On organisation

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Jan 20 17:01:20 MST 2001


Dayne Goodwin wrote:
>There is a historical record (not that I claim to know it particularly
>well) so that we can compare the work of the Socialist Union of America
>and the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S. over the next period from the
>mid-1950s into the 1970s when there were actual mass movements and it was
>possible to recruit (young)people to revolutionary socialist
>organizations.  How did the Socialist Union of America fare?

The Socialist Union was not interested in recruiting anybody.
"Recruitment", "interventions" and all that sort of thing were inherited
from the "vanguard" way of doing business, which has more in common with
small businesses seeking market share at the expense of the competition.

>       What happened to Bert Cochran?  I know even less about the answer
>to this question.  Here's the little I know:  I have a book by Bert
>Cochran titled "Labor and Communism: The Conflict that Shaped American
>Unions" which identifies Cochran as a "senior associate of the Research
>Institute on International Change, Columbia University."

All I know about "Labor and Communism" is that my old friend Nelson B.
regards it as one of the best books on the American labor movement. And he
still supports the SWP.

>       In his preface Cochran says: "It is a pleasure to acknowledge the
>assistance that I received in writing this book.  My thanks go to Zbigniew
>Brzezinski, then director of the Research Institute on International
>Change at Columbia University for the senior fellowship that he and his
>colleagues on the adminstrative board awarded me beginning with the fall
>semester of 1973, and for his unfailing consideration during the period of
>my residence."

Brzezinski gave him a job after the Socialist Union went out of business
and he was forced at the age of 40 to get a non-movement job for the first
time in his life. "Labor and American Communism" is a book that belongs to
our movement, not a Columbia University think-tank.

>       I am not referring to these few facts above with the thought that
>they are intrinsically disparaging.  I do think it is important to
>consider what Bert Cochran actually did in the years after 1954 when he
>wrote the document "Our Orientation," especially the sections I have
>copied below.

Well, all that is well and good, but hardly addresses the problem we are
dealing with here, namely how to construct revolutionary parties.



Louis Proyect
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