History,  Trots

From the Vaults: Chicago Tribune, 1974

A reason that many on the democratic left detest Trotskyists is the latter give the former a bad name. The pejorative “loony left” is aptly applied to Trotskyists. There was a good reason why both Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, as 1980s leaders of the Labour Party, wanted the Trotskyists of Militant out of the party – Militant brought the Labour Party into disrepute. The damaging effect that Trotskyists have on the left is not limited to the UK; Trotskyists harm the left wherever they are found. Below I copy a letter from the Chicago Tribune in 1974, the sentiments of which I am sure many decent leftists can agree. While the author of the letter is referring to the American SWP, the general point would apply equally as well to its British namesake.


Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1974, p.20.

CHICAGO The publicity recently generated by the Trotskyist “Socialist Workers’ Party’s” collection of nomination petitions may have unfortunately led many people to equate that sort of nonsense with “Socialism.”

If Socialism means anything, it is the struggle of men for a decent life, for economic as well as political democracy, and for liberation from exploitative society. Those of us who are democratic Socialists believe in these ideals.

Unhappily, as George Orwell observed, there are those who would twist such ideals for their own totalitarian purposes. Such is the case with Communists of either the “Trotskyist” or “orthodox” varieties.

Those of us who are democratic Socialists live, perhaps unfortunately, in the real world. We work in the Democratic Party, with established trade unions, and with liberal activists to create a mass movement that is truly Socialist, democratic in substance as well as in form. We don’t give out press releases for useless campaigns. But we do hope that the public doesn’t come to associate such nonsense with “Socialism.” For, in doing so, they unwittingly accept the totalitarian definition of a word which represents freedom to millions of people thruout the world

Alex Spinrad

Chairman, Publicity Committee, Chicago Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.