US SWP Degeneration

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at
Sun Nov 24 08:41:09 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alex LoCascio" <alexlocascio at>
> Lou Paulsen writes:
> "If a small tendency leaves a larger party
> and presents a critique of its degeneration and an alternative political
approach; and if, 43 years later, the once-smaller tendency has grown
considerably in influence..." etc.
> There's just one problem with this statement, comrade Paulsen.  The
American ISO,
> by all accounts, is the fastest growing organization in the U.S. far left

I'm not as sure as you, but it doesn't matter....

> and the most popular in the youth/student milieau (outside of anarchism).

Certainly they are much healthier these days than the SWP-US.

> If you trace there lineage back, they also emerge from the American SWP,
> specifically the Shachtmanite wing.  And their critique was based upon
> the failure of the SWP to distance itself *enough* from what you call the
>"workers' states."  So is this critique also entitled to the same hearing
> as Workers World? Does it have equal validity?

Those are two separate questions.  Certainly the "state-cap" line would be
entitled to a "hearing".  Personally I heard it a long while ago and
rejected it, but to be honest it makes more sense than the theory of
"Zinovievist degeneration" IMHO! :-)  I don't claim that my argument about
influence and degeneration proves in and of itself that the 1960
Marcy-Copeland critique of the SWP is valid.  You have to look at more
evidence than that to see how valid it is.

As for the ISO, my own take on it is that ultimately the ISO-US and the
SWP-US ended up competing for the same niche in the political ecology, and
the ISO-US won.

> Or perhaps there's a fucked-up organizational model that the ISO, SWP
>(US), and WWP all share in common?

There's no reason to suspect this from the data that you adduce.  These
three organizations have had quite different trajectories since the 1950's,
so how is this variation supposed to be attributable to a "fucked-up
organizational model" that we all share?  Unless your point is that none of
the three of us has taken power, and that a hypothetical "non-Zinovievist"
party would have done so.

Lou Paulsen
member, WWP, Chicago

PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

More information about the Marxism mailing list