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Group Description

The SWP was a very influential Trotskyist group from the 1930s to the late 1970s, when it embarked on a sweeping series of changes both politically and organizationally. Politically, it began to disavow any connections with Trotskyism and defined itself as a kind of Castroist current that was part of an emerging new international movement that included the FSLN of Nicaragua, the FMLN of EL Salvador, the New Jewel Movement of Grenada, the ANC, etc. Despite its proclaimed willingness to become part of a political movement that was distinguished by its lack of sectarianism, the SWP actually became more sectarian. The turn toward broader political forces globally was accompanied by a workerist "turn to basic industry" inside the USA which resulted in a growing abstention from various mass movements located outside of basic industry.

Organizationally, this turn was accompanied by a steadily increasing crackdown on the membership's right to criticize various aspects of the turn. Long-time members of the party who still saw value in the theory of Permanent Revolution were not allowed to answer the party leadership, which was consolidating itself around National Chairman Jack Barnes. Many members either left out of a feeling of alienation from the party's growing sectarian drift or were expelled in a series of purges that were reminiscent of how Stalinist parties functioned.

The purpose of the mailing list is to come to terms with this legacy. Was it inevitable as some suggest or was it a function of a powerful personality subverting what was basically a healthy organism?

We will discuss the party's past and its current activity and ideas as reflected in the Militant newspaper. In addition, we will try to come to grips with the problem of party-building in general with an eye to building a new movement that avoids the mistakes of the past.

This list is moderated by Louis Proyect, who was in the SWP from 1967 to 1978.

Group Information

  • 263
  • Communist
  • Jun 5, 2005
  • English

Group Settings

  • This is a public group.
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