Progressive Labor Party (United States)

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The Progressive Labor Party was the name of the organization which the Progressive Labor Movement renamed itself in April of 1964. The Progressive Labor Movement (PLM) was founded on July 1, 1962 in the old Hotel Diplomat in New York City by fifty some-odd people. The fourteen member coordinating committee were all former members of the left-wing (or "Foster wing") of the CPUSA who had quit or were purged for being ultraleftists, often meaning supporters of Albania or China over the Soviet Union.

Progressive Labor organized trips to Cuba, which there was a travel ban on at the time. At an April 1964 conference, the Progressive Labor Movement renamed itself the Progressive Labor Party (PLP). It has about several hundred members at the time. A weekly paper was launched in the spring of 1964 called Challenge. PLP was involved in protests on May 2, 1964 pertaining to the Vietnam War. Out of this was created the May 2nd Movement (M2M) organization which PLM was very involved with.

PLP member Bill Epton was charged with criminal anarchy pertaining to a July 1964 uprising in Harlem over the shooting of a 15 year old African-American boy by a white police officer. He was the first person convicted of criminal anarchy in New York state since 1919.

The PLP had its first convention in the summer of 1965. PLP's structure began to get more rigid as its party line grew more solid, whereas earlier even the validity of Trotskyism has been a debated subject. PLP began being criticized for being sectarian when it began taking positions such as criticizing Vietnam for negotiating with the United States. In February of 1966 M2M disbanded, many of its members joining Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). PLP openly stated that it was joining SDS to recruit people. The presence of PLPers was felt immediately within SDS. PLP's presence is what brought many SDS'ers into having a more Marxist-Leninist outlook. In the summer of 1966, John Maher, a Boston SDSer made a proposal aimed against the PLP faction of SDS at SDS's annual convention. It was voted down, that was the first major anti-PL move within SDS.

In the spring of 1967, much of the west coast of PLP split from the PLP. The west coast had contained many of PLP's blue collar workers and trade unionists. PLP began searching around for possibly another base. The idea of a "worker-student alliance" began being floated at this time in Progressive Labor magazine.

The PL faction of SDS tried to dominate the 1968 SDS national convention but was unsuccessful. Anti-PL'ers caucused at the convention. The PL faction began pushing the idea of a worker-student alliance in SDS. At the 1968 National Council meeting of SDS there was a debate between the PL faction and other factions regarding such things as racism and the national question. At the 1969 SDS national convention, the SDS split into two factions - the PL faction and the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) faction. Many SDS'ers nationwide were in neither faction, and SDS disintegrated as an organization following the convention.

In the years that followed, PLP continually lost members. It continues to exist today as a small group, still publishing Challenge, sometimes working with the group Anti-Racist Action.


This page contains information from Anarchopedia (view authors). It has been modified so that it meets Communpedia's standards. AP