On Clara Fraser
On Clara Fraser
[Tthe following statement by Samuel Trachtenberg was distributed at the Freedom Socialist Party’s memorial meeting for Clara Fraser (3/12/23/-2/24/98). The meeting took place in New York on April 19, 1998]
To the Comrades of the Freedom Socialist Party,
On behalf of the International Bolshevik Tendency I would like to take this opportunity to express our condolences to you on the death of the longtime leader of your organization, Clara Fraser. While her political trajectory since the 1960’s has been in a radically different direction than our own, we honor her memory as a cadre of the revolutionary Socialist Workers Party of the 1940’s and 50’s. In particular, we recall her role as a key leader of its Kirk-Kaye tendency, which during the 1950’s put forward the revolutionary integrationist position on the fight for black liberation. This contribution, authored by Dick Fraser, Clara’s partner at the time, was a critically important programmatic contribution to American Trotskyism and it is one that we uphold to this day.
We also recall Clara Fraser’s role as one of the SWP cadres who courageously defended the Revolutionary Tendency (a Trotskyist tendency in the then degenerating SWP) against the moves by the Dobbs regime to purge them on bogus charges of “disloyalty.” The RT, whose political tradition we of the IBT seek to uphold today, gave rise to the Spartacist League, which, like the FSP, was founded in 1966. For a brief period the two groups had fraternal relations and both sent representatives to each other’s founding conferences. At the FSP’s launch the Spartacist delegation observed that. the two groups had close agreement on the questions of black liberation and opposition to imperialist war, but noted that the FSP’s failure to call for political revolution in Mao’s China indicated an important area of difference.
As the years passed the divergences between our two traditions have tended to grow. This has not prevented our organizations from collaborating on matters of mutual interest. In particular we appreciated how the FSP, under Clara Fraser’s leadership, was willing to defend us against the slanders of the degenerate Spartacist League of the 1980s. We were pleased to solidarize with your party’s successful defense efforts in the Freeway Hall court case, which scored a key victory for the civil rights of all leftist organisations.
Over the years Clara Fraser saw many of her contemporaries drop out of politics due to demoralisation, but she remained active right up to the end. We honor her memory and her fighting spirit.