International Socialist Tendency Split

Mark Lause lause at
Sat Mar 10 08:42:53 MST 2001

We'll have to agree to disagree about the Houston
branch in the early 70s, which certainly was a
madhouse.  Surely, though, after all this time, you can
admit that it isn't accurate to describe the
Internationalist Tendency of that time as Narodniks who
were really Mandelistas who were really just workerists
who lived happily ever after in SWP-land!  If you now
see the F.I. groups as having a better grasp than the
SWP, you'd acknowledge, I'm sure, that much of this has
to do with nature of the relative isolation of the
party in the US.  I think we merely recognized that
sooner than you did, and our adherence to the FI
majority at the time represented--in many individaul
nuances--an attempt to get the American Left to begin
thinking about the matters which the SWP answered
dogmatically (and entirely erroneously) in the "new
radicalization" thesis.

It always surprises me to encounter old comrades who
sound like they still come fresh from the factional
wars of the early 70s!  There was a wide spectrum of
views on both sides of the factional line.  It would be
easy for one side to hallucinate a Narodnik ideology in
the other, then ascribing that hallucination to the lot
of them.  It would have been even easier to the other
to (without hallucinating) detect Christianity an
adherent of the opposing faction and blanket it in its
entirety with that perception.  This is the tragedy of
factionalism, particularly in what remained a
relatively small and isolated current.

When I tell my students about Vietnam, I always explain
it to them like this:  The government said the US had
to win in Vietnam or it would lead to the spread of
totalitarian Communism.  Critics of the government, for
whatever reason, said the government was wrong on one
level or another.  When the US government lost, what

So, too, about the SWP.  The party leadership promised
a wider and deeper radicalization.  They had to crush
the internal opposition to be in a position to assume
greater leadership in that radicalism.  After the purge
of 1974, what happened?

Mark Lause


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