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Barry Sheppard

Barry Sheppard: What would a SYRIZA-like party in the USA advocate?

By Barry Sheppard

October 14, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- There is a statue in revolutionary Havana of Don Quixote, the literary creation of 17th century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who fought for his principles, even if he was crazy. I know I’m a bit crazy.

With less than a month to go before the US presidential elections, the farce we have been living through for more than a year becomes even more grotesque. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on advertisements for US President Barack Obama or Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney. Money has never been so awash in an election before.

The racial divide is stark. Romney has the white racist vote sewed up. He is likely to win a majority of white voters, especially white men. African Americans will vote overwhelmingly, well over 90%, for Obama. Polls predict he will get two-thirds of the Latino vote.

Both candidates incessantly talk about creating jobs, and defending the middle class. Neither wants to mention the working class. And yet, by middle class they mean workers with relatively better wages and working conditions – who are losing both.

United States: Is supporting Obama the way to fight the right?

... or maybe the time after that.

By Barry Sheppard

September 8, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The election rallies of the mis-named “conventions” of the twin parties of Wall Street are over. The Republican Party -- dominated by the "Tea Party" movement -- has gone sharply to the right. But is supporting the Democratic Party and US President Barack Obama the way to fight the rightward shift in US capitalist politics? Many who consider themselves leftists or even socialists reply “yes”. Let us look at the record.

On foreign policy, there is no difference except some rhetoric. Both parties supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Both seek to crush Iran and return that country to its subservient status Washington enjoyed when Iran was under the Shah.

Both seek to return Cuba to a United States-controlled semi-colony. Both want to roll back the anti-imperialist gains in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, and push against the growing steps toward more independence in the rest of Latin America.

Book excerpt: Barry Sheppard on the triumph and defeat of the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution

The Nicaraguan people celebrate victory over the Somoza dictatorship in central Managua, July 20, 1979.

By Barry Sheppard

July 19, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal --The following are two chapters from volume 2 of my political memoir about my time in the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP). They give an overview of the triumph and eventual collapse of the Nicaraguan revolution (1979 through the 1980s) under the blows of US imperialism’s war against the small and impoverished country.

It is important for socialists today to not forget the victories and defeats of the past, and their lessons for the future. One of the lessons of the Nicaraguan revolution, like the Paris Commune, the Russian, Chinese, Yugoslavian, Vietnamese and Cuban and other revolutions, as well as revolutionary upsurges that didn’t take power, like the German one (1917 to 1923), the May-June 1968 near revolution in France, the Portuguese revolutionary events of 1974-1975, the Prague Spring of 1968, the rise of the Polish workers in 1970, etc. is the power of the workers and peasants when they enter the stage of history in their own name and interests.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 2, causes of a socialist collapse (1976–83)

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 is available here.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 1, SWP attempts an outward turn (1976–83)

In 1976, the campaign of SWP presidential candidate Peter Camejo won unprecedentedly wide support from left currents.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 1 of a two-part article. Part 2 is available here.

Barry Sheppard: Wisconsin recall defeat caused by wrong strategy

Protesters occupy Wisconsin's Capitol building in Madison to support the rights of public sector workers, February 17 last year.
By Barry Sheppard

June 17, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- In a much-watched election on June 5, Republican Scott Walker handily defeated Democrat Tom Barrett in a recall election for governor of Wisconsin. Walker is on the right wing of the Republican Party and Barrett on the right wing of the Democrats. Walker was first elected in late 2010. When he took office early last year, Walker launched a drive to smash public worker unions. In response, there were huge mobilisations.

Review: Invaluable history, important lessons from Barry Sheppard

Malik Miah.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By Malik Miah

Who or what killed the US SWP?

Barry Sheppard (right, holding banner pole with Sylvia Weinstein) at an anti-war march in New York in 1966.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

Review by Peter Boyle

Peter Camejo: Against sectarianism -- the evolution of the Socialist Workers Party, 1978-1983

AGAINST SECTARIANISM

The Evolution of the Socialist Workers Party 1978-1983

by Pedro (Peter) Camejo

During the years 1978-1983, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the United States has been making sharp shifts in its policies, political positions, methods of work and internal norms. These shifts reflect an effort by the leadership of the SWP to develop an orientation in the post anti-Vietnam war movement period. Some important steps forward have been taken by the SWP. Two important shifts, which reflect fundamentally positive steps, have been the decision to colonize industry and to recognize the revolutionary proletarian character of the Cuban Communist Party, the FSLN in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador and the New Jewel Movement in Grenada.

Along with these positive steps, however, there has been a hardening of increasingly sectarian positions which threaten to undermine the positive aspects of the two points mentioned above. This document is a review of the increasingly sectarian positions developed by the SWP in the last five years. Why this is happening is beyond the scope of this document, although it is clearly related to the years of isolation from the broader workers' movement. The development of hardened sectarian political views has occurred quite frequently in groups which have developed within the world Trotskyist current. While the causes of the sectarianism of the SWP are undoubtedly related to these broader questions, this document takes up each political question at its face value, independent of broader judgments.

Paul Le Blanc on Barry Sheppard’s memoirs: Revolutionary redemption, lessons for activists

Barry Sheppard in 1964.

By Paul Le Blanc

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, volume I: The Sixties, A Political Memoir, by Barry Sheppard, Chippendale, Australia: Resistance Books, 2005, 354 pages including index, with a rich collection of photographs.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, A Political Memoir, by Barry Sheppard, London: Resistance Books, 2012, 345 pages including index.

Barry Sheppard: Ce que révèle Occupy Wall Street

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/2636.]

Par Barry Sheppard

5 - décembre - 2011 -- A l'encontre -- Personne n’avait prédit le phénomène que l’on connaît aujourd’hui sous le nom de Occupy Wall Street (OWS) et nul n’aurait pu le prédire.

Un petit groupe canadien de gens de la mouvance libertaire ont d’abord proposé qu’on essaie de mettre en place une «occupation» près de la Bourse de New York. Ils étaient inspirés par les tentes et campements installés plus tôt dans l’année sur la Place Tahrir du Caire et par la propagation de tactiques similaires en Espagne et ailleurs.

Leurs objectifs étaient à la fois la Bourse de New York en tant que telle et le 1% des gens les plus riches. Le quartier de Wall Street est connu partout comme le symbole du capitalisme financier américain. Quant au 1%, ce sont les gens que l’on a pointés comme étant ceux qui possèdent et contrôlent l’économie et le gouvernement, les «gros capitalistes». Dans la configuration actuelle, ce serait plutôt le 0,1%, mais c’est un détail.

Barry Sheppard: What Occupy Wall Street reveals

Occupy has led to an outburst of creativity ...One example is the many photos circulated on the internet showing the cop who pepper sprayed non-violent students at a California campus super-imposed on works of art and other pictures, pepper spraying the people picnicking in a Surrat painting, pepper spraying the members of the Constitutional Convention and so forth.

For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.

By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco

December 7, 2011 – Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author. It first appeared in Direct Action -- No one predicted the phenomenon that has become known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS), nor could it have been predicted.

Libya, imperialism and ALBA

A Libyan rebel walks past a military position decorated with the rebellion flag at the southern entrance to Benghazi. Photograph: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images.

[For more coverage of Libya, click HERE.]

By Barry Sheppard

March 27, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalThe struggle in Libya cannot be analysed except in the context of world and especially US imperialism, as I am sure all will agree. But its also cannot be analysed solely in terms of Libya itself in conjunction with the role of imperialism in that single country.

What is the context in which Libya must be placed? Or to put the question another way, could the civil war in Libya and the US military assault have happened four months ago? Of course not. Neither were even remote possibilities in anyone’s mind four months ago.

Barry Sheppard reviews Peter Camejo's `North Star -- A Memoir'

North Star – A Memoir
By Peter Camejo
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010

Order a copy

Review by Barry Sheppard

[Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

July 8, 2010 -- North Star – A Memoir by Peter Camejo, who was an important figure in the radicalisation of “the Sixties” and beyond, up to his untimely death in 2008, should be read by veterans of the socialist movement and wider social causes. It also should be read by new activists thirsty for understanding of previous struggles in order to better equip themselves for present and future battles.

Also, the book is a good read. The first chapter is set in 1979, out of chronological order from the rest of the book. It explains how the CIA attempted to get Peter arrested in Colombia, on a leg of a speaking tour in South America. If he had been imprisoned there it is possible that he would have been “disappeared”. Without giving away the story, Peter escaped this fate through an unlikely intervention, quite a tale in itself.

Available for download: Barry Sheppard's The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988: A Political Memoir -- The Sixties

Barry Sheppard, 1964, editor of the Militant newspaper. Photo by Ed Shaw.

http://www.barrysheppardbook.com/ -- Barry Sheppard was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader for most of that time. This is the first of two volumes recounting his life in the party. It is a case study in the inspiration and difficulties involved in building the nucleus of a revolutionary socialist party.

This book covers from 1960 to 1973, the period of radicalisation known as "The Sixties". Walking picket lines for Black civil rights, helping to organise the anti-Vietnam War movement, interviewing Malcolm X, meeting with US soldiers in Vietnam, defending the Cuban Revolution, collaborating with socialists worldwide including in Australia, India, France and Japan -- Barry Sheppard has lived a life enriched by contact with and involvement in popular struggles around the world.

What does Obama mean for the world?

By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco

January 23, 2009 -- More than 1 million people gathered in bitter cold in Washington DC to witness the historical inauguration of an African American as president.

The crowd was disproportionately Black, but majority white — and jubilant. Celebrations were held in Black communities throughout the country, and in other sectors of the population.

He was sworn in by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, itself historic. In the aftermath of the election, he enjoys overwhelming support according to polls, far higher than his margin of votes. This indicates a large swing of whites among those who voted for the Republican candidate John McCain.

Hopes are running high that he will do something to turn around the accelerating downturn in the economy. On “inauguration day”, it appeared that the crisis in the banks and other financial institutions was once again critical.

With rising unemployment, rising home foreclosures, falling wages, failing retail chains and US$1 trillion poured down what one economist called a bottomless pothole to apparently no avail, the working and middle classes have experienced a massive shock.

The “free markets will solve all” ideology is a dead duck. US people are demanding that the government take action. Obama has promised to do just that.

Peter Camejo remembered: tributes from the left

Below are number left tributes to Peter Camejo, who died on September 13: from Green Left Weekly (Australia); Ralph Nader, US presidential candidate; veteran US socialist Barry Sheppard; Socialist Worker (USA) and Louis Proyect, moderator of the Marxism List (USA).

As a tribute, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has also republished two of Peter's most influential and enduring lectures (at http://links.org.au/node/625), talks that continue to educate young revolutionary socialists to this day. 

Peter Camejo.

Why Washington hates Iran - free pamphlet download

The following is the introduction to Why Washington Hates Iran: A Political Memoir of the Revolution That Shook the Middle East, a new Socialist Voice pamphlet published by South Branch Publications. The entire pamphlet is available for free download from http://readingfromtheleft.com/PDF/WhyWashingtonHatesIran.pdf.

The author, Barry Sheppard, was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader of the party for most of that time. In 2005, Resistance Books published the first volume of his political memoir, The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988. The new pamphlet is a chapter from the second volume, now in preparation.

* * *

By Barry Sheppard

Caroline Lund (1944-2006)

By John Percy
Caroline Lund, a lifelong fighter for socialism, workers’ rights and women’s liberation, and a contributing editor of Links, died at her home in Oakland, California, on October 14, aged 62. She will be sorely missed by her friends and comrades in the us and around the world who knew her, especially her lifelong partner and comrade Barry Sheppard.

Caroline succumbed to the ravages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (als, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, physicist Stephen Hawking being a long-term sufferer.)

Caroline was won to revolutionary socialist ideas in 1962 when she attended Carlton College, a small liberal arts college just south of Minneapolis. Caroline quickly became a leader of the swp’s youth organisation, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA). In 1965 she moved to New York where she met and married Barry Sheppard, a key younger swp leader. From 1967, she was often on full time for the swp in a range of assignments—leading different campaigns, organising, international work and writing for the socialist press.

US labour and the new movement against capitalist globalisation

By Barry Sheppard

In the demonstration in Seattle at the close of 1999, a new generation of radicalising youth emerged to take on the World Trade Organisation. Tens of thousands of trade unionists also participated, demonstrating that there is a potential for this movement to begin to mobilise working people.

The targets of this new movement are globalising corporations and the international financial and trade organisations dominated by the rich countries, above all the United States. Clearly, these young people have deep internationalist sentiments, and wish to fight for better conditions for the world's poorest people exploited by these corporations and institutions. This anti-corporate consciousness can rapidly deepen into anti-imperialism, and can begin to question capitalism itself.

The participation of trade unionists in Seattle reflects the fact that the radicalising youth have a natural ally among working people and the trade unions. But the participation of the major US trade union federation, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) was marred by the political line it sought to bring to the action. As the editors of the July-August 2000 issue of the independent socialist magazine Monthly Review put it:

 

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