October 29, 2004 by [email protected]
The reasons we prefer the Libertarian candidate over the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) candidate for president for those who feel some irrational compulsion to vote are evident right on the SWP web page. The SWP is celebrating a victory organizing a union in a plant making bullet proof vests for troops and cops. This is an example of how Amerikans have made Marxism a caricature of itself and it's far better to be real libertarians than pseudo-Marxists.
SWP will be on 13 state ballots plus DC.
On the plus side, SWP says: "the capitalist government of the United States, the common enemy of the toilers outside and within its own borders, that represents the biggest threat to humanity. It is Washington that has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and it is the only government to have ever used the nuclear bomb." Too bad SWP and Trotsky totally contradict this line elsewhere and that makes this statement mere window-dressing.
SWP is like most U.$. parties calling themselves Marxist in that they do not know that Amerikans are the global elite, with minimum wage earners in the top 13% of income earners internationally. What they call "workers" we call "petty-bourgeoisie" based on an internationalist standard.
SWP says: "Calero, Hawkins, and the other socialist candidates are themselves workers who have been part of the resistance by working people to the bosses’ offensive on our wages, working conditions, and living standards."(1) The bottom line problem with this view is it is too contradictory. We cannot encourage Amerikans to worry about their wages and living standards and then wonder why they want a war for oil.
The Socialist Workers Party is extremely opportunist in an Amerikan way. There is hardly any overarching ideology present available from the SWP home page. SWP does not really say what it stands for in any organized way. We have to dig into SWP archives. That would be tedious for most readers, so we are going to give people the inside scoop on SWP ideology.
As we have explained before, the SWP is neo- Trotskyist. In fact, the SWP is the original Trotskyist party of the united $tates and the SWP paper still features articles from James P. Cannon, one of the original leaders.
To cut to the chase, Trotskyism has become an extension of Amerikan Christianity, attacking Stalin and Mao for the sin of creating socialism that is not perfect enough for them. For them, "socialism" is something like instant "Heaven" in the role of Christian beliefs. Since Stalin and Mao did not deliver perfection, the Trotskyists condemn from On High.
Since neither Maoists nor Trotskyists are going to have a revolution any time soon in the imperialist countries, there is a more important difference to consider than repression under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The main substantial dividing line is that Trotskyists spoke of imperialism as if capitalism was still in its early stages, not "moribund" and "decadent" as Lenin said.
It's a laugh to see SWP deny that there is a "neo- conservative" faction in control of the government. If organizing bullet proof vest workers was not the tip-off, denying the existence of a neo-conservative government surely is.
The SWP also downplays the Cold War reaction that has stemmed from its organization. "A few from the oldest generation—none of whom ever held government posts—were around the youth group of an organization led by Max Shachtman in the 1930s and 1940s. Shachtman and his supporters split from the Socialist Workers Party in 1940, breaking with Marxism. As they evolved, they dissolved their group into the Socialist Party in 1958, and accelerated their course by backing the Henry 'Scoop' Jackson wing of the Democratic Party and filling the staffs of AFL-CIO unions." At least in an earlier article, SWP pointed out that Shachtman worked for the CIA and the National Review.(3) Others who should be really embarrassed are the people in ISO, who whether they know it or not, are the descendants of Shachtman.
No one should ever be surprised that Trotskyists have ended up in the White House and especially the Pentagon. Trotsky himself willingly collaborated with American congressional committees in his own day. More importantly, Trotsky formulated a general theory that is one of the most potent underlying, almost cultural reasons that various people have for betraying the international proletariat and working with the CIA. The latest are those "communists" working with the CIA to exterminate Islam as a supposedly greater evil than U.$. imperialism.
The rationale for siding with imperialism was expressed in many, many places where Trotsky emphasized the superior culture of the imperialist countries. In 1936, he justified his attacks on Stalin's line on the Comintern this way: "Capitalism finds various sections of mankind at different stages of development, each with its profound internal contradictions. The extreme diversity in the levels attained, and the extraordinary unevenness in the rate of development of the different sections of mankind during the various epochs, serve as the starting point of capitalism. Capitalism gains mastery only gradually over the inherited unevenness, breaking and altering it, employing therein its own means and methods. In contrast to the economic systems which preceded it, capitalism inherently and constantly aims at economic expansion, at the penetration of new territories, the surmounting of economic differences, the conversion of self- sufficient provincial and national economies into a system of financial interrelationships. Thereby it brings about their rapprochement and equalizes the economic and cultural levels of the most progressive and the most backward countries. Without this main process, it would be impossible to conceive of the relative leveling out, first, of Europe with Great Britain, and then, of America with Europe; the industrialization of the colonies, the diminishing gap between India and Great Britain, and all the consequences arising from the enumerated processes upon which is based not only the program of the Communist International but also its very existence."(4) This theory also connected with other reactionary aspects of Trotsky's theory of accumulation in a coherent fashion-- something Marx denounced as the "theory of productive forces," long before Trotsky wrote.
In contrast, genuine followers of Lenin emphasize how the British propped up reaction in India and stymied advance there. For Leninists, Trotsky's example of England and the 13 U.$. colonies is not relevant, because capitalism had not achieved its "final stage," the finance stage of capitalism by that time. Trotsky confuses early capitalism with imperialism.
Followers of Lenin emphasize that since the advent of colonialism undergirded by monopoly corporations and finance capital in the 1880s imperialism is moribund and decadent, not a global leveling force. We do not hear Lenin referring to imperialist countries as the "most progressive" countries the way Trotsky does, once Lenin has experienced World War I.
The willingness to work with the CIA in the heart of every Trotskyist comes out clearly most often in discussion of Islam. In just one October 5th 2004 article in the Militant, SWP reveals just about every reactionary aspect of its line: 1) On the Amerikan exploiters in Iraq, SWP is on the side of the Amerikan contractors and against the "kidnappers." SWP forgets that to be a "kidnapper" one has to take someone from some place that s/he properly belongs and transfer them elsewhere. What Iraqis are doing is not kidnapping but more like evicting burglars from their house. 2) On "democracy" in Islamic-majority countries, SWP sides with Bush over the liberals: "Contrary to accusations by its liberal critics, the White House is not conducting an anti-Islamic crusade. It is arguing more forcefully that being a majority Muslim country and establishing bourgeois democracy with strong ties to 'America' are not contradictory." 3) Although Stalin has been dead over 50 years, SWP is still blaming him for their own failure to organize anything in the Middle East. "Because of Stalinist betrayals from North Africa to the Mideast and Southeast Asia, there is a complete absence of revolutionary working-class organizations in these countries." It gives everybody an idea of just how passive these Trotskyists are and a good idea why they have not accomplished any revolutions on their own since the death of Lenin in 1924. 4) Like the CP- U$A, and in defense of the occupation regime in Iraq, SWP says: "It is true that compared to living under the Saddam Hussein regime, there is more space for working people to defend their interests in Iraq today." It follows that Trotskyists would have been right to work with the CIA to overthrow Saddam Hussein. That is how there is a clear difference between the Leninist theory of imperialism and the Trotskyist theory of Western "leveling" by the "most progressive" countries known as imperialists.
4. L. Trotsky, "The Third International After Lenin,"