Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at compuserve.com
Fri Feb 23 21:26:39 MST 1996

 >>   You mention the labor party demand raised
 off and on by the SWP. It's been debated in
 the past how immediate or how practical the
 slogan is at the moment. My feeling is that
 it's still a propaganda slogan at this time,
 but that we are getting close to the time when
 it can be raised in a more urgent and practical manner.
   At the same time, I don't think the SWP
 should get involved with Labor Party Advocates,
 which is a part of the bureaucracy. One of the
 things I have heard lately is that now is not
 the time for the SWP to start maneuvering
 with the labor officialdom. The SWP is still
 in a position of weakness, without the necessary
 rank and file support. I think this is right.
   I wonder: do you have a sub to the Militant? <<


 Yes, I have a sub.

 Now on to the labor party question. I must admit I didn't think to much about
this myself until the 1994 campaign of my friend and at-large SWP member Larry
Lane for governor of NY.

 I saw a gut response from my co-workers when I circulated a petition for the
campaign that convinced me that something was going on that needed to be
thought about.

 My co-workers didn't sign for Larry because he was a socialist or communist.
They responded because he was someone like them, a worker at our local GE
plant. They responded because their is a sense out there that working people
are completely out of the loop of power today, without representation.

 This is why, in my opinion, we have had Perot, Farrakhan and Buchanan emerge,
despite the discomfiture of the ruling class. A political response is needed.
You need to be able to explain to a worker what could be done, with the
materials at hand(the unions, as they are) to begin to counter the capitalist

 Now the SWP arguement, as I understand it, against raising the Labor Party
slogan at this time, is that the necessary preconditions of a resurgent labor
movement are missing. There has to be some 1930's style upheaval that will put
the question on the agenda. Millions of workers in the streets, mass strikes,

 I think, in fact, that things are not, and have not, repeated the thirties
pattern. The circumstances today are different. We are not faced with the need
to organize workers in basic industry. That has been done. Today an industrial
worker lives in fear of losing a 30-40 thousand a year job and ending at
McDonalds. Today the ruling class has quite sucessfully so far, put the
organized workers in basic industry on the defensive. All the laws that have
been passed, the corruption of the labor officialdom, are serving them quite
well. Great battles like Hormel, Jay, Caterpillar have been defeated.

 Therefore, it seems to me, that the contest has moved to the political field.
Workers need to get the power to change the relationships set in place by the
last 50 somnolent years.

 This Buchanan thing is the latest sign. Yes, he employs fascist rhetoric. But
white workers particularly are just ignoring his social agenda and responding
viscerally to the simplistic economic appeal. This is where demanding that
labor leadership terminate its ties to the Democrats and organize a labor
party comes in. In my experience, this arguement makes sense to workers.

 Actually the "conditions are not ready arguement is quite well answered in
the following quote.

 >> We also don't hold the proposal for a labor party hostage to democratizing
the unions. For a while we used a wrong formulation on this. We would say,"for
a labor party based on a democratized, revitalized, fighting labor movement."
This is confused tactically.

 We have the right and the obligation to demand of the current, elected
leadership of our unions that they stop supporting the Democrats right now.
The elected leadership of the unions, as they are now, should break from the
capitalist parties and help launch a labor party. << Jack Barnes, The Changing
Face of U.S Politics.

 Do I think we will have to deal with the LPA? Yes. I think right now the
battle there is over simply existing as an organisation, which is what
Mazzochi wants, or actually stepping out and running candidates. This would
put them in direct opposition to the line of the AFL-CIO. That is the side the
SWP should be on, if there was involvement.

 I work with a couple of SWP friends in rail around here. I look forward to
discussing this question and others with them and you here on the list.

 Best, Jon Flanders

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 23-Feb-1996

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