Forwarded from Alex LoCascio (FAPO)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 23 11:06:43 MDT 2001


It should be noted that the remnants of the Proletarian Orientation
Tendency and later the Internationalist Tendency within the SWP were
pivotal in the formation of my organization, Solidarity.

My knowledge of this period is extremely patchy, but from what I've been
able to tell from bits and pieces I've gleaned from Scott McLemee and
others, after a number of SWP dissidents had split away to form Socialist
Action, a minority with SA sympathetic to the FI majority began to take
notice of a group of expelled members of the International Socialists who
had formed an organization called Worker's Power, who began the first
series of the magazine Against the Current (many ITers who decided to turn
down readmittance to the SWP, such as Charlie Post, ended up in WP)

By this time, WP had begun to promote the idea of socialist "regroupment,"
while the IS was calling for "Left Unity" on similar terms (The IS's
attempts to regroup with what is now FRSO faltered because of the latter's
acceptance of Democratic Party work). The Weinsteinites within SA were
opposed to any reunification with Shachtmanites, so the Mandelite current
(Patrick Quinn, Joanna Misnik, and Alan Wald are the ones most prominent in
my mind, since I know the first two personally) split away to form
Socialist Unity, which began the process of dialogue with WP and the IS
that led to the formation of Solidarity.

There's a real dearth of written material available about the Mandelite
current within the SWP, other than a few passing mentions in the
Wald-LeBlanc book on American Trotskyism. Perhaps some other list members
can fill in some holes or provide documents.

It's interesting that the Barnesites had decided to take the "turn" long
after the POT/IT had advocated this sort of thing. The International
Socialists had industrialized within the context of the late-60s/early-70s
working class revolt, exemplified by DRUM, the 1970 Teamster wildcat, the
Portuguese revolution, and the Italian shopfloor revolts. When the downturn
in struggle came in the mid-to-late 70s, the IS had managed to build at
least a marginal institutional presence in the class, and ended up with
Labor Notes and Teamsters for a Democratic Union. The SWP made its turn
long after this, and to this day is stuck selling the Militant at plant
gates. Who knows what the results would've been if the sort of
industrialization the POT/IT had been advocating had been given a
sympathetic ear.


Louis Proyect
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