Fighting the battles of yore

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Tue Apr 16 06:45:23 MDT 1996


On Tue, 16 Apr 1996, David Walters wrote:

> Adolfo Olaecheas defense of Comintern policy vis-a-vis  Bill
> Alexanders regurgitation of  Stalinist half-truths and outright
> lies is to be expected, I guess.
>

Louis: Since it was my endorsement of the Loach film rather than Doug
Henwood's that prompted this exchange between Walters and Olaechea, I
suppose I should say something.

It is actually directed to Walters, not Olaechea. Walters has been on
this list for some time and this is the most substantial post we've seen
>from him. He has had scant words about the American class struggle, the
country he does political work in, but he has lots to say about the Spanish
class struggle in 1935. Isn't this symptomatic of the problem of
Trotskyism? This current lives in the past, refighting battles that are
long dead. There is no more Comintern. The CPUSA is a tiny group. What is
he fighting against? A foe that exists only in history.

As far as Olaechea is concerned, doesn't it occur to people that to
uphold Stalin's ideas in 1996 doesn't get you very far. In 1936 it may
have gotten you a job in the State Department or a trade union post.
Today it takes enormous will-power, even stubborness, to defend Stalin.
Pro-Stalin groups are swimming against the current, just as pro-Trotsky
groups were in the 1930s. It takes the same kind of zealousness to defend
Stalin today as it did to defend Trotsky in the 1930s.

So who is Walters taking up the cudgel against. The handful of people on
this list who are pro-Stalin? Is he concerned that a young graduate
student may be misled by Olaechea's views on the Spanish Civil War?

Get real.

Here at Columbia University, when students occupied Low Library to win an
ethnic studies department, there were no banners of Stalin. There were no
copies of pro-Stalin newspapers being sold. There has not even been the
slightest interest in Stalin's ideas among left wing students here.

I wish David Walters would give some thought to the American class
struggle of 1996 and contribute a Marxist analysis to the list. That is
what is needed, not commentary on the fights of yesteryear.


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