National Party Platforms


Socialist Party Platform of 1920

In the national campaign of 1920 the Socialist Party calls upon all American workers of hand and brain, and upon all citizens who believe in political liberty and social justice, to free the country from the oppressive misrule of the old political parties, and to take the government into their own hands under the banner and upon the program of the Socialist Party.

The outgoing administration, like Democratic and Republican administrations of the past, leave behind it a disgraceful record of solemn pledges unscrupulously broken and public confidence ruthlessly betrayed.

It obtained the suffrage of the people on a platform of peace, liberalism and social betterment, but drew the country into a devastating war, and inaugurated a régime of despotism, reaction and oppression unsurpassed in the annals of the republic.

It promised to the American people a treaty which would assure to the world a reign of international right and true democracy. It gave its sanction and support to an infamous pact formulated behind closed doors by predatory elder statesmen of European and Asiatic imperialism. Under this pact territories have been annexed against the will of their populations and cut off from their sources of sustenance; nations seeking their freedom in the exercise of much heralded right of self-determination have been brutally fought with armed force, intrigue and starvation blockades.

To the millions of young men, who staked their lives on the field of battle, to the people of the country who gave unstintingly of their toil and property to support the war, the Democratic administration held out the sublime ideal of a union of the peoples of the world organized to maintain perpetual peace among nations on the basis of justice and freedom. It helped create a reactionary alliance of imperialistic governments, banded together to bully weak nations, crush working-class governments and perpetuate strife and warfare.

While thus furthering the ends of reaction, violence and oppression abroad, our administration suppressed the cherished and fundamental rights and civil liberties at home.

Upon the pretext of war-time necessity, the Chief Executive of the republic and the appointed heads of his administration were clothed with dictatorial powers (which were often exercised arbitrarily), and Congress enacted laws in open and direct violation of the constitutional safeguards of freedom of expression.

Hundreds of citizens who raised their voices for the maintenance of political and industrial rights during the war were indicted under the Espionage Law, tried in an atmosphere of prejudice and hysteria and are now serving inhumanly long jail sentences for daring to uphold the traditions of liberty which once were sacred in this country.

Agents of the Federal government unlawfully raided homes and meeting places and prevented or broke up peaceable gatherings of citizens.

The postmaster-general established a censorship of the press more autocratic than that ever tolerated in a régime of absolutism, and has harassed and destroyed publications on account of their advanced political and economic views, by excluding them from the mails.

And after the war was in fact long over, the administration has not scrupled to continue a policy of repression and terrorism under the shadow and hypocritical guise of war-time measures.

It has practically imposed involuntary servitude and peonage on a large class of American workers by denying them the right to quit work and coercing them into acceptance of inadequate wages and onerous conditions of labor. It has dealt a foul blow to the traditional American right of asylum by deporting hundreds of foreign born workers by administrative order, on the mere suspicion of harboring radical views, and often for the sinister purpose of breaking labor strikes.

In the short span of three years our self-styled liberal administration has succeeded in undermining the very foundation of political liberty and economic rights which this republic has built up in more than a century of struggle and progress.

Under the cloak of a false and hypocritical patriotism and under the protection of governmental terror the Democratic administration has given the ruling classes unrestrained license to plunder the people by intensive exploitation of labor, by the extortion of enormous profits and by increasing the cost of all necessities of life. Profiteering has become reckless and rampant, billions have been coined by the capitalists out of the suffering and misery of their fellow men. The American financial oligarchy has become a dominant factor in the world, while the condition of the American workers has grown more precarious.

The responsibility does not rest upon the Democratic party alone. The Republican party, through its representatives in Congress and otherwise, has not only openly condoned the political misdeeds of the last three years, but has sought to outdo its Democratic rival in the orgy of political reaction and repression. Its criticism of the Democratic administrative policy is that it is not reactionary and drastic enough.

America is now at the parting of the roads. If the outraging of political liberty and concentration of economic power into the hands of the few is permitted to go on, it can have only one consequence, the reduction of the country to a state of absolute capitalist despotism.

We particularly denounce the militaristic policy of both old parties, of investing countless hundreds of millions of dollars in armaments after the victorious completion of what was to have been the "last war." We call attention to the fatal results of such a program in Europe, carried on prior to 1914, and culminating in the Great War; we declare that such a policy, adding unbearable burdens to the working class and to all the people, can lead only to the complete Prussianization of the nation, and ultimately to war; and we demand immediate and complete abandonment of this fatal program.

The Socialist Party sounds the warning. It calls upon the people to defeat both parties at the polls, and to elect the candidates of the Socialist Party to the end of restoring political democracy and bringing about complete industrial freedom.

The Socialist Party of the United States therefore summons all who believe in this fundamental doctrine to prepare for a complete reorganization of our social system, based upon public ownership of public necessities; upon government by representatives chosen from occupational as well as from geographical groups in harmony with our industrial development, and with citizenship based on service; that we may end forever the exploitation of class by class.

To achieve this end the Socialist Party pledges itself to the following program:


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Chicago: "Socialist Party Platform of 1920," National Party Platforms in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.238-240 Original Sources, accessed August 9, 2022,

MLA: . "Socialist Party Platform of 1920." National Party Platforms, in Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.238-240, Original Sources. 9 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: , 'Socialist Party Platform of 1920' in National Party Platforms. cited in , Donald B. Johnson, Ed. National Party Platforms, 1840–1976. Supplement 1980. (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois), Pp.238-240. Original Sources, retrieved 9 August 2022, from