[Marxism] US SWP numbers
MLause at cinci.rr.com
Wed Jul 5 12:57:15 MDT 2006
I meant the socialist cadres as well. In the US--and abroad--skilled
workers and the "intelligencia" provided the base of the movement. What
made the 1960s different was that the social formation had shifted so as to
recast and reposition those layers of the work force relative to the rest of
the class and the rest of society.
>From the old-timers I knew, the base of the early Trotskyist movement
consisted largely of unemployed people and government workers with a
scattering people with stable blue collar jobs.
The Communist Party (or, more accurately, parties) that left the Socialist
Party in 1919 certainly represented a mixed bag socially.
The Socialist Party--again allowing for local variations--was hardly rooted
in industry. Numerically, most that did not come from the old SLP had roots
in the broader Populist movement or the Bellamy "Nationalist Clubs".
The ranks of the earlier Socialist Labor Party were mostly machinists,
printers and craftsmen...led by former Columbia Law professor, Daniel
In the history of the American Left, each of these succeeding socialist
group in the U.S. criticized its predecessor as being insufficiently
proletarian and insufficiently dedicated to the well-being of the
proletariat. Indeed, this was part of the justification for moving on to
establish a new organization. Then, too, those branches in more
industrialized centers had a higher portion of industrial workers, so each
of them had sufficient oranges to compare to somebody else's apples.
But, in the end, we were dealt pretty much the same hand as our
predecessors. The problem wasn't to root ourselves in the class, but what
we were going to do where we were to make our politics relevant to the rest
of the class.
We didn't need to colonize industry but to take an orientation to doing
things where we naturally lived and made a living. Certainly, we did
recruit a number of industrial workers simply because we had good
politics...and we would have recruited more by demonstrating the power of
The place to do that was largely where we were. What did we do to organize
more unions of teachers, social workers and others into whose ranks the
generation of the 1960s naturally graduated? What additional unions did we
build? What strategic strikes did we wage? What examples did we establish
for the rest of the workers' movement?
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