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Index, Glossary, Annotation
Posted October 11, 2003
In January 1945, James P Cannon, veteran communist and Socialist Workers Party leader was released from Sandstone Penitentiary where he and 17 other members of the SWP and the Minneapolis Teamsters Union served prison terms as a result of their opposition to World War II. Through Cannon¿s speeches and writings you get a feel for the new world relationship of forces taking shape: the domination of the United States in the postwar period and the debate over perspectives for socialism that unfolded in the international revolutionary Marxist movement as a result. Cannon and the Socialist Workers Party rejected the idea that U.S. imperialism would be unshakeable for the whole historic period to come, or that the struggle for socialism had become outmoded. They argued that the U.S imperialists would not subvert the laws of history, abolish the class struggle or dominate all peoples of the world. This book of Cannon¿s writings and speeches traces the response of the Socialist Workers Party to these challenges of the postwar world. One of the greatest things about this book is that Cannon¿s answers to the questions that the debate centered on, serve as important lessons that are as valuable to those who want to participate in the fight for socialism today, as they were to the fighters who prepared the party for such a fight then.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2003
Now forgotten by most people, after World War II, this country saw one of the biggest upsurges of struggle by working people against capitalism in its history. There was a seemingly unstoppable strike wave. Hundreds of thousands of troops and sailors in Europe and Asia demonstrated demanding to be sent home and not to war against the Chinese Revolution and other enemies of American big business. Within the labor movement and civil rights groups like the NAACP youth, local fights for civil rights spread that would lay the basis for the struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. The Socialist Workers Party that had been persecuted during the War gained hundreds and hundreds of members, mostly African Americans and trade unionists. This book encapsulates the political struggle that broke out in the party. What is the future for the workers movement given the big changes after the war? Were the outbreak of struggles, the new signs of action by Blacks and Mexican Americans, and the opposition to Washington's War signs of a revolutionary future for America, or a passing phase? Cannon and the majority of the party answered this question by developing the American Theses, which examined the basic contradictions of American imperialism, how its national and international advances during and after the war would eventually lead to deeper struggles, and even a revolution in America. Cannon explains the realities of the revolutionary future and building a real workers party against dispirited middle class elements who were caving in to the might of American imperialism and becoming anticommunism. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deepening economic crisis workers in this country and around the world face, show, we are in the future Cannon pointed to. American imperialism cannot solve its problems. It can only inflict them on working people around the world. Now more than ever, we to build a revolutionary movement of working people and oppressed nationalities as Cannon explains in this book. Like everything Cannon writes, there is so much wit, witticism, and plain wisdom here that The Struggle for Socialism in the American Century is a very enjoyable read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2003
Looking forward to Washington's expected victory in World War II, Time magazine in 1941 proclaimed a vision of postwar peace and prosperity under U.S. hegemony dubbed the 'American Century.' The Socialist Workers Party proclaimed a different point of view. The SWP said the U.S. victory over its imperialist rivals in Germany and Japan would, instead, accelerate an economic and social crisis of capitalism on a world scale. This crisis would plunge millions into deeper poverty as well as foster the outbreak of new imperialist wars. This, in turn, would propel a critical new revolutionary force onto the stage of history: the U.S. working class. Workers here in their millions would awaken politically and join the worldwide struggle for socialism, the SWP insisted, just as earlier, during the 1930s, they had achieved trade-union consciousness in massive numbers. Far from being monolithic, the U.S. is a class-divided society whose workers and farmers are a potentially powerful ally of those fighting imperialism around the world. The SWP's 1946 'American Theses' (whose preparation and contents are a central focus of this book) anticipated that this crisis and revolutionary upsurge would emerge more rapidly than it has. But it's clear from today's vantage point that the 'American Century' had already begun to decline before it could arise. The bloody history of wars from Korea to Vietnam, the anticommunist witch hunt of the 1950s, the heroic struggle for Black rights, are just a few of the developments that expose the contradictory reality of the post World War II boom. The economic and political analysis the SWP made in 1946-47 offers an uncannily accurate view of what can be seen unfolding since the 1987 stock market crash signaled the actual beginning of the big downward segment of the curve of capitalist development that the SWP had expected to take place sooner. The book's description of the SWP's efforts during this time to build a party rooted in the industrial unions and capable of leading the next phase of the struggle should be food for thought to those opposed to Washington's arrogant brutality and war making today. We can be grateful that the efforts of Cannon and other leaders have ensured the ongoing survival of such a party and the availability through Pathfinder books like this one of its legacy to new generations of fighters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.