About this Blog

The purpose of this blog is to disseminate reviews and promote discussion of the Socialist Workers Party (USA) during 1960-1988.

Much of the discussion will focus around Barry Sheppard’s two-volume political memoir, The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988.
Volume 1:  The Sixties
Volume 2: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988

Both volumes are available in the United States from Bolerium Books       www.bolerium.com

For readers in Europe and elsewhere, for whom it would be more convenient, you can order Volume 2 from the British publisher at: contact@socialistresistance.org

A PDF file of Volume 1 can be downloaded from    www.barrysheppardbook.com

To request a review copy, contact Bolerium Books.
For an autographed copy of either volume, contact Barry Sheppard at barryandgus@swphistory.com

This site is maintained by Barry Sheppard and Gus Horowitz. We will publish our own articles as well as those of others. If you want to submit an essay-length article for publication, please contact us at the email address shown below. Shorter comments may be posted after a published item or on the ‘Comments from Readers’ post.

All comments, however critical, are welcome. We require only that participants in the discussion be bound by ordinary standards of courteous discourse.

To send a private criticism or suggestion, contact us:   barryandgus@swphistory.com


One Response to About this Blog

  1. Nevin Siders says:

    The proceedings of the Comintern’s fourth congress that Riddell published has much to say about the issues of that time.

    It took me a few months to read it in my spare time, but it was well worth the energy because that congress took up so many of the issues that the movement I was a member of debated in the 1970s and 1980s — and which remain alive to this day in many socialist and communist parties and groups. In those days the YSA and SWP argued time and again over the principles and practice of how to relate to and/or intervene in the trade unions, how to organize the women and youth within the movement, and whether or not consumer and producer cooperatives could even be considered part of the movement, (many considered the latter to be a mere palliative for the petty bourgeoisie.)

    I learned in this book that so many of the topics that we spent countless hours and calories hotly arguing over had already been resolved by the Comintern by better minds than ours.

    trade unions
    There is an ultimatum that our movement should never break off from the main trade unions, and when expelled should always fight to be reinstated. This is a lesson for those who can not stand to be in the stifling environment of repressive, even fascist, unions. (When I write this I think several colleagues in my own local who burn to split from the SNTE, Latin America’s largest union. Now that I have read this book I will have better arguments with which to point out how misguided their positions are.)

    The women need their own circles and grouping within the party, something that was not permitted in the SWP because it was too similar to having factions or whatnot.

    The youth need their own organization not within the party but parallel to it, as the YSA was supposed to have been but was not really independent (at least in my time there in the eighties).

    My biggest surprise to discover that my own instincts were vindicated concerning cooperatives. Although in the SWP I would barely even get a hearing for such a position in off hours over a beer, the Comintern had published a firm resolution that intervention (not mere participation) in both consumer and producer cooperatives is crucial so as to prevent them from falling into the hands of opportunists and therefore, after the revolution, turning into obstacles rather than supports and models for the new economy.

    Other issues taken up by the fourth congress were reinforcement and refining the principles for educational work, anti-war movements, and what today would be termed solidarity movements. Positions on these had been taken by the second congress, yet since the context of the fourth one was a period of retreat by working people around the world, the explanations are often much more comparable and comprehensible for today’s situation in the imperialist and semi-colonial countries (like Mexico where I live).

    Comrade Riddell himself explains very well this similarity in periods in those online videos where he explains the importance of this volume. He could use that argument to go further to not just suggest but even demand that today’s organizations implement the united front in the same manner and for the same reasons that the fourth congress obliged its member parties to carry out.

    We are all well aware of the SWP’s example in the 1960s and 1970s of striving to bring everyone into the antiwar movement: to this day that serves as a shining example of how to implement the united front. The Comintern strongly argued that this same tactic can work in struggles on any number of immediate issues.

    It would be advantageous to have this book in Spanish! I hope I can help in that translation effort.

    Nevin Siders
    Mexico City

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