Ernie Tate on the USSR

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Dec 13 17:44:48 MST 2000

At 05:44 PM 12/13/00 -0500, you wrote:
>[bounced from unsubbed Jess MacKenzie <mackenzie.tate at>,
>reformatted, Part I]
>Hello Louis,
>This is a piece I wrote for a discussion inspired by an article by
>Barry Shepherd.  I thought you would like to see it.
>It was nice meeting you in New York.
>Best wishes,
>Ernie Tate

A brilliant analysis from Ernie Tate! Just a word of introduction about
Ernie. He was a leader of the British Trotskyist movement originally from
Ireland. There was some notoriety attached to his name since he was the
victim of a savage beating by members of Healy's group in the 1960s (this
was discussed here a while back.)

His article is most timely. A new spate of books have either appeared
recently that try to get to the bottom of the disaster in the USSR. I
spotted one by Roy Medvedev titled "Post-Soviet Russia" just the other day,
translated by our old friend and comrade George Shriver. Medvedev was a
Russian dissident in the 1960s who never renounced socialism, so his views
are probably interesting. Another book is Stephen Cohen's "Failed Crusade:
America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia". Cohen is married to the
editor of the Nation Magazine and is widely regarded as a closet Marxist.
Best known for his biography of Bukharin, Cohen was a leading expert
witness at the SWP's suit against the government in the 1970s after
Watergate. I heard him testify, mostly around the question of why October
1917 was a revolution rather than a coup. He was absolutely brilliant and
had Judge Griesa (who eventually ruled in our favor, but with a much lower
cash award) eating out of his hands. The final book worth checking out is
"Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia" by
Paul Klebnikov which is a muckraking attack on the most egregious
criminal-capitalists in the USSR.

I guess my question for Ernie is on what to make of the classical
Trotskyist analysis. His article sort of addresses it from the standpoint
of why workers did not take to the barricades when their world starting
falling apart around them. In general there was a "heroic worker
metaphysic" in the Trotskyist movement which, despite helping to keep an
embattled movement together, did not serve us well in the past 10 years.

Louis Proyect
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