Organizing an independent party of the working class was the lesson socialists took from the failed evolutions that swept across Europe in 1848. The world’s first attempt was made 20 years earlier in Philadelphia and New York with the Workingmen’s Party. Independent labor parties were an invention of working class movements to enable them to compete politically with capitalist parties as the movements won the franchise. But the U.S. is unique among industrial countries in failing to consolidate a mass party of the left, despite promising attempts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Greenback-Labor, People’s, and Socialist parties.
• Today, can an independent left party provide the organization framework for working class and progressive movements – now fragmented by issue, race, gender, occupation, and other identities – to forge unity around a common strategy and program?
• What organization forms should it embody?
• How should it fund itself?
• How should it relate to labor unions and social movements?
• How should it relate to nonpartisan and local, state, and federal elections?
• How should it relate to progressive Democrats?
This panel will discuss these and related questions.