STUDY GUIDE

“Theses on the American Revolution” by James P. Cannon

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Resolution adopted by the Socialist Workers Party, 1946

Pathfinder edition 1974, 7th printing 1998

Reprinted in the Freedom Socialist, vol. 4 #1, Spring 1978, with introduction by Murray Weiss. Also available in Speeches to the Party, James P. Cannon, Pathfinder Press, NY, First edition, 1973, pp. 323-337. (NB. in this edition, some pages are misordered, and should be read p. 334, 337, 336, 335)

Explain the statement that the U.S. emerged victorious from World War II over its allies, especially Great Britain, as well as over the ‘enemy’ Germans and Japanese.

In what ways did World War I strengthen the U.S.? How was the effect of World War II different?

How would you answer this statement?

“The U.S. today is nothing like it was in the ‘30s or ‘40s when a major depression or massive unemployment could threaten its stability or even existence. Capitalism now is so strong that it is immune to crises. The rest of the world may be economically shaky, but here in the U.S., capitalism is here to stay.”

In the post World War II period, how did “the ‘overhead expenditures’ for Wall Street’s program for world domination” get financed? How does this relate to our current period?

Why do the Theses argue that a new war drive would not lead to long-term capitalist restabilization?

Explain the assertion that the role of America in the world revolution is decisive.

How do the Theses characterize the difference(s) in the key tasks facing American revolutionaries to those faced by the Russian Bolsheviks? How do you think our experience during the past 50 years has affected this analysis?

How did the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 1946 characterize the strengths of the U.S. proletariat? What would you add, if anything?

What is the evidence presented by some to show that U.S. workers are “backward”? Based on the Theses and subsequent developments, how would you respond to this assessment?

Why do the Theses suggest we should expect a rapid transformation of U.S. workers’ consciousness?

What speculation do the Theses make regarding the development of a Labor Party in the U.S.?

What, in a nutshell, in the role of a vanguard party?

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