[Marxism] Eric Blanc: The Ballot and the Break (the case of the Mn. Farmer-Labor Party).

John Obrien causecollector at msn.com
Tue Dec 5 23:00:38 MST 2017


The murder of Luxemburg and Liebknecht by police under the Germany Social Democrat leadership - remains appalling and

an example of the treachery against our class by those Social Democrats in power.  Your observations about the large social

democracy groups of being no help to stop the fascists then in Europe from coming to power, are also sadly correct.  So,how

do we go forward now with historic defeats by all left political currents and not alone the social democrats?

I want to point out that I only joined DSA after their August 2017 national convention when they voted to disassociate

from the Second International, reflecting significant political changes in DSA than that group held before 2017.   It is

easy to critique long after events are held.   I say this because I still have much respect for Leon Trotsky, but not for some

who call themselves followers of Trotsky. The cult of personality is a problem for anyone who views things scientifically

and not with a religious closed mind.

While I was told in 1967 by the U. S. SWP, that they were expelled from the SPA only for their views (in the "French Turn"),

I later learned a much different and more politically objective history, than one faction's views and opportunistic gains,

over the need for a united anti-Stalinist left.  In 1936, the Socialist Party of America was engaged in factional struggle

with the "Old Guard" (Morris Hillquit and other older age leaders) against the younger Norman Thomas led "Militants",

more around generational than ideological differences, that then the Norman Thomas wing won.  Negotiations between

the Norman Thomas wing and the Workers Party (later to be the U. S. SWP), led to the Workers Party members then

welcomed into SPA membership. The Workers Party held similar views with the Thomas led faction, on opposition to

Stalinism and on labor union activism and favorable support of the CIO with industrial unionism over the then narrow

orientation of the AFL craft unions and business unionism approach.  The Workers Party (SWP) also shared with the

pacifist led Thomas SPA wing, opposition to the U. S. government taking steps towards militarization and war.

The Norman Thomas "Militant" faction of the SPA was comprised of three wings: the "Altmanite" (led by Jack Altman)

which was the right wing faction, the "Clarity" (led by Gus Tyler) and the "Appeal" left faction that the Workers Party (SWP)

was with.  There was also the "Constructive" faction based mainly in the U. S. Midwest (led by Dan Hoan).

The "Socialist Appeal" faction (led by James Canon) held their own separate organizational gathering in Chicago in

February 1937 prior to the planned March 1937 SPA National Convention, also held in Chicago. Because of the fiery

speech by James Burnham then with the Workers Party (who later moved politically right and founded the National

Review magazine) who focused his verbal attacks on the other SPA wings, rather than the capitalists at the Feb. 1937

Chicago "Socialist Appeal" faction gathering , it allowed the "Altmanite" faction to push for immediate expulsion of the

Workers Party (SWP) members.  But the Thomas wing  then refused to expel the Workers Party at the next month's

SPA national convention.  This as a result of a meeting between Norman Thomas and James Canon and the other factions

where it was agreed that no efforts would be made to expel, But the agreements and understandings made at that

meeting were soon violated.

Recognizing that the "Clarity" faction had decided to stand with the "Altmanites" against the "Appeal" faction, Leon Trotsky

himself suggested to James Canon, to provoke a split from the SPA with focus on disagreements over Spain.  At a meeting

of the "Appeal" group National Action Committee in June 1937, they voted to again publish their faction's newspaper

Socialist Appeal, that was one of several faction's newspapers disbanded at the March SPA national convention in an

effort to tone down factionalism and disunity.  The Socialist Appeal newspaper contained open attacks on the American

Labor Party and its endorsed candidates  which incited the other SPA factions and allowed the Altmanites faction to

win expulsion of the local Workers Party (SWP), at a August 9, 1937 SPA New York City Local Central Committee meeting .

Wholesale expulsions then took place nationally in the SPA.  Jack Altman, the SPA New York City Local Secretary (leader)

declared the Trotskyists were expelled for attempting to undermine the Socialist Party of America, their open refusing to

abide by the decisions of the SPA National Convention and sole allegiance to the Fourth International grouping and for

the "Appeal" faction carrying out public disagreement with the SPA leadership in public press and gatherings.  The Socialist

Call editor Gus Tyler, wrote his faction's agreement with the "Altmanite" faction, to expel the Workers Party  members.

The factional havoc immobilized the SPA, with loss of most of their activist youth in YPSL joining the Workers Party

"Appeal" faction and the "Old Guard" forming then as well the Social Democratic Federation of America.  By 1940, the

SPA consisted of only a shell of the previous group with mainly pacifist members.  The CPUSA was then able to dominate

the U. S. left until the 1960's and the rest is history.   Who most benefited from this?  Not our class!

The momentary small gain in members for the Workers Party did not lead to anything.  Factional thinking was deepened

to be part of the culture of the U. S. SWP, in opposing different internal views and driving out anyone who thought and

did not conform.   "Democratic Centralism" was in name only - with only the centralist part promoted and reflects the

remaining personality cult membership today of the U. S. SWP.

Our class needs to get organized and that requires the current factionalized and ineffective left, being replaced with

new political formations.  My political judgment was to join the DSA, which I hope will become a major opponent to

capitalist attacks on our class and of our only planet's environment.  One can sit on the sidelines and complain, but that

may not change or affect anything.  I prefer to help promote class awareness and the need for working people to

organize against exploitation and injustice and this new DSA  seems the possible vehicle, with thousands more also

doing the same.  But if one only wants to have internal fights and not engage in long hard efforts to organize the

working class to defeat the capitalists, then stay outside.  But for the others in the United States who want to be effective -

DSA seems "where the action is".

From: Dennis Brasky <dmozart1756 at gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 6:09 AM
To: John Obrien; Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Eric Blanc: The Ballot and the Break (the case of the Mn. Farmer-Labor Party).

I'm not so certain that the "French turn" - entering the social democratic parties in the 1930s when they got an influx of young people new to radical politics and turned off by the ultraleftism of the Comintern' s "third period" - was a "sectarian mistake." Trotskyists in Spain refused to enter the Spanish social-democracy, so the Stalinists did and became a major force on the Left. The SWP entered the SP in 1936 - at the invitation of that party's leadership - and recruited its youth wing. The Trotskyists didn't split from the SP - they were expelled, a bureaucratic organizational maneuver to prevent them from politically winning over more of their ranks.

John asks - "How did the workers in France, the United States or elsewhere benefit with these weakened social democrat groups facing the fascists?" Let him answer - how did the workers of Germany in the late 1920s/early 1930s "benefit" from a strong Social-Democratic Party (SPD)? How did the working class of Europe "benefit" from their strong and unchallenged-from-the-left social-democrats between the years 1914 and 1918??? Social Democracy after WW1 was not some new organization that sprang onto the scene without a thought-out program. It was a hardened counter-revolutionary force. If Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and all those German leftists murdered by rightists supported by the SPD in 1919 were here, they'd testify to that!

On Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 2:45 AM, John Obrien via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu<mailto:marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>> wrote:

I recently joined DSA.  We do not need a "French Turn"  That was a sectarian destructive tactic that resulted in
only harming any needed effort for a large united left. This is an example of bad education promoted in the US SWP to justify their wrong approach that we often see being done by other more recent groups such as the      U. S. Sparticist League.

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