[Marxism] Decline and fall: the SWP-USA's final embrace of Zionism
artyoung100 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 22 14:38:36 MDT 2014
DECLINE AND FALL: THE SWP-USA'S FINAL EMBRACE OF ZIONISM
by Art Young
At its peak in the 1960s and early 1970s the Socialist Workers Party in the
United States was the largest group to the left of the Communist Party and a
major pole of attraction for radicalising youth. It was also the most
dynamic and creative Marxist organisation in the USA.
The SWP of today bears no resemblance to that organisation. It now consists
of a few hundred members and supporters, many of them in their fifties and
older, together with a few dozen followers with the same demographic in
other countries. Deliberately cutting itself off from most arenas of
struggle, the SWP has little influence and few prospects for renewal. Like
most left sects, its prime imperative appears to be the perpetuation of the
sect and the position of its maximum leader, Jack Barnes.
A distinct feature of the ossification of the SWP has been the group's
tendency to adapt to U.S. imperialism. The latest - and decisive -
development along this trajectory is the SWP leadership's decision, during
the Israeli slaughter in Gaza this summer, to embrace the full program of
Some background will help to understand the significance of this
That said, both of these characteristics are legacies of a fairly distant
past. More recently and more decisively, for more than a decade the SWP has
repeatedly adapted to the pressures of its own ruling class, particularly on
the vital question of imperialist war. Over time, the SWP's propensity to
adapt to U.S. imperialism has become more pronounced. It has become a
defining feature of the group.
The contradiction with the SWP's left heritage will have to be resolved
eventually. For now it is sufficient to note that Palestine is one of the
key moral and political issues of our time. The SWP's despicable conduct
during Israel's slaughter in Gaza and its adoption of the full Zionist
program therefore mark a major milestone in its political degeneration.
Art Young was a leading member of the League for Socialist Action and its
successor, the Revolutionary Workers League, from the mid 1960s to the early
1980s. Both groups were closely associated with the U.S. SWP. He lives in
Toronto, Canada, where he participates in the struggle for justice for the
people of Palestine.
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