Barnesite Dog and Pony Show

Martin Schreader mschreader at
Sat Feb 16 19:48:21 MST 2002

Dear Tom;

Thanks for the reply.

> I am not surprised by your report on the Militant Labor Forum. So the new
> turn is to move to worker communities.  All my life I have lived in a
> "worker community" and never won me any new converts to socialism.  The
> to industry and now the turn to the community.  If this means appearing at
> my door after the Jehovah Witnesses drop off this weeks latest Asleep
> magazine then I think Jack Barnes has finally reached a point of outright
> uselessness.

It is quite sad, actually. They failed to organize workers by "talking
socialism" for an entire generation. Now they think they can make up for it
by selling their overpriced books and newspaper in "workers' communities". I
don't think so. Nope.

I will add, though, that they had stumbled on a good idea. They are doing a
class on "What is Socialism?", using Cannon's "Socialism on Trial"/"Wall
Street enjuicia al socialismo". The classes are bilingual. Well, even a
blind squirrel can find a nut.

> Marx and Engels worked with communist workers.  These workers were real.
> They were revolutionaries who actively fought for democratic rights and
> complete equality. It was their political development over a period of
> that lead to the Communist Manifesto.
> Moving into a working class neighborhood is not going to make any
> unless the SWP transforms itself into a real revolutionary party.  Will
> SWP Serve the People breakfast, lunch, dinner or perhaps locate better
> housing?  This what the Black Panthers did in the 60s and the SWP put them
> down for it. What is the SWP going to do?  Hand out leaflets at the
> of Columbus Bingo nights about the SWP?

I was always wondering why the SWP did so poorly in relationship to the BPP
and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Can any of the ex-SWPers on
here give any insights into this? It would seem to me that you had golden
and platinum opportunities respectively with these two formations. I know
they were heavilty influenced by Maoism and unreconstructed "official
Communism". But it seems that the SWP basically ignored them.

Personally, I think that the Panthers and the League were right in what they
did. They did serious organizing in the community and at the point of
production. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the two
organizations had fused and formed one mass party. Would we all be in this
mess today?

> So many times the SWP has had the chance and opportunity to link up with
> real working class leaders and groups and they screwed it up. I am talking
> about the Barnes majority.  If a million workers marched into the Militant
> Labor Forum for Friday night they would not know what to do with them.
> would probably do what they did to you Marty. They will insult them and
> their intelligence.

... Or worse, throw them out -- which they did last night. This one guy,
obviously homeless, came into the bookstore asking for change to get to the
Rescue Mission in time to get a mat for the night. One of the Barnesites
promptly escorted him out. If I ever find out that guy ended up sleeping
under the cold Michigan skies because of what the SWP did to him, I will
just explode.

> Working people know when you are for real.  They can tell just by what you
> are saying and doing. It is a real shame all the resources most of us
> on establishing the SWP and other parties just like it.

I wouldn't be so ashamed if I were you. Nobody could have foreseen Barnes
and what he was going to do until it was too late (or am I wrong about
this?). Besides, the legacy of the SWP lives on -- in the (albeit
overpriced) books printed, the surviving organizations of expelled SWPers,
etc.  This list, founded by an ex-SWPer and having dozens of ex-SWPers as
subscribers, is a product of that legacy as well. So it's not a total loss.

> What is more important  is to forget them (the SWP) and get out there and
> talk with some healthy people about the US war drive and need to organize.
> It does not matter who you talk to, or. whether they are a student, worker
> or farmer because its going to impact on all of them in the very near
> future. It is destroying the economy and soon more and more jobs are going
> to be lost. It is going to perhaps kill millions unless we stop them.
> Also you will talk socialism. You know what you want and you know its the
> right direction for our people and class.  Let's just hope they by pass
> Barnes and his halls and go directly to the streets where they will find
> handing out the new program of the new revitalized Workers Party. It will
> there party, not Barnes, or Bush or anyone elses. It is going to happen.
> cannot happen any other way.

Agreed. I will continue on doing what I am good at: writing articles on the
class struggle and the need for socialism, from the perspective of a
working-class Marxist; talking with co-workers, friends, strangers, etc.,
about what is going on in the world and presenting a socialist solution;
making suggestions and working toward building a real workers' party that
will belong to the working class, not any particular clique of "leaders".


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