Mandel Memorial

TimW333521 at TimW333521 at
Wed Oct 18 07:00:58 MDT 1995

I recently attended a small memorial for  Ernest Mandel held here in Oakland.
  While the speeches were decidedly mixed, I must say an picture emerged of
the man as a revolutionary and as a human being.  So I want to pass on a few
of these impressions,  at least as I received them.

His intellectual stature is well know.  His books speak for themselves.  His
early history as a courageous revolutionary living under Nazi occupation in
Belguim is also known, at least among Trotskyists. (Yet here his actions
appeared to be more symbolic than effective, certainly when compared to
Communist resistence movements in the same period).  His leadership role in
the Fourth International also obvious.

I guess what touched me were a few sort of small things.  His faith to the
very end.  In fact, as Joanna Misnick pointed out, he carried this to a
disorienting extreme.  That is,  he projected an optimism whose purpose it
was to keep the cadres loyalty to the cause.  The problem was this optimism
was so little based on fact that it had the opposite affect: demoralization.

His faith in the Russian working class.  He so deeply believed in its
historic mission that to the end we could not admit, probably even to
himself,  that these workers were not about to fulfill his vision.  Their
goal -- so far also largely unfulfilled -- was a bit more modest: survival.

And, his close comrades told us, he was a God awful organizer.  Jim Cannon
had it right on this matter.

His insistence in his last years of the need for the FI to be open, to break
with sectarianism, to form alliances, regroupments.  Not an easy position for
a man of such faith to hold.

His questioning at the end.  He wondered about Trotsky's attitude towards the
POUM in Spain in the 1930s, and about Kronstadt (Dave McReynolds please

Wrap it all up and what do you have?  A rounded, flawed, humane, brilliant,
human being.  That's more than can be said of a host of cult "leaders" still
around these days.

Yes, the more I think about, he will be missed!

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