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Labor Action, 9 May 1949


SWP’s “Militants” and Political Action


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 19, 9 May 1949, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Last week we discussed the claim of the Buffalo “Rank and File Group” to “militancy” – a claim insisted upon by the SWP’s Belt Cochran. One other point in this regard remains: the labor party question.

Local 424 has been on record for the establishment of an independent labor party for about two years, longer in fact than those individuals most highly touted by the Militant have been in the plant. Representatives of the Reuther administration of the local have been prominent in pushing this viewpoint at the Buffalo CIO Council and various PAC conferences.

During the presidential election, in the absence of an independent labor candidate a majority of the Executive Board followed national UAW policy and supported Truman. Even so, in the September issue of the local’s newspaper the Executive Board had printed an editorial which hailed Reuther’s call for a new political party, ending as follows:

“The UAW’s present support of Truman is the last, the dying gasp of the miserable ‘lesser of two evils’ policy. In years to come, in looking backward, the UAW’s call for the formation of a new political party will be seen to have been the most important aspect of the 1948 election.”

In the October issue, the editor of the paper was permitted to publish the following note:

“Page 1 of this issue [continuing the endorsement of Truman] has been compiled by the PAC Committee under the direction of the Executive Board. It does not represent the viewpoint of either the Education Committee or the Editor.”

And how about the “Rank and File Group”? During the entire 1948 political campaign no member of the group uttered a word at a meeting or issued one leaflet on political action.

The reason? Quite simple. Within this group were Truman followers, Wallaceites and (it is rumored) also labor-party supporters. A diplomatic political truce of silence was maintained by these various conflicting tendencies. After all, one doesn’t risk losing something tangible (like votes) for something as intangible as an independent labor party!

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