International Socialist Tendency Split

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Mar 10 09:43:47 MST 2001


>With the closure of the Austin Branch several years later, it became
>clear to me that the SWP was never much more than a group of Leftist
>carpetbaggers in the South.
>
>Later the SWP failed to be able to build anything either, in its Dallas,
>New Orleans, Miami,  Norfolk and Birmingham branches.       Conclusion
>to the record of the SWP in the US South???      It was a total failure.
>
>Best wishes, Tony

Let's not adopt such a haughty attitude toward the carpetbaggers. The
hatred directed toward them by official AmeriKKKan historiography has a lot
to do with resentment toward the abolition of slavery and the radical
democratic aftermath during reconstruction.

When I arrived in Houston in 1973, the party was still in the middle of a
huge battle with the KKK. The Klan had dynamited the Pacifica transmitter
*twice* and pipe-bombed our headquarters. It had also machine-gunned the
home of Fred Brode, a branch member and activist in the Vietnam antiwar
movement. When we put sandbags in front of his house, it made the front
pages of the local newspapers.

Houston had developed the reputation for being under Klan control, reaching
into municipal government and the police department. A Time Magazine
article showed a Houston cop sitting in the front seat of a squad car with
a hood on his head.

The SWP rallied local peace and civil liberties groups to stand up to the
Klan. Eventually the local ruling class decided that bad publicity risked
its bid to become a major financial and industrial center like Atlanta, so
they started arresting people. This was the SWP's proudest moment. The
tactics they applied came from deep within the arsenal of American
socialism, adapted to local conditions.

The reason that the SWP failed to sink roots in Houston is the same reason
it failed to sink roots anywhere. It built branches by importing cadre and
then recruited people through propaganda activity. It had about as much
clue in Houston as it did in Kansas City, my last branch before dropping
out. A Marxist party can not be built in this fashion. It has to be built
the way that the Bolshevik party was built, by gathering together Marxist
activists around a fighting class struggle program broadly defined. Our day
will come.

Louis Proyect
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