Myra Tanner Weiss Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Myra Tanner Weiss

First Month at Trotsky School

(10 August 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 32, 10 August 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A new institution in the Socialist Workers Party has been born, a university for revolutionary workers. The Trotsky School has started its second month at the Midwest Vacation School on Little Pleasant Lake in Michigan.

No need is more urgent today than the training of capable leaders for the revolutionary fight against American capitalism. The leaders of the American working class must have a scientific understanding of the basic economic and social laws which form and transform society. But how is this scientific knowledge to be gained? The trade unionist, the party organizer, those who devote their days and nights to our movement have at best limited time for theoretical study.

The Socialist Workers Party resolved to meet this need by boldly undertaking the immense task of organizing the Trotsky School. To begin the project, seven leading party members and trade unionists were selected from various parts of the country on the basis of their abilities and devotion tested in the class struggle. These seven are now able to devote their full time to study. They are relieved of all party assignments for a six month period. The Trotsky School extends them economic aid to make this period of intensive education possible.

The Seven Students

Who are these seven students? One is a leading militant in the UAW-CIO from Detroit. He has a wife and child whom he must support. For the past ten years in addition to long hours of work in the factory, with other hours given to union activity, he has devoted himself to building the SWP. He typifies what one worker observed about our Party members: “These Trotskyists not only fight the boss all day, they then go home at night to study about it.”

Thanks to the Trotsky School, it has become possible for this auto worker to have six uninterrupted months for learning. He is already a capable and experienced leader. But the Trotsky School will better prepare him for the difficult problems that arise in the labor movement. And he in turn will be better able to teach his fellow-workers all he has learned.

Another student here is also a fighter in the UAW-CIO, a Negro worker, with a wife and two children. His formal education was limited to gradeschool. The eagerness with which he tackles the study of Marx’s Capital is truly inspiring. He works harder and longer than any of us.

A third student is a maritime worker from New York with long years of political and trade union activity behind him. His rich experience off-shore and in port will be supplemented now with an advance in theory.

Also from New York comes a Negro veteran whose whole life has been one of double exploitation as a colored worker in both the North and the South. Then the capitalist government gave him four years in their vicious Jim Crow army. Now he is learning about the basic source of this oppression and how to end it once and for all.

From Youngstown, Ohio, another veteran who fought all the way from North Africa to Germany, has come to the Trotsky School. Before he returns to. the workers’ struggle he will be able to get the Marxist training so indispensable for the fight against imperialist aims and methods.

There is a young Negro comrade who has worked hard and responsibly as one of the leaders of the Toledo, Ohio branch. Assimilating now the basic and general problems of the class struggle, he can become even more effective in his chosen life work of building the party that will liberate the entire working class.

Then the Local in Los Angeles where I have worked as organizer, has given me the opportunity to study in the Trotsky School.

Daily Schedule

Our daily schedule is quite varied. Some of us teach classes in the Midwest School every morning. At two in the afternoon, to aid our study of Capital, we hold our own discussion group for several hours under the guidance of our “Dean,” William F. Warde. From our study of this book in which Karl Marx analysed the economic system in which we live, we learn the basic laws that find their expression in the terrible depressions, crises, and wars that are tearing apart the obsolete capitalist system.

The rest of the afternoon we spend studying until dinner time in a farm house donated for the use of the Trotsky School students. Occasionally, we permit ourselves the luxury of a swim with the vacationers. Our evenings are spent studying American history, Marxist philosophy or any other subject concerning the labor and political movement in which we are individually interested.

At the end of the first six months a new group of SWP comrades wil be assigned to a similar course of full-time study. By offering leading workers throughout the country this opportunity for gaining a theoretical understanding of the class struggle, the Trotsky School is making an important contribution to the advancement of the revolutionary socialist movement.

Myra Tanner WEiss Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 19 June 2021