US SWP Degeneration

LouPaulsen LouPaulsen at
Sun Nov 24 16:57:10 MST 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Walters" <dwalters at>

> An interesting point of fact: First, the WWP (Marcy, Copeland) left in
> not 1960,  [...]

David, I don't think that can be true.  It's not what I've always been told.
Our comrades were there for the discussion of the events in Hungary which
took place late in 1956.  They were still in the SWP to object to the SWP's
call for federal troops to be sent to Little Rock in 1957.  The founding
leaflet of WWP was issued in 1960 and contains a discussion of various other
events in the 1956-1959 period, such as the SWP's evaluation of Khrushchev's
"secret speech" as a progressive step, their "regroupment" discussions, and
their defense of Boris Pasternak.

> 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
> when this took place.

They were always proud of this too.  This was held up to us as an example of
how to do things.

> I've also spoken with enough ex-WWP that felt a
> similar experience we all here are describing in terms of bureaucracy in
> WWP, cult worship, etc...but there is not enough of an ex-WWP milieu on
> list to actually have a fair discussion about it.

There was only one guy in WWP who ever came out from NY to one of the
branches and treated me in a kind of bureaucratic way, and he shortly left
the party in one of our few splits.  I think our record is good in this
regard, but nobody is perfect.  I will say, though, that in my experience
Marcy and Copeland had absolutely no sense of self-importance or entitlement
to privilege, etc.

> I think there  is a large inevitability to the rise of cultism in any
> 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.

Yes, and there's a corollary to that.  That is that, for the sake of its own
soul, even in periods of ebb the organization has to reach out to wherever
the class struggle is happening, in whatever communities of the oppressed,
or in whatever parts of the world, in whatever forms, and stay connected
with it, listen to it, and respect it.  That may sound like empty rhetoric,
but I mean it in a very concrete way.

Lou Paulsen

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