[Marxism] Keeping up with THE MILITANT in the new millenium

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 18 14:30:58 MST 2004

by Walter Lippmann 3-18-04 
walterlx at earthlink.net 

Having read THE MILITANT since the spring of 1961 
when it helped to build mass protests against the US
invasion of Cuba in April of that year, its evolution
is a topic of ongoing interest to me. THE MILITANT
played a central role in organizing mass protests at
that time against the invasion. Peter Camejo was one
of the speakers and I was drawn to the SWP and the
Young Socialist Alliance, which I joined in 1962.

I was a member of one or both of the two groups from 
November 1962 through June 1983, when I experienced 
an involuntary departure. It was a terrible shock at
the time, and I've pondered what it all meant from 
time to time in the intervening years. And I still
wonder what the SWP is and where it might be going.

Some readers wonder why I continue to pay attention 
to (some would say harp on or even obsess about!)
THE MILITANT after all these years? It's simple: the
power of a small, well-organized and cohesive group
multiplies the influence of its individual members
very, very much. In today's political climate, the
need for organized protests against injustice could
not be greater. THE MILITANT has changed greatly in
the intervening years. Yes, it hasn't lost all of
it's old virtues, and continues to make positive
contributions, for example, through publication of
books on Cuba prior to the Revolution's triumph.

An organization which would unite fighters for the
liberation of human society from capitalism's ugly,
violent, greedy and narcisistic culture is needed 
in today's world urgently. Such an organization 
would embrace all struggles because it would know
that a better world really IS possible. Marxmail
and other internet forums each in their own way
provide forums for the discussion of such issues
and, sometimes, for the learning of those lessons
which might be drawn from those experiences. It's
one of the good things about the Marxism list.

When I was a member of the SWP and YSA, we thought,
or at least I THOUGHT we thought, that we wanted to
actively support and participate in all struggle to
end injustice and against US interventions abroad.
And we did, very actively. I learned a great deal
which remains of ongoing value in today's struggle.
The SWP kept and keeps Malcolm X's writings still
in print. No one else would have done that and so
I'll be eternally grateful to the SWP for that.

THE MILITANT, and the SWP, unfortunately appear to
have abandoned what little it learned from Cuba's
Revolution. Today, THE MILITANT sends reporters and
activists to Venezuela where it highlight some of
differences among the supporters of the Bolivarian
Revolution. THE MILITANT thus "counterposes" the 
Venezuelan process to the Cuban, as if NOTHING has 
changed in the subsequent 4.5 decades of history. 

Look at how THE MILITANT "intervenes" in Venezuela
where it highlights what it sees as division among
the revolutionary forces in the Bolivarian process:
This highlighting of division in Venezuela is one
of the many lessons which THE MILITANT regrettably
HASN'T learned from Cuba's revolutionary strategy.

"Intervention" is a good term for what the SWP is
doing in Venezuela. Let's hope that Venezuela's
process has some influence on those few of the
SWP who go there. The SWP and THE MILITANT seem
pretty much impervious to the political influence
of Cuba's revolutionary leadership today.

Cuba today strongly supports the leadership of
President Hugo Chavez Frias in Venezuela today.
Alas, THE MILITANT describes Chavez as nothing
but a "bonapartist", and that's not good to be.
Here's what they wrote last week on Chavez:

"Chávez is the head of a Bonapartist regime—
a government whose central figure presents 
himself as a “strong man” standing above the 
traditional political institutions and balancing 
class interests between the country’s impoverished 
majority and the wealthy classes." Read it all:

(Remember, for over A YEAR after the triumph of
Cuba's Revolution, THE MILITANT eloquently found
fault with its leaders,in ways pretty similar to
what they say today about Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
Read with care their analysis of what they said  
about what they called "The Castro Leadership":

THE MILITANT says the EXACT SAME today about the 
Venezuelan as it did in Cuba back in 1961. Don't 
take my word for it. Read it in their own words.
Don't take my word for it. Use their links.

Their deliberate indifference to, where not outright
hostility toward the anti-war movement from which they
recoil, are a terrible departure from what was best
in its history: the active participation in many of
the most important struggle of the times. The SWP
NOW spends thousands of dollars to fly to England 
to complain about the anti-war movement over there,
while ignoring or attacking the anti-war movement
in the very heartland of the SWP's very own home 
country, the capitalist United States of America.

On January 3, 2004, Fidel Castro, speaking at the
Cuban celebration of the 45th anniversary of the
Revolution's triumph, pointed to the vital lessons
which can be drawn from history, and how humanity
can save itself from the crisis to which capitalism
has brought our world. It was a short speech, only
45 minutes long, and was delivered from a prepared
text. It was available to the world in eight of the
world's most recognized languages, within hours:

THE MILITANT, oddly, showed no interest in what 
the leader of the Cuban Revolution had to say. 

Don't take my word for this. Just go to the search
engine of THE MILITANT and put Fidel Castro into
the search engine and you will see no reference to
It's a speech in which Cuba's leader lays out the 
exact same political strategy which he enunciated 
in HISTORY WILL ABSOLVE ME. It's because the SWP
rejects the political strategy Cuba pursues today.

Keeping up with THE MILITANT has never been easy but
having it now on the internet does make the task both
easier (and cheaper!). In those days back in the 1960s, 
and for some years thereafter, THE MILITANT jumped to
join any protest against imperialist wars, invasions
and occupations in those days. However, the times
and THE MILITANT have changed a lot since then.

THE MILITANT has deliberately ignored the big March 20th
anti-war mobilization which will take place in two days.
Silence on the march pervades the final pre-mobilization
issue, dated March 29, 2004, whose articles may be seen:

THE MILITANT is actively backing one protest at present.
It has come out in support of the April 25th mobilization in
defense of abortion rights. This is good. All praises due.

Before this, it had seemed like they'd virtually lost all 
of their interest in mass protests such as the ones which
are happening this weekend against the US invasions and
occupations of Iraq, Haiti and so on. (And the majority 
of the populations of the occupied countries ARE women.)

Those who want to protest US wars and occupations can see:

Perhaps readers and supporters of THE MILITANT will rest
this weekend? After all that work in building up the new
headquarters in New York City, which opened up a couple 
of weeks ago. Well, they'll have plenty of energy for an
important sales opportunity at the abortion rights march.

For the organizing information on the April 25th march: 

By the way, back in the old days, which I recall well, 
but without nostalgia, THE MILITANT reported on former
members who had died, highlighting their contributions
to the struggle during their years of membership in the

There has as yet been no report in THE MILITANT of the
large memorial meeting for Jon Hillson which took place in
Los Angeles on March 8, 2004. Over two hundred people came
out to pay tribute to Hillson, a committed supporter of the
Cuban Revolution, and also a political supporter of the SWP.

Hillson died on January 29th. His death was reported in an
article reporting a right-to-travel meeting which he had
been central to organizing. A hundred people attended:

Hillson's memorial meeting was announced February 4, but
as of now, over six weeks later, as of the issue dated
March 29, 2004 it's not been reported in THE MILITANT.
Not reported? It hasn't even been mentioned. Not even a
calendar announcement. Nothing.

THE MILITANT sometimes provides good reports on its former
members who die and who remained among its supporters such
as this one on the wonderful Mirta Vidal. I recall Mirta
with great warmth as a solid, principled and thoroughly
revolutionary individual. Her death is a terrible loss.

There's no photo of Mirta in THE MILITANT, but here's a
beautiful photo of her at the website of the Federal Court
Interpreters office, where she'd formerly worked, and one
where her palpable warmth comes bursting right out at you:

Various messages and articles about Hillson can be viewed 
at the web page I've created to record what's come out on 
the web about Hillson. If any of you who read this have
comments on Hillson, please post them to Marxmail, or 
send them to me to share with interested people. While
Hillson and I had real disagreements, he made solidarity
with Cuba his political priority, an honorable course.

That's one of the reasons I made up this webpage to help
preserve the memory of who he was and what he really did.

Walter Lippmann


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