Which Party?

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at compuserve.com
Fri Feb 16 08:59:42 MST 1996

<Leave this organizational moralizing and get down to party positions>Hugh R.

 This is an important point. As another ex-SWP member on this list, I suppose
I should respond to Mike Dean's questions. I am not so much one of the
walking-wounded as my good friend Louis P., and have a bit of a different take
on this subject. I in fact, actively supported the SWP gubernatorial campaign
here in NY in 1994, and got half my shift at work to sign the nominating
petitions to get the SWP on the ballot. I would do the same again, if a Labor
Party continues to lag on the electoral question.

 Since I haven't been a member in a branch since the late eighties, I can't
respond to the charge of cultism well. I tend to charge such features of the
CP and SWP, if they exist, to the hostile environment in which socialist
organizations exist in the US today. This is not so much due to persecution,
which is minimal, but in a way more difficult, the indifference of the working
class as a whole to politics.

 When Louis and I were both in the SWP in the 70's, I thought the internal
political life was pretty lively. The problem is, in a group that is swimming
against the tide, every defection starts to be seen as a betrayal and the
wagons get circled.

 To me, the SWP's problems have flowed more from a congenital over-optimism
about the political situation, which has led to forced attempts at expansion
that burned people out, or forced them to stay behind, as I did with a young
family. Optimism is a good thing in general, and paid off during the anti-war
period. This needs to be tempered with realism during a period of decline.

 There is also the problem of fighting the last war. Most marxist groups
including the SWP tend to see current events in light of the upheavals of the
thirties. Unfortunately, the dynamics of a unionized industrial working-class
today a different than the raw rush to organize that impelled the CIO forward.
A worker with 15per hour job like mine, tends to respond with a certain
conservatism to the bosses attacks. It is a whole different ballgame.

 Now we are at the very beginning of a new radicalization of the working class
in the US. It remains to be seen how this will develop in terms of
revolutionary working class parties.

 Don't be afraid to talk to the SWP, Mike. Tell them about your discussions on
this list. Tell them to get a spokesperson here like the CP and other groups
do. This would balance things here a bit. By all means talk to other groups as
well. Make up your own mind.

 When there is a real working class upheaval, we probably won't recognize the
old organizational landscape.

 Best, Jon Flanders

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 16-Feb-1996

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