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Abstract

Posing radical challenges to structural inequality is the defining quality of the Left. What role electoral politics might play in such processes is a dilemma of radical politics, the contours of which vary by historical and national contexts. For the U.S. Left there is a distinctive aspect of the dilemma directly related to the failure of a "Left" party of even the most moderate social democratic type to take root, creating a seemingly never ending debate over the value if any of "third party" progressive organizing. This debate is current, as illustrated by three divergent approaches; independent left electoral politics (Socialist Alternative), organizing within the less conservative of the dominant parties (Progressive Democrats of America), and a social movement focus outside the electoral process (Occupy Movement). The present day examples of alternative Left strategies noted here in passing are but three of many such specific organizational options for progressive politics. This article does not seek to advocate for any one of these options to the exclusion of the others but rather seeks to provide historical perspective.

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