Kirk-Kaye tendency and SWP degeneration

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Mon Nov 25 13:55:00 MST 2002

> The Kirk Kaye tendency was simply a handful of comrades, one of the most
> isolated branches of the SWP. Under the pressures of the 1950s it underwent
> an evolution that differentiated it from the rest of the party and they
> wound up with a hodge-podge of frankly off-the-wall positions.

About 30 people in the SWP in 1965 was not 'simply a handful of comrades'.

Moreover, Jose seems to be suffering a degree of NY-centredness here.
Seattle was not isolated.  The Seattle branch was one of the SWP's
biggest and most working class branches, and one of the few branches
that actually had a layer of black members.  The Seattle branch was also
actively involved in work in the South, btw, at a time when the New York
leadership *banned* members from going to the South and claimed they had
no resources.  People from SNCC and people like Dick Gregory used to
visit Fraser and comrades in Seattle, so the Frasers' positions on the
black struggle - that equality/integration was the cutting edge not
nationalism/separatism - was actually based on a substantial degree of
active engagement with the struggle, especially in the South, something
completely lacking in people like Breitman (their main opponent on the
issue).  I don't propose getting into another debate with you abut
revolutionary integration vs black nationalism, coz we already did all
that.  I am merely pointing out that you are *entirely wrong*, and
basing yourself on *zero actual information*, when you refer to the
Fraser group as a handful of isolated people in Seattle.

The Frasers, along with the Weisses, fought for years in the SWP to also
get a serious analysis of women's oppression taken up.  Myra Tanner
Weiss continually had to deal with the hostility of Dobbs/Kerry and co,
who were also reluctant to have her as the vice-presidential candidate.
I'm assuming you do not think that fighting to get a serious analysis of
women's oppression in the 1950s and early 1960s was an 'off-the-wall' position.

I think you are also out of order when you comment that they just up and
left.  Actually, they spent 13 years arguing for their positions and it
was only because of a series of measures taken against them by the
leadership, including the removal of Fraser from the NC (of which he was
a member for about 20 years, beginning well before their tendency was
formed) - thereby denying organised minorities NC representation and a
series of punitive measures against the Seattle branch, that they left.

I should note here, although hopefully Jose is aware of this, that I am
definitely *not* a supporter of the FSP.  Fraser actually parted company
with them early on.  However I certainly am an admirer of Fraser's and
at some time, after I finish this damn PhD, I intend to write something
substantial about him.  At least then you will be better informed
factually, even if you continue to disagree with his ideas (as I'm sure
you will).


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