; that is, so far as it requires for producing a commodity, no more time than is needed on an average, no more than is socially necessary. The labour-time socially necessary is that required to produce an article under the normal conditions of production, and with the average degree of skill and intensity prevalent at the time. The introduction of power-looms into England probably reduced by one-half the labour required to weave a given quantity of yarn into cloth. The hand-loom weavers, as a matter of fact, continued to require the same time as before; but for all that, the product of one hour of their labour represented after the change only half an hour's social labour, and consequently fell to one-half its former value." -- Marx, Capital, Chapter 1
A reform granted by a ruling class to an exploited class for the purpose of placating them, not in the form of a greater fraction of the wealth that they produce, but in a form of a distraction.
"Sops are not palliatives.... The sop is not a 'slice,' and 'installment' ladled out in advance of what one is entitled to. It is a 'extra,' a 'bonbon,' a narcotic, thrown out to soothe.... a broken reed on which to lean...." -- De Leon in Two Pages from Roman History
".....the undoing of New Deal and Great Society sops by the 'Republican Revolution'.... -- The People, December 23, 1995
Contrast with palliative , reform , immediate demand
Sorel, Georges
(1847-1922) French writer who supported anarcho-syndicalism.
Sozialistische Arbeiter Partei
A German-language political party formed in 1876 in the New York City region, its name roughly translated as the Socialistic Labor Party, predecessor of the SLP that was established in 1890.
St. John, Vincent
IWW member who was influential in the union's 1908 amendment that removed the endorsement of political organization.
state capitalism
The system of government and economics in the Soviet Union, post-1949 China, and several other countries, in which the state owns the industries. A non-capitalist form of class rule and exploitation. It has no name in the writings of Marx and Engels because they were dead before it first came into existence with the Bolshevik revolution. The supporters of statism, and also the opponents of genuine socialism, falsely claim that statism is socialism. Also called "state despotism", "bureaucratic state despotism" and similar terms.
"Bureaucratic statism has brought into being a self-interested bureaucracy which, while it does not own the industries, otherwise fulfills the requirements of a ruling class. The State owns the industries, but the bureaucracy absolutely controls the State. This enables the bureaucracy, while paying lip service to 'Socialism,' to use the State-owned industries to exploit the propertyless workers and to enjoy disproportionately the fruits of their labor." -- From the SLP leaflet, Which Would You Choose?
Stirner, Max
Sue, Eugene
(1804-1857) A French novelist sympathetic to socialism, although he and Marx had disagreements. De Leon translated Sue's works into English and published them in serial form in the SLP press. Information
surplus labor time
surplus value
"And thus it renders more and more evident the great central fact, that the cause of the miserable condition of the working-class is to be sought, not in these minor grievances, but in the Capitalistic System itself. The wage-worker sells to the capitalist his labour-force for a certain daily sum. After a few hours' work he has reproduced the value of that sum; but the substance of his contract is, that he has to work another series of hours to complete his working-day; and the value he produces during these additional hours of surplus labour is surplus value, which cost the capitalist nothing, but yet goes into his pocket. That is the basis of the system which tends more and more to split up civilised society into a few Rothschilds and Vanderbilts, the owners of all the means of production and subsistence, on the one hand, and an immense number of wage-workers, the owners of nothing but their labour-force, on the other. And that this result is caused, not by this or that secondary grievance, but by the system itself -- this fact has been brought out in bold relief by the development of Capitalism in England since 1847." -- Engels, 1892 preface to The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844
"Marx also discovered the special law of motion governing the present-day capitalist mode of production, and the bourgeois society that this mode of production has created. The discovery of surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the dark." -- Engels, speech at the grave of Marx, Highgate Cemetery, London, 1883
"'Syndicat' is the French word for the English 'Union.' From that it would seem that 'Syndicalism' must mean 'Unionism.' It does not. Due to one of those unaccountable freaks of language, 'Syndicalism' has come to be understood everywhere as meaning a particular sort of 'Unionism,' to wit, a theory of economic organization with the revolutionary purpose of overthrowing capitalism by the specialized means of physical force." -- De Leon, in the editorial Syndicalism published in the Daily People Aug. 3, 1909 Read More


"take, hold and operate"
A phrase found frequently in SLP literature in reference to the party's program.
"At the same time, De Leon saw that political organization alone was insufficient for the revolutionary task. Classconscious unions would be needed to organize workers at the point of production to mobilize the economic potential that workers held as the sole productive class in society. Those unions would be the basic force with which workers could transform the capitalist relations of production and with which they could take, hold and operate the economy." -- From "Question Period -- Who was Daniel De Leon?" The People, March 5, 1983 More
"Accordingly, the economic organization of labor and struggle on the industrial field are essential for the success of the working-class movement. That economic organization is the socialist industrial on movement. Its purpose is to organize workers to take, hold and operate the industries of the land under their own democratic authority, thereby removing the capitalist class from the seat of its economic power and effecting the change to socialism." -- From the article "Socialist Industrial Unionism: For Workers' Emancipation", The People, October 6, 1990 More
"To win the struggle for socialist freedom requires enormous efforts of organizational and educational work. It requires building a political party of socialism to contest the power of the capitalist class on the political field, and to educate the majority of workers about the need for socialism. It requires building socialist industrial union organizations to unite all workers in a class-conscious industrial force, and to prepare them to take, hold, and operate the tools of production." -- From the SLP leaflet "What is Socialism" (1970s) More
"But, in addition, the working class must organize its might to back up the mandate expressed at the ballot box, to insure that this political mandate is heeded by the outvoted capitalist class. This might lies in industry -- in the industries that the workers already run from top to bottom. Organized into one great Socialist Industrial Union, the workers would constitute an irresistible power to back up their overwhelming vote. Organized into such a union, they could take, hold and operate the industries in their own interests, rather than for the profit of a numerically small class whose continued ownership and despotic control of the means of life have become a great social crime." -- From the 1960 leaflet "The Promise of Socialism" More
Trautmann, William E.
Cofounder in 1905 and the first general secretary of the IWW. Author of the 1911 pamphlet "One Big Union" published by the Charles H. Kerr collective. Text Proposed a classification system for industrial union departments. Resigned from the IWW and joined the WIIU. Information
Trotsky, Leon
Two Pages from Roman History
A public address that De Leon delivered in New York City in two parts, on two days in 1902, and the pamphlet containing the transcript of the address. The subject is the lessons the modern labor movement should learn from certain events in ancient Rome, particularly the distraction and betrayal of the plebeans, the lower class, by leaders who claimed to be reformers seeking the plebeans' interests. Several arguments against reliance on reformism are listed. PDF File


In Roman Catholic theology, the name of principle that the pope should have ultimate authority. De Leon and Petersen gave the term a different connotation. They used the word to denote the theocratic tendency of the church, the entry of the church into political debates. They criticized the church when theologians claimed that capitalism is the only natural economic system, when theologians said that belief in socialism is a mortal sin, when the pope gave his blessing to fascism, and similar events. Petersen's book Theocracy or Democracy? PDF file includes several direct quotations from early 20th century popes demanding opposition to the principle that government should be independent of the influence of the church. Additional quotations from the papacy condemn the idea of obtaining knowledge by employing "reason." See also the collection of De Leon editorials published under the name The Vatican in Politics.
The word "ultramontanism" is also used in Karl Kautsky, "Clericalism and the Socialist Attitude Thereto", 1903. Text
Uncle Sam and Brother Jonathan
A series of fictitious dialogues written by De Leon. A socialist named Uncle Sam logically proves various points to persuade the skeptical Brother Jonathan. The dialogues were later published as a book entitled Socialist Economics in Dialogue. Example
Adjective: a common term in the SLP to describe adherence to fundamental principles even though the abandonment of principles might produce an increase in membership, an increase in votes, etc.
"Of all revolutionary epochs, the present draws sharpest the line between the conflicting class interests. Hence, the organizations of the revolution of our generation must be the most uncompromising of any that yet appeared on the stage of history. The program of this revolution consists not in any one detail. It demands the unconditional surrender of the capitalist system and its system of wage slavery; the total extinction of class rule is its object. Nothing short of that - whether as a first, a temporary, or any other sort of step can at this late date receive recognition in the camp of the modern revolution." -- De Leon in Reform or Revolution
"The economic movement may take a little at a time. It may do so because its function is ultimately to take and hold the full plants of production and save them for the human race. The political movement, on the contrary, has an entirely different function: its function is wholly to tear down the political burg of capitalist tyranny. It follows herefrom that the political movement of labor may not even remotely partake even of the appearance of compromise. It exemplifies the revolutionary aim of the labor movement; it must be uncompromisingly revolutionary." -- De Leon in Socialist Reconstruction of Society
"The SLP never compromises truth to make a friend, never withholds a blow at error lest it make an enemy. In firm assurance of final victory, it pursues its course unswerved by weak desire for temporary advantage. It is ever outspoken and straightforward, believing that, in fearless independence, the integrity of purpose by which it is inspired will, in the long run, win the respect and confidence of those whom it aims to weld into a class-conscious, aggressive body. Its propaganda is not alone to educate, it is to organize the working class for the conquest of power, for the complete overthrow of capitalism. Until that mission is accomplished, it will stand like a rock, alert and watchful, yielding nothing." -- De Leon (source TBD)
unpaid labor
use value
utopian socialism


Value, Price and Profit
A lecture in 1865 in which Marx explained in public for the first time the law of value and theory of surplus value. The transcript is published in the form of a popular pamphlet. Many Marxists consider the pamphlet to be an excellent introduction to Marxian economics. PDF File
variable capital
A German-language newspaper published by the SLP from 1878-1899. The title means "people's newspaper".


"Labor alone produces all wealth. Wages are that part of labor's own product that the workingman is allowed to keep." -- De Leon in What Means This Strike
wage slavery (sometimes hyphenated)
"In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed -- a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
"Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labor, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labor increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time, or by increased speed of machinery, etc.
"Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army, they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, in the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is."
-- Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
"It was made clear that the wage worker has permission to work for his own subsistence -- that is, to live, only insofar as he works for a certain time gratis for the capitalist (and hence also for the latter's co-consumers of surplus value); that the whole capitalist system of production turns on the increase of this gratis labor by extending the working day, or by developing the productivity -- that is, increasing the intensity or labor power, etc.; that, consequently, the system of wage labor is a system of slavery, and indeed of a slavery which becomes more severe in proportion as the social productive forces of labor develop, whether the worker receives better or worse payment." -- Marx, in Critique of the Gotha Programme
wage system (or wages system)
Wage-Labor and Capital
PDF File
Violence or destruction initiated by governments of class-ruled societies, usually as part of the competition among the ruling classes of various countries for such factors in economic competition as markets for goods, sources of raw materials, and trade routes.
Weekly People (newspaper)
The weekly newspaper published by the SLP beginning in the year 1914 (? verify) when the party stopped producing two separate edition, the previous weekly The People and the discontinued Daily People. Ended publication in [year ????] when it was replaced by The People with various frequencies other than weekly.
Weydemeyer, Joseph
(1818-1866) A collaborator of Marx and Engels in Germany who emigrated to the U.S. Became the founder of an American Marxist movement that was part of the International. To assist the abolition of slavery, he campaigned for election of Lincoln and joined the U.S. Army during the Civil Way.
What Means This Strike
The title of a public address delivered by De Leon in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1898, and the pamphlet which contains the transcript of that address. PDF File
Workers' International Industrial Union (WIIU)
An industrial union established by SLP members and supporters in 1908 after the SLP discontinued its alliance with the IWW. Disbanded in 1924. Efforts to reconstitute the WIIU began in 2009. Information
working class
Workingmen's Party of the United States
World Socialist Movement (WSM), or the World Socialists
A working class movement that began with the founding of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1904. The WSM agrees with De Leonism about the need for political party organization and the avoidance of reformism, but disagrees with De Leonism's advocacy of industrial unionism as a necessary socialist strategy. Information




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Date of the last page revision: March 2019 - minor edits