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

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Sun Jun 20 07:17:00 MDT 2004

Hmmm....interesting how this all loops back to the US SWP? And I thought we 
were over this thread.

Dayne puts me to shame as an archivist when he's able to pull out 25 year old 
SWP discussion bulletins. I wanted to address CISPES again and the 'turn to 
industry' and at least add some more perspective on it.

On CISPES. I don't have Camejo's contribution on this in front of me 
but 'timing' is very important when discussing this. CISPES came into being 
before, if I'm not mistaken, the formation of the FMLN itself. The FMLN was 
made up of five components, including one tied to the pro-Moscow CP (Shafik 
Handal). The SWP was close to, meaning we worked with, the largest of the 
groupings, the Bloque Popular Revolutionario...itself a coalition of unionns, 
party, community organizations. The BPR was not Trotskyist like the SWP but 
neither was it particularly anti-Trotskyist. Other groups coming around CISPES 
in the US came over from the Nicaraguan Soldiarty committees.

The Salvadorean CP and the US CPers went on a camaign to isolate the BPR 
politically in New York, and used "Trotsky baiting" as their tool. The fact 
that the SWP was the main US left group to actually found CISPES, honestly 
building CISPES and making it a broad solidarity organization open to all who 
opposed US intervention and were sypmathetic to the revolution in El Salvador 
was opposed by the CP.

As the FMLN came together, the US members of CISPES, themselves not 
particularly frienly to the CP, picked up on the CP attacks on the SWP's high 
visibility (staff people for CISPES, CISPES national newsletter editor, etc) 
and moved to purge the SWP from CISPES. This was around the time the WWP out 
organized the SWP over the big May 3 1981 demonstration against war in Central 
America. The US members of CISPES, the leading non-SWP ones, were "FMLN 
groupies". They took all their political ques from the FMLN and later the 
political front for the FMLN, the FDR. The FMLN went so far as to tell them how 
to organize in the US, what political positions to take, etc. It was in this 
context that the SWP was expelled from CISPES. 

It was only after this point that the SWP took a hostile attitude, and yes, a 
sectarian one, toward work in or around CISPES. The incidents described by 
Dayne and Jose stem from this point onward, not the formative years of CISPES 

On the turn to industry. Halsted's point of view was very honest. In fact, the 
SWP pushed the turn to industry internationally, via the USec. In the US, going 
into union paid jobs, and at the beginning of the turn this mean the best 
paying union jobs...garment only came years later, in the early 80s, meant a 
move to *up* financially for members who made the turn. The actual 'turn' 
started in 1976 in the Steelworkers then moved on to the miners union, auto, 
and rail. In most other countries the 'turn' meant a much larger sacrafice 
since white collar jobs usually paid higher than blue collar ones. At this 
time, however, most USec sectons already engaged in union work in any event and 
usually had a higher implantation in industry anyway.

Most of the SWPers, in my opinion, who made the turn, worked at various jobs, 
including service industry union jobs before the turn was made, they were 
not 'on campus' per se, even if they did their political work there. Most were 
too old to be considered 'students' in any serious student miliue. So it wasn't 
so much 'going from campus to industry' as was going from 'focusing on campus 
to going to industry'.

The  sad thing, one of many, was that the turn meant, eventually, dissolving 
some of the SWP's best union fractions like the  Teachers, hospital workers, 


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