[Marxism] Turn to industry, US SWP tradition and sectarianism

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sun Jun 20 06:42:59 MDT 2004

A "turn" means where the party's focusing its attention, but it's being
used to imply that it can reengineer peoples' lives in the most
fundamental way.

There was never a turn to the campus in that sense.  It became a natural
place to recruit by the early 1960s.  However, at the height of the
student orientation of the party and the YSA (around 1970-73), less than
half the members were actually on campuses.  The rest worked.

Dayne's point that the SWP had trade unionists after the faction
fighting of the early 1950s begs the question of how many.  By 1970,
comrades from different branches sitting around in a lounge at Oberlin
could actually name the trade unionists in the party.  By our count, it
peaked at around 110-120 in 1973, meaning that the proportion of
unionists in the SWP was about the same as the national average of
unionization...maybe a little less.  As I've also pointed out earlier, a
prelude to the SWP's turn to industry was its 1974 purge of the IT,
which removed half of the unionists in the party.

The turn to industry was also intended to intimidate USec.  Barnes told
them that the SWP was going to turn itself into a new, larger version of
its 1948 self and leave the rest of Fourth International to follow its
lead or be left stranded by the withering of the student movement.

The SWP was never composed of middle class characters with no sense that
the working class, as a class, had any historic mission.  Rather, it was
composed of younger workers not that different than the workers outside
the party in that same period of time. 

Mark L.

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