|WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY?|
Name: Socialist Workers Party
(AKA: The Mother Trotskyist party)
Date Founded: 1927
Members: About 200 dues paying. Also much financial support from ex members and others.
Leaders: James Cannon in the past; today Jack Barnes, Mary Waters.
Great Accomplishments: Filed lawsuit against marxists.org because they had some of Trotsky's published work on their website that supposedly was theirs. Developed theory that Russia is still a "deformed workers state" despite over a decade of capitalism. Believe that Pinochet shouldn't be put on trial. Did not support investigation into CIA Iran-Contra cocaine scandal. Also didn't support taking away Elian Gonzales back to Cuba.
Number of 'children' sects (not including the grand kids): At least 6
About the SWP:
This party has to be one of the best examples of Trotskyite idiocy. Most of the Trots today acknowledge the fact that this party is nothing but a money making cult. Yet it is believed that the SWP was a very good party up till the time James Cannon, the founder and theoretical leader retired in the late 1950s. Cannon was one of the greatest American communists that all the other Trot parties claim is their mantel.
Anyone who took the time to study the history of the group knows that it was no good from the beginning. During the 1930s a tendency emerged from the party led by Max Shactman that proclaimed Russia was a "bureaucratic collectivist state" and not the traditional "deformed workers state" espoused by Trots. Cannon with the direct help of Leon Trotsky himself labeled this tendency petty bourgeois, as if their theory on Russia had any relation to their representative class. However after the Shactmanites were expelled, both groups labelled each other petty bourgeois. The real reason they were expelled is because Trotsky would not tolerate anyone who did not agree with his great theoretical contributions of the class nature of the USSR. He labeled such tendencies within the SWP as showing how the party was unhealthy. Although the Shactmanite position was no better theoretically speaking than the orthodox position, their polemics against the SWP were excellent and went by without answer from the SWP. Even on the international level, Cannon was not slow to using bureaucratic methods of dealing with disloyal cadre. Inside the 4th International, Cannon almost got into trouble when he forged a note to a British trot group that he didn't like over some matter obtaining a printing press. Trotsky himself however congratulated the British group on a job well done.The SWP would face another big split in the 1950s under Cannon. There was a UAW election in which some of the SWP members decided to vote for a Stalinist candidate for good reasons. Cannon would have none of that. After a bitter struggle this group left the party and formed a newspaper called "American Socialist" which at least tried to get over the Trotsky-Stalin differences and focus more on contemporary American issues.
The 1950s saw one of the greatest international splits in Trotskyite history. After the victories of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and China after World War 2, many people were forced to rethink their theoretical positions. The world itself did not hesitate to disprove Trotsky's contributions. So a tendency emerged in the 4th international led by Ernest Mandel that broke with traditional trot dogmatism to go with its own. Cannon attacked this new tendency and wanted people to go back to "Orthodox Trotskyism" in his own words. That is why many Trots say he was so good! Yet the SWP changed its position quick and rejoined the 4th International after a brief period. Cannon himself even praised the Cuban Revolution.
After Cannon left things did not get any better for the party. In the early 70s, the party admitted that it had become to petty-bourgeois. What was their solution to the problem? To go out to the workers! They had all their members join trade unions and work in factories. Sadly enough, they succeeded no more than the Narodnoya "Peoples Will" of Russia did in the last century when children of the Russia Intelligentsia would dress up like peasants and try to live among them. To this day, the SWP leadership, whenever it sees a big strike movement in the making, it would move most of its cadre to that area. Soon the party would denounce Trotskyism (at least in theory) They would leave the 4th International because they thought it was to sectarian for them in 1983. This would mean another big split when the orthodox Trotskyites who still upheld Permanent revolution and other Trot ideas were expelled.
Today the party is still going after 80 years. It can
be best described as a cult; members have very little say in organizing the
party, members cannot live in one place for more than 3 years before being moved
across the country. This is to not let the cadre become to attached to anyone.
There is also evidence that to this day the SWP is under strong FBI surveillance
after a recent law suit against the FBI filled by a former member was lost (the
issue of the law suit was that the FBI wouldn't admit to the individual FBI
members in the party).