Forwarded from Leslie Cagan

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed May 3 14:26:51 MDT 2000

Dear Louis,

I am not on your email list, but your comments about the Vietnam
anniversary activities were forwarded to me.  Merle Ratner is also
responding to you...not sure if you have seen her message yet or not. I
just want to respond to a few of the points you raise:

a) No, the Vietnam anniversary activities were not organized by the
CofC. There was actually a coalition of groups and individuals that
worked on this: VVAW, Citizen Soldier, activists in the Puerto Rican
movement, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Fuerza de la Revolucion (a
Dominican left party), WRL,  CISPES,  the December 12th movement,  the
Workers WorldParty and others.  Yes, the CofC was involved but certainly
played no greater a role than any other group.

b) There were two coodinators of the events, Merle and myself. It is
true that we are both in the CofC, and I am even one of the national
co-chairs of the organization..but that fact does not negate what I say
in point (a) above.

c) Your description of the CofC doesn't really explain who and what the
CofC is. It is true that the initial energy for the CofC came from
people who had split from the CPUSA...and some of those people are still
involved with the CofC. But others also have been active with and in the
leadership of the CofC. I, for instance, had never been in the CP, or
any left party for that matter. I came to the CP as an independent
socialist..and still believe one of the greatest challenges facing the
non-sectarian left is figuring how to connect and work with the many
independent socialists active in a wide range of social change

d) Your description of the CofC as being "mired in the Democratic Party"
is also a mis-reading of the reality. I would agree that there are some
in the CofC who believe working within the Democratic Party, or more
accurately, in support of Democratic Party candidates,  makes sense. But
there are plenty of others who are actively involved in third party
efforts...and some who believe we should not put effort into the
electoral arena at this point. There is a lively debate in the
organization and it is far from being "mired" in best I
can tell.

e) It is true that the panels didn't address some very serious  issues
the Vietnamese are confronting today. For me, the main point of doing
the teach-in was to help connect our history to today's struggles. No, I
don't believe there was any "sweeping" of anything under any rug. Yes,
the teach-in might have been stronger had the panelists taken up these
questions...although I should point out that Chomsky who did raise many
of these issues spoke more than twice as long as any other panelist -
and that had been planned in advance!

f) I think your assumption that things were swept under the rug is
wrong. I also disagree with you when you say and there is  a " default
of leadership in the C. of C. which perhaps has inherited a certain
style of functioning from the CP, which also was never very good at
combining solidarity with critical analysis." Again, many of us did not
come out of the CP and so did not inherit the style you are talking
about. I invite you to look at my own history in Cuba solidarity work -
work I did for many years, during which we often offered critical
analysis, etc.

g) FYI - we worked very hard to get some from the student anti-sweatshop
movement, but in the end it didn't work out. People were in finals (or
preparing for them), out of town, had other commitments, etc. I agree
with you - that would have added an important component to the

I appreciate the effort and thought that went into your description and
analysis of the Vietnam events on Sunday, even if I disagree with some
of it. I am wondering if there is any way to share my response to you
with your list. In other words, since from my point of view you got a
few things wrong I would like to give the people on your list the
opportunity to read this response. Thanks.

Leslie Cagan
phone: 212-927-8342
email: lesliecagan at

Louis Proyect

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