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The Socialist Workers Party
Stands for Class Politics

(13 September 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 37, 13 September 1923, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As one result of its first national election campaign, the Socialist Workers Party is receiving more publicity in capitalist newspapers than ever before in its history. A favorite sideswipe of the capitalist writers at the SWP goes something like this: The “Trotskyites” are mad at everybody – they’re equally against the Democrats, the Republicans, the Wallaceites, the Norman Thomas Socialists, the Stalinist Communist Party and all the top leaders of the unions, from Murray and Reuther to Green and Tobin.

This is deliberately designed to give the impression that the Trotskyists are just a bunch of disgruntled crackpots and chronic gripers, against everything and everyone just for the hell of it.

The fact is there is a definite, clear-cut fundamental dividing line of principle between the SWP and all the other parties. That is the CLASS line.

While all the other political groups which the SWP opposes have differences among themselves – a fact that the SWP does not at all dismiss – they have nevertheless, a common position on one decisive point: They are all hostile to the political class organization of the workers. The SWP in contrast, stands foursquare for a class party of the American workers.

Deceive Working Class

The Republicans and Democrats stand for capitalism “as is.” Some, like the Wallaceites and their Stalinist supporters, proclaim “progressive” capitalism as their aim. Others, like Norman Thomas, even claim they are for socialism. But all of them, in one way or another, strive to keep the workers from uniting politically as a class and from building their own independent class party.

No matter how “progressive” or “radical” a political group may claim to-be, no matter how much it professes to serve the interests of the workers, it all boils down to deception and lies if they deny to labor its own class political instrument, its own class party.

The biggest political myth the ruling capitalists are trying to sell to the workers is that this country is different from any in history, that here there are no real class divisions and, therefore, no basis for class politics.

We saw one frank expression of this fear in a series of full-page advertisements run in leading newspapers last November by the powerful McGraw-Hill publishing company. Under a huge headline, “POLITICAL ACTION – LABOR’S BLIND ALLEY,” the publishers of Business Week and dozens of big trade magazines went all out in warnings to the workers not “to let their union leader’s lure them down the blind alley of political action ... Unions exist for collective bargaining, not politicking.”

OK for Their Class

But the McGraw-Hill interests and the other big capitalists aren’t against class patties at all. On the contrary, they have, as they have always had, their class parties, which they have consciously developed and maintained to serve their class interests. That is what the Republican and Democratic parties are.

The capitalists believe in class politics, all right. They are only against class politics for the majority, the workers.

The root of the capitalist opposition to a “third party” – right now – is fear that once the “two-party” myth is destroyed and the present two-party political monopoly is broken, the way will be open for a class party of labor.

That doesn’t mean the capitalists aren’t ready to put forward a “third party” of their own when they feel it to be to their interests. During their progressive period, back in 1854, the American industrialists organized a “third party” – the Republicans – to fight against the two old parties, the Democrats and Whigs. Today, 'the reactionary capitalist class has another “third party” up its sleeve – the fascist party. The American capitalists will be all for this “third party” – as were their class brothers in Germany and Italy – when they feel they can no longer maintain their rule through the “two-party system.”

Hamstring Workers

The Wallace party, despite its pretensions to progressivistn, is in 100% agreement with the other capitalist parties on one thilig: Don’t let the workers build their own party! The Wallace party is dominated from the top by capitalist-minded liberal politicians who have no connections with or responsibility to the labor movement. The credentials report at their recent convention revealed that less than 15% of the delegates had any connection with the organized labor movement.

Or take the case of Walter Reuther. The CIO auto workers union president has his ears to the ground. He knows the workers are pressing hard against the old, decrepit two-party political structure. He sees sentiment developing for a class party of labor. Reuther, who like Wallace stands for “enlightened” capitalism, is determined to seize hold of the independent political action movement in labor’s ranks and direct it away from class channels back into the old sewer of capitalist politics. His proposal is for a “third party” of all so-called “progressive” elements now in the two old parties in coalition with the top union bureaucrats. The only difference between what Reuther proposes and the Wallace party is a difference over foreign policy. But Reuther, like Wallace and the Stalinists, are dead set against any genuine party of labor, run by and for the workers through their mass organizations, the unions.

As for the so-called “socialist” party of Norman Thomas, it is just living for the day that it can wind up its independent existence and merge in the broader stream of a. party uniting the “progressive” capitalists and workers. In short, Reuther and Norman Thomas both seek the same type of party the Stalinists have everywhere tried to build and to which they give the name, “People’s Front.”

The Real Fact

But all politics is class politics. It is to the interests of the ruling capitalists and their various agents and dupes to conceal this elementary fact of the realities of political life. It is the contrary purpose of the Socialist Workers Party to strip the veil from politics and reveal its true class nature.

It is in this that we differ from all other political parties on the American scene today. We show the workers the true face of politics and call on them to act accordingly by building their own class party.

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