[Marxism] Living Dead Gather in Ohio

David Altman altman_d at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 3 07:02:52 MDT 2004


The Militant  Vol. 68/No. 26
July 20, 2004

Socialist Workers Party holds convention
Delegates chart course on socialist workers’ growing responsibilities as 
part of labor resistance

BY MARTÍN KOPPEL

OBERLIN, Ohio - Coming out of the Socialist Workers Party convention, held 
here June 10-12, hundreds of socialist workers and young socialists returned 
home to step up campaigning for the Socialist Workers candidates around the 
country - both local slates and the presidential ticket of Róger Calero for 
president and Arrin Hawkins for vice president.

They have begun soapboxing in workers districts, joining union picket lines, 
campaigning at factory gates, and petitioning in several states - from 
Mississippi to Utah—to put the working-class alternative on the ballot. They 
are getting revolutionary literature into the hands of working people and 
youth who seek ways to oppose the imperialist rulers’ drive to wars abroad 
and brutal offensive against workers and farmers at home.

As they campaign, socialist workers are acting to respond to the new 
opportunities and responsibilities they have today to deepen their work as 
union builders and organizers alongside other workers—from the western 
coalfields to packinghouses in the Midwest to garment and textile plants.

Acting along these lines was at the heart of the deliberations of the 
delegates to the 42nd SWP convention.

Some 400 people attended the convention, which was the culmination of three 
months of discussion in party branches. The delegates elected by the 
branches discussed and adopted a convention platform outlining a political 
course of action for the party. They also elected a new National Committee. 
Convention sessions were translated simultaneously into Spanish and French 
for guests observing the proceedings.

The platform included two reports, titled “Putting Trade Union Work Back at 
the Center of Fraction Work” and “This Is a Moment When the Organization 
Question Is the Central Political Question.” Parts of these documents will 
be published in upcoming issues of the Marxist magazine New International, 
along with others adopted by the 2002 party convention.

New International no. 12, scheduled for publication this fall, will be 
titled “Our Program Starts with the World.” Its companion volume, NI no. 13, 
will feature “Capitalism’s long hot winter has begun.” This document is 
based on the political report adopted by the 2002 SWP convention, and was 
part of the platform the delegates adopted at the June party convention. 
Parallel issues of the Spanish-language Nueva Internacional and Nouvelle 
Internationale in French will also be produced.

Members of the Communist Leagues and Young Socialists in Australia, Canada, 
Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom took part in the 
gathering. Their representatives contributed to the convention deliberations 
as well as the classes and other activities that took place in conjunction 
with the convention.

Working-class resistance A report to the delegates titled, “The organization 
of western coal begins,” presented by Róger Calero, opened the convention. 
It centered on the expanding labor support for the nine-month battle for 
union representation being waged by striking workers at the Co-Op mine in 
Huntington, Utah, and the impact of this struggle on miners and other 
workers throughout the West (see front-page coverage).

During the discussion Chris Hoeppner, a delegate from Seattle, explained how 
socialist workers there supported and helped build a labor tour for two 
striking miners in the Pacific Northwest, which overlapped with most of the 
convention and was initiated and sponsored by the International Longshore 
and Warehouse Union (see last week’s Militant).

In a report to convention delegates, SWP national secretary Jack Barnes 
highlighted a quote from a Militant news article on the Utah miners’ battle 
that stated, “Miners in the West see the potential for a victory at the 
Co-Op mine as a spur to other UMWA organizing efforts in mines they work at 
or know about. Discussion about the Co-Op mine strike continues to bubble 
among miners in the region.”

Barnes noted that the sentence should be amended to add “and among other 
workers such as those at Wal-Mart,” referring to descriptions by one of the 
delegates from Price, Utah, about the impact of this fight on broader layers 
of workers in the area including those at Wal-Mart stores.

In his report, Calero also pointed to union-organizing struggles brewing 
among packinghouse workers in the Midwest and elsewhere.

These struggles, he said, sharply underscore the increased responsibility 
that all socialist workers have today to work shoulder-to-shoulder with 
fellow workers to strengthen their unions or, in plants that are not 
organized, to help get the union in.

The political report by Jack Barnes and discussion by the delegates 
addressed many issues that confront the working class and its allies 
worldwide—from the conflicts deepened by the imperialist occupation of Iraq; 
to Washington’s transformation of its military and its deployment abroad and 
the interlinked domestic “security” measures directed against the rights and 
political space of working people in the United States; to the inexorably 
deepening economic crisis.

Use of party’s books, pamphlets Mary-Alice Waters, a member of the SWP 
National Committee, reported on “The transformation of the use and 
production of the party’s books and pamphlets.” She pointed to the progress 
that the communist movement has made in recent months in confidently using 
its political propaganda tools to reach working people. One success was the 
campaign to double the number of new Militant and Perspectiva Mundial 
subscribers this spring. It was followed by a campaign—as part of actively 
building the April 25 march on Washington to defend a woman’s right to 
choose abortion—to sell books that explain the roots of women’s oppression 
and that point to a revolutionary working-class road forward. A total of 
2,500 books and pamphlets published by Pathfinder Press, specially 
discounted as an incentive, were sold in the months of March and April.

During the discussion one delegate noted the increase in sales of these 
books in Iran. Such titles are also making their way into parts of Iraq for 
the first time, he said.

The convention delegates voted to launch a campaign to increase sales of 
Pathfinder books and pamphlets by 10 percent in the second half of 2004 
compared to the first half of the year.

The increased thirst for and confidence in using these political weapons was 
reflected in sales at the convention itself: nearly 300 books and pamphlets 
were sold for a total exceeding $3,000. Top sellers were the new edition of 
Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs with 38 copies sold, the new edition of 
The Stalin School of Falsification with all 19 copies available sold out, 
and Trotsky on the Jewish Question and Abram Leon’s On the Jewish Question, 
with 14 and 10 copies respectively.

A representative of the Revolutionary Socialist Nucleus of Paraguay, who 
participated in the convention, gave greetings on behalf of his 
organization. A message from Dagoberto Rodríguez, first secretary of the 
Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., was read to the gathering.

More than anything else, the convention was marked by delegates’ experiences 
and sober realization of the opportunities and responsibilities they carry 
as part of the fighting working-class resistance to the social and economic 
consequences of the imperialist world that is coming into being.

Discussion on many of the main themes of the convention continued in several 
classes. The topics included “The Changing Face of U.S. Politics and the 
Struggle for Black Liberation”; “Jew Hatred, Trotsky-Baiting, and 
‘Conspiracies’”; “Women’s Liberation and the Line of March of the Working 
Class,” and “Lessons for Program and Strategy Today from Forthcoming Book on 
the Third Congress of the Communist International.”

The convention closed with a summary report by Barnes and the election of 
the party’s National Committee, followed later that evening with a closing 
program.

Campaigning for socialist ticket The final meeting heard presentations by 
Calero and Hawkins, whose nominations as SWP candidates for U.S. president 
and vice president had been ratified by the convention delegates. Nicole 
Sarmiento, a Young Socialist in Miami and the SWP candidate for U.S. Senate 
in Florida, and other speakers described their initial experiences in 
campaigning for the working-class alternative and plans for getting the 
socialist candidates on the ballot in a dozen states across the country.

Speakers included Militant editor Argiris Malapanis; leaders of the 
Communist Leagues in Canada and Sweden; and John Pines, who had attended the 
first international preparatory meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, for the World 
Festival of Youth and Students scheduled for August 5-13, 2005, in Caracas, 
Venezuela. He said the most important preparation for the festival is to 
join efforts to defend Venezuela against Washington’s threats of 
intervention.

Ruth Cheney, a member of the San Francisco-based steering committee of the 
Printing Project, spoke on the work of more than 250 volunteers around the 
world who help produce Pathfinder books, including formatting text, 
proofreading, preparing graphics, and checking indexes. She explained that, 
to a large extent because of the increasing sales of books this spring, a 
number of Pathfinder titles have gone out of stock. She said the volunteers 
have taken steps to ensure that a steady stream of books will be back into 
print.

Scott Breen, a member of the committee based in Seattle that organizes the 
collection of all party supporters’ monthly financial contributions to the 
SWP, reported that they are on course to meet their goal of raising $315,000 
and had won 23 new contributors over the past months.

The meeting launched a special fund appeal for the Socialist Workers Party 
election campaign. Those present contributed or pledged more than $51,000. 
The fund-raising appeal will run through August 1.

The day after the convention, volunteers in the Printing Project held 
several workshops on aspects of their work. The Young Socialists held a 
meeting for all its members and youth interested in the YS. Their discussion 
focused on campaigning for the SWP candidates, which will be the main axis 
of the work of the Young Socialists through the fall.

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