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George Clarke

Genora and Kermit Johnson,
Leading Auto Workers,
Quit S.P., Join S.W.P.

(November 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 50, 19 November 1938, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Kermit Johnson and Genora Johnson, nationally prominent workers in the Socialist Party and outstanding militants in the Michigan automobile Union, have resigned from the S.P. and joined the ranks of the American Fourth Internationalists in the Socialist Workers Party.

Their resignation comes as a protest to the bankrupt policies of the S.P. now culminating in the planned retirement into the reactionary Old Guard Social Democratic Federation.

It comes as a climax to a long, difficult struggle to introduce revolutionary principles into the Socialist Party and revolutionary methods into its trade union work. At every stage, these militants were obstructed in their efforts by the opportunist and careerist leaders at the top of the party. Significant Act

Particularly was this the case in Michigan where Walter Reuther, Stalinist stooge, led the party by the nose through the mud of Communist Party wrecking maneuvers in the auto union ... while the agents of Norman Thomas and the N.E.C. prevented the militant workers in the auto union from flinging Mr. Reuther out on his ear.

That Genora and Kermit Johnson have left the Socialist Party after valiantly attempting to change its course, is a significant proof of the impossibility of revolutionists to live in a party which expels the left wing and prepares to unite with the decrepit Old Guard. Their action in joining the S.W.P. blazes a trail for all remaining left wingers in the party, for all who refuse to be submerged into the debris of the Old Guard and who wish to strike out on a fresh path of revolutionary activity.

To Those Still in S.P.

The statement of Genora and Kermit Johnson, printed herewith, is especially directed to the automobile workers still in the Socialist Party, to the rank and file S.P. members in the West Side Briggs, Dodge and Hudson locals of the U.A.W. They have had a common experience, with the comrades Johnson in struggling for a clean-cut policy in the union against Walter Reuther, Ben Fisher and Co. It is now obvious that from the situation in the U.A.W. and from the condition of the S. P. nationally that these efforts have run headlong into a brick wall. Intelligent revolutionists will draw the necessary conclusions – conclusions which we are convinced can be no different than those drawn by Kermit and Genora Johnson.

Kermit Johnson was the leader of the successful Chevrolet strike during the famous Flint sit-downs early in 1937; he was formerly chairman of Local 156 (Flint) of the U.A.W. In the recent gubernatorial elections in Michigan he ran for Lieutenant-Governor on the S.P. ticket. He was also a member of the State Executive Committee and the National Labor Committee of the S.P. Organized Emergency Brigade

Genora Johnson was the organizer of the Woman’s Emergency Brigade in Flint, which was a potent factor in mobilizing the women and in winning the famous sit-down in 1937. Prior to her recent illness she took a prominent part in the national work of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the auto union.

The Socialist Appeal and the Socialist Workers Party extends a full and hearty welcome to Genora and Kermit Johnson into the ranks of the party and bids all other S.P. militants to follow their example.

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Last updated: 12 September 2015