Party News: Report on a visit to USA and Canada
During the months July, August and September I was in the United States on a student vacation scheme. During this time I was in Boston for 10 weeks and in Montreal and Toronto for one week. In Boston I was able to take part in all the activities of the local, indoor and outdoor meetings, socials and leaflet distribution as well as attend the W.S.P. conference as our fraternal delegate. In September, together with W.S.P. members Rab and Lyle [I] visited Montreal and Toronto to meet members of the Socialist Party of Canada and attend various meetings that had been arranged.
The local (Branch) has a very active membership, both locally and nationally. As will be appreciated the political atmosphere in the United States is considerably different from that in Britain. There the working class have no interest in politics which quite literally is an in-fight between members of various rival political gangs without even the popular participation which occurs in Britain. This makes it all the harder for the American Socialists to put over our case. It means that some of the traditional activities of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, such as debates with opponents and large indoor meetings cannot be carried on. On the other hand, members in the U.S. have openings which we have not as for instance, the purchase of radio time and radio programmes in which listeners can participate by telephone.
In Boston activities are in the hands of a Local Administrative Committee, composed of the younger members of the Party. They are responsible for organising all activities which consist of indoor and outdoor meetings and leaflet distribution. Indoor meetings each week take the form of a talk or tape-recordings or a film followed by discussion. Outdoor meetings arc held every Sunday on Boston Common. The W.S.P. is the only organisation to avail themselves of these opportunities, although the conditions are not ideal owing to the persistent attempts by Cuban refugees and various patriots to shout down our speakers. Occasionally protest meetings on Civil Rights, peace, slum clearance etc. are covered by the Local’s literature sellers. During the University term other opportunities for putting over our case are available. All in all, prospects in Boston are hopeful.
Members here speak French, but to assist in their activities, leaflets and literature in French are needed, especially as French Canada is in the middle of a period of political ferment, following the overthrow of the backward-looking Duplessis regime in 1960. Many ideas on Marxism and on separatism are circulated and it is important that our voice be heard.
Regular indoor and outdoor meetings are held in Toronto which, like Montreal is hoping soon to form a Local. Literature is sold, and it is hoped that with the help from other Locals, the support here will increase in the near future.
The hospitality and help received from members in both the United States and Canada was greatly appreciated and for which I am extremely grateful. It is a sign of the genuine fraternal relations which exist between the various sections of the Socialist Movement.