From Sol Dollinger

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Dec 25 19:21:28 MST 1999

[Sol is subbed to the list, but was having problems writing directly to the
list as he at his son's house for the holidays. But he was anxious to reply
to some of the questions surrounding the SWP and the "Cochranites". Sol is
co-author of a book on "Women and the Formation of the UAW" with the late
Genora (Johnson) Dollinger that will soon appear from Monthly Review Press.
He was a long-time member of the SWP and a UAW member for decades. He was
also one of the group that was expelled from the SWP and went on to launch
The American Socialist.]

Several years ago Bryan Palmer,a Canadian biogapher of JAMES P. CANNON,
came to Los Angeles to interview me regarding the founder of American
Trotskyism.  I refused to be drawn into a discussion about Cannon's
drinking habits. For the record, I told Palmer that I had only seen Cannon
high at one social gathering of the party. David Altman is abysmally wrong
in thinking that I thought the ultimate leader of American Trotskyism was
an *asshole*.

Cannon has my respect in constructing a new movement in the most difficult
days of the Communist movement in trying to establish a base for the
support of Leon Trotsky. Cannon had to overcome enormous political and
organizational hurdles to gather the first hundred members. This herculean
effort has earned my undying respect.

Cannon's great error came after a failure to retire from the scene when
historic events proved he was no longer capable in dealing with the new
reality emerging from the World War 11. His mistakes flowed inexorably from
an understandable hatred of Stalinism that had govererned his thoughts and
action for 35 years. Cannon found it impossible to adjust to the new world
reality.  When his disciples, the young cadre he had trained, corrected his
erroneous political positions, Cannon met his opponents, ironically, with
the typical bureaucratic expulsion methods taught to him by Stalin.  This
action came after he accepted all of our political positions. The Cannon
cult acolytes voted with us on programatic issues and joined Cannon on the
organizational expulsion measure,a common Stalinist method of operation but
for the first time in a Trotskyist Party.

Altman and others raise the question as to the Cochran group's failure to
grow into a mass party?  The question ignores the social reality of the
period. No matter how correct we were in analyzing the reality around us we
could not overcome the objective circumstances. Cochran, and his Michigan
auto worker supporters, refused to construct another sect and voted to
dissolve. Longivity is no guarantee of political success.   the SLP has
been around since 1870 and they have not grown.

Frederick Engels wrote to an American that left sects perform a useful
purpose.  They keep alive socialist ideology in those periods where the
class struggle is at a low ebb. For this reason I must respect the work of
the SLP,SWP, CP and a dozen other sect groups.  They all are serving a
useful purpose.

Louis Proyect
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