MIA: History:, ,19 ETOL: Trotskyist Periodicals
Independent Socialist & International Socialist
The political journals of the Independent Socialist Clubs & International Socialists in the U.S.
By Joel Geier
On September 17, 1964 the Berkeley Independent Socialist Club (ISC) was founded by a small group of “Third Camp” revolutionary socialists, led by Hal Draper and Joel Geier. The Club originated following a years-long faction fight in the Young People’s Socialist League and the Socialist Party to defend the political program of the Workers Party/Independent League (WP/ISL), against former comrades, Max Shachtman and his supporters, who were swinging rapidly to support of the Democratic Party and American imperialism.
Like the WP/ISL, the ISC was defined by its uncompromising opposition to imperialism of any kind, summed up in its programmatic slogan, “Neither Washington nor Moscow, but for the Third Camp of International Socialism.”
Among the ISC’s distinctive contributions to left-wing politics in the 1960s was Hal Draper’s concept of “socialism from below” – a reaffirmation of Marx’s core vision of socialism as mass revolutionary, democratic, working class revolt, controlled from below. Draper’s model rejected both of the prevailing schemes of “socialism from above” presented by social democratic parliamentary reform, on the one hand, and Stalinist nationalization of industry, on the other. The theoretical bedrock of ISC politics was the self-emancipation of the working class- the idea that socialism’s essence is workers power, working class rule over society through workers control of the economy and the state through organs of direct workers democracy.
From 1964-69, the ISC was primarily a student organization, playing an active role in the black liberation, Free Speech and anti-Vietnam War movements. It supported women’s and gay liberation even before those movements arose in the 60s. The ISC was also involved in the Farm Workers unionization effort, in teachers unions, and played a leading role in organizing the first campus clerical workers union. Some of the key political ideas the ISC fought for on the left – independent political action, black power and armed self-defense – began to take tangible form in 1967. The ISC was the driving force in the organization of the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP), and in the creation of the alliance between the PFP and the Black Panther Party around the Free Huey campaign and the running of Huey Newton (from jail) for Congress and Eldridge Cleaver for President.
From 1965-67, local clubs with similar politics came into existence in New York, Baltimore, and a few other cities. In 1967 they joined together in a loose federation, the Independent Socialist Clubs of America (ISCA) and began publication of the Independent Socialist magazine, first from New York, then from Berkeley. After the Students for a Democratic Society splintered in 1969, a small section of SDS fragments joined with ISCA on Labor Day, 1969 in forming a national organization, the International Socialists. At the same time, the IS newspaper was renamed International Socialist.
In September 1970, the IS organizational center was relocated to Detroit; the newspaper was renamed Workers’ Power and became a bi-weekly. In October 1975, it moved to weekly publication. The name Workers’ Power symbolized both the fundamental political program of the IS and the IS’ new strategic orientation. Out of the international working class upheavals following 1968, there arose for the first time since the late 1940s the possibility of building revolutionary workers parties to the left of the social democratic and Communist Parties. The perspective of the IS, based on the experience of its predecessors – the Communists of the 1920s, the Trotskyists of the 1930s, and the Workers Party of the 1940s – was that the road to a revolutionary workers party in the United States was through a rank and file movement in the trade unions based on a clear class struggle program.
To maximize the strength of its small forces, the IS prioritized its industrial work around auto, steel, teamsters, telephone, the postal service, and teachers. Its newspaper, written for factory sales, concentrated on rank and file and social movement struggles. Workers’ Power carried extensive coverage of the historic working class revolt of this period, which was and has been generally ignored by most publications and historians. Its reporting of the auto industry and the United National Caucus, of telephone and the United Action caucus, of the teamsters and Teamster for a Democratic Union, Upsurge and the teamster strikes of 1975-6, and of Steelworkers Fight Back and the Sadlowski campaign, are of such depth that students of the period will probably find more coverage in Workers’ Powerthan possibly anywhere else.
Workers’ Power was also a prime source for coverage of the anti-racist struggle, the women’s and gay liberation movements, and other fights against oppression, as well as prison revolts. Its foreign coverage spanned the Middle East, Africa and Latin America as well as the European revolutionary Left. It also features unique, detailed coverage of the Portuguese Revolution.
The youth group of the IS, the Red Tide, an overwhelmingly working class and black organization, provided in depth coverage of youth and high school struggles.
From 1968-72, and again from 1973-4, the editor was Kit Lyons; from 1972-3, David Finkel; from 1974-76, Gay Semel; in 1977, Kim Moody; and in 1978 Marilyn Denton. The paper was distinctive in the left of that period for the outstanding quality of its art and cartoons, the work of Lisa Lyons.
The work of digitalizing Workers’ Power and its predecessors was done by Michael Billeaux, Charles Peterson and Joe Richard, and David Walters promptly posted it.
Independent Socialist 1967 through 1969
Special Issue [Specially published version from Berkeley ISC for the New Politics Conference held in September of 1967]
No. 5, June-July, 1968 [Special Pamphlet Supplement]
No. 11, May 23, 1969. [Special Berkeley Strike Supplement]
No. 12, September, 1969 [SDS split issue]
No. 12, July 18, 1969 [Speical Supplement on Repression]
International Socialist 1969 through 1970
Workers Power 1970 through 1978
No. 114, February 13–26, 1975
No. 115, February 27–March 12, 1975
No. 116, March 13–26,1975
No. 117, March 28–April 9, 1975
No. 118, April 10–23, 1975
No. 119, April 24–May 7, 1975
No. 120, May 8–21, 1975
No. 121, May 22–June 4, 1975
No. 122, June 5–18, 1975
No. 123, June 19–July 2, 1975
No. 124, July 3–23, 1975
No. 125, July 24–August 6, 1975
No. 126, August 7–20, 1975
No. 127, August 11–September 3, 1975
No. 128, September 4–17, 1975
No. 129, September 18–October 1, 1975
No. 130, October 2–15, 1975
No. 132, October 24, 1975
No. 133, October 31, 1975
No. 134, November 7, 1975
No. 135, November 14, 1975
No. 136, November 21, 1975
No. 137, November 28, 1975
No. 138, December 5, 1975
No. 139, December 12, 1975
No. 140, December 19, 1975
No. 141, December 26, 1975
No. 142, December , 1975
No. 142, Janaury 9, 1976
No. 144, Janaury 23, 1976
Special Teamsters Supplement—undated but after April 6, 1976