On Bill Savery's Passing
by Jim Creegan
September 12, 2010
This is the first I've heard of Bill Savery's death. I always liked him. He was a merchant marine and a close friend of Jack Heyman.
I first met Bill as an SL [Spartacist League} sympathizer in NYC. He was the one who contacted me on behalf of the Bolshevik Tendency after they learned of my departure from the SL. He came into a lot of money as a result of a legal settlement, after having fallen from the side of a ship somewhere in the South, and gave $50,000 to the SL to help them purchase their NY headquarters. The SL was livid with rage when he went over to the BT. I stayed with him during a visit to the Bay Area.
Bill's stated reason for leaving the BT was similar to Brandon's: he was dissatisfied with a conservative tactical decision that a leader of a BT demo had made at some sort of neo-Nazi conclave in California. I thought at the time that this incident was too trivial to quit over, and that there must have been another, unstated reason. Bill was something of a loner, and had a drinking problem. He was also a very nice guy.
[Jim Creegan is a former IBTer and 1917 Editorial Board member. He is currently organizationally unaffiliated]
The following letter by Bill Savery was reprinted in 1917 #2, Summer 1986.
27 March 1986
[Spartacist League] Att. Oakland Local
To whom it may concern:
Enclosed are my pledges for Feb. & Mar. ‘86. This is also to tell you that I won’t be sending you any more pledges, as I no longer am one of your supporters....
Two weeks ago a picket line of anti-apartheid fighters, including students, workers, blacks and leftists, militantly blockaded and picketed South African cargo at Pier 80. You were nowhere to be found. When confronting you on this, I was told you only work through the unions (or other working-class vehicles) in this kind of action. BULLSHIT! In recent years you have had occasion to substitute yourselves for union activity—examples, [your supporter’s] one-man picket of a ship carrying Salvadoran cargo, and your Third Period substitutionalist picket against a radical-initiated boycott in ’84, an action which you tried to wreck at the time, instead of at least critically support. (You later described it as supportable and commendable.) Not all actions to be supported, joined or attended by revolutionaries are initiated by the working class. Although Bolsheviks will try to intervene in a way to give the thrust of the action a more militant working-class axis, they do intervene.
While anti-apartheid fighters were being jostled, beaten and arrested (myself included) by cops, you weren’t even present to dispense/sell literature arguing your own ‘‘correct’’ line. A serious revolutionary party organizing militants to Bolshevism would have been there doing SOMETHING!! I believe your absence was due to your increasing terror of having your ranks exposed to other leftists (particularly B.T. and other ex-members) who will tell them the truth about what kind of lying, slandering, cultist sham the SL is evolving into. Comrades, your emperor has no clothes and the world knows it!
Another half-baked line of shit you tried to hand me was that: ‘‘there are only certain periods that boycotts are implemented as a tactic.’’ True—and this was definitely one of them. Gold miners were striking, a lot of blacks were being murdered and harassed by the state, and leading South African militants and labor leaders had put out a call for international solidarity actions of this kind!
Sincerely, Bill S.
P.S. I now consider myself a supporter of the Bolshevik Tendency.