De Leon, Daniel

(1852–1914)
   Born on the island of Curaçao off the coast of Venezuela, De Leon became an important figure in the history of Marxism in the United States. He joined the main Marxist party in America, the Socialist Labor Party, in 1890, launched and edited its paper The People in 1891, and became its leading propagandist. He translated a number of works by leading Marxists including ones by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Karl Kautsky, and August Bebel, which, with his own articles, pamphlets and speeches, helped to disseminate Marxist ideas in the United States. He opposed both moderate union demands for higher wages or shorter hours and moderate demands for political reform. Instead, he argued that capitalism must be overthrown by spontaneous, peaceful revolution by the workers using the strike weapon and leading to a syndicalist socialist society based on the industrialist unions. De Leon was involved in the founding of the International Workers of the World (IWW). By the time he died the Socialist Labor Party was a tiny sect, his intransigence and sectarianism minimizing the party’s appeal. The IWW dissolved in 1925, and it is fair to say that while he was important in the U.S. socialist movement during his life, his influence has not been lasting.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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