Sy Landy, the leader of our tendency since its inception, died on November 28, 2007. As a modest recognition of his contributions to the cause of socialist revolution, we are presenting a selection of his writings online. It should be said that articles with Sy’s byline are just a formal indicator of his work; his leading role in elaborating an authentic Marxist and Trotskyist methodology and theory for our times, centering around the revolutionary capacity of our class, infuses all LRP work. With that said, there is also a particular spirit to Sy’s writings that make them worthy of special attention.
Sy’s extensive political writings were fashioned for one central purpose: to build and cohere the working-class political organization necessary to lead the struggle against the capitalist class to a successful overthrow of its system through socialist revolution. His work was characterized not only by rigorous Marxist analysis and programmatic clarity, but by a passion for the revolutionary struggle he embraced.
A crucial theme in Sy’s work is the centrality of revolutionary consciousness. The working class is driven to struggle by the material conditions it faces. But to do away with the miseries of life under capitalism requires a full understanding of the workings of the system as well as of how a workers’ state would overcome capitalism’s barriers to abundance and well-being. The need for that consciousness is the reason that socialist revolution requires a proletarian vanguard party. Building the revolutionary party is not only an organizational matter; it is most decisively one of cohering the political perspectives that can win the working and oppressed masses to a self-awareness of their essential role in building a new and far better society.
Sy stressed over and over that revolutionary politics had to be developed through combat – not only against the obvious political forces of capitalism but also against rival left tendencies with fraudulent claims to Marxism. Sharp debate and exposure of left political opponents is necessary because the political road forward for our class deals with life and death issues on the scale of humanity. Sy abhorred the idea that the workers can rely on condescending saviors from the middle class – in particular, that socialist revolutions could be made behind the workers’ backs, as is believed by the “orthodox Trotskyists” who defend the theory of deformed workers’ states. Likewise, he disputed the “rank-and-filist” notion that spontaneous acts of the working class, despite their positive significance, can bring about revolutionary change without the conscious intervention of the working-class’s own vanguard.
The class struggle is, of course, international; so it is not accidental that Sy’s writings were deeply concerned with events, struggles and political forces across the globe. Of particular note is the focus on the counter-revolutionary role and demise of Stalinism: our tendency developed a unique analysis of Stalinism that was strikingly confirmed by its collapse in Russia and Eastern Europe and its devolution elsewhere.
At the same time, given the leading role of American imperialism in the world capitalist system, the American class struggle is necessarily prominent in these selections. And central to that struggle is the role of Black liberation. The varied and extensive selection of his writings on the Black struggle in this country is a testament to its objective importance, and to Sy’s intense interest. This focus on Black liberation often overlaps with a sustained attack on the Democratic Party. That party has been a graveyard for struggles of workers in this country – especially for Black workers, and now increasingly for Mexican and other immigrant workers as well. The role of the Democratic Party as a trap for the working class and oppressed continues with renewed purpose under Barack Obama.
Generous contributions of friends and readers to the Sy Landy fund have made it possible to commission a number of translations of articles – and we hope to do much more over time. Printouts of any of Sy Landy’s documents are also available by regular mail upon request.
The Struggle for the Revolutionary Party
Class Struggle in the U.S. South. Part 1: The “New South” and the Old Capitalism
Class Struggle in the U.S. South. Part 2: Revolutionary Perspectives for Southern Labor
Jimmy Carter’s New “New South”: The World
Carter’s Twisting African Policy
The Labor Party in the United States (co-author Walter Daum)
“No Draft” Is No Answer to War Moves
A Dialogue On Conscription
What is the Anti-Draft Movement? (co-author Walter Daum)
For a General Strike in Britain
Iran: Revolution, War and Counterrevolution
The Hostage Hustle
The Counterrevolution in Iran
Black Upsurge Meets Electoral Trap
The Farrakhan Fracas: Blacks, Jews and Nationalism
Democratic Party: Disaster for Blacks
Left Sinks into Democrats’ Swamp
Election ’84: Jackson Helps Democrats Move Right
Workers Power (Britain): A Powerless Answer to Reformism
Jackson: Razing Hopes
The Democrats’ Jackson Dilemma
Forward to The Life and Death of Stalinism
Preface to the Swedish Edition of The Life and Death of Stalinism
Behind the Black/Jewish Confrontation: Racist Offensive Heightens
The Divide-and-Conquer Election
Centrality of the Revolutionary Party
Farrakhan No Answer to Racism
Twenty Years of the LRP
Marxism, Interracialism, and the Black Struggle
Why Has the LRP Been Isolated?
Between the Devil, the Democrats – and the Dispossessed: Today’s Black Leadership Crisis
What is Proletarian Interracialism?
Self-Determination and Military Defense: The Marxist Method
Stalinist Expansion, the Fourth International and the Working Class
Racism Rules: The Fraud of U.S. Democracy
Reply to Comrade Daniel Bengoechea, Part One
Reply to Comrade Daniel Bengoechea, Part Two
Where We Stand: No to New Reformist Parties!
On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (includes 1983 article “Warsaw Ghetto Fighters“)
On the slogan "End all Restrictions on Immigrants and Refugees"
LRP Challenged on Military Draft: The Leninist Position on Conscription
“Anybody but Bush”? A Dialogue on the Democrats
Cosby’s Campaign Against “Lower Economic People”
David Melamed Memorial Talk