Barnesite Dog and Pony Show

Derrick O'Keefe sankara83 at
Sun Feb 17 02:02:48 MST 2002

If only for comrade Ferguson's pleasure, although me to fill in some of the
details of the SWP's recent history.

> >Lately "The Militant," paper of the Barnesite US Socialist Workers Party,
> >has been making much of the organization's latest "turn," toward
> >branches in workers' communities."

Actually they are looking to move their branches into "workers' districts".
I'm quite sure the term "community" is never used.  In fact, there's little
wrong with where the headquarters are currently located, it's just that they
need to move to lower rent, smaller facilities because they can no longer
sustain the store front bookstores and large headquarters.

>What get's me is that they are now into the 'third turn' or the third
>something-or-other 'for the turn'.  Given that the first two 'turns'
>managed to shake out about five-sixths of the membership, perhaps Barnes is
>planning to finish them off entirely with this one!

Actually, the "third turn" to industry began around 1998, when Barnes
decreed that a "sea-change" had occured in working-class politics.  By this
he meant that labor's long retreat was over, and that workers were becoming
more willing to fight back.  To take advantage of this sea change in
politics, the party *had* to get its cadre into 3 unions/industries that had
become neglected by the party: meatpacking, garment, and coal-mining.

The vast majority of the SWP is now working in these 3 industries.  A vast
number of members resigned during this 3rd turn.  For instance, in Seattle,
most of the worker-bolshevik-Boeing employees refused to change jobs, as
they failed to appreciate how Boeing was no longer an important industry in
the northwest.  In Canada, the third turn was mechanically copied, so that
aerospace (IAM) or CAW fractions were ditched in favor of getting everybody
into meatpacking or garment.

I would like to hear more from comrades who lived through the "second turn"
to industry in the early 1980s.  After a couple of years, did *anybody* dare
to suggest that the turn was a failed tactic?  It doesn't seem to me that
Barnes could have turned "the turn" into an article of faith on his own,
there must have been a whole group (clique?) culpable for this march of

Derrick O'Keefe

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