30 July 2011

Brief Outline of Labor and Socialist History in the USA






1152 BCE - During the reign of Ramses III, artisans at the Royal Necropolis at Deir el-Medina successfully strike on 14 November for a raise in their wages.

375 CE - The author, or compiler, of the Apostolic Constitutions mandates no works for servants, including slaves, on Saturday and Sunday, the entirety of Holy and Easter Weeks, and various feast days throughout the year.

1619 CE - The first labor strike in America, at Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia, when Polish craftsmen strike for the right to vote.

1768 - Sailors on merchant ships strike, or remove, their topgallant sails in support of workers' rights demonstrations in London, thus giving the world the word "strike".

1775 – Publication of Thomas Paine’s “An Occasional Letter on the Female Sex” and “African Slavery in America”.

The American Revolution begins.

1776 – Publication of Paine’s Common Sense

American Declaration of Independence.

Paine begins publication of The Crisis.

1783 – The First Industrial Revolution begins.

1787 – Paine returns to England seeking financing for a single-arch iron bridge over the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania and ends up becoming involved in politics. Friends of Liberty clubs begin to form among the working-class in England and in Scotland.

1789 – The French Revolution takes place. The French National Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

1791 – Publication of Paine’s Rights of Man, Part I.

Abortive working-class revolution in England.

Organization of the Society of United Irishmen in Belfast and later in Dublin.

1792 – Publication of Paine’s Rights of Man, Part II. 

Organization of the Friends of the People of Scotland in Edinburgh and of the Friends of the People of England in London.

1793-1850 - First Industrial Revolution in America.

1794 – Organization by Pitt of the Treason Trials targetting the radical movements in the United Kingdom.

Organization of the United Scotsmen to replace the Friend of the People decimated by the arrests of all its leaders.

Publication of Book I of Paine’s Age of Reason.

1795 – Gracchus Babeuf calls for equal distribution of land and income, and ownership of the means of production by workers, to be achieved thru violent revolution if necessary.

Publication of Book II of Paine’s Age of Reason.

1797 – Organization of the United Englishmen. 

Publication of Paine’s Agrarian Justice

The “Jolly Roger”, or Red Flag, is first used as a symbol of workers’ resistance by rebellious sailors of the Royal Navy. 

Second aborted rising of the English working-class. 

Rising of the United Scotsmen.

1798 – First Rising of the United Irishmen.

1803 – Second Rising of the United Irishmen.

1807 – Publication of Book III of Paine’s Age of Reason.

1820 – Radical Rising in Scotland.

1828 – Robert Owen, formerly of Glasgow, Scotland, founds the Workingmen’s Party, the world’s first socialist party, in New York City and Philadelphia, as the political arm of the Trades Union.

1832 - Pierre Leroux, editor of Le Globe, coins the word "socialism".

1834 - German workers in Paris found the League of the Just, originally devoted to the ideas of Gracchus Babeuf.

1836 – Women at the Lowell Mill in Massachusetts successfully strike over a rent increase for company housing, with considerable community support.  Two years previously, the women had struck for higher wages with broad community support but were unsuccessful.

1839 – Young Ireland is founded in Dublin.

1843 – Publication of Flora Tristan’s The Workers’ Union.

1845 – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels organize Committees of Correspondence in several European countries. 

Members of the League of the Just in the USA found Young America, which is later known as the Social Reform Association.  Within a few months of its founding, it had devolved into just a (major) faction of the Democratic Party led by Stephen Douglas, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and John O'Sullivan, who coined the term Manifest Destiny.

1847 – Marx and Engels found the Communist League in London on the basis of the League of the Just and the Committees of Correspondence.

1848 –The Manifesto of the Communist Party is published. 

The Springtime of Nations revolts occur in France, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Venetia, Italy, Sicily, Rome, Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, Schleswig, Wallachia, Moldavia, and Rumania.

1850 – Wilhelm Weitling founds the General Workingmen’s League in Philadelphia.  Under his influence, the Central Committee of United Trades forms in New York City.

1851 – Marx begins writing articles for the New York Tribune about European economics and politics.

1852 – Joseph Weydemeyer, a friend of Marx, forms the Proletarierbund and coins the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

1853 – Weydemeyer founds the American Workers’ League.

1855 – The International Association brings together most of the previous socialist and radical labor organization in the USA.

1857 – Komp and Friedrich Sorge found the Communist Club in New York City. 

Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the southern Pennsylvania coalfields begin operating as the Molly Maguires.

1864 – Marxists, Blanquists, Philadephes, trade unionists, Proudhon’s mutualist anarchists, other socialists, and social democrats unite in the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA; the First International).


Mikhail Bakunin founds the International Revolutionary Brotherhood.

1865 –  The German General Workingmen’s Union (GGWU) is organized in New York City.

1866 – Under the leadership of William H. Sylvis, labor organizations from across the USA establish the National Labor Union (NLU) in Baltimore.

1867-1915 – The Second Industrial Revolution.

1867 - Volume I of Das Kapital is published.

The GGWU in the USA and the Communist Club of NYC join together as Section One of the IWA.

1868 – The NLU organizes the National Labor Reform Party (NLRP) as an independent socialist labor party at its third convention in New York City.

Bakunin and his collectivist anarchists join the IWA and found the International Alliance of Social Democracy caucus within it.

Irish-born English immigrant John Smiley organizes the cross-ethnic (English, Welsh, Irish) Workingmen's Benevolent Association (WBA) in the anthracite coalfields of Pennsylvania, the first union for anthracite colliers.  It lasts until 1875.

1869 – The Knights of Labor is formed. 

Stephen Pearl Andrews organizes New Democracy. 

The Colored National Labor Union is founded.

The GGWU of New York City joins the NLU.

1870-1914 - Age of Imperialism

1870 – The Central Committee of the IWA for North America is founded.

1871 – The Paris Commune. 

New Democracy joins the First International as Sections Nine and Twelve. 

The American sections of the First International join together as the North American Federation of the IWA, which eventually includes more than thirty sections. 

The International Labor Union is founded in the USA.

1872 – At the Hague Congress of the IWA, the association splits into red and black factions, with the anarchists expelled from the IWA to form the St. Imier International. The seat of the IWA moves from London to NYC. 

Section Twelve is expelled from the IWA and forms the Equal Rights Party, running Virginia Woodhull for President and Frederick Douglas for Vice President in the USA national elections that year.

1873-1896 – The Long Depression in Europe.

1873 – The Panic of 1873.  At the end of the year, the Labor Party of Illinois forms in Chicago.

1874 – Adolph Strasser, a Lassalean, and P.J. Maguire form the Social Democratic Workingmen’s Party (SDWP) of North America.

1875 – Germany’s Social Democratic Party is formed by the (German) GGWU and the (German) SDWP as the Social Workers’ Party.  This SWP's members are the first to use "comrade" to address each other.

The Pinkerton Agency begins its activities against the Molly Maguires in the Pennsylvania coalfields.

1876 – The IWA (First International) dissolves. 

The North American Federation of the IWA, the SDWP of North America, the Labor Party of Illinois, the Socio-Political Labor Union of Cincinnati, and others form the Workingmen’s Party of America (later known as the Socialistic Labor Party of America, and finally the Socialist Labor Party of America).  Within a year the new party has over 60 sections.

1877 – The Great Upheaval takes place in the USA.

The St. Imier International dissolves.

Ten members of the Molly Maguires are executed in Pennsylvania.

1878 - Members of the SLP wanting to concentrate more on union work with actual workers leave to form the International Labor Union (ILU).

1881 – SLP extremists form the Revolutionary Socialist Labor Party (RSLP); its members refer to themselves as “social revolutionists”.

International anarchists in London found the International Working People’s Association (IWPA), or “Black International.

The International Workingmen’s Association (aka “Red International”) is organized in the American West by Burnette G. Haskell; it disappears at the end of the 1890’s.

The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (FOTLU) is founded in Terre Haute, Indiana, and eventually represents workers across the United States and Canada.

1882 – The Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, the first integrated labor union in the USA, is organized with support from the SLP.  It later spreads to Philadelphia.

1883 – The social revolutionists of the RSP unite with groups of American Bakuninist anarchists under the umbrella of the International Working People’s Association (IWPA); not the same as the Black International.

1884 – Publication of Laurence Gronlund’s Co-operative Commonwealth

The CLU of New York declares the world’s first Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

1885 – Volume II of Das Kapital is published.

1886 – The FOTLU becomes the American Federation of Labor (AFL). 

The Great Railroad Strike takes place in the USA. 

On 1st May, unions worldwide observe a one-day strike in support of the Eight Hour Movement in the USA.

The Haymarket Riot takes place in Chicago.

1887 – Publication of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, 2000-1887, which becomes the leading manual for American socialists well into the early 20th century as well as one of the three best-selling novels of the 19th  century (along with Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben Hur).  Rapid growth of the Bellamy-inspired Nationalist Movement, "Nation" meant as the antonym of "Capital", eventually numbering 167 local clubs.

The IWMA all but disappears after this time.

After the Knights of Labor have been organizing Louisiana sugar cane cutters for three months, thousands go out on strike.  White vigilantes aided by a judge and the Louisiana state militia respond by carrying out the three-day Thibodaux Massacre in November.

1889 – The Socialist (Second) International is established in Paris on 14 July, its membership including the anarchists.  One of its first actions is to declare May Day as International Workers Day.

W.D.P. Bliss and Francis Bellamy found the Christian Socialist Society.

A split develops within the SLP between those who want to forsake politics for trade union work and vice versa, resulting in the breakaway group forming the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) led by Wlihelm Rosenberg, which wanted to focus on political action.

1890 – Daniel DeLeon puts the SLP of America on a firm Marxist theoretical base.

1891 – The Coal Creek War begins in Anderson County between coal companies (Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railway, Kentucky Coal, Knoxville Iron, Cumberland Coal, and Tennessee Coal Mining) and the Tennessee National Guard on one side versus miners and escaped prison convicts on the other; the hostilities last for over a year.  The miners had support from the Knights of Labor.

1892 – Christian socialist Francis Bellamy composes the Pledge of Allegiance which first reads: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with liberty, equality, fraternity, and justice for all.”

Leaders from the Southern Agrarian Alliance, the National Agricultural Wheel, and the Knights of Labor form the agrarian-oriented People's (or Populist) Party, with its Omaha Platform calling for an eight-hour workday, direct elections of Senators, a graduated income tax, abolition of national banks, civil service reform, and government control of railroads and telecommunications.  The Bellamy Nationalist Clubs support the Populists in this year's elections.

In the South, many Populist leaders called for blacks and poor whites to work together.  The response of the planter-class elite is disenfranchisement of black and poor white voters and Jim Crow segregation, both of which spread quickly during the recession of the 1890s.

1893 – Eugene Debs organizes the American Railway Union (ARU).

The Western Federation of Miners is formed.

The Panic of 1893 begins.

1894 – Volume III of Das Kapital is published. 

The Great Pullman Strike of the ARU takes place in the USA.  The strike is especially notable for the fact that President Grover Cleveland used the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to intervene against the strikers.

Jacob Coxey’s Army marches to Washington, D.C.

Julius Wayland founds Ruskin Colony in Dickson County, Tennessee, intended as a socialist settlement.  The colony moves slightly north two years later, and in 1899 to Waycross, Georgia, before finally dissolving in 1901.

1895 – The Socialist Labor Party of America (SLPA) founds the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance (STLA). 

Julius Martov and V.I. Lenin found the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of Labor in Russia.

1896 – The Brotherhood of the Co-operative Commonwealth (BCC) is formed in the USA with Myron Reed as president and Debs as organizer, hoping to colonize an area in the American West as a socialist utopia. 

James Connolly organizes the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP).

At the initiative of the German Social Democratic Party, the anarchists are excluded from the Second International.

The Populists this year support William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic Party candidate, for president, but with their own vice presidential contender, Thomas Watson of Georgia, one of the party's most outspoken advocates of black-white collaboration.

1897 – Debs merges the remnants of the ARU with a faction of the BCC as the Social Democracy of America (SDA).

Edward Bellamy publishes his sequel to Looking Backward, called Equality.

The Yiddish-language Forward Publishing Association leaves the SLP over DeLeon's authoritarianism, and affiliates with the SDA, and later with the SPA.  It continues to publish The Forward in both English and Yiddish in the 21st century.

The BCC establishes a colony in Washington State, naming it Equality, after Bellamy's latest novel.  The effort lasts until 1906.

1898 – A group led by Isaac Hourwich favoring political actions rather than colonization forms the Social-Democratic Party (SDP) under Victor Berger, which nevertheless becomes the political wing of its parent body. 

The SDA incorporates in Seattle as the Co-operative Brotherhood and establishes a socialist colony in Washington State known as Burley.  It lasts until 1913.

Rosenberg's SDF joins the SDA. 

The Western (later American) Labor Union is formed. 

The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) is founded in Minsk. 

The Social-Revolutionary (SR) Party is formed in Russia from various agrarian political reform groups.

1899 – The Socialist Party of America in Texas, led by W.E. Farmer, joins the SDP.

1900 - Debs runs for President of the USA as the candidate for both the SDP and the SLPA.

Watson runs as presidential candidate for the Populist Party and loses badly, after which he becomes one of the South's loudest exponents of white supremacism in 1904 and 1908.

1901 – The SDP and Morris Hillquit’s “Kangaroo” dissidents from the SLP, known as the Rochester wing, join with Christian Socialists, Bellamy Nationalists, former Populists, single-taxers, and other radicals in the Socialist Party of America.

USA President McKinley is assassinated by an anarchist.

The International Secretariat of National Trade Union Centres (ISNTUC) forms in Copenhagen.  Though subordinated to the Second International, it is composed of trade unions that are socialist, syndicalist, and non-political, the last category including the USA's AFL.

1903 – The Bolshevik-Menshevik split takes place at the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP in Belgium. 

Connolly organizes the International Workers’ League in the USA.

1905 – Members of the American Labor Union, the Western Federation of Miners, the Socialist Party of America, the Socialist Labor Party of America, the International Workers’ League, and the Socialist Trades and Labor Association found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies), though one faction of the SPA supports the socialists under Hayes in the American Federation of Labor. 

Clarence Darrow, Walter Lippman, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, and others form the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS).  With its mother chapter at Harvard University, the ISS becomes the main bastion of Fabian thought in the USA.  Later leading members include Felix Frankfurter, W. E. B. DuBois, and Jay Lovestone, among others,

The SPA founds the Young People’s Socialist League (YPSL).  One of its first acts is to recreate in the USA the Socialist Sunday School system of the United Kingdom.  Eventually there are over 100 such schools in 64 cities.

The French Socialist Party and the Socialist Party of France merge as the French Section of the Workers International under pressure from the Second International.

1906 – The Labour Representation Committee, organized by several labor unions and small socialist parties, in the United Kingdom forms the Labour Party.

The first American edition of Das Kapital, also the first English-language edition with all three volumes, is published.

The Anarchist Black Cross is founded to provide political support across the world, especially to political prisoners.

The WFM withdraws from the IWW over a dispute over control of Wobbly headquarters after its leadership takes a conservative turn.

Members of SPA establish the Rand School of Social Science and its Meyer London Library, operated by the American Socialist Society founded for that purpose.

1908 – DeLeon withdraws SLPA support for the IWW and forms the Workers’ International Industrial Union (WIIU). 

James Larkin founds the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

1910 – The Socialist International declares 8 March as International Women's Day.

1912 – William Foster forms the Syndicalist League of North America (later the Trade Union Educational League, or TUEL), which later becomes the Trade Union Unity League (TUUL) of the CPUSA.

Berger and Hillquit and the right-wing gain control of the SPA and expel Haywood and the rest of the left-wing.

The Bolshevik wing of the RSDLP formally severes relations as the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (RSDWP).

Larkin and Connolly found the Irish Labour Party.

The successful Bread and Roses strike takes place in the textile mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, planned and supported by the IWW and the Italian Socialist Federation (ISF), but carried out and led mostly by women.

The Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike begins when ten thousand miners in the Charleston, West Virginia, walk off their jobs for the right to organize and better working conditions.  When it ends a year later, between fifty and a hundred are dead.

1913 – The Dublin Lockout takes place in Ireland in response to a general strike there by the ITGWU.

The Brotherhood of Timber Workers, affiliated with the IWW, organizes the Working Class Union (WCU) outside the IWW, which includes wage workers, farmers, sharecroppers, doctors, and lawyers, in Louisiana, from which it spreads to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and other surrounding states. The IWW turns up its nose because the WCU has members other than wage workers.

1914 – The Colorado National Guard carries out the Ludlow Massacre against striking mine workers and their families.

The First World War begins.

1915 – The Zimmerwald Union withdraws from the Second International over the “social patriotism” of its social-democratic leaders.

C.W. Fitzgerald and SPA’s Left Wing organize the Socialist Propaganda League in Boston, allied to Lenin’s group.

Lenin forms the Bolshevik Central Committee. 

The Clyde Workers Committee is established in Glasgow, Scotland.

1916 – Two immigrants from the United Kingdom form the World Socialist Party as an associated branch of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. 

The Easter Rising takes place in Ireland, with the ITGWU’s Citizen Army among the republicans.

The Zimmerwald Union forms the International Socialist Commission, or Berne International; its members include representatives from the Bolshevik, Menshevik, and Mezhraiontsy factions of the RSDLP as well as socialist parties and dissidents from social democratic parties of several other nations in Europe.

The Second International dissolves, and the IFNTUC collapses.

The WFM changes its name to the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers (IUMMSW).

1917 – Leon Trotsky comes to New York City. 

The February Revolution takes place in the Russian Empire; Trotsky leaves NYC for Russia. 

The Bolsheviks lead the October Revolution, and adopt the name Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). 

The Messenger is founded in New York City as a socialist publication by blacks for blacks. 

Pro-war members of SPA, including Lippman, form the National Party.

The WCU carries out the Green Corn Rebellion against conscription in Oklahoma. The IWW offers no back up even though it shares the anti-conscription feeling. As a result, the organization is virtually destroyed.

1918 – The Communist Propaganda League is founded in Chicago and the Left Wing Section of Greater New York Locals is founded in NYC. 

Over 1300 Wobblies (members of the IWW) are arrested throughout the USA.

Helen Gurley Flynn founds the Workers Defense Union (WDU) under the auspices of the National Civil Liberties Bureau, the precursor to the ACLU.

The Bolsheviks expel the Mensheviks and the SR’s (Social-Revolutionaries) from the Soviets. 

The Russian Civil War begins; Lenin establishes “War Communism”.

Makno founds the Revolutionary Insurrectionary (Black) Army of Ukraine, which is at first opposed by, then allied with, and ultimately betrayed by the Bolsheviks, disintegrating in 1921.

1919-1920 - The First Red Scare

1919 – The Communist (Third) International (Comintern) is founded in Moscow.  Attendees from America at the congress include SPA’s Left Wing, IWW, SLPA, and WIIU.  The Berne International dissolves and merges into it.

The National Executive of the SPA expels more than 70,000 members of the Left, one faction of which forms the Communist Party of America (CPA) under Louis Fraina and another the Communist Labor Party (CLP) under Jack Reed. 

Debs is sentenced to ten years in prison because of his anti-war “Canton Speech” in 1918.

A general strike in Seattle, Washington, begins when 35,000 shipyard workers walk out and other unions vote to support them.

The Elaine Massacre takes place in Phillips County, Arkansas, by local white citizens and 500 troops of the National Guard of over 200 black citizens.  The massacre was sparked by an incident at a meeting of black mostly sharecroppers and the Progressive Farmers and Household Union in nearby Hoop Spur.

J. Edgar Hoover becomes head of the General Intelligence Division of the FBI, specifically to target Socialists and Wobblies.  When he becomes chief of the Bureau five years later, his main mission is "Anti-Communism".

The CWC begins the Red Clydeside movement with a general strike under the overall leadership of John Maclean. 

The Limerick Soviet has a brief existence during the Anglo-Irish War, which begins that same year with the Irish Citizen Army fighting with the “Irregulars”.

Representatives of trade unions federations from fourteen countries, including Gompers from the AFL, organize the International Federations of Trade Unions (IFTU).  After the new organization adopts social democracy as its policy, Gompers withdraws.

1920 – The Palmer Raids takes place in the USA. 

The CPA and the CLP go underground; the Michigan Group breaks away from the CPA as the Proletarian Party. Charles Ruthenberg’s faction of the CPA unites with the CLP as the United Communist Party. 

The Second International is relaunched in Berne, though dissenters form their own International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP). 

Three factions begin to emerge in the remainder of the SPA: the Old Guard, the Militants, and the Progressives.  The Left Wing remaining in the SPA forms the Committee for the Third International under J. Louis Engdahl and William Kruse.

The Communist Party of Great Britain is founded by the merger of several small socialist parties.

The French Communist Party breaks away from the French Section of the Workers International.

Three thousand miners in Logan County, West Virginia, belonging to the UMW go out on strike, leading to the Matewan Massacre.

William Foster organizes the Trade Union Educational League (TUEL) on behalf of the WCP, supported by the Comintern as the American vehicle for infiltration of existing trade unions and "boring from within".

Representatives from the American Women's Emergency Committee, the Farmer-Labor Party, and the Socialist Party of New York form the American Labor Alliance for Trade Relations with Russia (ALA).

Bishop William Brown of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA, formerly Ordinary of Arkansas and currently a member of SPA, publishes Communism and Christianism, repudiating organized religion in favor of Marxian socialism.  For this, in 1924 he becomes the first bishop since the Reformation tried and convicted of heresy, after which he is deposed and excommunicated, later consecrated as a bishop of the Old Catholic Church.

1921 – In Logan County, West Virginia, ten thousand coal miners confront 3000 lawmen and scabs in the five-day Battle of Blair Mountain, the culmination of a insurrection that began after the Matewan Massacre the previous year.  President Harding sent in federal troops, including a squadron of fourteen airplanes commanded by Billy Mitchell.

The Kronstadt Rebellion takes place in Russia and is crushed by troops under Trotsky

The Red International of Labor Unions (Profintern) is founded in Moscow. 

The Peasant International (Crestintern) is founded in Moscow.

The Committee for the Third International leaves the SPA and forms the Workers’ Council of the United States.

The United Communist Party and the Communist Party of America unite under the latter’s name and are joined by Foster’s TUEL, the Workers’ Council, and the ALA.  The new CPA establishes the Workers’ Party of America as its above-ground affiliate. 

The Mensheviks are outlawed in Russia and its associated states. 

The Workers’ Opposition, Gavril Miasnikov’s Workers’ Group, and Timofei Sapranov’s Democratic Centralists (Decists) all lose out at the 10th All-Russian Congress of Soviets.

The International Working Union of Socialist Parties (IWUSP), aka the 2 ½ or Vienna International, is organized in Vienna as an alternative to the Comintern and the former Second International.

The ISS of 1905 becomes the League for Industrial Democracy (LID).

SPA’s Rand School establishes Camp Tamiment in the Poconos Mountains of Pike Co., Pennsylvania, operated by the People’s Educational Camp Society (PECS), as a socialist educational summer camp for trade union workers but gradually operating more as a resort.

1922 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is established. 

The “Left Opposition” breaks away from the Communist Party of America calling itself CPA-Central Caucus, with the United Toilers of America as its above-ground apparatus. 

The CPA itself is split between the “Geese” and the “Liquidators”. 

Joseph Stalin is named General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

The anarchist International Workers Association is founded in Berlin. It still exists.

1923 – The Red International of Trade Unions (Profintern) is founded in Moscow. 

The American factions unite as the Workers’ Party of America, abolishing their underground organizations, except for one faction which remains underground for several more years. 

The reconstituted Second International reunites with the Vienna International as the Labour and Socialist International.  The IFTU affiliates with it.

John Maclean forms the Scottish Workers Republican Party in Glasgow.

1924 – The IWW is split between the decentralist James Rowan faction favoring Organizing on the Job and the centralist Four Trey faction favoring Political Action, with the former group breaking off as the Emergency Program.

The WIIU ceases to exist.

Alexander Trachtenberg founds International Publishers, an outlet for socialist, labor, and other left-wing writings.

1925 – The Workers Party of America becomes the Workers (Communist) Party and organizes itself along the lines of the CPSU. The WCP organizes the International Labor Defense.

The SLPA expels its Bronx section, most of whom join together to form the Industrial Union League (IUL).

1926 – Trotsky, along with Lev Kamenev and Gregory Zinoviev, forms the United Opposition in the Russian Communist Party.

1927 – Alexander Trachtenberg, president of International Publishers, and other members of WCP and of the SPA establish the Labor Research Association (LRA), a left-wing labor statistics bureau.

1928 – The WCP expels Trotsky’s adherents, the majority of whom form the Communist League of America (CLA) under Canon. 

A.J. Muste forms the Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA). 

The International Left Opposition organizes.

The Comintern establishes its Third Period policy, marked by hostility toward non-Communist political left groups and abandonment of the tactic of infiltrating existing trade unions in favor of establishment of radical dual unions.

1929 – The Great Depression begins.

The WCP changes its name to the Communist Party USA and founds the Young Communist League.

Jay Lovestone’s supporters in the CPUSA are expelled and form the Communist Party Opposition Group (later the Independent Labor League of America, or ILLA).

1930 – CPUSA organizes the Unemployed Councils of the USA.

In line with the Comintern's Third Period policy, Foster reorganizes the TUEL as the Trade Union Unity League (TUUL), which becomes the American affiliate of Profintern.

The Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) forms in the Philippines.

1931 – The Harlan County War takes place in Kentucky.

Albert Weisbord founds the Communist League of Struggle. 

The CPUSA’s regional committee based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, forms the Share Croppers Union in Alabama.

1932 – Miles Horton, Don West, and James Dombrowski, all members of SPA, found the Highlander Folk School in Summerfield, near Monteagle, Tennessee, with Horton as director.

The moribund Knights of Labor holds its last convention.

The International Revolutionary Marxist Centre (IRMC), aka 3 ½ International, is organized in London for the same reasons as its predecessor, the 2 ½ International; its American affiliate is Lovestone’s ILLA.

The (DeLeonist) American Labor Party is founded by Joseph Brandon and other socialists expelled from the Industrial Union League as the Industrial Union Alliance.

Cox’s Army of unemployed Pennsylvanians marches on Washington, D.C.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army chief-of-staff, personally leads the 12th Infantry and 3rd Cavalry to attack the Bonus Army.

1933 – The IUL announces its transformation into the Industrial Union Party.


The Intercollegiate Student Council of LID reorganizes as the Student League of Industrial Democracy (SLID).

Muste's CPLA reorganizes as the American Workers Party (AWP).  One of its first acts is to establish National Unemployed Leagues (NUL).

1934 – The Auto Lite Strike takes place in Toledo, OH (led by the AWP), longshoremen strike all ports on the West Coast (led by the IWW and the CPUSA), and the teamsters of Minneapolis, MN, strike against all bosses (led by the Trotskyite CLA).

The Great Textile Workers Strike of over 400,000 mill workers takes place in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the South.  In the latter region, striking workers, male and female, are rounded up by the Nationals Guard of their states and sent to concentration camps at Fort Oglethorpe in northern Georgia.

Muste’s AWP merges with the Canon's CLA to form the Workers Party.

Leftists in the SPA form the Revolutionary Policy Committee and ally with the ILLA, which dissolves to join the SPA.

The Comintern introduces its Popular Front policy advocating cooperation between Communists and socialists and other leftists in resistance against fascism.  In America, CPUSA seeks tactical alliances with SPA and support FDR's New Deal.

1935 
- Ten industrial unions leave the AFL under John Lewis to form the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) with other unions, including the IUMMSW.


SLID merges with the National Student League (NSL) of CPUSA as the American Student Union (ASU).

The SPA establishes the Workers Alliance of America (WAA), its counterpart to the Unemployed Councils of CPUSA.

1936 – The Spanish Civil War begins; many American Communists and other radicals join the Lincoln Battalion and the Washington Battalion of the Fifteenth International Brigade to fight on the side of the Spanish Republicans, as do many left republicans and loyalists from Ireland in the Connolly Column.

The Atlanta Sit-down Strike against GM takes place in Georgia.

The Trotskyite Workers Party dissolves and its members join the SPA as phase one of the French Turn. 

Most of the SPA’s Old Guard faction leave under David Dubinsky to form the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), with which the Rand School and Camp Tamiment affiliate.  The remaining SPA members split into the Moderates supporting the American Labor Party, Clarity, and the Trotskyite-supporting Appeal.

Members of the defunct DeLeonist American Labor Party form into the League for Socialist Revolution.

CPUSA's UECs and WP's NULs unite with SPA's WAA under the name of the last organization, which lasts through 1941.

1937-1938 – The Great Purge in the USSR.

1937 –  The Flint Sit-down Strike Against GM takes place in Michigan.

1938 – Ten industrial unions leave the AFL under John Lewis to form the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). 

The Trotskyites are expelled from the SPA and form the Socialist Workers Party, and later the Fourth International. 

The House Un-American Activities Committee is established.

1939 – The Menshevik leadership and their paper, Socialist Messenger, emigrate from Paris to New York City, where they function until the mid-1970’s.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany ends the Popular Front.  A week later, Germany invades Poland and World War II begins.

1940 – SWP dissidents under Max Shachtman leave to form the Workers Party USA, which later becomes the Independent Socialist League (ISL).


The IRMC dissolves due to the Second World War.

1940 – The ASU dissolves.

1942 – The PKP forms Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon in the Philippines to fight the Japanese, which later becomes the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan after the war.

1944 – Earl Browder transforms the CPUSA into the Communist Political Association (on orders from Moscow), a change reversed the next year when Browder is expelled.

The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation wins control of government of Saskatchewan province, Canada, to become the first socialist government in North America.

1945-1973 - Golden Age of Capitalism.

1945 – American servicemen in Germany and the Philippines strike for repatriation and in the latter against deployment to China to fight the Communist forces there.

1946-1953 - Operation Dixie, the campaign of the CIO to unionize the South, which largely failed.

1946 – The Labour and Socialist International, having dissolved in the face of the war, reconstitutes as simply the Socialist International.

Strikes by women in two department stores in Los Angeles turn into a general strike citywide when 1400 police are sent in to put them down.

The McMinn County War takes place in Tennessee when returning veterans and their allies take up arms against the corrupt sheriff's department in order to secure a clean and fair election.

SLID reconstitutes during Christmas break of this year.

1947-1954 - The Second Red Scare.

1947 - The clique of C.L.R. James (alias J.R. Johnson) and Raya Dunayevskaya (alias Freddie Forest) splits from the Shachtmanite Workers Party over its insistence that the USSR is "bureaucratic collectivist" where they hold it to be "state capitalist".  They rejoin the SWP, forming within it the Johnson-Forest Tendency.

1948 – SPA member Frank Zeidler becomes mayor of Milwaukee, and retains office until the year 1960.

The Turning Point Group, named for its publication, results from the merger of three anti-revisionist groups splintering from CPUSA this year.

1949-1950 - Coal miners' general strike.  Beginning in West Virginia under leadership of the Johnson-Forrest Tendency of the SWP and at first authorized by UMWA president Lewis, it rapidly spread to all of Appalachia and then to the West.  After Lewis prematurely ordered the miners back to work, the strike became as much against him and his collaboration as against Big Coal.

1949 - The last local of the Knights of Labor votes to dissolve.

1950 – The McCarthy Hearings begin.

The PKP reforms the wartime Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon as the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan.

1951 - The Johnson-Forest Tendency splits from the SWP and founds the Correspondence Publishing Committee.

1953 – The Cochran-Barverman group secedes from the SWP and forms the Socialist Union.

1954 – The Turning Point Group renames itself the Communist League.

1955 – The AFL and the CIO reunite as the AFL-CIO.

A dissident group under Dunayevskaya splits from the CPC and founds the News and Letters Committee.

1956 – Under pressure from the Socialist International, Dubinsky’s SDF merges with the SPA as the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation (SP-SDF), with the right wing of SDF holding out as the Democratic Socialist Federation (DSF).

The PECS, which runs Camp Tamiment, purchases the Rand School and Meyer London Library, whose operations the resort has been funding up to 75%, and closes the school but keeps the library, renamed the Ben Josephson Library, in an attempt to maintain the tax-exempt status of the resort.

1958 – The CPUSA loses its right wing under John Gates; its anti-revisionist hard left, known as the Marxist-Leninist Caucus, secedes as the Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in the United States (POC); remaining are its center under General Secretary Eugene Dennis and its soft-left under William Foster and Ben Davis.  Leaders of the POC include Harry Haywood, Nelson Peery, Noel Ignatin, and Hosea Hudson.

Shachtman’s ISL dissolves and its members join the SP-SDF. 

Left-leaning members of the SP-SDF form the “Independent Socialist Clubs” under Hal Draper, in some cases replacing SP-SDF locals entirely.

1959 – Cuban rebels under Fidel Castro take Havana, and Communism comes to Cuba.

The Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID) becomes the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

1960 – Members of YPSL, including Stokely Carmichael, help form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Young SWP’ers form the Young Socialist Alliance.

1961 – The anti-revisionist group Hammer and Steel (now known as the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, with several name changes in between, most notably Ray O. Light) splits from CPUSA.  Its unique positions call for an Afro-American nation in the Black Belt, a Chicano nation in the Southwest, and an Appalachian nation.

1962 – The Maoists are expelled from the CPUSA and organize as the Progressive Labor Movement (PLM).

Muhammad Ahmad forms the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM).

1963 – Camp Tamiment donates the Ben Josephson Library to New York University, where it becomes the Tamiment Library.

1964 – Freedom Summer takes place in Mississippi. 

The Free Speech Movement takes place in Berkley, California.

SP-SDF changes its name to the Socialist Party USA (SPUSA). Members of SPUSA under Draper leave to form the Independent Socialist Club, later known simply as the Independent Socialists. YPSL is dissolved.

Herbert Aptheker establishes the American Institute for Marxist Studies.

1965 – The PLM forms the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), which in turn organizes a youth wing, the May 2nd Movement, primarily to protest U.S. imperialism and particularly the Viet Nam War.

1966 – The League for Industrial Democracy severes its connection with the SDS over its removal of the clause excluding Communists. 

The PLP’s May 2nd Movement dissolves and its members join the SDS. 

Huey Newton and Bobby Seales found the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence.

The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee under Larry Itliong and the National Farm Workers Association under Cesar Chavez join together to become the United Farm Workers of America (UFWA).

1967 – YPSL is reestablished.

The IUMMSW merges with the United Steelworkers of America.

1968 – Worldwide civil unrest, in large part over the Viet Nam War. 

The holdout DSF finally merges with the SPUSA as the SPUSA-DSF. 

Jose Maria Sison and other Maoists in the PKP break away to form the Communist Party of the Philippines, Marxist-Leninist/Mao Zedong Thought. 

Hooper, Zeigler, and others in the SPUSA’s left wing form the Debs Caucus out of unhappiness with the direction in which the Shachtman-Harrington leadership is taking the party. 

The Black Panthers help form the Peace and Freedom Party.

The Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement strikes against dangerous working conditions at Dodge Main.

The main body of POC (1958) reorganizes as the American Workers Communist Party (AWCP), while a small faction in Watts forms the California Communist League (CCL).

1969 – The Days of Rage in Chicago. 

The SDS disintegrates from factional feuding, initially between Workers Student Alliance (WSA) of the PLP and the anti-PLP Revolutionary Youth Movement.  The latter subsequently splits between RYM I, which becomes the Weather Underground Organization (Marxist-Leninist), and RYM II, which splinters into a number of groups collectively known as the New Communist Movement (NCM), the largest of which is Bob Avakian's Revolutionary Union (RU).

The French Section of the Workers International becomes the Socialist Party.

Bernabe “Ka Dante” Buscayno of the HMB forms the New Peoples Army as the fighting wing of the CPP, M-L/MZT. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines is formed at the same time.

Several “Revolutionary Union Movements” of Afro-American workers in Detroit join together as the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW), which lasts two years but is nonetheless hugely influential in the movement.

A number of former RYM II members organize the Sojourner Truth Organization (STO), which produces a large volume of unique and influential literature till it dissolves in 1985.

1970 – Communists and other left-wing members of the AFL-CIO form the National Organizing Committee for Trade Union Action and Democracy. 

Marxist Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile.

1971 – Michael Harrington forms the Coalition Caucus within the SPUSA. Shachtman and his followers, the dominant faction of the SPUSA-DSF, style themselves the Unity Caucus.

The Georgia Communist League, Marxist-Leninist, and the October League, Marxist Leninist, groups that came out of RYM II, merge as the October League.

1972 – The Unity Caucus transforms the SPUSA-DSF into the Social Democrats USA (SDUSA) and YPSL into Young Social Democrats. The Coalition Caucus leaves to form the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC). The Debs Caucus organizes the Union for Democratic Socialism (UDS).

The RU organizes its youth wing as the Attica Brigade, which in 1974 becomes the Revolutionary Student Brigade (RSB).

The PECS, which operates Camp Tamiment, becomes the Tamiment Institute.

1973 – The UDS and others of the SPUSA “Old Guard” (not Dubinsky’s group), plus the state parties of Wisconsin, California, and Illinois along with several locals, reconstitute the Socialist Party USA. 

Allende of Chile commits suicide after a coup d’etat engineered by the USG. 

The cross-party Scottish Republican Socialist Clubs (SRSC) is organized.

The Workers Action Movement (WAM) splinters from the PLP.

The Communist Workers Party (CWP), a Maoist group, is organized at the Asian Study Group, which becomes the Workers Viewpoint Organization in 1976 before becoming CWP in 1979.

1974 – The New Unionist Party is formed by dissidents from the SLPA.

The CCL joins with La Colectiva del Pueblo in California and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit to form the Communist Labor Party in the United States of North America (CLPUSNA). 

1975 – Seaumus Costello organizes the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).

Bob Avakian forms the Revolutionary Communist Party USA (RCPUSA) from the NCM Revolutionary Union.

1977 – The Revolutionary Workers Headquarters (RWH) splits from the RCP, taking most of the RSB with it; RSB members remaining with RCP become the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB).

The October League reorganizes as the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist (CP, M-L); among its notable members is Harry Haywood, founder of the former POC.

The New York Central Labor Council,  Tamiment Institute, New York AFL-CIO, and NYU establish the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives.

1978 – The League of Revolutionary Struggle, Marxist-Leninist (LRS, M-L) forms from the merger of two ethnic-based NCM groups, and in later years absorbs others.

1979 – The Frente Sandinista Liberacion Nacional overthrows Somoza in Nicaragua, and its leader, Daniel Orgeta, is elected President of Nicaragua.

The Greensboro Massacre of two CWP members and three anti-KKK rally participants by members of the Loyal Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.

1980-2008 - Age of the neoliberal Washington Concensus.

1980 – The League for Socialist Revolution and the New Unionists unite as the New Union Party.

The RWH’s RSB unites with the Student Coalition Against Nukes Nationwide (SCANN) and Midwest Coalition Against Registration and the Draft (MidCARD) in the Progressive Student Network (PSN).

1982 – Harrington’s DSOC merges with the New American Movement of pre-Weatherman SDS’ers to become the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), with its youth section known as Young Democratic Socialists. 

DSA member David Dinkins is elected Mayor of NYC. 

The SRSC becomes the Scottish Republican Socialist Party (SRSP).

1984 – Sandinista Daniel Ortega is overwhelmingly elected President of Nicaragua.

1985 – Mikhail Gorbachev becomes President of the USSR and launches his programs of glasnostperestroika, uskoreniye, and demokratizatsiya.

Three groups formed out of the RYM II, RWH, Organization for Revolutionary Unity, and Proletarian Unity League, merge as the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO).

The CWP dissolves and reorganizes as the New Democratic Movement, which fades after a couple of years.

1986 – Labor Militant is founded by members of the Trotskyist Committee for a Workers International who migrated to the USA.  It later becomes Socialist Alternative.

1988 – FRSO absorbs the Amilcar Cabral-Paul Robeson Collective, an NCM group spawned by the RYM II.

1989 – YPSL is once again reestablished as the youth affiliate of the SPUSA.

1990 – Self-described independent socialist Bernie Sanders is elected to Congress from Vermont.

The LRS, M-L dissolves; some of its members reorganize as the Socialist Organizing Network (SON).

1991 – CPUSA dissidents of the “Initiative Group” withdraw and form the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. 

In the aftermath of a failed coup d’etat attempt, the USSR collapses, and eventually breaks up into its constituent republics. 

The CPGB collapses in the aftermath due to in-feuding.

1993 – The CLPUSNA disbands.  Former members establish a National Organizing Committee which organizes the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.

1994 – The FRSO absorbs the SON.

1995 – John Sweeney, an active member of the DSA, is elected president of the AFL-CIO; the AFL-CIO removes its prohibitions against Communists, Socialists, and other radicals. Samuel Gompers reportedly begins spinning in his grave.

1998 – The IWW’s membership grows to more than 1200 for the first times in 45 years.

The Onda Rosa, or Pink Tide, in Latin America begins when Socialist Hugo Chavez is first elected President of Venezuela.

1999 – Members of three small socialist parties in Scotland merge together as the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). 

The SRSP reverts to a crossparty organization as the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement.

The FRSO splits in two, both organizations continuing to use the name.

2001 – The Tamiment Library and Wagner Labor Archives acquires the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.

2002 – Luiz da Silva, of the Workers Party, is first elected President of Brasil.

2003 – The Debs Tendency is formed in the SPUSA supporting the “development of the SPUSA as a revolutionary socialist political party of the working class” and “regroupment with other democratic revolutionary socialist parties into a single revolutionary party”. The Grass Roots Tendency is formed in the SPUSA supporting “revolutionary socialist politics”. 

The SSP elects six MSP’s.

2004 – The Fist and Rose Caucus is founded in the SPUSA supporting relations with the Socialist International. The Direct Action Tendency is formed in the SPUSA to focus on direct action. 

Tabare Vazquez, of the leftist Frente Amplio, is elected President of Uruguay.

2005 – The Service Employees Industrial Union, the Teamsters Union, the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial and Textile Employees, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union leave the AFL-CIO to establish the Change To Win Federation. The Laborers International Union of North America and the United Farm Workers join the next year.

Evo Morales, of the Movement Toward Socialism, is elected President of Bolivia. 

Leftist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is elected President of Argentina.

Leftist Manuel Zelaya is elected President of Honduras.

Leftist Tabare Vazquez is elected President of Uruguay.

SDUSA ceases operation.

2006 – The Students for a Democratic Society is re-established by persons including several members of the original, such as Tom Hayden, and members of the Direction Action Tendency of SPUSA. 

Bernie Sanders becomes the first socialist elected to the U.S. Senate. 

Socialist Michelle Bachelet is elected President of Chile. 

Socialist Rafael Correa is elected President of Ecuador. 

FSLN leader Daniel Ortega is (again) elected President of Nicaragua.

2007 – The Great Recession begins.

Former members of the SPUSA’s Fist and Rose Caucus, members of DSA, and former members of SDUSA found the Social Democratic Party of America.

The Tamiment Library and Wagner Labor Archives acquires the archives of CPUSA.

2008 – Fidel Castro steps down as President of Cuba and is succeeded by his brother, Raul. 

Fernando Lugo, from the Patriotic Alliance for Change, is elected President of Paraguay, the first not of the Colorado Party in 61 years.

The Socialist Labor Party of America, the oldest socialist party in the United States and the last surviving remnant of the First International, closes its national office.

2009 – The formerly insurgent Frente Marti Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) wins the national elections in El Salvador, including both the presidency and control of parliament.

An attempt to revive SDUSA ends with a split into two separate organizations.

2011 – The Occupy Wall Street movement against the domination of the economy by stock market, financial institutions, and corporations and the domination of politics by money begins in September and within a month spreads worldwide.

2013 – Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative and Occupy activist is elected to the City Council of Seattle, Washington.

2016 –
Bernie Sanders runs as an openly democratic socialist for nomination to be presidential candidate of the Democratic Party and wins twenty-two state contests.

(The Arm and Hammer symbol of the now-defunct Socialist Labor Party of America is one of the oldest icons of socialism in the United States.)

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