Talk:Social Democrats, USA

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Lede[edit]

@Carrite and GPRamirez5:

This material was recently added to the lede.

  1. and with Max Shachtman, a theorist with strong links to George Meany's AFL-CIO.[1] [2]
  2. SDUSA is regarded as the right-wing of the SP split and a major incubator of the neoconservative movement.[3][4] [5][6]
  3. a strategy which had been developed by Shachtman.[7] [8]
  1. ^ Martin Duberman, A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds (The New Press, 2013)
  2. ^ Maurice Isserman, The Other American: The Life Of Michael Harrington (Public Affairs, 2001), p.290-304
  3. ^ This apparently good book is sloppy when it discusses SDUSA, as discussed below. Justin Vaïsse, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Harvard University Press, 2010), p.71-75
  4. ^ Again, some of Matthew's statements are sloppy or not documented, like "Pro-Vietnam War", when the organization passed many anti-war resolutions, and it is called a political party. It is the source for "incubator", but it says "many neoconservatives", not "neoconservatism". On our neoconservatism article, the pinged editor Ramirez has already noted that Lipsets claim that SDUSA was the target of Harrington's "neoconservative" seems to be contrary to fact (unless Lipset knew Harrington's intent...), and this claim is presented by Matthew. Dylan Matthews, "Meet Bayard Rustin" Washingtonpost.com, Aug 28, 2013
  5. ^ NOT a reliable source, but rather a leftwing site "tracking militarists": "Social Democrats, USA" Right Web, Institute for Policy Studies
  6. ^ This seems to be a misuse of this article, which is poorly written and gives a false introduction, stating that Harrington first left the SP and then SDUSA was founded (completely backwards). If you actually read the article, you see that one neoconservative came to the conference, and everybody else disagreed with him. (Some of the SDUSA criticism of Murachik had to do with his moralistic description of good and evil in politics, a Niebhurian theme often imputed to "neoconservatives".) The buzzword "neocon" is used in the beginning, which contradicts the rest of the article, as I noted. Joshua Micah Marshall, "Debs’s Heirs Reassemble To Seek Renewed Role as Hawks of Left" The Jewish Daily Forward, May 23, 2003
  7. ^ Maurice Isserman, The Other American: The Life Of Michael Harrington (Public Affairs, 2001), p.290-304
  8. ^ Martin Duberman, A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds (The New Press, 2013)

Per WP:Lede, the lede is a summary of the article, not a place to introduce claims that are not in the body. Please put things in the body with due care and then think about whether they belong in the lede.

There are substantive concerns also.

  1. First, the lede names 2 famous members of the SP, Randolph and Harrington, simply because they were well known and mentioned by the NYT reporting on SDUSA. In contrast, Shachtman's important name had limited currency; in particular it was ignored by the NYT reporting on the founding convention of SDUSA (end of the SP). Also, Shachtman died in 1972 before SDUSA was founded.
  2. "The right wing of the SP split" and "major incubator of the neoconservative movement"?
    1. In reality, the SP did not split but had a convention and changed its name, according to the NYT.
    2. Vaisse's generally good book is weak on SDUSA, which he mentions in only a few pages.
      1. Vaisse claims that Muravchick and Kemble were Shachtmanites, which is also demonstrably false: Kemble was a protege of his professor at a College in Colorado, who was not a Shachtmanite, and Muravchik was the son of Manny Murvchik (not a Shachtmanite).
      2. Of those he names as neoconservatives, only Joshua Muravchick became a neoconservative. This article or the biographies of SDUSA members like Kemble explain that they explicitly rejected the "neoconservative" label.
    (If somebody really wants to push this stuff, one could balance Vaisse's mistakes with refutations, which would at least show some respect towards WP:DUE and NPOV and BLP.) It is usually best to build articles around high quality reliable sources focused on the topic of the article, rather than sources with other concerns that have a brief mention of the topic.
  3. A "strategy developed by Shachtman"? Again, the reporting on SDUSA/SP ignore Shachtman, so this again seems undue even for the body. Walter Reuther and other socialists long ago worked in the Democratic Party for obvious reasons, rather than because of Shachtman. (Is Ron Dellums supposed to be a Shachtmanite?) A discussion of 1930s-1960s debates in the SP around the Democratic Party belongs in the history of the SP (or in an article on Socialism and the US Democratic Party), rather than here.

Dame Etna (talk) 13:46, 9 May 2015 (UTC) 16:54, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

Dame Etna, I'd like to advise you that it isn't your place as a Wikipedia editor to second-guess peer-reviewed academic scholarship on a subject. Justin Vaisse's book is not only published by a university press, it's been universally acclaimed across the political spectrum. Furthermore, it is the among the most up to date scholarship on the topic (with the possible exception of the Institute for Policy Studies website, none of your claims against the other sources hold water either).
There is a fundamental contradiction in your argument wherein you claim that Schachtman died before SDUSA was founded, but also imply that there was no actual foundation of a new organization--it's simply the Socialist Party of Norman Thomas renamed. Of course, the scholarly consensus is that there was a schism that led to the end of the SP in both spirit and name, Schachtman led the right-wing, and this was the founding of SDUSA.
The founding of an organization doesn't take place with a single event (Was the US founded when Britain recognized it, or when the Constitution was signed, or when the Constitution was ratified, or years earlier with the Declaration of Independence?) it takes place over a sequence of them. This is why the editors of another peer-reviewed book, Politics and the Intellectual: Conversations with Irving Howe (Purdue University Press, 2010) write:
“In 1972, Schachtman founded the Social Democrats, USA…Schachtman died that same year from a heart attack.” (page 272)
In yet another peer-reviewed study, The Democracy Makers:Human Rights and the Politics of Global Order (Columbia University Press, 2013), Nicolas Guilhot shows that the most important founding event was not the SP convention in December 1972, but the Democratic Party primaries and national convention earlier in the year, where Schachtman (still alive) and company fully established their antipathy towards George McGovern. This book is also another among many to use the term "right-wing social democrats" to describe SDUSA's founders.
The readers of this article aren't interested in what you think, or what I think. They're interested in what the reputable scholarship says. That's also the Wikipedia policy. GPRamirez5 (talk) 19:18, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
The 1973 SP/SDUSA convention was covered daily in the New York Times, including coverage of Harrington and his caucus which got 1/3 of the seats (and which apparently helped to form DSOC later) and the very small Debs Caucus which got 1 seat (and which apparently helped to form the SPUSA later). Given this coverage, any source that claims that Harrington first left the SP before SDUSA was founded will have a a tough time at WP:RSN.
The NYT coverage has several paragraphs on SP convention's discussions of the preceding presidential primary and of McGovern's campaign.
Shachtman's biography, which describes his isolation and illnesses, is likely a more reliable than an informal interview in the Howe discussions where somebody makes a claim that Shachtman founded SDUSA, particularly when the NYT ignored Shachtman and his ghost.
But you acknowledge that a bit more care should have been taken with the sources, as I noted above?
Dame Etna (talk) 20:12, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Dame Etna, you apparently choose not to understand what I said about the foundation of a political organization not being limited to a single event. You also choose not to understand WP:Sources that modern, peer-reviewed scholarship is more reliable than journalism from 40 years ago. But if we are going to bring old newspapers into it, let me point out that you mischaracterized my claim as being that SDUSA was publicly identified with Schachtman at its founding. In fact, I stated that the SP in the 1960s was publicly identified with Schachtman, among others. Thus, the NY Times (your metric of what constitutes public identification) of October 11, 1964 writes:
"A 'realignment' tendency—described as that of Mr. Thom­as, Mr. Harrington and Max Schachtman, once head of his own Workers party, contends that the labor and civil rights movements are largely commit­ted to the liberal wing of the Democrats, and that Socialists should help them 'become mas­ter in their own house.' ”
I don't think that WP:RSN would have any more tolerance for such straw-man diversions than I do. GPRamirez5 (talk) 01:26, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
This article used the NYT coverage of the SP/SDUSA convention, about the only activity for which SDUSA itself was covered in any detail by reliable sources.
You found in 1964 one mention of Shachtman, in a discussion of realignment, in the NYT. But you agree that Shachtman is not mentioned in NYT coverage of SDUSA, which is the topic of this article. Can you find mention of Shachtman in the NYT in 1972, when it likely would be relevant to this article?
Perhaps the article should clarify that Isserman is a DSA member whose book was authorized by the Harrington estate? Is Duberman also a member of SPUSA, or is just David McReynolds (its subject)? I don't know, and such information might suggest where we should be especially careful with WP:NPOV and WP:DUE.
Dame Etna (talk) 19:08, 16 May 2015 (UTC)

Dispute Resolution[edit]

Moderated discussion at the dispute resolution noticeboard has failed, because the two editors wouldn't stop commenting on each other. Civil and concise discussion of content can continue here. Any discussion of editor conduct should go to WP:ANI, but editors should read the boomerang essay before filing at ANI, because both the filing editor and the reported editor will be scrutinized. Robert McClenon (talk) 23:18, 21 May 2015 (UTC)

Where did I refer to Ramirez rather than to content and a way forward after you hatted a paragraph on the DRN page? You are welcome to close the discussion, but your "wouldn't stop commenting on each other" may be misleading. You specifically asked us to comment on outstanding problems and suggested solutions, and so your request necessitated our addressing one another's proposals. Dame Etna (talk) 09:21, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
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Jack Ross's history of the Socialist Party[edit]

The introduction to the CSPAN video [1] notes that Ross is an independent writer (not an academic) who was home-schooled by his parents, both members of Harrington's DSOC (now DSA) before he attended the George Meany (!) Labor College, where he earned a B.A. He also had some "graduate study".

Jack Ross's "damning" and deploring chapter on SDUSA is briefly criticized at 58 minutes by Dean Professor Dr. Eric Arensen, Ph.D. as representing Jack's "political sensibilities more than scholarly detachment".

It can be used, but it should be used carefully. Further discussion of it may take place at WP:RSN. It does emphasize the isolation and lack of initiative of Max Shachtman already by 1970 (p. 509), a point discussed in Shachtman's biography by Drucker in greater detail. Its emphasis on the work of Justin Raimondo may make the arbcom banning findings topical (WP:Fringe). The book's publishing history is discussed in its intro. It was originally signed by a non-academic press, which was purchased by the university press.

Dame Etna (talk) 07:21, 22 May 2015 (UTC)

...none of which changes the fact that it was reviewed and adopted by a university press and published to critical acclaim. And even Arensen praises the book, and takes no issue with the classification of SDUSA as Schachtmanite. Neither does he dispute its fundamental relationship with neoconservatism (Things which should, however, be "used carefully" are statements by directly interested parties like Ben Wattenberg--Henry Jackson's political adviser--and Carl Gersham).GPRamirez5 (talk) 21:00, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
I've been reading the Ross book: the style is not quite academic. But the research is solid enough and in my opinion it definitely qualifies as reliable secondary source. Rjensen (talk) 21:22, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
To say that the book has been published by University press certainly does NOT guarantee that every one of the thousands of statements is widely accepted as true. Ross is pretty much an outlier when it comes to his view of the vast influence of the Schachtmanites. University presses send out manuscripts for review and editors look for a broad Yes or No evaluation, rather than for specific evaluations of every single page. Rjensen (talk) 07:40, 23 May 2015 (UTC)
That a university press has published the book means that we can generally rely on its factual accuracy. Even the most reliable sources may contain errors and we address those on a case by case basis by comparison with what other reliable sources say. That does not mean though that we should accept opinions expressed in the book as facts. TFD (talk) 12:43, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

Ross' description was accepted into reference books years ago:

“During the 1960s, the party continued moving rightward under Shachtman’s influence. In 1968…the party also voted to endorse Hubert Humphrey, despite the opposition of Norman Thomas. In the early 70s, the Socialist Party split into three separate organizations. The split developed in 1972 after Shachtman’s Unity Caucus had taken control of the party…Shachtman and his followers refused to oppose President Richard Nixon’s re-election. Michael Harrington then formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee…
The Party’s Debs caucus…became the Socialist Party USA, while the Schachtman group renamed itself Social Democrats USA. The Debs caucus believed it was important to maintain an independent Socialist Party…"

- Encyclopedia of U.S. Campaigns, Elections, and Electoral Behavior, edited by Kenneth F. Warren, (SAGE Publications, 2008 ) p. 749-750

"SDUSA’s category-defying mix of Left and Right positions can be explained by the rightward political path traveled by its intellectual godfather Max Shachtman.”

- Encyclopedia of Third Parties in America, edited by Immanuel Ness, James Ciment (Sharpe Reference, 2001), p.521

Please draft text that you wish to have in the article, so that we may have a focused discussion. Dame Etna (talk) 18:37, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

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Lede proposal[edit]

I propose that the third sentence of the lede should state:

Scholars regard SDUSA as the right-wing of a split in the Socialist Party and a major incubator of the neoconservative movement.[1] [2] [3]
  1. ^ Justin Vaïsse, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Harvard University Press, 2010), p.71-75
  2. ^ Nicolas Guilhot, The Democracy Makers: Human Rights and the Politics of Global Order (Columbia University Press, 2013‬)
  3. ^ Mel van Elteren, Labor and the American Left: An Analytical History (Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 124 notes that “neo-conservative allies” of Senator Henry Jackson were “concentrated in Social Democrats USA…”
You are violating WP:Lede, again.
Draft something substantial for the body, which would then be summarized in the lede. Dame Etna (talk) 19:52, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
You are still closely paraphrasing Matthews from the Washington Post, continuing to distort his words (as noted repeatedly here and at WP:DRN), but now you have removed the acknowledgment of the source! Was it because I just noted Matthews cited this Wikipedia article as the source on SDUSA?!?
You seem not to have read the article. Vaisse's accusations of "neoconservatism" of members is in the lede and in the body.
You still have not answered the question. What evidence does Vaisse give for calling Bayard Rustin and Carl Gershman neoconservative and Shachtmanite (in a paragraph without footnotes)? Google and Amazon don't help. Can you check the book.
Dame Etna (talk) 07:25, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
The reason for this statement is that it summarizes the sources cited above. All political scholarship I've seen acknowledges they are the right-wing of the split. There is no contradiction that high-ranking members of the group are neoconservative and the group as a whole helped to promote neoconservatism. Those phenomenon, needless to say, complement each other.
As for WP:Lead, it states:
The notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences. The emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic, according to reliable, published sources. Apart from trivial basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article.[emphasis added]
All the scholarship indicates that SDUSA's role as the right of the split is the most notable thing about it. That is the most frequent thing mentioned. Its association with neoconservatism is also one of the most frequent aspects mentioned.
Even the encyclopedia articles I cited in the last section allude to it: the passages I quoted describe a group of social democrats who shifted to the political center, and who on some issues, became right of center. That is the common definition of neoconservative. The notability of the neoconservative description is further bolstered by the fact that the most recent and thorough scholarship on the group is in the Ross book: Chapter 17 entitled "SDUSA and the Rise of Neoconservatism" GPRamirez5 (talk) 16:28, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I expanded the first paragaph covering the desired content, although in a more NPOV way than picking only authors who call SDUSA right-wing and neocon. "Right wing" is discussed later in the lede, summarizing the controversies section of the article. But, addressing your concern about the first sentences, it is fair to mention Harrington's resignation and DSOC's politics in the first paragraph, to contrast DSOC and SDUSA. Harrigton's criticisms of SDUSA's anti-communism and SDUSA's response can be expanded in the body (or need to be, to be compliant with WP:Lede).
Dame Etna (talk) 17:11, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

There is nothing POV about stating the fact of what the scholarly consensus is. It is however POV to give undue weight to on the basis of inferior, partisan and decades old sources. "If available, academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources, such as in history, medicine, and science." - WP:SOURCES GPRamirez5 (talk) 18:24, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Middle class?[edit]

The article discusses this, with citations at the beginning of the article.

  • "Socialist Party now the Social Democrats, U.S.A.". New York Times. p. 36. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  • "The new strata of the issue-oriented and college-educated who provided the mass bass for [the McGovern Campaign] were, and are, extremely important to the creation of a new majority for change in this country."Harrington, Fragments of the Century, pp. 212-213.

These sources can augmented especially by Adams in the Wall Street Journal, which is quoted by Isserman's biography of MH, and by Bloodworth, etc.

The working-class/AFL-CIO v. middle-class/New Politics clash was central to SDUSA and Harrington's disagreement. (I revised the lede quickly, and of course some phrasing can be improved.)

Dame Etna (talk) 20:50, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

What does that have to do with it? In 1970, the majority of recent high school graduates were enrolled in :college (And yes, the majority of people graduated high school).
Meanwhile, labor unions (who you apparently presume to counter-pose to the middle-class) represented less
than 30% of people working for wages or salary -
see page CRS-11 here.
"Issue-oriented" includes minorities and women, most of whom were working-class. There's no basis for the label. GPRamirez5 (talk) 14:59, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Let's stick to discussing what the sources say, rather than use OR (well, in this case). Dame Etna (talk) 15:19, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Exactly. And the source you quoted doesn't say "middle-class", so of course you'll be deleting that now, right? GPRamirez5 (talk) 15:58, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

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This article needs a section on the party's political positions. Robert Franks (talk) 15:16, 9 April 2016 (UTC)