File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9707, message 15

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 1997 18:22:41 -0700
Subject: M-I: Denounce SEP gangsterism!


In an act of pure cowardice, a goon from the Socialist Equality Party
(SEP) viciously attacked a young Marxist militant following the "Action!
Motown" labor march in Detroit.

The attack was spurred on by a political argument which started between
the SEP, and supporters of the Marxist Workers Group (MWG), a recently
formed Trotskyist organization based in Lansing, Mich.

The attack came after a political argument between a supporter of the
MWG and SEP on the their unwillingness to join and defend strikers on
the picket line.  (For more details, we reprint the MWG’s statement

The attack was witnessed by many unionists, leftists and workers who
were attending the rally at Hart Plaza, in downton Detroit.  All who
witnessed the event were appalled by the display of gangsterism, and the
crass claim that they were "provoked."

The MWG was attending the labor march as part of a working-class Marxist
contingent, organized by Workers' Voice (WoVo).

Ostensibly revolutionary organizations such as the Trotskyist League,
Workers World Party and the Socialist Workers Party witnessed the
spectacle. The Spartacist League succeeded in taking photographs of the
injuries sustained by the MWG supporter, as well as photos of the SEP
lit table being guarded by the Detroit Police Department.

The attack on the MWG was recognized by all as a signal that the SEP, in
spite of all its writings and speeches to the contrary, continues the
tradition of gangsterism and contempt for the working class started by
Gerry Healy and his "International Committee of the Fourth
International" (ICFI).

A history of gangsterism

Coupled with their delusions about the world they really live in, the
SEP has historically had a well-known record of gangsterist attacks on
the other forces in the Trotskyist movement.

Since the inception of Healy's ICFI in 1966, a trail of bruised, beaten
and broken bodies has followed -- with the comrade from the MWG being
the latest victim.

Following the debacle that was the 1966 Conference of the ICFI, the
conference that formalized the split between Healy and the Spartacists,
the Socialist Labour League, the British ICFI group at the time, staged
a cowardly attack on a supporter of the United Secretariat of the Fourth
International (USec).

Why?  The comrade was selling a pamphlet which contained documents about
the ICFI Conference, including Healy's bureaucratic and cynical attacks
on Spartacist.  This was enough to fire up the Healyites so much, that
they jumped the USec supporter, and beat him senseless.

As if this wasn't enough, when the USec member publicly denounced the
gangsterism of the ICFI, the SLL dragged him through the bourgeois
courts, suing him for "libel."

As the years went on, the ICFI gained a reputation for being "political
bandits," as Lenin used the term.  Members of organizations that
attempted to sell literature outside of ICFI meetings or intervene
inside its public meetings were sometimes attacked and/or beaten (e.g.,
the aforementioned Usec supporter, Ernest Tate).  And, if they raised so
much as one iota of criticism, they were sometimes sued.

Sometimes, the ICFI would sue them without resorting to a fight.  In
1981, *Socialist Organiser*, a British state-capitalist group (no
relation to the current U.S. organization of the same name), printed a
scathing article on the ICFI's loving support for Middle Eastern
nationalists like Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein.

The Healyites, then known as the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) sued
*Socialist Organiser* for "libel."

Not to be outdone by their British overseers, the Workers League engaged
in the greatest legal debauchery brought about by a "left" organization
ever.  In the mid-1970s, the ICFI, through the mouthpiece of North’s WL,
began what was dubbed "Security and the Fourth International," which
attempted to label the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party in the
U.S. as agents of the FBI, the GPU, or both.

Essentially, this was done to scare the membership of the ICFI into
submission.  "Security" allowed the ICFI leadership to say:  "Watch out!
You don’t know who you’re enemies are.  Only we do."  When members would
raise political criticisms of the ICFI, they were asked "Who are you
working for?"

While it's true that the U.S. government, as well as the Stalinists, had
infiltrated the Trotskyist movement at different times in the past, the
characterization of SWP leaders Joseph Hansen, George Novack and Farrell
Dobbs as "agents" is pure paranoia -- calculated paranoia.

These attacks against the then-centrist SWP culminated in the infamous
Gelfand Case, when the WL attempted to sue the SWP into releasing its
membership lists and financial records.

However, yesterday’s attacks cannot compare to the craven attacks the
WL/SEP have launched against the SWP recently.  The case of Mark Curtis,
an SWP supporter in Iowa, is the best example.

Curtis was framed up by the state for allegedly "raping" a young, Black
woman, Demetria Morris.  According to the police report (and the
WL/SEP), Curtis was "caught on the porch with his pants around his

Upon hearing about the frame-up, and figuring that the bourgeois state
would not harass one of "its own" without "good cause," the WL/SEP
jumped on the cops' bandwagon and beat the drum for the Iowa police. 
The *Bulletin*, the WL's rag at the time, wrote an article on the case
which, coincidentally, was given almost verbatim by the District
Attorney in her closing argument.

In spite of the fact that the prosecution's case against Curtis has
fallen apart over the years -- Demetria Morris recanted her "statement,"
saying that she was coerced into saying she was raped by Curtis -- the
WL/SEP (and, of course, their intellectual stepchildren on the Internet)
continues to hold to the state's lies.

Gangsterism from within was introduced by the Stalinists during the
"Third Period."  It was most effectively used against the fledgling
Trotskyist movement.  Physical attacks against communists who sold The
Militant, burglaries and slander were the order of the day from Stalin
and his minions in the various Communist parties.

Veteran U.S. Trotskyist James P. Cannon wrote about the political basis
for such attacks:

   "Bureaucratism, expulsions, gangsterismm and burglary are not 
   isolated phenomena.  They are bound together and they are the 
   expression and instruments of an adventurist leadership and 
   its opportunist political line.  This leadership, lacking a 
   proletarian class basis and outlook, lacking any experience or 
   contact with mass movements, ... is an absolutely artificial, 
   unhealthy, and impossible leadership for a proletarian party.  
   It resorts to these methods alien to communism because its 
   regime is collapsing and it cannot maintain itself in any 
   other way.  It resorts to bureaucratc administration and to 
   expulsion of communists because it fears control from below.  
   It incites and organizes gangsterism and robbery because it 
   has no principled ground.  It cannot stand up in the 
   ideological and political fight."  ("Burglary -- Its Political 
   Meaning," *Writings and Speeches: Left Opposition in the U.S. 
   1928-31*, Pathfinder Press, p. 80)

The Healyite/Northite method of "lie, slander, attack" has bought them
nothing but contempt from the working class.  These "Marxist Moonies"
have given new dimension to gangsterism.  The only thing we can say is: 
at least the Stalinists waited until they had state power.

Defend the Marxist Workers Group!
For a workers' united front against gangsterism!

No doubt the SEP will come up with a mountain of dead dogs, under which
it will attempt to bury the truth of what happened at Hart Plaza
(unofficially, they already have).  Revision of history is no problem
for these professional revisionists.

But, it is clear that the workers' movement as a whole must come
together in a united front against the gangsterism and political
banditry of North's SEP.  While Workers' Voice believes that a "Workers'
Inquiry" into the gangsterism of the SEP would be wasted effort at this
time -- such an inquiry only expose the already obvious -- we would call
on all organizations in the workers' movement to come together in
defense of the MWG and all subjectively working-class organizations.

Given that the SEP and the MWG both exist in the same city, there
remains a possible danger of continued attacks and conflict.

The gangsterism of the SEP only serves to bring the weight of capitalism
down on the shoulders of the workers' movement.  Workers' organizations
must be ready to defend themselves against provocation and physical
assault.  Such tactics, as those employed by the SEP, are alien to the
workers' movement, and only serve to destroy the democratic rights of
the proletariat.

The methods of violence which the SEP copies from the labor bureaucrats
are necessary only to perpetuate their right-centrist policy.  Their
methods condemn their policy and will defeat it, because Bolshevik
politics are stronger than the gangster’s fist.

To our knowledge, there are elements inside the various SEPs that took
their "Trotskyist" verbage as good coin.  Some of these elements, upon
learning that the ICFI is up to its old tricks, may feel it is necessary
to struggle to defeat the gangsters in leadership.

Workers' Voice would welcome such a struggle, but we must say that it is
unlikely these few honest comrades would be successful.  A struggle
against the bureaucratism, gangsterism and opportunism of the ICFI would
lead to a split, not "reform."

For our part, we will take up the challenge of gangsterism incited and
organized by the fakers of the SEP, who are unlikely to taste the cops'
batons in the black and working-class communities, on the picket line or
in a raid. (Are you sure that the WL/SEP were never attacked by the cops
when they did work in the black communities or in general?)

We will be resolute in defending ourselves and any other workers'
organization against such attacks.  The rights of the working class are
higher than the rights of the sniveling bureaucrats and gangsters of the
SEP.  We will maintain these rights by struggle.  In this struggle our
strength will be multiplied by steadfast belief in our views and by our
courage to defend them.

Letters of support and solidarity with the MWG can be sent to:  
Praxis, P.O. Box 1544, Lansing MI 48826, USA
or by e-mail to:

*          *          *


The Socialist Equality Party(SEP), better known as the Workers League,
has been trying to start up an organization in the Lansing area,
specifically at the MSU campus, for years, with only recent (limited)
success, establishing at MSU recently a branch of their youth movement
the Students for Social Equality.

Earlier this year, the Marxist Workers Group was founded in the Lansing
area by a tiny cell of comrades who representing the surviving core of
the Lansing Area Marxist Study and Action Group. The MWG has been the
only one of the four or so "revolutionary" and socialist organizations
operating in the Lansing area to have made a strong committment to
strike support work around the UAW strike at Melling Drop Forge. Our
collective in its earlier MSAG form sent two members out to walk the
picket lines on the *very first night* of the strike. The core of the
MSAG that stuck with it in this fight and became the MWG was involved in
a nasty political fight within the Lansing chapter of the Anti-Racist
Action Network(ARA-Net) around the refusal of some members of that group
to do picket line work because "white workers are counter-revolutionary"
and the refusal of ARA to condemn this and take a strong stand as a
collective in support of the workers--we were kicked out of ARA for that
stand. We have made regular trips out onto the picket lines throughout
the strike, walking the line and participating alongside the workers in
militant actions which have brought them in conflict with the cops (the
pigs dispersed the workers from the plant gate with tear gas recently,
the gas spilling into some homes in the working-class neighborhood
around the drop forge.) We have also been the only group to have taken a
stand on the picket lines against the powerful UAW bureaucracy that has
been knifing the workers struggle by dangerously under-staffing the
picket lines(in a city of tens of thousands of auto workers!), also
calling in our leaflets for the formation of elected rank-and-file
strike committees to take over the strike from the bureaucratic
mis-leadership. These leaflets have been accepted warmly and there are
indications that our proposal might have sparked some interest amongst
at least some of the workers.

What has the SEP been doing? Well, apparently they prefer to loudly
denounce the bureaucrats from the safe confines of college campuses.
Because we have fought side by side with the workers as they have
attempted to do whatever they could with the tiny numbers that their
"leaders" call out onto the lines at a time to stop scabs from coming in
and out and shut down scab producton, picking up whatever weapons are
available to them (shattered glass for the parking lots, eggs and the
sticks from their picket signs for the windows, simply sitting in front
of scab trucks as they attempt to enter the parking lot, etc., etc.,
etc.) we are derided for "throwing eggs" and "just helping Sweeney and
Trumka..." We briefly noted in our article on the Melling strike in our
little newsletter PRAXIS that we have not seen them out on the picket
lines and even though we gave them exact directions, etc. they have
shown no interest.

Apparently this was the breaking point--a new, healthy and worker-
oriented revolutionary collective had been formed in an area that they
had decided to mark off as their turf, it was formed by comrades they
had tried very hard to recruit, and it had come out politically against

Our collective marched in the union-organized March on Detroit in
support of the locked-out workers there, marching with Workers Voice
(WoVo) and a couple of independants under a WoVo banner reading "NO MORE
Around Hart Plaza, where the march ended, two of our comrades went over
to an SEP lit table with the thought of buying a couple of cheap Trotsky
pamphlets from them. Without me so much as opening my mouth, frequent
SEP candidate for public office and prominent member Jerry White turned
to me and started on a long tirade against the Melling article from
PRAXIS... "Hey, Burgis, that was some fucking shit you wrote in that
goddamn PRAXIS newspaper...," etc. An MWG comrade of mine briefly
responded with a simple "Fuck you, when's the last time you were even on
the picket lines?" White responded with "I'm not even going to talk to
you!" The MWG comrade put up his hand in a quick "fuck you, I'm not
talking to you either" gesture, and walked away in digust. 

An SEP robot trailed after us, saying "you taunted Jerry White! You
don't know what could happen to you!...." Rolling his eyes, the MWG
member turned around to go over and argue with them more. As they were
arguing, the SEPer physically attacked the MWG comrade, smashing him
down on to the pavement--fortunately, the comrade was mildly cut and
shaken instead of being in the hospital with a concussion. 

The motivation was clear--comrades who they had tried to recruit started
up their own group and took a stand against them politically in any area
in which they have desperately trying to establish a presence. We are an
extremely young group, and they were trying to intimidate us to get us
out of the way.

Fortunately, a Spartacist who was selling WORKERS VANGUARD nearby
snapped a photograph of the incident from behind and another of the MWG
comrade with a trickle of blood running down his leg. They will send
those pictures to our PO Box in East Lansing and they will definitely
appear along with an article on the incident in PRAXIS, as well as most
likely WORKERS VANGUARD and WORKERS VOICE. We will send relevant
materials to any other left group that asks for them.

Our response is clear--we are going to publicly expose them to the
extent that they are going to have to answer a lot of embarassing
questions from their members, sympathizers and contacts about violence
within the workers movement.

With Bolshevik-Leninist Greetings,

Ben Burgis


PO Box 1544
East Lansing, MI 48823
\ Workers' Voice (U.S.)                     P.O. Box 44593 /
\ Detroit MI 48244-0593                      UNITED STATES /
> (313) 535-7161                       Fax: (313) 535-4212 <
/ \
/          \
/ Voz Obrera: \

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