[Marxism] Re: Barry Sheppard's political memoir of the US SWP, 1960-88

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Wed Mar 30 10:44:13 MST 2005


Louis' reflections lead me to engage in some of my own on this entire
question of "cadre."

I joined the YSA at Kansas City that I was horrified at how small we
were and how broad the radicalization was.  I was the fifth or sixth
person to join, so we were barely even a local.  In the first nine
months, we grew to about 22-23 members and I thought we were doing very
poorly. I tried to discuss my concerns with the first person from the
National Office who passed through the place after I joined.

I said, roughly; "Kansas City has half a million people.  "There are
hundreds, if not thousands of radicals here.  How big should the
socialist movement be here?"

He response was that we were big enough and that getting too big would
make it difficult for the party to consolidate cadre.  He said we needed
to move to Chicago, the nearest big city with an SWP branch at the time.
There, we'd be "consolidated" and the more trustworthy and reliably
consolidated cadres we'd have the quicker we could establish ourselves
in the Kansas City movement.  It was, he said, dialectical.

The bottom line was that I was never comfortable with this whole
institutionally self-focused preoccupation with "cadre."  First and
foremost, the way you consolidate cadre is to recruit--to get them
rooted in (not isolated from) the wider radicalization from which they
were recruited....

Btw, this is the way, how many churches function so successfully...

I personally owe a great deal to my experience as part of the "Big Red
Machine."  For me, coming from a long line of blue collar workers, it
was essential socialization to the culture of white collar wage
slavery...or, should I say, salaried servitude....  Indeed, there's not
been a single CYA manager or backstabbing coworker or deliberately
misdirected policy discussion or much of any nasty experience I've ever
had in the white collar workplace that did not lead recall something I'd
encountered in the SWP.  Of course, I know that the SWP merely reflected
these things, but for me, my first experience of it was in the SWP
cadre-maker. 

I've never been able to understand a connection between such a
"cadre"-building process and socialism.

Solidarity!
Mark L.








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