SWP policy, as I recall it, on travel to Cuba

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 14 07:41:23 MDT 2003

Laura Kamienski wrote:
> I am encouraged to visit Cuba by all in the SWP that I have come in
> contact with, am now...always have been, officially or unofficially
> _and_ unequivocally...when I was a member, when I was an official active
> supporter and when I'm not "officially" have no membership status. I
> don't know any one who has been "dropped" as an active supporter.

Well, I spoke to one the other night. He was disinvited from Oberlin
after making such a trip. This is a guy who *supports* the SWP up and
down the line.

> I support the turn to industry (no quotations required) as a sagacious
> strategy without hesitation. Many comrades didn't support this strategy
> and left the SWP. I believe that is an error on their part.

Actually, nobody--including myself--spoke against the turn. They just
left because it was ultimately perceived as not worth the personal
sacrifice, given the rather dismal chances of success. For example, when
I was in Kansas City in 1978 everybody in the branch was in industry
except me and another lost soul. Now they are all outside the party and
doing the kinds of work you would expect a college graduate (which they
all were) to do. The main reason they left was that policy was not
producing results. They could not recruit workers to the party. They
could not even get them to a forum. Part of this was the party's
problem, which was always perceived--correctly--as not being genuinely
part of the working class community (nearly all were bouncing from
factory to factory in search of the "perfect" opportunity for
colonization), and part of it was attributable to the decline in the
class struggle. When I made the observation that 1978 was not a high
point in working class struggles in the 20th century, I was dismissed as
petty-bourgeois. When Jack was finally forced to acknowledge that there
was a downturn some years later, everybody nodded their head in agreement.

> I don't spend time arguing about personal crap, or "he said she said",
> hurt feelings or misperceptions. Discussion regarding strategy is one
> thing, party bashing is another. There are much more important things to
> do, and it can serve no good purpose, only destructive ones. One thing I
> notice is that SWP members and the party don't spend time on these
> lists. Perhaps another admiral quality about the SWP as I'm beginning to
> think that it may not be worth it.

Actually, the SWP leadership pays careful attention to this list since a
number of the active participants were either NC or PC members. In
addition, it is read by some of the key leaders of the 1960s and 70s,
including Barry Shepherd who is writing a memoir on the party. You
should also be aware that the Militant wrote a polemic against Jose
Perez when he criticized the party's characterization of the INS raid on
the Elian Gonzalez as an attack on undocumented workers. (I must add
that the article can no longer be found in the Militant archives.)

> Frankly, this list is making me feel less confident about the left. But
> I usually don't pay attention to "feelings" in these matters. I know
> that the leadership of the proletarian revolution will be decided in
> struggle, not by petty words, lies, misperceptions, inaccurate accounts
> and insults on mailing lists.
> I will stay, for some of the interesting analysis, and perhaps post
> occasionally regarding strategy, but I will not be drawn into party
> bashing or petty discussions. Interesting that this list claims to have
> a goal of not being sectarian.

We are not sectarian, if you mean something like this:

"If we have no business with the construction of the future or with
organizing it for all time, there can still be no doubt about the task
confronting us at present: the _ruthless criticism of the existing
order_, ruthless in that it will shrink neither from its own
discoveries, nor from conflict with the powers that be."

Karl Marx, Letter to Ruge, 1843


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