[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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