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Word Count: 647
The Socialist Party of the United States of America was formally organized at a unity convention in Indianapolis in 1901 The two merging groups were the Social Democratic Party of Eugene Victor Debs and the Kangaroo wing of the older Socialist Labor Party From the beginning the Socialist Party was the organization for American radicals Its membership included Marxists of various kinds Christian socialists Zionist and anti-Zionist Jewish socialists foreign-language speaking sections and virtually every variety of American radical The Socialist Party historically stressed cooperatives as much as labor unions and included the concepts of revolution by education and of building the new society within the shell of the old The Socialist Party aimed to become a major party in the years prior to World War I it elected two Members of Congress over 70 mayors innumerable state legislators and city councilors Its membership topped 100000 and its Presidential candidate Eugene Debs received close to a million votes in 1912 and again in 1920 The outbreak of the war against Fascism and the wartime prosperity weakened all parties on the left While the Communist Party suffered the most from the McCarthy period all the left was seriously impaired and by the mid-fifties little remained of organized radical politics The Socialist Party was down to about 2000 members and had more or less withdrawn from electoral action in the face of the increasingly restrictive ballot-access laws passed by state legislatures around the country In 1956 the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Federation reunited under pressure from the Socialist International with which both groups were affiliated By 1970 the Socialist Party was showing a growing tendency toward democratic centralism in practice At the end of 1972 the Socialist Party changed its name to Social Democrats USA Since 1973 the Socialist Party USA has focused its attention more on grassroots and local politics and has dealt with the controversial issue of Presidential politics on a case-by-case basis
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