Meeting celebrates political life of SWP supporter Tim Craine

By Jacob Perasso
and Kathie Fitzgerald
November 1, 2021
Supporters of the Socialist Workers Party organize production and distribution of Pathfinder books by party leaders and other revolutionary fighters. Above, Tim Craine staffs Pathfinder Press table at New England Booksellers Association trade show in Boston in 2004.
Militant/Maggie TroweSupporters of the Socialist Workers Party organize production and distribution of Pathfinder books by party leaders and other revolutionary fighters. Above, Tim Craine staffs Pathfinder Press table at New England Booksellers Association trade show in Boston in 2004.

ALBANY, N.Y. — A meeting here celebrated the life and political contributions of Tim Craine, a supporter of the Socialist Workers Party. Craine died Sept. 25 from leukemia at age 77.

Fifty people from around the region attended the Oct. 10 meeting. They included those he worked with in the Greater Hartford Coalition on Cuba, as well as others from Windsor, Connecticut, where Tim and Leslie, his wife and lifelong companion, lived. Participants also came from Canada. Messages were sent by people Craine worked with over 50 years.

Alex Huinil, organizer of the Albany SWP, explained that Tim and Leslie regularly came to Albany after the SWP established a branch here in 2017. The branch, he said, was formed to respond to developments in the labor movement, “like the 2016-17 strike by 700 workers at Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford and lockout of Honeywell workers in Green Island, and to politically collaborate more closely with the Communist League in Canada.”

Huinil pointed to the growing number of trade union battles taking place today. SWP members, he said, are deeply involved in building solidarity with these fights, which open new opportunities to forge the proletarian party workers need. Huinil highlighted the party campaigns underway this fall.

Also speaking was Dave Prince, a member of the SWP’s National Committee responsible for leading the party’s work with supporters. Craine was won to a party that was deeply involved in class battles in the late ’60s, Prince said. At the center of these struggles was the smashing of Jim Crow segregation and terror, the closest phenomena to fascism in the U.S. thus far. This fight was led by a courageous and disciplined cadre. Tim was impacted by leaders of the international stature of Malcolm X, Prince said.

Just years before, at the opening of the ’60s, workers and farmers in Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, had made a socialist revolution. Like others of his generation Craine joined the SWP to emulate that example in the U.S.

Craine had been president of the Young Democrats at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1964. He campaigned for Democratic President Lyndon Johnson who ran against Republican Barry Goldwater that year. Democrats and others said a Goldwater victory would lead to an escalation of the U.S. war in Vietnam and to nuclear war.

“Tim was deeply affected by Johnson’s escalation of the war against the Vietnamese revolution after his reelection,” Prince said, “and the rise of the anti-war movement. Tim’s subsequent experiences teaching geometry in Ghana, as a Peace Corp volunteer, gave him a  firsthand look at the devastating consequences of imperialist exploitation in Africa.”

Craine was a teacher of math throughout his life, and wrote and spoke on geometry.

“His decision to join the SWP was a deepgoing one,” Prince said, “as was his later work as a party supporter.” Tim made “a definitive break from hopes and illusions he had strongly held in bourgeois democracy,” Prince said. “He became convinced there can be no compromise with imperialism, or work to reform it though the Democrats, Republicans or other parties of the exploiting classes. That the stakes are the future of humanity.”

Following a renewal of union struggles in the 1990s, the party took steps to strengthen the work of its members in industrial unions in coal mining, garment and meatpacking.

At the same time, around 2000, Tim and Leslie, along with more than 200 other supporters of the SWP, responded to the party’s initiative to organize their activity. Supporters responded to what the party was doing by volunteering to help get out books that contain hard-won lessons of revolutionary struggles; and win financial support.

These books are a product of work carried out internationally to build parties that are proletarian in composition and program. Efforts by SWP supporters help make the party’s programmatic conquests more accessible to working people. This activity provides highly leveraged, decisive support to party work.

“Tim was a stalwart of that effort, and he took on many responsibilities,” said Pat Nixon, an organizer of the party’s supporters. “I had the privilege of working with Tim over many years. He wasn’t a ‘formatter’ or whatever assignment he had, he was a communist — although he was an excellent formatter. He organized that team and trained many comrades. He was capable, competent and patient.

“Tim was one of many supporters who shoulder more and more responsibilities, because that’s what the party needs. That kind of attitude, that was Tim.”

Craine walked the picket lines of Stop & Shop workers on strike in Connecticut in 2019.

For over 30 years, he helped organize the Greater Hartford Coalition on Cuba. Milly Guzmán-Young, who had met Craine as a student at Central Connecticut State University, attended the meeting. In 2017 she joined him on “In the Footsteps of Che” International Brigade to Cuba.

“Hurricane Maria had just hit Cuba and Puerto Rico,” she wrote in a message to the meeting, “and I realized the U.S. was letting people die in Puerto Rico, while Cuba has a system which places human lives first.”

Participants contributed $2,600 to boost the fall SWP Party-Building fund.