Socialist Labor Party Platform of 1889


The 1889 platform of the SLP is notable mainly because it
was the last time the SLP included a list of reform demands
in one of its platforms. The 1890 platform was to be
Marxist platform, free of the diversion of reformism. For
this reason, the modern SLP cites 1890 as the year of its
-- Comment by M. Lepore.

Platform of the Socialist Labor Party

Eighth National Convention, Chicago, October 12, 1889

The Socialist Labor Party of the United States, in convention assembled, reasserts the inalienable right of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

With the founders of the American republic we hold that the purpose of government is to secure every citizen in the enjoyment of this right; but, in the light of our social conditions, we hold that no such right can be exercised under a system of economic inequality, essentially destructive of life, of liberty, and of happiness.

With the founders of this republic we hold that the true theory of politics is that the machinery of government must be owned and controlled by the whole people; but, in the light of our industrial development, we hold, furthermore, that the true theory of economics is that the machinery of production must likewise belong to the people in common.

To the obvious fact that our despotic system of economics is the direct opposite of our democratic system of politics, can plainly be traced the existence of a privileged class, the corruption of government by that class, and the abject dependence of the mightiest of nations upon that class.

Again, through the perversion of democracy to the ends of plutocracy, labor is robbed of the wealth which it alone produces, is denied the means of self-employment, and, by compulsory idleness in wage-slavery, is even deprived of the necessaries of life.

Human power and natural forces are thus wasted, that the plutocracy may rule.

Ignorance and misery with all their concomitant evils are perpetuated, that the people may be kept in bondage.

Science and invention are diverted from their humane purpose to the enslavement of women and children.

Against such a system the Socialist Labor Party once more enters its protest. Once more it reiterates its fundamental declaration that private property in the natural sources of production and in the instruments of labor is the obvious cause of all economic servitude and political dependence and

Whereas, the time is fast coming when, in the natural course of social evolution, this system, through its destructive action and its failures and crises on the one hand, and the constructive tendencies of its trusts and other capitalist combinations on the other hand, shall have worked out its own downfall; therefore, be it

Resolved, that we call upon the people to organize with a view to the substitution of the cooperative commonwealth for the present state of planless production, industrial war and social disorder, a commonwealth in which every worker shall have the free exercise and full benefit of his faculties, multiplied by all the modern factors of civilization.

We call upon them to unite with us in a mighty effort to gain by all practicable means the political power.

In the meantime, and with a view to immediate improvement in the conditions of labor, we present the following "demands":

Social Demands

1. Reduction of hours of labor in proportion to the progress of production.

2. The United States shall obtain possession of the railroads, canals, telegraphs, telephones, and other means of public transportations and communication.

3. The municipalities shall obtain possession of the local railroads, ferries, water works, gas works, electric plants, and all industries requiring municipal franchise.

4. The public lands to be declared inalienable. Revocation of all land grants to corporations or individuals, the conditions of which have not been complied with.

5. Legal incorporation by the states of local trade unions which have no national organization.

6. The United States to have the exclusive right to issue money.

7. Congressional legislation providing for the scientific management of forests and waterways, and prohibiting the waste of the natural resources of the country.

8. Inventions to be free to all; the inventors to be remunerated by the nation.

9. Progressive income tax, and tax on inheritances; the smaller incomes to be exempt.

10. School education of all children under 14 years of age to be compulsory, gratuitous, and accessible to all by public assistance in meals, clothing, books, etc., where necessary.

11. Repeal of all pauper, tramp, conspiracy and sumptuary laws. Unabridged right of combination.

12. Official statistics concerning the condition of labor. Prohibition of the employment of children of school age and of the employment of female labor in occupations detrimental to health or morality. Abolition of the convict labor contract system.

13. All wages to be paid in lawful money of the United States. Equalization of women's wages with those of men where equal service is performed.

14. Laws for the protection of life and limb in all occupations, and an efficient employers' liability law.

Political Demands

1. The people have the right to propose laws and to vote upon all measures of importance, according to the referendum principle.

2. Abolition of the presidency, vice presidency and Senate of the United States. An executive board to be established, whose members are to be elected, and may at any time be recalled, by the House of Representatives as the only legislative body. States and municipalities to adopt corresponding amendments to their constitutions and statutes.

3. Municipal self-government.

4. Direct vote and secret ballots in all elections. Universal and equal right of suffrage without regard to color, creed or sex. Election days to be legal holidays. The principle of minority representation to be introduced.

5. All public officers subject to recall by their respective constituencies.

6. Uniform civil and criminal law throughout the United States. Administration of justice to be free of charge. Abolition of capital punishment.