Women and the Bolshevik Revolution -Reply

Lisa Rogers EQDOMAIN.EQWQ.LROGERS at email.state.ut.us
Thu Apr 6 17:16:13 MDT 1995


Thanks for the info.
Lisa Rogers

>>> Tom Condit <tomcondit at igc.apc.org>  4/5/95, 10:44am >>>
I was very interested to see the announcement of the book, _From
Baba to  Tovarishch, The Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet Women's
Struggle for Liberation_, edited by Barbara Ranes, and I've ordered
it.  I wanted to put a very brief note about the Marxist-
Leninist Party, the group to which the authors belonged, for the
benefit of anyone who might be interested in this work but be put off
by its "provenance".
  I worked with members of the former MLP in two political struggles
in northern California--a fight to drive the CIA-front airline
Southern Air Transport out of the Oakland airport
(unsuccessful) and the defense of women's clinics against
Operattion "Rescue" et al. (successful).  In addition, one of my
close colleagues was a sympathiser of theirs who attended their
discussion groups and I've read their press extensively.
  The MLP was one of the last groups of the political trend which
could be characterized roughly as "third period Stalinist", or as
they were known in Communist Party circles from late 1950s on,
"Albanians".  In the case of the MLP, the latter characterization was
for some time literally accurate--they circulated and reproduced the
writings of Enver Hoxha, etc.  In their early stages they were very
heavily under the influence of the
Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), which has a very dreary
history.
  A few years ago, the MLP broke from Albania and Enver Hoxha's
theories and began a very serious process of internal discussion and
study, together with correspondence and debate with kindred groups
around the world.  I've read a fair amount of this material and added
to having actually worked with MLP members in struggle I think I have
a good estimate of their strengths and weaknesses.
  First, they still hold to what I think is a basically untenable
position on the history of the Soviet Union and the Communist
International, although they are certainly correct that for the
international communist movement as a whole the "popular front" was
the key turning point toward irrelevance.  Together with this
position, they carry the baggage of its terminology and a method of
approaching questions which is much too heavily weighted toward
examining and analyzing "texts".
  Second, much more importantly, they have a direct and unswerving
honesty in their statements.  I don't think there's any other group
on the left of which I can say that I have *never* known any of its
members to, shall we say, improvise the facts necessary to make the
argument.  They also have frequently said both in person and in
writing the equivalent of "We don't have the answer to that question,
but we're studying it."
  I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a good chance this
book might be "wrong" in some of its conclusions.  I suspect the odds
are close to zero that it will be in any way deliberately dishonest,
and the chances are close to 100% that any quotes or facts cited in
it will be accurate.  In addition, I'll guarantee that it's written
from the perspective of class struggle--that is, what we can learn
from the experiences of the Bolshevik period which is relevant to our
work today in fighting capitalism.
  Tom Condit


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