V. I. Lenin


Written in English before
November 9 (23), 1915
First published in 1924
in Lenin Miscellany II

Published according to
the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964

Vol. 21, pp. 423-28.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by Julius Katzer

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (December 1998)

    page 483


      [172] The letter is a reply to the league's leaflet received by Lenin in November 1915. The letter is published in full for the first time.    [p. 423]

      [173] The Socialist Party of America was formed in July 1901 at the congress in Indianapolis as a result of a merger of groups that had broken away from the Socialist Labour Party and the Social-Democratic Party in the U.S.A., among whose founders was Eugene Debs, the popular American labour leader. He was one of the founders of the new party. The social composition of the party was motley: native-born and immigrant workers, small farmers, and people with a petty-bourgeois background. The Centrist and Right-opportunist leaders of the party (V.-L. Berger, Morris Hillquit and others) denied the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat, refrained from revolutionary methods of struggle and confined the Party's activities to participation in elections. During World War I three trends formed within the Socialist Party: the social-chauvinists, who supported the government's imperialist policy, the Centrists, who opposed the imperialist war only in word, and the revolutionary minority, who held an internationalist stand and fought against the war. Led by Charles Ruthenberg, William Foster, Bill Haywood and others and with the support of proletarian elements, the Left wing of the Socialist Party waged a struggle against the opportunist leadership of the party, for the workers' independent political activity, and for the formation of industrial trade unions based on the principles of the class struggle. In 1919 the Left-wing split away from the S.P., initiated the formation of the American Communist Party, and became its core.
        At present the Socialist Party is a small sectarian organisation.
        The Socialist Labour Party of America was formed in 1876 at a congress in Philadelphia, as a result of a merger of the American Sections of the First International and other socialist organisations. The work of the congress was guided by F. A. Sorge, an associate of Marx and Engels. Most of the Party's members were immigrants who had weak links with the American workers. During the first years its leadership was dominated by Lassalleans, who made mistakes of a sectarian and dogmatic nature. Some of the party's leaders considered parliamentary activity the main party task, and underestimated the significance of party guidance of the economic struggle of the masses, while others fell into trade-unionism and anarchism. The ideological and tactical vacillations of its leader ship resulted in a number of groups splitting away from the party. Marx and Engels severely criticised the sectarian tactics of American socialists.

    page 484

        In the nineties the leadership of the S.L.P. was taken over by its Left wing under D. De Leon who committed anarcho-syndicalist errors. The S.L.P. refused to fight for working-class partial demands, refused to work in the reformist trade unions, and continued losing its ties with the mass working-class movement, weak as they were. During World War I the Socialist Labour Party inclined towards internationalism. Under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution its more revolutionary section actively participated in forming the Communist Party of the U.S.A. At present the S.L.P. is a small organisation without any influence on the U.S. labour movement in the U.S.A.    [p. 427]