Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Oppose RU/RSB Thuggery!

First Published: Young Spartacus, #32, May 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Revolutionary Union (RU) and its student-youth front group, the Revolutionary Student Brigade (RSB), have in the past period escalated not only their confrontationist protests, but also their thug attacks against competing tendencies in the working-class movement.

On numerous campuses across the country the RSB has courted arrest in senselessly provocative demonstrations and adventurist stunts. In several instances, the RU/RSB has involved members of the Iranian Students Association, well aware that if these students are deported to Iran as a result of political activity they face severe repression, and often gruesome torture and death! The irresponsibility of the RU/RSB in jeopardizing the security of these students is absolutely criminal.

In one recent example, the RSB, along with members of the ISA, set up an anti-ROTC picket line on April 10 inside the student center at Northwestern University, in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. The demonstration was in violation of the University’s repressive rules, and when a campus cop approached one RSB supporter, placing a hand on his shoulder, the RSB responded by attacking the campus cops with their wooden placard sticks. When the RSB-led demonstrators left the building shortly thereafter, they were ambushed by the local cops, beaten badly and 16 were arrested on charges of criminal trespass and battery.

The SYL at Northwestern University took a leading role in attempting to launch a defense campaign for the arrested students, including building for a defense rally which attracted some 60 students. The SYL stressed the importance of a united defense of the left from administration repression. Because our principled stand stood out so clearly, all attempts by the RSB to exclude us from defense meetings failed. However, when on April 25 a contingent of SYL supporters attempted to join the picket line set up by the RU/RSB and ISA at the courthouse before the trial, RU/RSB goons physically excluded our comrades from the demonstration, a dangerous provocation inviting cop intervention.

On April 7 the RU/RSB attacked supporters of working-class tendencies in both New York City and Los Angeles. At Columbia University members of the SYL, as well as individual trade-union militants, joined a picket line which had been called to protest military recruitment on campus and was dominated by the RU/RSB and their supporters in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Without warning, the RU/RSB and VVAW jumped the outnumbered SYL supporters and the trade-union militants, knocking several to the ground and repeatedly kicking them in the head and torso. In response to this gangster attack, the SYL circulated for individual and group endorsement a statement which condemned the RSB hooliganism, but clearly stated that the SYL opposed any attempt by the administration to seize upon the attack as a pretext for purging the RSB from campus.

That same day the RU/RSB brutally attacked supporters of the Progressive Labor Party in Los Angeles. In preparation for a scheduled appearance of Zionist war-monger Moshe Dayan at the University of California at Los Angeles, the SYL issued a call for a united-front protest demonstration, to which only the Arab Students Association responded. The RU/RSB-dominated Third World Solidarity Committee then called for a separate demonstration and threatened violence against any “Trotskyites” naming in particular the Trotskyist SYL, the fake Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party/Young Socialist Alliance (SWP/YSA) and the Stalinist Progressive Labor Party (PL)who might attempt to join their demonstration. When supporters of PL, which is also a member of the Third World Solidarity Committee, attempted to enter the picket line at the demonstration, RU/RSB goons assaulted and beat them, once again inviting an attack from the cops swarming around the area.

Had all those threatened by the RU/RSB united in a principled united-front demonstration and organized a joint defense guard, the RU/RSB thuggery could have been deterred by numerical superiority. But PL, which in the past has also threatened and beaten Trotskyists on numerous occasions, refused to join the SYL-initiated united-front demonstration. The craven opportunists of the SWP/YSA who masquerade as “Trotskyists” chose to be the “best builders” of a violently exclusionist, anti-Trotskyist demonstration, and crawled into the Stalinists’ picket line as individuals and without their Signs! The Militant Caucus of AFSCME/Local 2070 and the Revolutionary Tendency (formerly of the Revolutionary Socialist League) joined the SYL in a joint picket line of about 80 people, as did the socialdemocratic International Socialists/Red Tide after having been left in the lurch by the defection of the SWP/YSA.

When the RU/RSB repeated these same threats in Cleveland during planning meetings for an April 16 anti-Dayan demonstration, the SYL again made it clear that we would not be intimidated by Stalinist thuggery and were prepared to defend workers democracy. Having been excluded from the anti- Trotskyist “Coalition to Support the Palestinian People,” a coalition which included – you guessed it! – the “Trotskyist” SWP/YSA, the SYL issued a call for a non-exclusionist united-front demonstration, adding in the leaflet, “The SL will provide marshalls for the picket.”

Joined by several supporters of the Shachtmanite Revolutionary Socialist League, the SL/SYL was able to mobilize about 70 people in an impressive contingent. Faced with a sizable, determined and highly disciplined contingent, the RU/RSB retreated from their barbed threats of violence.

The SYL is opposed to violence within the workers movement on principle, and we are determined to uphold in a firm and disciplined fashion the norms of workers democracy. We are no less committed to a defense of the left from attack by the class enemy. Despite our enormous political differences with reformists such as the RU/RSB, we have and will continue to defend these tendencies from administration and police attack.