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International Socialist Review, Summer 1956


Rita Shaw

From a Socialist Workers Party Candidate
An Appeal to Radical Workers


From International Socialist Review, Vol.17 No.3, Summer 1956, pp.77-78.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


This letter was published July 4 as An Appeal to the Readers of the Michigan Worker by Rita Shaw, SWP candidate for Governor of Michigan. It is an excellent presentation of the SWP policy in the 1956 elections, particularly in relation to the problems faced by radical workers.

* * *

Every socialist is now thinking and asking: How can the socialist forces in this country be unified and strengthened?

The Socialist Workers Party has a practical proposal to facilitate the beginning of united socialist action right now – a common election policy for all radical groups and individuals, designed to promote united action in the election campaign, to bring about the biggest possible anti-capitalist and pro-socialist protest vote at the polls this year, and to lay the foundations for closer collaboration of left-wing forces after the election.

Such united action is not only desirable, it is possible. It is possible for all who agree on a basic principle underlying Leninism (which will never become “outmoded” while capitalism survives) that it is impermissible to practice class collaboration in politics.

Political action, if it is to have progressive consequences and promote socialist consciousness and organization, must be based on the principle of the needs of the class struggle. It must include a program of struggle expressing the everyday needs of the workers and their allies, but more than that, it must pose the issue of class against class and the socialist solution.

That kind of political action can never be achieved by entering or supporting any capitalist party. To support the Democratic Party as a “lesser evil” is to deceive the people and to sow confusion, demoralization and defeatism among the more advanced workers.

The Democratic Party is not a lesser evil, despite its occasional liberal demagogy. It is the party that started the cold war; that plunged the U.S. into the Korean civil war on the side of the counter-revolution; that insists on an even bigger arms budget than Eisenhower’s Big Business cabinet demands; that offers rabid opposition to any moderation of the cold war against the Soviet Union; that initiated the witch hunt and the repressive laws used to persecute and jail Communist Party members and other radicals; that stands like a rock against the passage of any civil rights legislation in Washington; that helped to pass the Taft-Hartley Law, and refused to repeal it after winning the 1948 election on a platform promising repeal.

Anyone who participates in this election campaign and doesn’t tell these truths about the Democratic Party, along with similar truths about the Republicans, doesn’t deserve the name of socialist.

There is only one party running in the present campaign that reflects the sentiments and expresses the aspirations of class-conscious and politically advanced workers. It is the Socialist Workers Party.

The Socialist Workers Party is and always has been an uncompromising opponent of US imperialism, its cold and hot wars, its preparations for another war to destroy the nationalized economy of the Soviet Union, China and the other workers’ states. We fight to organize and educate the people to stop the imperialists who hope through war to restore capitalism in the workers’ states and to preserve it elsewhere.

We have always defended workers’ states and colonial struggles against imperialist attack, even when such states and struggles are temporarily under the leadership of Stalinist or Social-Democratic bureaucrats, whose crimes against the workers and the revolutionary movement we have opposed from the beginning. Our attitude in such cases is determined by the class criterion. It is like the attitude we take toward a bureaucratized union, which we defend as a matter of principle, despite its misleaders, when it is under attack by the class enemy, as during a strike.

The SWP in this campaign, as in the past, fights the witch hunt in all its forms, and defends all its victims, despite differences with their political views. It is the only party in the campaign that advocates repeal of all “anti-subversive” laws and the liberation of all political prisoners.

Now as before the SWP gives unconditional support to the struggle against Jim Crow and for full Negro equality, and seeks to mobilize the aid of the white workers for the inspiring battles against segregation now being waged in the South.

In this election campaign we advocate, and in the unions we long have been working for, the formation of an independent labor party, based on the union, Negro and dirt farmer movements. The formation of a labor party will constitute a break with the two-party system, an inevitable step on the road to socialism. It will provide the American workers with the political organization through which they will begin for the first time to engage in political action independently, as a class, and it will provide them with the political experience through which they will reac’h socialist conclusions.

As the goal of a labor party we advocate the formation of a Workers and Farmers Government able and willing to reorganize the economy along socialist lines, and to end capitalism in the only country where it retains any real strength.

These are some of the things that the SWP represents in the 1956 election campaign, which distinguish it from all other parties running candidates. These are the things you will be voting for if you vote for and support the SWP.

The SWP election, campaign therefore offers a realistic basis for united action this year by all radical and pro-socialist groups and individuals who see eye-to-eye on these fundamental questions.

We urge you to support our campaign and our candidates, to read and spread our campaign literature. We urge you, if you are a member of the Communist Party, to try to persuade the coming, national conference of the CP (in September) that it would be criminal to continue the policy of supporting the Democratic Party, and that the CP should endorse the candidates of the SWP for the reasons given above.

If you are an unaffiliated radical, or if you belong to another radical group, we urge you too to endorse our candidates, to form your own committee to promote our Campaign and to collaborate with us in bringing the revolutionary socialist message to the broadest circles of the American people.

The road to socialist unity cannot be covered in a single step. We do not pretend that there is complete programmatic unity between us. On many issues differences remain, and will continue for some time.

We do not believe at all that the Leninist analysis of imperialism, and its corollary that imperialist wars are inevitable as long as capitalism continues, has been “outmoded.” We are opposed to the Stalin-Khrushchev theory of “peaceful coexistence” as a disarming of the revolutionary struggle against imperialist war. We consider as anti-Leninist many of the current formulations about “a peaceful transformation to socialism.” We believe that, thanks to our assimilation of the lessons of the last 40 years and our study of the writings of Lenin and Trotsky, we have the Marxist explanation for the Stalinist bureaucratization and degeneration of the Soviet Union and the, Marxist program for eliminating Stalinism in all forms and places.

But these and other questions of principle and tactics need not be an obstacle to united political action now. Provided there is agreement between us on the basic issues, we can act together on them while discussing in a comradely way the questions over which we still differ.

That, for example, is the general attitude expressed by Clifford T. McAvoy, a leader of the American Labor Party in New York who opposes entering or supporting the Democratic Party. At a symposium on June 24, McAvoy said that although he rejects our views on “peaceful coexistence” he is going to vote for the SWP candidates because he sees no other way of expressing his support for socialism at the polls this year.

We welcome your support, even if it is critical support, like McAvoy’s. We pledge honest collaboration with all who want to help spread the message of socialism in this campaign, and we are eager to discuss our differences with all who want like us to build a mass revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.

This is our proposal to you. Let us know what you think.

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