At a time when a newly emerged socialist movement has entered the capitalist Democratic Party, Howie Hawkins, a longtime socialist and Green Party cofounder, makes the case for an independent left party.

The United States is the only major industrial country without a major working-class party of the left. Insurgent progressive third parties were a major force in American politics and set the reform agenda from the 1830s until the 1930s. Hawkins argues the failure to consolidate a working-class party is not due to often-cited electoral barriers, such as onerous ballot access laws and the absence of proportional representation of parties. The failure is because America’s left third parties, with the exception of the Debsian Socialist Party in the early twentieth century, copied the elitist memberless structures of the Democratic and Republican Parties, leaving a base of voters who were atomized and powerless.

In this expanded edition of his landmark article, revised and designed into ebook format, Hawkins argues that a mass party of the left should be organized as a dues-paying membership party that is well-funded by a mass membership organized into local branches where members have a voice and power in a grassroots-democratic party structure. He argues the party must be built from the bottom up by organizing the working-class majority to speak and act independently for itself in political education, social movements, and election campaigns.

This book serves as a guide for ecosocialists who want to change the capitalist system, not just lobby the capitalists’ political representatives in the Democratic Party.

This page is intended to allow you to read and discuss our new ebook, The Case for an Independent Party.  On the following pages, you can read each section individually and engage in a discussion specific to each section of the ebook. 

Howie Hawkins is a cofounder of the Green Party in the US and a 2020 Green Party presidential candidate. He was the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010. Howie became active in “The Movement” for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area. From the start, he’s been committed to independent working-class politics for a democratic, socialist, and ecological society. Outside of electoral politics, Howie has been a constant organizer in peace, justice, union, and environmental campaigns. His writing has appeared in Against the Current, Black Agenda Report, CounterPunch, Green Politics, International Socialist Review, Labor Notes, Z Magazine, and other publications. He is the editor of, and a contributor to, Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate (Haymarket Books, 2006).

© 2019 Howie Hawkins
Originally published in slightly different form in International Socialist Review no. 107 (Winter 2017–2018),, and reprinted in Black Agenda Report, May 10, 2018,
This edition published in 2019 and distributed by Howie Hawkins 2020.
Some rights reserved. The copyright holder grants the freedom to copy or redistribute this work for noncommercial use in any format with attribution to the author under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit
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Cover design by Jamie Kerry, Belle Étoile Studios.
Cover photo © Paul Sableman, CC BY 2.0

Howie Hawkins 2020

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