The new issue of Against the Current features a long essay by historian Alan Wald on the U.S. Socialist Workers Party (“A Winter’s Tale Told in Memoirs“), of which he was a member in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is safe to characterize the piece as largely an exercise in SWP nostalgia and nowhere near as interesting as his book The New York Intellectuals (1987), in which he discusses in penetrating depth the actual period of the disintegration of the SWP and Trotskyism as a whole (1939-1941). Wald, a sympathizer of the Cannonite tradition, instead places the decline in 1970s when the (in his account) semi-natural phenomenon of “radicalization” began to wane and the current leadership consolidated its position. Even though this piece is disappointing, Criticism &c. looks forward to the third installment of Wald’s trilogy on American leftist writers (see Exiles from a Future Time and Trinity of Passion for the first two).
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Alan Wald is a very thoughtful chronicler of this period——and others.