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Farrell Dobbs

SWP Presidential Tour

My Visit in Seattle

(30 August 1948)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 35, 30 August 1948, p. 4.
Transcription & Mark-up: Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

SEATTLE, Aug. 21 – I arrived here by plane just after sunrise.

As I saw the beautiful modern city of Seattle rising out of a wilderness of timberland, mountain ranges and large bodies of water, I thought, “What a symbol of man’s great future under Socialism!”

“What a firm guarantee that man will establish a socialist society so he can have a future!” I concluded, after I had spent a busy week talking to the workers.

The Seattle Branch of the Socialist Workers Party did an excellent job in preparing for my visit, and their publicity work quickly bore fruit.

First to respond were workers who have migrated to Seattle from Minnesota. Many among them were once officers of local unions, job stewards, militant fighters in the great Minnesota strike struggles of 1934 and later.

They remembered me from those days and came to talk to me about their problems in fighting both the employers and Dave Beck, local czar of the Teamsters Union. Native Seattle workers came with them.

I talked to a former Minneapolis coaltruck driver after a meeting where I had described the Workers and Farmers Government. He reminded me that he had been present when I made my first speech at a union meeting. It was a mass rally at the old Shubert Theater in Minneapolis in 1934.

“You have learned a lot since then,” he said. “We need your help here and I’m glad you came.”

A Boeing striker telephoned the party headquarters a few minutes after I spoke over the radio. We had worked together in Minneapolis 20 years ago. He came down to our social that evening. We had a fine talk and he made a $20 contribution to the campaign fund.

Another Boeing striker came with his two sons to meet the SWP presidential candidate and get a copy of my Seattle radio speech.

The speeches broadcast from our national convention have also left their mark here.

A freelance writer who was passing through the city came to a meeting. He had once been a sympathizer of the SWP, but he dropped away during the 1939–40 faction fight. His interest is again aroused by our presidential campaign.

Among those at the University of Washington meeting was a young science student. He is shifting his studies toward history and politics because he believes titanic social upheavals are coming soon. He wants to be prepared.

Most of my time was spent talking to union militants. They honor the Socialist Workers Party for our proud record in defending workers’ democracy against dictators like Dave Beck.

Left Wing Growing

From my talks with these workers, I became convinced that there is a tremendous potential here for the building of a powerful left wing movement.

Equally important is the fact that the Stalinist misleaders are rapidly losing ground just when a new current of militancy is eddying through the local labor movement.

We helped discredit the CP hacks further when we defeated their attempt to disrupt our meeting at the Yesler Child Care Center.

Our Seattle comrades have every right to be confident of the future.

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