"We are the Revolutionary Tendency expelled from the Socialist Workers party," said James Robertson when we visited his New York apartment in the summer of 1964. Robertson, a dedicated Trotskyist, believed that the Socialist Workers party (SWP) was acting in a manner contrary to what Leon Trotsky (assassinated in 1940) would have approved, had he been alive.
Robertson and his followers had begun to publish Spartacist and just over two years later, in 1966, the Spartacist League was officially established. Initially the group had about seventy-five members, and its membership has probably never exceeded two hundred, many of whom were defectors from the SWP.
In the manner of virtually all far-left groups, the Spartacist League has tried hard to recruit blacks. The result might best be described as a miserable failure. The organization also was among that minority of Marxist-Leninist ones having harsh words for Jesse Jackson during the 1984 presidential campaign, as they labeled him "an unprincipled opportunist." Attacking Jackson for his "Hymietown" remark, the Spartacists were even tougher on non-Marxists, especially Jews, who criticized him. They especially excoriated those Jews who had been complaining about anti-Semitic attitudes among some blacks, calling them "violent racists who believe the only good Palestinian Arab is a dead one." 1
Again, like so many extreme left organizations, the Spartacists have employed considerable bravado when claiming "victories" over tiny far-right grouplets such as the KKK and neo-Nazis. Members routinely turn up at "anti-Klan" rallies to shout their share of invectives and threats to demonstrate somewhat unconvincingly to the world that hatred is wrong.
Referring to a December 1982 Ku Klux Klan demonstration in Washington, for example, league publications Women and Revolution (Winter 1982-83), Workers Vanguard ( December 3, 1982), and Spartacist (Autumn 1983) featured identical headlines: "We Stopped The Klan." The Women and Revolution report reads in part:
More than 5,000 protesters--mostly black people and many of them unionists--chased the KKK out of Washington. . . . The race terrorists had said they would rally at the Capitol. . . . But the Klan did not march, did not rally, did not even put on their robes! Instead, thousands of anti-Klan militants at the Labor/ Black Mobilization rally blocked off the Klan's starting point and the cops had to sneak the Klansmen away in defeat.