Written by TT Friday, 02 November 2007 05:35
I was a member of the Labor Militant from 1986 to 1996, here in New York. Labor Militant was the American/Canadian comrades in solidarity with the CWI and Militant in Britain. I had met Ted Grant when he visited New York in the late 1980s. I left the Labor Militant in 1996 because I needed to deal with a pressing personal matter and I was disillusioned with the organization both here in the USA and internationally. Since 1996, I have not been active politically, but I have been somewhat active in my union, but not on a political basis as I have no organization to work with.
In 1991, I had scheduled a two week trip to Britain and Belgium for October. It was only shortly before my trip that I found out about the fight in Britain and the International about the "Scottish turn." I do not know when the Labor Militant National Committee, of which I was not a member, found out about this, but clearly I was only told about it at that time, because of the timing of my trip.
When I was in England, I stayed with Comrades but in Belgium, I stayed with a friend who was not involved with the organization in any way. While in Belgium, I met with ED one afternoon. After this, I attended the Congress of Militant as an observer. This was the Congress which voted for the "Scottish turn." I did not meet Alan Woods but I saw him speak at the Congress. It should be noted that prior to this debate, if you had spoken to any American comrade, they would have told you that the two major theoreticians of the international tendency were Ted Grand and Alan Woods. Peter Taaffe and Lynn Walsh and the rest were considered important leaders but not theoreticians.
I did go along with the "Majority," and in retrospect I made a giant mistake.
In my mind, I saw a contradiction between the fact that we always held the view that when the workers struggle, they will for the most part, return to their traditional organizations. This was a guiding principal of the tendency throughout the international. Yet, we were in fact changing this without a proper discussion on why this law of history was no longer a law. I also noticed that the "Majority" was misrepresenting the Grant/Woods position by stating that "they [Grant/Woods] just wanted to keep their heads down in the Labour Party" and were against an "open turn," but had supported and continued to support some independent work, such as the youth work and the anti-poll tax work. In spite of this, I think that I went with the "Majority" because I wanted to believe that an "open turn" would lead to a short cut to building a mass Marxist Party. There was also peer pressure involved, as it seemed that most of the British section, all of Labor Militant, and most of the international except the Spanish, Italian, and Pakistani sections were going along with the "Majority."
I have since read some of the documents on the website [www.marxist.com] and agree with what was written. It should be noted that the "constant campaigns" in Britain in the 1990s had spread to the U.S. as well. We had a top-heavy organization with five full-timers even though our membership in the US/Canada was 110 on paper, less in reality. In the early and middle 1990s, we spent much of our time raising money, sometimes in non-political ways, to support the full-timers. Soon after Labor Militant expelled the JT/JR faction, I left the organization. I did not agree with the JT/JR faction [which included three of the five full-timers] and believed that they were part of the problem, but I also had doubts about the international and what was left in Labor Militant. As I wrote above, I also has an important personal matter to deal with so I left the organization and politics. It was sometime after I left that Labor Militant change the name to Justice/Socialist Alternative and the British section suffered split after split and became the Socialist Party.
I think it was in January 2006, when I was watching a program on the History Channel on the French Revolution. I was chocked to see Alan Woods as one of the persons interviewed. How often does bourgeois television interview a Marxist? I remembered that Alan and Ted had set up a newspaper called Socialist Appeal so I checked on the computer for it. I found to my surprise that there was an American organization in solidarity with them. I was not ready to get active again, so I did not return to the website until June 2007.
The spring and summer of this year saw the continuation of U.S. warfare in the Middle East and continued attacks on workers as home. My union's contract is being dragged out by the city. It expired in July 2006, and yet we do not have a new contract. It is in "arbitration." I went to see Moore's movie Sicko. I knew that things need to change and that I should think about getting involved again. That was what brought me to the website and reading about what the IMT was doing and what WIL was doing.
I would like to continue reading more about WIL and the IMT and meet some of you. Hopefully, this could lead to ways I could help your organization. Eventually, I may want to join, but I would like to learn more first.