[Marxism] Can the working class create revolutionary leadership.Was Re: the SWP and who cares?

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Sun Mar 28 15:30:26 MST 2004

The way this new thread was retitled bothers me some, Fred. The reason is 
quite simple, in that I don't think that the issue is really whether the US 
working class can create revolutionary leadership for ITSELF. At this time, 
it cannot, and it is a mistake for any socialist group based in the US to go 
chasing after this dream of providing a leadership for a US working class 
that is not quite ready to move on its own issues that much. That's what the 
SWP did in the forrmulaic manner that is now associated with Barnes Thought.

So what can a US socialist group do if it cannot kick the US working class 
into revolutionary action?   I would say, that there is no country in the 
world where true internationalism is more important than in the US.  Any 
socialsit leadership within the US has to define itself, and see itself, as 
being the leadership of an international working class rather than just its 
own national set of workers. That makes for a considerably different set of 
circumstances than any other would-be, national revolutionary leadership in 
formation has ever really faced before.

In a real sense, the US socialist movement must recruit and motivate 
membership in its organization, on  more than just bread and butter, garbage 
socialism sorts of issues. The social struggle has to be framed in much more 
abstract a manner than how any socialsit movement has had to do so in the 
past.  Working class activism has to be much more than just battles over 
wages, work conditions, and pensions. It has to be about more than just 
vacation time, sick leave, and breaks. It also has to be about much more 
than breaking down sexual and racial discrimination. So what just are we 
talking about then? Hasn't the Left traditionally defined itself, and formed 
itself, in battles over these bread and butter sorts of things? Isn't union 
construction and maintenance what socialist politics has to be about, and 
centered upon?

I think that the answer is, that in the US trying to follow this traditional 
socialist formula is a recipe for total disaster here. Why is that though? 
Let's take an abbreviated look....

Several reasons offer themselves, and all center around how the nature of 
capitalist imperialism has changed in the last half century. Imperialism is 
now driven by both the dominance of new forces of technological military 
destruction that are now under total US dominance, but also a new dominance 
of IT that the US dominates internationally, too. The science of market 
driven propaganda is now on an entirely different plane world wide, than 
existed in 1954. When we add the US dominance of military and information 
technology up, and then we look at the new fragility of stable world ecology 
from that of the mid 20th century, we are just on an entirely different 
playing field, than socialists confronted back then.

The US is the centrlaized HQ of where the world capitalist class now directs 
its control from. This is not the US ruling class of the '30s, nor even that 
of the '50s. And the US working class is not that of those eras, either.   
So old formulas for socialist politics are not operative in the US. And it 
will be nonconstructive in trying to mechanically apply strategies that 
worked in the past. The US working class is just not going to rally around 
the traditional bloc of socialsit platform issues.

But is there hope yet out there, for socialist organizing in this new US 
environment? And I think that the answer is a definite YES, but only if US 
activists really give some hard thought about what is so unique in being 
activists in the center of the world capitalist system. And then act 

The US working class will move quickly and sharply, but not necessarily on 
the old bread and butter sisues of yesteryear. We are reaching a critical 
mass, where US militarism, world ecological destruction, and the destruction 
of US national community and culture are going to be explosive issues, that 
will be of much greater explosiveness than things like the minimum wage and 
health care, even. Lesson being, don't concentrate all the organizing on the 
old stuff, or socialism will appear irrelevent to the masses.  Working class 
organizing may move into totally different areas than where Sweeney might be 

Central to all, though, will be the organizing done around restraining US 
militarism. This is the issue where socialist organizing can destroy 
consensus around capitalist propaganda, and that also confronts the 
degradation of world environment, not to mention that of many, many local 
areas within the US. US workers are going to be on the wrong side of many of 
these battles though, since their jobs directly ride on the military and 
police apparatusses.  Socialists who attempt to merely represent US workers 
on what the US working class feels most directly effected by, are often 
going to be spinning their wheels, and even going backwards, if they 
stubbornly persist in the traditonal bread and butter organizing mind set.

Can the working class create revolutionary leadership in the US?  Yes.... 
but only if they organize around many issues that may actually be initially 
more of interest to sectors more outside traditional working class circles.  
But a 'leadership' that can't stand up to the more backward sectors of the 
national working class within the imperialist center in order to prioritize 
its organizing and political demands, is going to lead not much of anything, 
anyway. It's going to be  phoney leadership that will be obsessed with 
placing its membership where it considers real workers (industrial and 
unionized) to be. This we know from sad experience.

Tony Abdo

<<Frankly, I think the SWP I joined and as it existed as a grouping from
1928 was a fighting working class leadership, with all its historically
created sectarian weaknesses,  and had the potential to be a part of a
broader revolutionary leadership in the United States. It survived and
developed for a long time but was definitively smashed up and dispersed
in the 1980s.  It lasted a long time but couldn't last long enough to
converge with other substantial forces with a revolutionary perspective
for this country.  The Barnes leadership was a big factor, but they
operated in material circumstances which broke up and destroyed a lot of
radical groups, including the big blows dealt to the unions, the decline
of Nicaragua and overturn of Grenada, the fall of the Stalinized workers
states in the Soviet bloc and Yugoslavia etc.

There will be others here too, including, I am quite convinced, forces
arising out of the union movement. There will be a July 26 Movement (or
something of the kind) in this country, too.>>

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