Jose and the Living Dead

fajardos at fajardos at
Mon Sep 6 23:57:40 MDT 1999

Jose wrote:

> I'd be interested in hearing about more adventures and
> misadventures of the SWP in the 80s and early 90s.
> Mac Warren was very prominent for a few years but in reality he was no
> different from people like me who also figured in the leadership for a few
> years, and, frankly, mattered little individually. We complemented and
> rounded out the central team, but were not part of it.

Ok, you guys know by now how much I love this sort of thing, so here's
my inevitable two cents' worth:

Mac --I can't remember his given name, which he used often enough to
make people think that there were a pair of Warren brothers in the SWP,
while it was just the one guy-- was the SWP presidential candidate in
1990, with Estelled DeBates of the YSA leadership as vice presidential
candidate.  In Santa Cruz, California, I formed a political partnership
with Marc K., and were quite successful in spreading the word about the
YSA and keeping Marxist politics "on the agenda" at the university
there.  Marc and I got around and were able to organize some very good
YSA forums in which we hosted students from the Philipines, Cuba, and
South Africa.  These were rather well attended and went far better than
when we got speakers from the Bay Area SWP branch who were not used to
the looser and more personal format of seminars at UCSC and would get
frustrated at being interrupted with questions.

Some of the people we hosted, of course, were Mac Warren and Estelle.
With the help of "Mike" we also got space at nearby Cabrillo College for
Mac.  At both UCSC and Cabrillo, we ran into the problem that there were
people interested in working in Marxist politics
but had no organization to offer them.

Earlier in 1990 the SWP had decided that it could no longer carry the
YSA along and itself survive, so the YSA leadership gathered in an
extraordinary meeting in Chicago dutifully agreed to dissolve the YSA
and have its resources absorbed by the SWP.  No one in the whole country
save Marc and I, who were not invited because being but a pair we were
not a chapter, objected nor questioned the legality of the decision.  In
fact we sent off an angry letter demanding that a YSA convention be
called together as only a convention had the authority by YSA
constitution to make such a decision.  Of course, we got nowhere with
that, although we found out later at Oberlin that the letter had made
the rounds and apparently caused some qualms in the SWP and YSA national
offices, but not enough.

The upshot of the matter, was that Marc and I, and "Mike", continued
being YSA militants, but without a YSA, because even though the YSA
ceased to exist, its people did not go anywhere but remained in place
doing pretty much the same sorts of things.
But when people asked if we had a youth group they could join we had to
tell them "no."

That is until the 1990 Presidential campaign, when the SWP pulled out
"Youth for Warren and DeBates."  Boy, that was one even we couldn't sell
to people because it wasn't anything in particular, and it offered
nothing anyone wanted to buy.  Young people would come to us looking for
a place to explore Marxism and do radical politics and all we had to
offer was an election campaign for two obscure sure-to-lose candidates?
The most people we recruited to "Youth for Warren and DeBates" were the
four who signed up at Cabrillo only so that we could obtain permission
from the campus facilities office to use a room for Mac to speak in and
to set up information tables without being chased off by campus

In the meantime the pressure was put on the ex-YSAers to join the SWP.
Marc did and transfered to the Seattle branch.  While in general
agreement with the party on most things, I had enough doctrinal
disagreements that I couldn't bring myself to join, and with my family
obligations I couldn't commit myself to being a "footlose revolutionary"
ready to be transfered about the country at any time.  And I respected
the comrades too much to join knowing I couldn't give 100%.

Besides, I still had the bad taste from the YSA dissolution.   When the
new youth group the Young Socialists was created in 1991 or 1992, I
helped get it going in San Francisco, but soon was pulled away by family
responsibilities, work schedule, and by not being able to keep up the
pretense of believing that the YS was and independent organization
"allied" to the SWP anymore than the YSA had turned out to be despite
the rhetoric.


More information about the Marxism mailing list