Socialist Equality Party

From Academic Kids

The Socialist Equality Party is the name of several branches of the Trotskyist International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the largest being in the United States. They are best known for publishing the World Socialist Web Site. Published in 13 different languages, Alexa rankings show the World Socialist Website is the most widely read international socialist news source on the internet.

In the United States, the SEP ran Congressional candidates and a Presidential ticket in the 2004 elections. It nominated Bill Van Auken for President and Jim Lawrence for Vice-President in the 2004 Presidential elections, in which its main call was for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.

The origins of the various SEPs lie in a variety of parties throughout the world who were affiliated with the ICFI.

In the United States of the early 1960s, most Trotskyists were organized in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Tim Wohlforth was a youth leader in that party and was opposed to the course of the organisation. With others, including James Robertson, he formed a tendency within the SWP called the Revolutionary Tendency (RT). It developed links with Gerry Healy's Socialist Labour League in Britain. The course of the SWP was towards a regrouping with the ISFI, which had long been called "Pabloite" by members of the ICFI. They said there was not enough discussion over other issues as well, such as the SWP's support for Fidel Castro as an "unconcious" Trotskyist.

The two main leaders of the RT had different evaluations of the SWP. Robertson's position led the SWP to expel him and his supporters first, but he and his supporters also did not join the ICFI. Robertson's group went on to form the Sparticist league.

Wohlforth and his supporters were themselves expelled in 1964, but they maintained connections with Gerry Healy and the rest of the ICFI, which they considered the legitimate Trotskyist movement.

They claimed the split was due to their insistence on a discussion of the decision by the Sri Lankan Lanka Sama Samaja Party to participate in the national government. They explained this decision as "opportunism" that originated in the "centrist" position of the LSSP during the split between the ISFI and ICFI of 1953. The LSSP was then a large party in Sri Lanka and its leaders feared causing a split within the national section for international considerations, which they deemed secondary. The ICFI considered this "centrist", because they stayed in the middle in stead of choosing sides. Those members of the LSSP that agreed with ICFI joined it after the LSSP joined the national government. They formed the Revolutionary Communist League, which later became the Sri Lankan section of the Socialist Equality Party of today.

Those Americans expelled from the SWP then formed the American Committee of the Fourth International (ACFI) and became the United States section of the ICFI, while the SWP moved into the camp of the ISFI. At this time, the Socialist Labour League under Gerry Healy were the largest section of the ICFI.

The ACFI grew throughout the 1960s along with most leftist groupings. The ACFI was renamed the Workers League and developed into a nationwide organisation with hundreds of members. In 1985, the ICFI split over policies advanced by the Workers Revolutionary Party, led by Gerry Healy. The policies they disagreed with included supporting national bourgeious regimes, including that of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gadhafi, and supporting Stalinists such as McLennan, of the British Communist Party. Many of Healy's former supporters saw these moves as a repitition of the mistakes of Pabloism.

In 1995, the various parties affiliated to the ICFI renamed themselves the Socialist Equality Party. The US SEP, now based in Michigan, endorsed John Christopher Burton when he ran in the California recall, although they urged people to vote "No" on the recall because they saw it as an attempt by right-wing forces to undo the results of the election that happened only a few months earlier.

Other Socialist Equality Parties linked to the one in the United States exist in Australia, Canada, Germany, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.

Presidential candidates

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