Click on the headline to link to an American Left History entry entitled WHEN DID THE 1960'S END? for background on the events of May Day 1971 that figure prominently in this post.
Earlier this month I started what I anticipate will be an on-going series, From The Archives Of The Socialist Workers Party (America)
, starting date October 2, 2010, where I will place documents from, and make comments on, various aspects of the early days of the James P. Cannon-led Socialist Worker Party in America. As I noted in the introduction to that series Marxism, no less than other political traditions, and perhaps more than most, places great emphasis on roots, the building blocks of current society and its political organizations. Nowhere is the notion of roots more prevalent in the Marxist movement that in the tracing of organizational and political links back to the founders, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto, and the Communist League.
After mentioning the thread of international linkage through various organizations from the First to the Fourth International I also noted that on the national terrain in the Trotskyist movement, and here I was speaking of America where the Marxist roots are much more attenuated than elsewhere, we look to Daniel DeLeon’s Socialist Labor League, Eugene V. Deb’s Socialist Party( mainly its left-wing, not its socialism for dentists wing), the Wobblies (IWW, Industrial Workers Of The World), the early Bolshevik-influenced Communist Party and the various formations that led up to the Socialist Workers Party, the section that Leon Trotsky’s relied on most while he was alive. Further, I noted that beyond the SWP that there were several directions to go in but that those earlier lines were the bedrock of revolutionary Marxist continuity, at least through the 1960s.
Today I am starting what I also anticipate will be an on-going series about one of those strands past the 1960s when the SWP lost it revolutionary appetite, what was then the Revolutionary Tendency (RT) and what is now the Spartacist League (SL/U.S.), the U.S. section of the International Communist League (ICL). I intend to post materials from other strands but there are several reasons for starting with the SL/U.S. A main one, as the document below will make clear, is that the origin core of that organization fought, unsuccessfully in the end, to struggle from the inside (an important point) to turn the SWP back on a revolutionary course, as they saw it. Moreover, a number of the other organizations that I will cover later trace their origins to the SL, including the very helpful source for posting this material, the International Bolshevik Tendency.
However as I noted in posting a document from Spartacist
, the theoretical journal of ICL posted via the International Bolshevik Tendency website that is not the main reason I am starting with the SL/U.S. Although I am not a political supporter of either organization in the accepted Leninist sense of that term, more often than not, and at times and on certain questions very much more often than not, my own political views and those of the International Communist League coincide. I am also, and I make no bones about it, a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, a social and legal defense organization linked to the ICL and committed, in the traditions of the IWW, the early International Labor Defense-legal defense arm of the Communist International, and the early defense work of the American Socialist Workers Party, to the struggles for freedom of all class-war prisoners and defense of other related social struggles.
Markin comment on the peace and/or anti-war question:
If I was asked to name the number one political cause that I have fought for in my life, and I thought about it for a few moments, the answer would have to be the peace, or put a better way, the anti-war question. I will just quickly draw a distinction between the two terms for purposes of this commentary. Of course, everybody and their brother and sister wants peace, talks about peace, would love to see in their lifetimes, and so on. By this they mean, usually, no wars, or at least just little ones, or may an occasional civil war or something like that. Mainly though, truth to tell, no wars to intrude on their daily lives, and certainly nothing that they have to take up arms about, or worst, sent their children with those selfsame arms to fight. Sunday speech peace is what this attitude boils down to. We have heard that noise from politicians, high and low, for an eternity. And for a fair part of my political youth, truth to tell, that kind of peace, that kind of striving for peace as a political activist, if not quite put in that hard-boiled a manner had great appeal.
Yes, but I am a big boy now, and have been for quite awhile. Thus, sweet Sunday speech peace preachments leave nothing but a bitter taste in my mouth. First of all, as a historical materialist by political inclination I know that there are some wars, like the class struggle wars that I don not want to be peaceful about, at least if the bourgeoisies of the world get in our way as they usually do. Or certain wars for national self-determination by oppressed nations, like the Vietnam War that caused me to re-evaluate my “peace” principles on more than one occasion back in the 1960s. Or wars fought by progressive, or at least smaller sized and helpless entities against bigger, bullying ones. So no, in the year 2010, I do not want to fight for “peace at any price.” And while I am no inveterate war-monger by any means thems the facts. As to the anti-war part of the question I think that I can stand on that position a little better, a little more truthfully, by opposing the wars that world imperialism, and in the first instance American imperialism, constantly throw at us, including today’s Iraq and Afghan occupations for starters.
That said, let me go back to that Vietnam War anti-war experience or rather experiences for they will be illustrative of the transformation of my search for “peace” to that of class justice in this wicked old world. Early on in that war, before the massive escalations of the mid-1960s, I would characterize my position as pacifistic in the universal sense reflecting a Catholic Worker-type position tinged with not a little unkempt social-patriotism toward the American government. As the bombs kept endlessly falling on that benighted country and I studied and learned more about the historic struggle of the Vietnamese against foreign oppression I came to support their struggles under the rubric of a war of national liberation. As I moved further left I held quasi-positions (quasi in the sense of ill-formed, or not fully worked out in those hectic times when one could not move fast enough leftward, and as importantly, theoretically leftward) that the anti-war movement should act as an active “second front” in the Vietnamese national liberation struggle by “bringing the war home” (and rather passive toward what ultimately needed to be done to the American government). Finally, finally I came closer to Bolshevik positions on the war question, the need to defend a workers state (in whatever condition, that too evolved over time), the need to do with and in the American military to bring the war to an end the Bolshevik way.
That said, this particular series of entries from the archives of the Spartacist League would have made life infinitely easier if I had had access to them in those days as expressions of a clear way forward for the anti-war movement that I (and not I alone) was getting increasingly frustrated with as it got mired into bourgeois defeatism, and then into oblivion as that war wound down. Unfortunately I did not initially read this material until some time in the mid-1970s. I will make additional individual comments on each entry.
Markin comment on the futility of individual heroic anti-war resistance and the strategy of ever more massive “peace crawls” in the Vietnam War period.
Sometimes in politics, and after a lifetime of experiences I believe this to be true especially in revolutionary politics, the tempo of political struggle and upheaval can in a short period of time take individuals and movements far beyond what it would normally take many years to traverse, if ever. Such was the 1960s, for me as an individual politico and for American (and world) politics. That quickening of the political process (in our leftward favor that time, for a while anyway) is part of the reason that I have spilled no little ink in the space trying to draw some lessons applicable today from that now long ago series of experiences.
Additionally, in the period since about 1975 (I will take other arguments on dates but certainly no later than 1980 and the “Reagan revolution”) there have been few, if any, occasions to draw lessons from since there have not been the kind of political, social and cultural uprisings associated with the 1960s. The end of that period, the proverbial end of the 1960s that has been the subject on a great deal of commentary (including in this space) is the focus of this commentary. (Note: I have posted a link entry from a couple of years ago giving my opinion on the subject of when the 1960s ended. That commentary is also relevant to the time-frame of the document under discussion in this post.)
In two other of today’s posts I have noted that once I came of political age in the early 1960s I was constantly searching, to put it succinctly, for the best way to combine a political career with “doing good in the world.” (See From The Archives Of The Spartacist League (U.S.)-The Struggle Against Class Collaboration In The Anti-War Movement- New York Peace Parade Statement (1965)
and From The Archives Of The Spartacist League (U.S.)- The Struggle Against Class Collaboration In The Anti-War Movement- Beyond October 21: From Protest To Power (1967)
). Most of that decade was spent essentially hoping against hope that the struggles against war, for nuclear disarmament, for black civil rights, and for working people, black and white, to get a couple of breaks in this sorry, old world could be resolved with the “system” (bourgeois society). As the decade progressed and the rawness, unfairness and irrationality of the “system” kept tripping up my precious political calculations even I began to realize that it was the “system’ itself that was the problem. Getting beyond that understanding, nevertheless, took several more years of political beatings no matter how much previous political baggage, as noted in those other entries, I discarded along the way.
Sometimes political wisdom comes in strange forms and under seemingly improbable circumstances. The death of my beliefs that things could be smoothed out within the capitalist imperial system came not with the various brutally suppressed black rebellions in the cities, nor the constant Johnson Vietnam troop escalations, and not even the death of my last great hope, Senator Robert Kennedy. No, it was a simple letter, a letter from my draft board stating that they would like the pleasure of my company in the U.S. Army. Although I tussled with refusal I allowed myself to be drafted. And not, let me state for the record, under any Bolshevik concept of going off with my fellow working class stiffs in order to win them to the concept of revolutionary defeatism for the American side. That came later, or a variation of it anyway.
I do not want to dwell on my military experience here except to say that after about three days into that mess I was finally broken from my bourgeois illusions and radicalized, and I have never looked back since. All the later stuff leading up to my understanding of the need to struggle for a workers party that fights for a workers government has been a fine-tuning of the reality “discovered” there that when the deal went down the army (and I later incorporated the courts, the prisons, and the other repressive institutions of bourgeois society into this scheme) was the core of the American state. No, thank you.
That said, the next few years were spent in the political wilderness looking for all kinds of, mainly, individual (or small group) radical expressions of my opposition to bourgeois society, including all sorts of communal activities, a small romance with anarchism, a bigger romance with the Black Panthers (at times when whites could approach them), and a very, very big romance with the notion of acting as some kind of “second front” for the Vietnamese in their struggle against American imperialism. Then came May Day 1971 when we collectively, the Mayday Tribe that is, were going to “stop the government, if the government does not stop the war.” We were crushed unceremoniously and with dispatch on that day by that selfsame government. That desperate experience convinced me that brave, if isolated, remnant that we were there had to be a better way to fight the “beast.” Shortly thereafter I started reading serious socialist stuff, and then ….Marxist tracts (via Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution). And I have not looked back, well, except for that life-long necessity of fine-tuning those class struggle understandings.
Against NPAC Pop Fronts:
For Class Action Against the War!
—from Spartacist supplement, July 1971
The "Spring Offensive" is over, but the Vietnam war drags on. The Mayday Tribe's threat to "Stop the Government" if the government did not stop the war only demonstrated with what ruthless efficiency the government handles radicals who talk about stopping the government but lack any means except wishful thinking. The Mayday Tribe represented merely a new chapter in the conflict of perspectives which has been ingrained in the anti-war movement since its inception: "respectable" reformism vs. petty-bourgeois adventurism. Each outbreak of confrontationism is greeted by a new wave of "we told you so" from the radical-liberal-bourgeois coalition dominated by the astute class-collaborationist maneuvering of the ex-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP). What hypocrisy! For it is precisely the obvious liberalism of the mainstream anti-war movement which has driven the frustrated student protesters in desperation into the ranks of the Mayday Tribe. And as for futility, what has the SWP's much-touted "mass movement" accomplished? the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) "peace action" of April 24 only produced the traffic jam to which the Mayday Tribe aspired. So long as the anti-war movement continues to be circumscribed by these two alternatives—reformism or adventurism there can be no way forward.
Kent State Revisited
The outraged opposition spontaneously generated last year by the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the Kent-Jackson State massacres has been completely dissipated. The invasion of Laos earlier this year an escalation and expansion of the war equal to the Cambodia invasion produced only scattered protests. The July 2-4 NPAC Convention takes place after the first relatively quiet spring in nearly a decade on college campuses, heretofore the bastion of the anti-war movement. Instead, the campus has become a breeding ground for reactionary cultism (with Campus Crusade for Christ Revivals rivalling anti-war rallies for attendance) and relative political apathy.
The energy of the May 1970 upsurge was dissipated precisely because its lessons have been ignored. The massacres ol students took place in the midst of a massive, ascending strike wave representing a radicalization of the U.S. and international working class unprecedented since World War II. One of the most important episodes of this strike wave was the nationwide teamster wildcat. In Ohio during April-May 1970 twenty thousand teamsters went out. Joining with the trucking owners in calling on right-wing Republican Governor Rhoadcs to mobilize four thousand National Guardsmen to break the wildcat were "friends of labor," "friends of the peace movement" like Senator Saxbe and Mayor Stokes, and the international "leadership" of the Teamsters, including President Fit/simmons and Vice-President Harold Gibbons -labor's "representative" on the podium at the April 24 rally in Washington and endorser of this NPAC Convention.
The trucking owners tried to move scab trucks in convoys of five, supported by a massive show of firepower: military helicopters, armored cars and armed Guardsmen literally riding shotgun in each cabin. The teamsters countered by organizing flying-picket squads which massed at terminal gates whenever the owners tried to move scab trucks. The teamsters were able to lace down the Guardsmen and defend their strike.
It was from this strike-breaking detail that four hundred Guardsmen were taken and sent to Kent State. Unlike the teamsters, the students put up no resistance. But it was students, not teamsters. who were gunned down. Why? A massacre of teamsters, in the middle of a tense, militant nationwide wildcat by one of the country's strongest unions, would have precipitated a series of nationwide protest and sympathy strikes a far greater show of social power than all the student strikes, peace crawls and police confrontations combined. In contrast, the massacre of students had little more long-term social impact than starting summer vacation three weeks early on college campuses.
What made the protesting students so vulnerable was precisely the question of brute social power: the teamsters and other organized workers have it; students do not. Likewise, while polls, parades and police confrontations may demonstrate that the overwhelming majority in this country is against the war, no variation or combination of protest politics can force the U.S. ruling class out of Indochina. Only a combination of social forces whose consciousness and militancy pose a greater threat to the world hegemony of U.S. imperialism than military defeat in Vietnam can force a halt to the war.
The predecessor to this NPAC Convention was last year's "Emergency National Conference Against the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam War" held in Cleveland over June 19-21. Mayor Stokes, fresh from helping break the teamster strike, officiary endorsed the conference and proclaimed June 19-21 as "Peace Action Days." The SWP-dominated conference immediately proposed a demonstration in downtown Cleveland "against Agnew"—a demonstration which any liberal Republican or Democratic hustler like Stokes could solidari/.e with. SDS, supported in their demand by Progressive Labor and the Spartacist League, counterposed a demonstration in support of the teamster wildcat and against Stokes as well as Agnew. The SWP, predictably, was enraged at the suggestion of anything that might "divide" the peace movement and alienate its "friends" in the Democratic Party and trade union bureaucracy.
In addition to marching "against Agnew," the conference attempted to reassemble from the wreckage of various Mobilizations, Coalitions. Committees, Conferences. Caucuses, Congresses, Con¬ventions and other concoctions an even newer, broader, more indivisible peace-group-to-end-all-peace-groups—the "National Peace Action Coalition." Although maneuvering in lesser arenas, the SWP has adopted the Communist Party's proclivity for forming coalitions only to toss them out again when their treachery is no longer of service. Such was the history of the "Spring," "National" and "New" Mobili/ations behind which the SWP was the motivating force, and such will be the history of NPAC. NPAC is a Popular Front combining the SWP with the liberal bourgeoisie and Cold Warrior "socialists," through which the SWP can "lead" masses of people and rub shoulders with .Vance Hartke and Victor Reuther. The SWP is able to "lead" these masses through the oldest opportunist sleight-of-hand in the world —by adopting the liberal bourgeoisie's program! Capitalist politicians like Hartke know that the real decisions about when and how to "end" the war are made in Wall Street high-rises and Pentagon sub-basements. They come to these conferences as they go to livestock shows and state fairs—to garner votes.
To the accusation that formations like NPAC are Popular Fronts of class collaboration, SWPer Doug Jenness responded:
"If NPAC was watering down its program to get support from capitalist politicians, your charges would be justified. But NPAC follows an entirely different course. It has an independent perspective to unite as many people as possible, regardless of political affiliations or views, in mass actions against the Vietnam War." -Militant, 28 May 1970
And to be sure, the Cleveland "Emergency Conference" dutifully passed a resolution calling for "mass actions." Jenness' statement is perfectly clear—and perfectly meaningless. The SWP wants to "unite" lots of "people" (explicitly regardless of politics) in "mass actions." "Unite" which "people," on the basis of what program, in what kind of "mass action"? The massacre of a million Indonesian communist workers was a "mass action." So were the Cossack pogroms. So, for that matter, was the October Revolution. The demonstration "against Agnew" and the teamster wildcat were also "mass actions." However, the SWP endorsed the former while one of their spokesmen (Miguel Padilla.at Cleveland) dismissed the latter as "racist and reactionary." Why do the self-proclaimed "Marxists" of the SWP have so much difficulty understanding that society is made up of classes, not undifferentiated masses, and that the two primary classes in capitalist society are the bourgeoisie and the working class? It is absurd to talk about having "an independent perspective"; the reformist anti-war movement is deliberately organized as a classless formation, but though it may opt to ignore the class struggle, the class struggle does not ignore it! The middle-class youth who have flocked to the anti-war movement in moral outrage must choose sides in the class struggle; they can play no role outside it. The SWP's "independent perspective" in reality means independence from the fight for the international proletarian revolution, in favor of back¬handed support to the class enemy of U.S. workers and their class brothers in Indochina.
Lest anyone should think that the SWP has gone astray through simple ignorance of these elementary tenets of Marxist analysis, it is instructive to compare the SWP's current politics with its analysis of the way to conduct anti-war struggle at the time of the Korean war, another instance of imperialism's continuing assault on the gains of limited social revolutions abroad expressed militarily. In March 1953 Farrcll Dobbs then and now a principal leadei of theSWP- wrote:
"... the most vital place to carry on anti-war agitation and participate in anti-war actions is in the unions where the masses are. We have always envisaged the struggle against war as an extension of the class
struggle onto a higher plane. The fight against the war can really be
effective only to the extent that the workers adopt class-struggle
policies in defending their interests. If we are to help this process along
we must be in the unions "
SWP Internal Bulletin Vol. 15. No. 6, March 1953 (our
Now this is neither a particularly profound nor a particularly eloquent polemic. It is simple matter-of-fact statement of an orientation which stands blatantly and diametrically counterposed to the current politics of the SWP. The SWP leaders are not naive would-be revolutionaries ignorant of the theories of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky; they have consciously rejected Trotskyism in favor of a perspective of reformist class collaboration.
Like the national postal strike before it and the recent two-day mini-general strike of New York City public employees, the Teamster wildcat produced a clear-cut line-up of class forces. The trucking owners, cops, courts, the bourgeois press and politicians (from the most liberal to the most conservative) stood united as a class and, together with their agents in the unions, the labor bureaucracy, tried to crush the Teamster struggle. On the other side of the barricades were the Teamsters. The SDS resolution put before the Cleveland "Emergency Conference" a clear-cut, inescapable choice: support the Teamsters (which would have forced NPAC to break with capitalist politicians like Stokes and the "lieutenants of capital" within the workers movement like Fitzsimmons and Gibbons); or cement the Popular Front bloc by calling the Teamsters simply "racist and reactionary" and demonstrating against Agnew. The SWP chose the latter course -the course of class collaboration and betrayal.
On the main issue facing the Cleveland conference—class collaboration the SWP's conduct was unequivocal. Not so that of the pseudo-Trotskyist Workers League (WL) which, in a frenzy of the same opportunist appetite which led it to enthusiastically and virtually uncritically endorse the wretched 1970 SWPneleetorat campaigns, insisted that the real issue was "Trotskyism vs. Stalinism." By this catchy slogan the WL meant that its main enemy at the conference was PL ("Stalinism") and the SDS motions which posed, in a limited but generally correct way, an anti-liberal, working-class orientation for the anti-war movement. The WL in effect made a bloc with the SWP ("Trotskyism"—but since when is the SWP legitimately Trotskyist?) against opposition from the left, thereby endorsing the essence of Stalinism though not the label, for Stalinism like all varieties of revisionism—is nothing more or less than the abandonment of an international, proletarian and revolutionary perspective in favor of alliances with some wing of the class enemy, precisely'the SWP's policy in the anti-war movement! (The WL, which has jumped all over the map on the anti-war question tailending the Popular Front in 1965, offering critical political support to the NLF Stalinists and Ho Chi Minh in 1967— recently adopted a new face: calling its own rally on April 24, the WL denounced all those who participated in the "official" rally, thus condemning the mass of anti-war activists for the betrayals of their reformist, social-chauvinist leaders.)
The SWP Rediscovers Workers
The SWP and its succession of front groups have made their choice—class collaboration rather than class struggle. But since the SWP's usefulness to its bourgeois allies depends precisely on its continued ability to lead the would-be radicals among the anti-war protesters into the Popular Front trap, the SWP now needs the left cover of a pseudo-working-class orientation. Many of the more conscious student activists cannot fail to compare the futility of the April 24 "mass action" with the virtual paralysis of New York City caused by a few thousands of militant workers, even despite their sellout leaders. So the SWP is making renewed efforts to develop the facade of a labor base. A call in the June 18 Militant for the NPAC Convention announces tha.t NPAC is preparing a series of letters addressed to "various anti-war constituencies." Prominent among these separate-but-equal "constituencies" is "trade unionists," and several union bureaucrats are listed among the sponsors of the Convention.
But a Marxist working-class perspective does not consist of the
willingness to orient towards workers (mediated through the class
(traitors of the labor bureaucracy, to be sure) for the purpose of
including them among the various other "constituencies" assembled under the political banner of the liberal bourgeoisie. The empirical reflex of much of the U.S. left, faced with the demonstrated revolutionary aspirations of the working class following the 1968 French upsurge, has been to go where the action is by adopting a simple-minded "workerism" underlaid with the social do-goodism previously characteristic of the New Left's attitude toward the "Third World." In this respect PL-SDS's "tactics" of "allying" with workers by showing how much you want to help them is not atypical, and provides yet another excuse for the right wing of the radical movement (perfectly typified by the SWP's Padilla as well as the old New Leftists) to justify dismissal of the working class as the force for revolution because of the false consciousness (racism, patriotism) which simple-minded "workerism" must ignore as a principle.
To the extent that sections of the working class do remain imbued with the ideology of the bourgeoisie, groups like the SWP have only themselves to blame. Workers see their most sophisticated enemies (McCarthy, Lindsay, Hartkc) lauded by the supposed "Marxists," cheered on by the labor parasites who serve the bourgeoisie within the workers' own organizations. The sections of the left who recognize the SWP's sellout for what it is must go beyond "workerism" to a program which can break the disastrous unity of anti-war militants with the most sell-conscious and dangerous wing of the bourgeoisie, and replace it by a real unity a unity based on a program of international class struggle:
Class Struggle Program
1. No Liberal Bourgeois Speakers at Anti-War Rallies!
rubric of "non-exclusionism" and "independence',' the SWP-NPAC
leadership welcomes the class enemy into the anti-war movement.
The major activity of the movement's "mass actions" has been to
provide both the forum and a captive audience for liberals to do their
canvassing. The only real "independence" for the movement is
irreconcilable opposition to the class enemy.
2. For Labor Political Strikes Against the War!
No amount of
student strikes and weekend peace crawls can force U.S. imperialism
to end the Indochinese war. But a strike by U.S. workers in solidarity
with the Indochinese working people could compel the capitalists to
face an enemy even more potent than the Vietnamese Revolution—a
powerful, organized and conscious working class in struggle for its
own class interests in the very citadel of imperialism. The NPAC
leadership opposes this perspective because it wants to maintain its
alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie, trading away the potential of a
powerful, working-class-based mass movement in order to win the
adherence ol "moderates" to a classless, implicitly pro-capitalist line.
A struggle for this demand means the struggle against the conservative, self-interested labor bureaucracy which mortally fears any class action which would upset its peaceful coexistence with the bosses and their politicians.
3. Break with the Capitalist Parties—For a Political Party of the
! The U.S. working class will remain politically
trapped until it has built, by struggle against its fake "leaders," its own
party. A workers party must have a consistent class program as well
as a working-class base. We do not call upon the tested servants of
capitalism, the labor bureaucrats, to form this party; we do not seek
to pressure them into building a trap for the workers along the lines of
the British Labour Party. We must fight from the beginning to make the workers party a revolutionary party.
4. Smash Imperialism—All U.S. Troops Out of Asia Now
must expose the pro-imperialist liberals who speak at the invitation
of the SWP-NPAC —no negotiations, no timetables! We must make
it clear that we want no bourgeois evasions de-escalation, troop
shifts, moratoriums — to interfere with the defeat of imperialism in
5. Victory to the Indochinese Revolution — No Confidence in
Sellout "Leaders" at Home or Abroad!
The SWP-NPAC demands
"self-determination" for Vietnam. But for Marxists there is an even
higher principle at stake: the class nature of the war. We have a
responsibility to take sides. Our commitment to the revolutionary
struggle of the Indochinese working people demands that we must
give no confidence to the Stalinist traitors who have repeatedly sold
out the struggle (from the Geneva Accords to the People's Peace
Treaty) All Indochina Must Go Communist
The document printed above was prepared for the July 1971 NPAC conference and encapsulated the sharp political struggle which had raged within the antiwar movement for six years. That conference represented a political milestone where the SWP, now class-collahorationist to the core, sealed its popular-front strategy in hlood. After years of organizing toothless pacifist ic conferences and "peace now" marches on a hasis politically acceptable to the "dove" section of the bourgeoisie, these ex- Trotskyists finally succeeded in luring a genuine capitalist politician, U.S. Senator Vance Hartke, onto the NPAC steering committee. At the conference the SWP demonstrated that its political degeneration was matched by the appropriate organizational methods— Stalinist-style gangster attacks on left critics.
To the discomfiture of the SWP and its friend Hartke, Spartacist League supporters demanded that this imperialist spokesman be summarily excluded from the conference, and (when the SL motion was ignored by the chairman) SLers joined with supporters of Progressive Labor (PL) and SDS in soundly booing Hartke's speech. The second major spokesman was Victor Reuther. United Automobile Workers (UAW representative and a key red-baiting CIA lackey within the AFL-CIO bureaucracy. As Reuther rose to speak, the Spartacist delegation chanted "Labor Strikes Against the War," a slogan designed to expose the labor leadership's pro-imperialist hypocrisy, and then sat down.
PL supporters, who saw no difference between Reuther, a "labor lieutenant of capital" within the workers movement and Hartke, a direct representative of the bourgeoisie, attempted to prevent the UAW misleader from speaking. At that point the SWP marshals responded to PL's verbal disruption with a vicious assault and began to physicially throw them out. The SL supporters jumped up to protest these goon-squad tactics and were also attacked, resulting in injuries to several comrades.
The following day, while Hartke denounced PL as "just as responsible for the war as Nixon," the SWP capped its thug attack with a political purge and refused to allow any PL or SL supporters hack into the conference. So blatantly provocative were the SWP's actions that even political tendencies that had not lifted a finger during the attack fell compelled to separate themselves from this violent exclusionism. Only one group was shameless enough to join with the SWP in the assault (later serving up nauseating left" justifications lo whitewash the SWP's anti-red purge): the Healyile Workers League, then pursuing one of its many unprincipled belly-crawling maneuvers toward the U.S. Pabloites.
Labels: ANTI-IMPERIALISM, communism, defending national liberation struggles, leon trotsky, opposition to Vietnam War, russian revolution, SDS, V.I. Lenin