There they go again! The Militant on Elián, one year l ater

jonathan flanders jon_flanders at
Sat Nov 11 21:04:16 MST 2000

Re the Militant and Elian >> I'll have more to say about this in a couple
of days. <<


  While in San Francisco for the machinist's convention I visited
extensively with my old friend from the Albany area who is now living in SF
and is the SF SWP organizer.

  Eventually we got round to the Elian question. He seemed not to have
heard all the arguments you have put forward(!!), and seemed surprised by
my vehement rejection of the SWP view.

  I have another take on the SWP position after having visited with him. He
works in a plant with many immigrant workers, as do other party members and
the rest of us working in industry in the US. And I should add, relating to
immigrant workers was a significant theme at the IAM convention itself. The
head of the Painters Union gave an impassioned speech on the subject,
recounting how his union had turned around on the issue, with the result
that the painters have now begun to reverse their long-term membership

  At any rate, I put it to my friend that the SWP's position was an
adaption to this growing sector of the working class. This assertion really
snapped him up; he couldn't see why such an adaption would be a bad thing.

  But to me, if you think about it, of course it is. Immigrant workers are
not today revolutionary minded, far from it. They have come here to make
money and right now they are doing that. Being an immigrant worker does not
automatically mean that you sympathize with or even vaguely comprehend what
is at stake for the Cuban Revolution.

  What you do understand and fear, is the possibility that your new life
could be rudely destroyed by La Migra. It's understandable that it would be
difficult to explain to a new immigrant worker why the INS raid rescuing
Elian was a good thing. You have to explain a lot. So the SWP sought a way
to avoid grasping the nettle and risk losing influence with the immigrant
workers around them in industry.

And I don't need snide lectures that there are no such workers around the
SWP, I went out to dinner with my friend and one of his co-workers who is a
Filipino immigrant.

Jon Flanders

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