Daniel De Leon

American newspaper editor (1852–1914)
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Daniel De Leon (December 14, 1852May 11, 1914) was a Curaçao-born American socialist and Syndicalism-influenced trade unionist of Spanish Jewish origin. He would later become the most influential leader of America's first socialist political party, the Socialist Labor Party (SLP).

Daniel De Leon

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  • Capitalism attacks and destroys all the finer sentiments of the human heart; it ruthlessly sweeps away old traditions and ideas opposed to its progress, and it exploits and corrupts those things once held sacred.
  • As a poodle may have his hair cut long or his hair cut short, as he may be trimmed with pink ribbons or with blue ribbons, yet he remains the same old poodle, so capitalism may be trimmed with factory laws, tenement laws, divorce laws and gambling laws, but it remains the same old capitalism. These “humanitarian parts” are only trimming the poodle. Socialism, one and inseparable with its “antirent and anticapital parts,” means to get rid of the poodle.

Reform or Revolution (1896) edit

  • It has become an axiom that, to accomplish results organization is requisite. Nevertheless, there is "organization" and "organization."That this is so appears clearly from the fact that the pure and simmplers have been going about saying to the workers: "Organize! Organize!"and after they have been saying that, and have been organizing"and "organizing" for the past thirty or forty years, we find that they are virtually where they started, if not worse off; that their "organization" parttakes of the nature of the lizard, whose tail destroys what his foreparts build up.
    • Organization
  • We Socialists are not reformers; we are revolutionaries. We Socialists do not propose change forms. We care nothing for forms. We want a change of the inside of the mechanism of society, let the form take care of itself.
    • Revolution
  • Socialism rejects the premises and the conclusions of anarchy upon the State and upon government. What socialism says is "Away with the economic system that alters the beneficent functions of the central direction authority from an aid to production into a means of oppression." And it proceeds to show that, when the instruments of production shall be owned no longer by the minority, but shall be restored to the Commonwealth; that when, as a results of this, no longer the minority or any portion of the people shall be in poverty and classes, class distinctions and class rule shall, as they necessarily must, have vanished, that then the central directing authority will lose all its repressive functions and is bound to reassume the functions it had in the old communities of our ancestors, become against a necessary aid, and assist in production.
    • Revolution
  • Our system of production is in the nature of an orchestra. No one man, no one town, no one state, can be said any longer to be independent of the other; the whole people of the United States, every individual therein, is dependent and interdependent upon all the others. The nature of the machinery of production; the subdivision of labor, which aids cooperation and which cooperation fosters, and which is necessary to the plentifulnesss of production that civilization requires, compel a harmonious working together of all departments of labor, and thence complete the establishment of a central directing authority, of an orchestral director, so to speak, of the orchestra of the cooperative commonwealth.
    • Government-The State
  • Socialism knows that revolutionary upheavals and transformations proceed from the rock bed of material needs. With a full appreciation of and veneration for moral impulses that are balanced with scientific knowledge, it eschews, looks with just suspicion upon and gives a wide berth to balloon morality, or be it those malarial fevers that reformers love to dignify with the name of "moral feelings"
    • Materialism-Morality

What Means This Strike? (1898) edit

  • These “directors,” and the capitalist class in general, may perform some “work,” they do perform some “work,” but that “work” is not of a sort that directly or indirectly aids production, any more than the intense mental strain and activity of the “work” done by the pickpocket is directly or indirectly productive.
    • Whence do wages come, and whence profits?

Two Pages From Roman History (1902) edit

  • If a law or an election, distasteful to the ruling class, was forced through; if, for any one of the thousand and one causes, apt to arise whenever actual oligarchic power is draped in the drapery of democratic forms, the Ruling Class of Rome found it prudent to yield in Forum and Senate Hall;-- in such cases the Colleges of Priests would conveniently discover some flaw in the auspices, some defect in the sacrifices. That annulled the election or the law, as "condemned by the gods."

Socialist Reconstruction of Society (1905) edit

Quotes about Daniel De Leon edit

  • Go out into the field and bring in the rest of the workers, that they may be fully equipped for their great mission. We will wrest what we can, step by step, from the capitalists, but with out eye fixed upon the goal; we will press forward, keeping step together with the inspiring music of the new emancipation; and when we have enough of this kind of organization, as Brother DeLeon said so happily the other day, when we are lined up in battle array and the capitalists try to lock us out, we will turn the tables on the gentlemen and lock them out. We can run the mills without them but they cannot run them without us.
  • The Socialist Labor Party (SLP), formed after the collapse of the First International in 1872, decided to organize black workers in order to solve the problem of competition. But SLP leaders believed, as did their predecessors in the First International, that once the socialist revolution came, all race problems would disappear. SLP leader Daniel DeLeon put it succinctly: "There was no such thing as a race or Negro question'... there was only a social, a labor question...so far as the Socialist and labor movements were concerned." It was an odd position to take, especially by the 1890s when lynching increased, racial segregation became law, and African-American citizens who worked so hard for the Republican Party in the days of Reconstruction were suddenly disfranchised. Of course, black people fought back, joining unions of farmers and workers, forming armed self-defense organizations, and building religious, fraternal, educational, and political institutions that ultimately became sources of power and inspiration for the stony road ahead.
  • Daniel De Leon, the head of the Socialist Labor Party in the United States, translated Woman Under Socialism into English, and felt compelled in his introduction to disassociate himself from Bebel's more unconventional views of women. In a statement that echoed Engels in its sentiments (but was far more rigid), De Leon argued: “For one, I hold there is as little ground for rejecting monogamy, by reason of the taint that clings to its inception, as there would be ground for rejecting co-operation, by reason of the like taint that accompanied its rise, and also clings to its development. For one, I hold that the monogamous family-bruised and wounded in the cruels rough-and-will have its wounds staunched, its bruises tumble of modern society healed, and, enabled by the slowly acquired moral forces of conjugal paternal, and filial affection, bloom under socialism into a lever of mighty power for the moral and physical elevation of the races." When De Leon repeatedly admonished women that feminism must be subordinated to the (masculine) needs of the working-class revolution, he spoke for the typical American male socialist. He informed women that "the history of Class Rule throws its light before the feet of the Woman's movement; it explains the errors, accounts for them, that the movement slips into; the emotional vagaries with which the movement is often marred; its futile tears; its frequently barren efforts"; and he ridiculed the assumption of feminists "that woman was smitten down because of her sex. She was not." At great pains to point out that women had no special problem related to their femaleness, he constantly reminded them that their true mission lay in assisting working-class men to create the socialist revolution.
    • Margaret S Marsh, Anarchist Women, 1870-1920 (1981)
  • I felt DeLeon understood Marx very well abstractly but knew little about the practical needs of the labor movement. The last time I talked with DeLeon I told him I was moving to Philadelphia and was willing to accept the secretaryship of the S.L.P. local there, which had been offered me, but that I could not go along with their principles wholeheartedly. As a good friend of mine, DeLeon accepted what I said without anger, but would not change his methods.

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