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

Tom Cod tomcod3 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 13:51:43 MDT 2012

I dunno, when I look at struggles like the Freedom Riders who refused
to back down even after they had been firebombed (and among whose
ranks was Fred Halstead), I wonder about the level of political
resolve embodied by the SWP leadership, with its overemphasis on not
alienating the lowest common denominator, who would display timidity
towards, walk away from, and politically trash struggles that they
felt had become too unruly, whether draft card burners, the Chicago
Convention protests in 68, SDS, the Black Panthers and so forth, and
of course we see this now with Occupy today.   That is why many
activists then felt that the squeaky clean Mormon-like SWP needed to
be dislodged from its hegemonic role, to the extent it had one, within
the mass movement, something that was accomplished beginning in 1981
to the movement's benefit.   NAACP could do what it wants, that the
SWP followed suit in the was it did is entirely another matter.  In
1961 CORE and the radicals rejected that advice as did King, to say
nothing of Malcolm.

I and others had been planning on attending that march and were
flabbergasted by this outcome and the attitude of the SWPers, who
maybe were following discipline, but in essence tried to cavalierly
shout down those of us who disagreed with this as "ultralefts."  We in
turn viewed this as in the worst traditions of social democratic sell
outs which further cemented our view of the "Menshevik SWP".  How
could this not be possible to have a demo when PL in this period could
1000 people out?  I don't like PL but I admired they courage and
determination.   When I last saw Fred Halstead in 1986 in Seattle he
indicated his view that a further mobilization would have been
possible.    Surely Cannon and Dunne would have felt the same way.
They didn't back down after workers  got killed at Deputies Run in
1934.  It is in this context that we initially welcomed the turn in
1981 away from "trotskyism" and towards an ostensibly more militant,
partisan political attitude.

On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 7:11 AM, Thomas Bias <tgbias at ptd.net> wrote:
> ======================================================================
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
> ======================================================================
> 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.
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