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Sam Marcy

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Title: Sam Marcy  
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Subject: Socialist Workers Party (United States), Peace movement, 1959, American Jews
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Sam Marcy

Sam Marcy
Born 1911
eastern Russian Empire
Died February 1, 1998(1998-02-01)
New York, New York, United States
Nationality American
Other names Sam Ballan
Political party Workers World Party,
Socialist Workers Party,
Communist Party USA
Movement Communism

Sam Ballan (1911 – February 1, 1998), known by his pen name Sam Marcy, was an American Marxist of the post-World War II era. He co-founded the Workers World Party in 1959 and served as its chairperson until his death.

Marcy was born in Russia to Jewish parents. During the Russian Civil War, his family was a target of anti-Jewish pogroms by the White movement and received protection from the Communist forces. They resettled in Brooklyn, where Marcy became an activist for the Communist Party USA. He studied law at St. Johns University and provided legal advice to labor unions in New York.[1]

Marcy grew discontented as a member of the Communist Party, viewing the Third International as increasingly detached from working class interests and instead a mouthpiece for Joseph Stalin, whose oppressive bureaucracy he despised. He joined the Trotskyist movement in the 1940s, building a branch of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Buffalo.[1] Yet he again became dissatisfied, finding the SWP uncommitted to revolutionary politics and instead oriented toward parliamentary reform.[2] Marcy and other SWP members developed a theory of "global class war", according to which Marxists had a duty to defend the existence of the USSR and its satellites in spite of their bureaucracy. Over several years Marcy clashed with the SWP leadership on several questions, including the approach to Communist China and North Korea, whether the SWP should endorse Henry A. Wallace,[3] and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. On the last question, Marcy's faction supported the Soviet military intervention, arguing that the initial worker uprising had attracted class elements that sought to restore capitalism.[4][5]

In 1959 the "global class war" faction set up a new organization, the Workers World Party, characterized by outspoken defense of all socialist governments in the world. After the first issue of the Workers World newspaper was published, Marcy started applying his view of Marxism to contemporary issues. Marcy's writings included extensive works on socialism, the Cold War era and the rise of the powerful military-industrial complex. He also wrote about the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War, the economic forces behind capitalist downsizing and the impact of the scientific-technological revolution. [1] Selections of his works have been translated into many languages, including Persian, Spanish, Turkish, Korean, French and German.

His writings show a strong support for Mao Zedong and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, though he continued to defend China against imperialism following the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. Marcy defended China and also the Soviet Union against the charge of imperialism even while disagreeing with some policies and practices of the Communist party leadership of both countries.[6]

In addition to his writings, Marcy was one of the organizers of the first demonstration in the United States against the Vietnam War. The demonstration, by WWP affiliate group Youth Against War and Fascism, occurred in August 1962 and was subsequently noted by Ho Chi Minh in an interview with the National Guardian newspaper.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ House Un-American Activities Committee (1968) Subversive influences in riots, looting, and burning
  3. ^ Marcy, Sam (1953) The Global Class War and the Destiny of American Labor
  4. ^ Copeland, Vincent (1956) "The Class Character of the Hungarian Uprising"
  5. ^ Marcy, Sam (1 July 1993) "The bright side of a long struggle: Remembering Vince Copeland"
  6. ^ Marcy, Sam. "Memorandum on the Unfolding War and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the New Phase of the World (Permanent) Revolution.", 1950.

External links

  • Selected works of Sam Marcy at the Workers World Party website
  • Biography by Deirdre Griswold at the Workers World Party website
  • "Sam Marcy, an apologist for bureaucracy" Obituary by Fred Mazelis on the World Socialist Web Site
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