[Marxism] Re: The Militant and Who Cares?

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue Mar 30 06:03:17 MST 2004

My questions about whether the 1970s really marked a retreat and on the
nature of the requisite organization were general comments on the
discussion, not anything aimed at Comrade Lueko's remarks.  On the
latter, I think Jose has well expressed views I share.

On the former, I could not quite follow what Jak was arguing about the
SWP or the economy in the wake of Vietnam.  The SWP/YSA was not full of
financially successful people when I was in it, though perhaps this is
asserted in the traditional American sense that we are only considering
the people "who count" at the top.  In any other sense, it is less than
honest to describe the party I knew as a white, middle class operation.

Of course, the SWP did change with the 1974 purge of about 10% of its
membership--but a small fraction that accounted for over 50% of its
veterans and the overwhelming majority of its trade unionists at the
time.  (Perhaps someone on the list remembers the exact figures.) That
purge made the party's subsequent "turn to industry" a largely
artificial and top-down affair.  More broadly, it deepened the party's
predisposition to make poor and largely undiscussed decisions about
defining itself without Vietnam.  Our naïvely open argument at the time
was that the party could and should be able to walk and chew gum at the
same time...which was never exactly the issue.  The party obviously
could do many things if its policies grew from the membership, but the
management of the SWP would not permit the organization to be involved
in more than it could control.

Mark L.

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