US SWP Degeneration

David Walters dwalters at
Sun Nov 24 10:43:53 MST 2002

On 11/24/02 6:40 AM, "marxism-digest" <owner-marxism-digest at>

In response to L. Paulsen,
 I think Lou makes some sound points, that the Zinovievist original sin
theory is questionable. My own view is that the class struggle, or lack
there of, dictates far more of the problem than anything anyone has spoken
to yet with all these groups, WWP included.

An interesting point of fact: First, the WWP (Marcy, Copeland) left in 1956,
not 1960, and they did so as the most 'loyal' opposition in the history of
the SWP. They were fanatically loyal in selling The Militant, paying dues,
etc. They just 'upped' and left at a designated time. I know several
witnesses to this (Sylvia Weinstein [dsd), Earl Gilman, etc) who were in NY
when this took place. I've also spoken with enough ex-WWP that felt a
similar experience we all here are describing in terms of bureaucracy in the
WWP, cult worship, etc...but there is not enough of an ex-WWP milieu on this
list to actually have a fair discussion about it.

The SWP, since 1928, has had factions/tendenicies leave. It never 'not
happened' so why people are hung up on one or two instances
is...interesting. I'm not saying this is good, but at the end of the day, at
least half of these groups and groupsicles split on their own, not being

Phil raises the 1965 Party Organizational document. Hog wash. Do you really
believe, Phil, that this made a squat bit of difference to subsequent
outrages against minorities in the SWP? I think it's a bad document too, but
you are nitpicking over more important issues of that period, the politics
of the 'youth' of 1959, the Weisses, the FSP split, the rise of the civil
rights and Anti-Vietnam war movement. A member of the SWP who was in NY in
the late 60s told me that he remembers many of the old timers not wanting to
do a thing about the Vietnam war, writing it off to petty-bourgeois pacifism
(old timers I mean old rank-and-filers recruited in the 30s, not national
leaders) other words, it was 20 years of doing NOTHING and then the war
hit and they were comfortable continuing to do nothing. All these currents
and eddies were floating around the SWP and it simply had to get
straightened out. It was Dobbs and Kerry that pushed to do this
straightening out...not the most 'liberal' when it came to dissidents. Could
of been done differently, but the SWP politically was straightened out, IMO,
in a good way.

>From the year of the founding of the Bolshevik Party (1903) to their leading
the seizure of power, 1917, was 14 years. Most of these groups, even the
splits from these groups, have existed for 3, 4 times that time. They've had
to exist in a relative period of quiescence (minus the Vietnam war).The fact
that Barnes, abandoning Trotskyism, which in my book goes hand-in-hand with
his bureaucracy (or perhaps the final nail in the coffin) is the most
important thing to examine (and it's been done here, obviously). Since many
on this list approve of this abandonment, then clearly it becomes something
of a skewed discussion. Perhaps we don't want to raise it again? After all,
whether you like it or not, when Barnes argued that tendencies and factions
are by and large unhealthy and should be 'discouraged', quoting the norms f
the Cuban Communist Party, something he could NOT of done prior to Joe
Hansen's death, then their simply was no argument left, was there?

I think there  is a large inevitability to the rise of cultism in any group,
Leninist or 'Zinovievist' or social-democratic, or flakey-leftist like the
CofC (no offense)..if the class struggle doesn't rise to flush the
organization clean of it's bureaucratic cob-webs.

David Walters

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