[Marxism] Barry Sheppard's Volume 2 on SWP is out

Thomas Bias tgbias at ptd.net
Thu Mar 22 08:11:04 MDT 2012

David's account is basically correct, but the whole discussion misses the
point, which is that the SWP in 1974 had earned a level of respect and
influence that the president of the Boston NAACP approached the party
DIRECTLY to help with the fight against racism and in defense of school
desegregation in Boston. My point was not whether everything that the party
did was right at that time, but to contrast the party's influence and
respect in 1974 with the lack thereof today. The SWP today is irrelevant. I
stand by that assertion.

Here's how I remember the history : after the severe beating of Poleet (I
don't remember his first name), a white man who was not involved in any
racist activity in Boston, the NAACP determined that it was necessary to
pull back from street action in the spring of 1975. The SWP met with the
NAACP (I don't remember if other groups were represented as well, as I was
in New York and not Boston), and proposed several alternatives to such a
severe retreat. The NAACP was firm. About a week or two later (the time
frame is fuzzy in my memory of 37 years ago), the NAACP along with leading
politicians and public figures, including the Mayor of Boston, Senator
Kennedy, the Catholic Archbishop, and others, staged a "unity march" for an
end to violence and "why can't we all just get along?" The SWP did not
support nor participate in that event. In reports to the branches by the
national fraction involved in the antiracist struggle, there was no attempt
to sugarcoat or spin what had happened. I remember the comrade who reported
to the Upper West Side branch for the national fraction saying clearly and
openly "this was a defeat for the antiracist struggle; it was a defeat for
the Black community; it was a defeat for the Socialist Workers Party." She
did not point the finger of blame at anyone, except maybe whoever it was
that beat up Mr. Poleet, and we'll never know who ultimately was responsible
for that. My opinion is that the SWP did the best it could  in a complicated
and difficult situation, and I think the facts bear out that ultimately the
SWP, even though it was far stronger and more influential than it has
become, was not nearly so strong and influential that it could have altered
the course of events in any significant way.


-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces+tgbias=ptd.net at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces+tgbias=ptd.net at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu] On
Behalf Of David Rowlands
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 9:36 AM
To: tgbias at ptd.net
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Barry Sheppard's Volume 2 on SWP is out

Actually, Tom, I think the record will show that the SWP argued inside the
coalition against calling off the march but deferred to the NAACP, which was
under enormous pressure from the Democratic Party, who promised to clamp
down on the racist street gangs, to do so.  However, when it became clear
that this was going to happen, the party did not oppose the NAACP in a
public manner, given the relationship of forces.  Perhaps Comrade Bias
remembers more of the details concerning this one episode of the Battle of

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