By NAT WEINSTEIN
Socialist Action is a political party that strives to intervene to the best of its ability in all struggles affecting the working class and its fighting organizations-ranging from the trade unions to the social movements of workers and their natural allies.
While American workers historically have had an impressive success in constructing a powerful, even semi-revolutionary, mass trade-union movement, they have failed thus far to construct a mass independent working-class political movement.
On the contrary, despite many attempts by various socialist political parties to build a mass working-class political party based on the unions, the official leadership of the trade-union movement has kept the unions politically tied to one or another capitalist political party.
Class-conscious workers who understand that even the most militant trade-union movement cannot carry out an effective struggle for the class interests of workers on the economic plane alone, have attempted to keep aloft the banner of independent working-class political action.
Socialist Action has been able to field independent working-class candidates in local campaigns during its 17 years of existence, but we have been without sufficient resources to run presidential candidates.
However, Socialist Action adheres to the longstanding non-sectarian tradition of revolutionary socialism from the time of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky to the present. That tradition is the one whereby, rather than abstain from elections when small revolutionary socialist parties are unable to field their own candidates, revolutionary socialists may choose to help provide an alternative to the capitalist parties by giving critical support to an opponent current in the workers’ movement.
It’s important to emphasize here that the tactic of critical support to opponent working-class currents is not obligatory. In fact, revolutionists must always do their best to determine whether or not a permissible tactic in the given concrete context serves to advance the consciousness of the working class.
This year there are three socialist parties fielding presidential candidates-the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, and the Workers World Party. Of the three, the Socialist Workers Party’s candidates for president and vice-president respectively, James Harris and Margaret Trowe, come closest to being representatives of working-class political independence in this November’s election.
Moreover, among the three socialist currents, the SWP offers the most credible alternative to the parties, large and small, of the capitalist class. The SWP will achieve ballot status in many more states than the other two socialist parties combined. The SWP has already qualified for ballot status in Colorado and Washington, and has submitted more than enough signatures to appear on the ballot in the District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
Furthermore, the SWP is still gathering signatures in New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. (In New York, the required number of signatures is 15,000, and the SWP has already collected over 26,000 names on its nominating petitions as of Aug. 9. SWP petitioners are aiming for a total of 30,000 valid signatures.)
Moreover, since both the SP and WWP do not abide by the principle of class independence (both parties have supported capitalist candidates for office in the United States and elsewhere in the world) a vote for their candidates is a far less clear vote for independent working-class political action.
Despite lapses whereby the SWP broke with the principle of class independence-such as in its policies concerning El Salvador, Nicaragua, and South Africa-the Socialist Action Political Committee has voted unanimously to give critical support to the SWP presidential slate because of its far more consistent record of class independence in U.S. elections.
Consequently, a vote for James Harris and Margaret Trowe-SWP candidates for president and vice-president of the United States-will be the clearest vote for the principle of class independence of any candidates in the running in the November 2000 election.