SWP and Oct. 26

John M Cox coxj at email.unc.edu
Fri Nov 1 07:10:12 MST 2002

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I couldn't help but notice that the
Militant made only one brief mention of Oct. 26 over the last few weeks,
and that was in a sales article in the current issue. This paragraph
appears at the end of the article:

On October 26, socialists set up tables with communist literature at
several demonstrations opposing the White Houses foreign policy in the
Mideast. They met many demonstrators looking for a deeper understanding of
Washingtons war moves in the Middle East and Far East. At the protest in
Washington, socialists sold 28 subscriptions to the Militant and more than
250 copies of the paper, as well as 31 copies of New International and
Capitalisms World Disorder. In San Francisco, socialist campaigners of Nan
Bailey for governor and William Kalman for lieutenant governor of
California sold another six subscriptions and 70 copies of the Militant.
More than $1,500 in Pathfinder literature was sold at the various protests
that day.

	Not the patronizing "for those looking for a deeper
understanding"; for the small number of such people, lost in the sea of
petty-bourgeois liberalism that supposedly characterized the demo, the SWP
offered an outdated copy of "New International" (their "theoretical" journal,
three issues of which have appeared in the last decade), "Opening Guns of World
War III: Washington's Assault on Iraq." The subtitle might catch
someone's eye at an antiwar demo, but they would be astonished to
discover that this book is over 11 years old.

Despite not contributing
even one line in their newspaper to publicizing the demo, much less
participating in the various antiwar coalitions around the country, the
SWP turned up with a few tables. SWP members who tried to hawk the paper
waved copies of the afore-mentioned, woefully outdated journal, along with
the Militant. A friend of mine approached one of their tables, and was
informed, with very little prompting, that "this demonstration is not
where it's at; if you want to fight imperialism and war, you have to do
like the Cubans, and overthrow capitalism." (Correct in some sense, but
turned into a justification for ultra-sectarianism in the present.)

I approached a guy who was hawking the paper and the New Int'l, asked if
there was anything in his paper about Oct. 26, and was verbally attacked.
I noted before I even talked to the guy that his demeanor was that of a
Spart, standing aloof with a contemptuous glare on his face, ready to
pounce on any "petty-bourgeois liberal" who dared to talk to him. Sadly,
this guy, I realized after I started talking to him, was one of the
half-way sensible, decent party members as of a few years ago. I explained
that I'd like to discuss how socialists/communists should relate to the
current antiwar activities, but he and a colleague scurried off.

I know this is less instructive and edifying than the recent discussion on
the listserv about ANSWER and so on, but it's worth noting that this
party, which played an important role in the antiwar movements of
the Vietnam and Nicaragua/C. America eras, has crossed the line that
distinguished itself from the Sparticists and other ultra-sectarian,
irrelevant sects.

John Cox
Chapel Hill, NC

"A civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary
that people be wicked but only that they be spineless." James Baldwin

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