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John G. Wright

Tells Inspiring Growth of SWP
Observed During Tour

(12 January 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 2, 12 January 1946, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On December 23, 1945, in the city of Pittsburgh I concluded a national tour, covering more than a score of cities in a period of approximately three and a half months. In the course of such a tour one naturally gathers a great many impressions. But from the outset, what struck me most forcibly was the tremendous vitality and the great and growing attractive power of American Trotskyism, the Socialist Workers Party.

From their very first contact with our movement, an indelible imprint is left on workers’ minds by the spirit of Trotskyists. In virtually every city I heard appreciative comments from workers, singling out our spirit. And this is indeed the hallmark of our movement. The spirit is the same everywhere, in branches both large and small, in areas where we have deep roots as well as those where we are just breaking ground. Everywhere – the same enthusiasm, the same confidence, devotion, selflessness, seriousness, indefatigable perseverance, loyalty.

In his History of American Trotskyism, Comrade Cannon reported that in the course of the May, 1934, strikes in Minneapolis the workers locally became convinced that “these Trotskyists mean business. When they undertake anything, they go through with it.” I can vouch from my personal experience that this same sentiment is today being expressed by more and more workers on a national scale.

“Yes, you Trotskyists mean business!” I heard this on the lips of workers from one end of the country to the other. Many of these workers had never attended a working-class political meeting before, let alone a Trotskyist meeting. The spirit of our movement and this conviction in the workers’ minds concerning our seriousness invests the Socialist Workers Party with great moral authority.

Steady Influx

It explains in large measure the steady influx of workers into our ranks. In locality after locality we have doubled, trebled and even quadrupled our membership within the last 1–2 months, with far greater perspectives of growth still ahead.

The attractive power of our party finds its physical expression as well. Thus, centrally-located, well-kept and efficiently run headquarters are the rule, not the exception.

The growth of our movement, especially the leaps it is now taking in many localities, has posed the need of new and bigger headquarters. This problem of "growing pains,” noted by Comrade Grace Carlson on her tour (which preceded mine by a couple of months) has become acute in several places, particularly in the Michigan-Ohio area and on the West Coast.

The real source of our party’s spirit and great attractive power is not at all hard to fix. It lies above all in the party’s social composition, which is overwhelmingly proletarian as a whole, and especially in its leading cadres. Many of the outstanding white and colored worker-militants in the country’s basic industries are already in our ranks. Many more are gravitating towards us and will join us in the near future. It was my privilege to meet and discuss with several thousand of them.

The secret of the attractiveness, growth and success of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party in Russia lay in this, that it was a party of workers. The same thing applies to the Socialist Workers Party which is continuing the policy and practice of Lenin and Trotsky in the United States today.

Trotskyist Youth

Parallel with the growing influx of workers into our ranks is the gravitation of the youth toward Trotskyism. On the coast, especially in Los Angeles, we now have important and sizeable youth formations. We have a similar development in the East, and promising beginnings throughout the country.

I know of very few occasions in the history of the labor movement when it was possible for young girls and boys to obtain revolutionary training under such favorable conditions as those now offered by our movement. My impression is that the Trotskyist youth is both aware and appreciative of this. And this is an additional reason why they are true party patriots.

Among the noteworthy things about our party membership, both adult and youth, is that we are rooted not only in the basic industries but in the localities. We have many “hometown” members. It will not be so easy as was the case in the past for professional red-baiters to raise the hue and cry about “imported” radicals and "foreign” ideas in trying to combat the spread of Trotskyism.

And now, a word about The Militant. My experiences on the tour brought sharply home the prestige and influence of this swiftly growing national workers’ weekly. The workers are proud of The Militant, and justly so. The most common reference among workers is to “my paper,” and that paper invariably turns out to be – The Militant. It is playing a major role in the class struggle generally and in the growth of our movement in particular; it is destined to play a far greater one in the immediate future.

Great Changes

At the conclusion of her tour in September 1945 Grace Carlson noted:

“Great changes are taking place in the United States, particularly in the habits of thought of the American workers. They are losing faith in American capitalism.”

My observations a brief few months later enable me to corroborate this conclusion. Larger and larger sections of American workers are beginning to look with disfavor upon the regime of the Richest Sixty Families and their agents. The advanced elements are already in process of making the transition from a purely negative attitude toward capitalism to a positive standpoint in favor of socialism.

In this process the Socialist Workers Party is fulfilling the role of a polarizing agent. We are now absorbing by the scores workers without previous working-class political affiliation. These scores today are the harbingers of hundreds and thousands on the morrow.

Confidence in our future imbues the ranks, from the old- timers to the newest recruits. In its turn, this confidence is the best guarantee of the victory of our cause – the cause of socialism – in the United States.

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