Opportunism Ad Absurdum: SWC Praying for Popularity

Any political organization must be judged by what it does and the political program which it puts forward—not by what it claims to represent. By these criteria, the leaders of the "Socialist Workers Collective" (SWC), who sometimes describe themselves as "revolutionaries" and even "Trotskyists," can only be characterized as reformist social democrats who belong in Ed Broadbent’s NDP.

To illustrate this point one need look no further than the July newsletter of the "Toronto Anti-Intervention Coalition" (TAIC), published by two prominent supporters of the SWC, promoting a candlelight march to commemorate Hiroshim Day:

"Let your candle shine with others as a Canadian flame for peace. Let your candle symbolize the hopes of concerned people worldwide, opposing all nuclear weapons everywhere….

"Please join us for this very important event. A peace/prayer vigil will continue at the Peace Garden after the candlelight procession. Come and lend your support."

This nationalist/pacifist bleating is counterposed to everything that revolutionary Marxists stand for. In Trotsky’s words:

"Pacifism addresses itself not so much to the military organization of the bourgeois state as to the working masses. Here its influence is absolutely pernicious. It paralyzes the will of those who in any case do not suffer from a surplus of will. It preaches the harmfulness of arms to those who are in any case unarmed and victims of class violence."
Once More on Pacifism and Revolution (1926)

Genuine revolutionists have always been distinguished from reformist cretins like the SWC by their willingness to tell the truth to the working class: pacifism is pernicious. But Barry Weisleder & Co. are much too "practical" for that. You see, pacifism is popular, particularly around Hiroshima Day, and for opportunists, popularity is the paramount consideration. So the "practical" socialists of the SWC/TAIC unfurled their miserable banner and tagged along down Yonge Street for the prayer vigil, hoping to pick up a few names for their mailing list along the way.

The pious whimpering of the "concerned people" of the SWC/TAIC about disarming everyone "everywhere" is, in effect, an explicit renunciation of Soviet defensism and, with that, of any claim to Trotskyism. The barbaric incineration of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was the opening shot of the Cold War—intended not only to subdue the Japanese but also to intimidate the Soviets. We are glad the Soviet Union today, despite its political degeneration under Stalinism, has the capacity to defend the social gains of the October Revolution against "free world" nuclear blackmail. Similarly, we are glad the Nicaraguans have as many arms as they do (and only wish they had more) to defend themselves against the contras. As for disarmament, we agree with Lenin that "Our slogan must be: the arming of the proletariat, for the purpose of vanquishing, expropriating and disarming the bourgeoisie." We are happy to leave the praying and the snivelling candlelight processions to professional bourgeois hypocrites, weak-minded pacifists and craven social democrats like the SWC.

There is only one reason to join a small socialist group—because you agree with its ideas and think that it is important to fight for them. Is it possible for a small revolutionary organization with a coherent political program and a determined membership to grow to a point where it can become an important political factor in society. But there is no such perspective for the spineless opportunists of the SWC. The NDP is infinitely larger, and everyone who enjoys praying and crawling for "peace" is more than welcome there. Besides, in the NDP if you play your cards right you might even end up with a seat in Parliament! So why settle for a tiny imitation that’s not going anywhere?

Any "youth in revolt" who came to tonight's meeting expecting the SWC to offer a socialist strategy to end the cycle of war, poverty and brutality which characterize life under capitalism, have come to the wrong address. Socialism can only be won through building a Leninist combat party based firmly on the class struggle program of revolutionary Marxism, forged in political struggle against the pacifism and reformist gradualism promoted by fake-socialist organizations like the SWC. We of the External Tendency of the iSt stand for the construction of a Bolshevik organization dedicated to peace through proletarian victory in the class war!

16 August 1985

Posted: 12 December 2004