ISO/SWP and the Barnesites

Julio Pino jpino at
Tue May 16 12:00:18 MDT 2000

At 11:04 AM 5/16/00 +1200, you wrote:
Rarely have I read a political document so conceited, arrogant, and
demented as Steve Clark's reply to Jose's letter.

   So the 300(?) members of the SWP represent "the communist movement" in
the United States? David Koresh claimed more followers when the Feds.
burned him  to death at Waco.
   So by disagreeing with "The Militant" Jose, "and the class he
represents",are objective allies of Janet Reno. Excuse me; didn't one
Joseph Stalin perfect this technique? You dare to question my authority,
ergo you are a German-Japanese-Trotskyte spy and will be shot immediately!
   So "deformed workers' states" still exist in the former Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe because unemployment is high and foreign capitalists are
afraid to invest there? (Since the Czech Rep., Poland and Hungary now
belong to NATO, one wonders what it would take for the SWP to classify any
regime as capitalist (a label the SWP once pinned on Pol pot's Kampuchea!).
   Two political suicides in one month. First, New Left Review redesigns
itself as the "People" magazine of the left, then the Barnesites shoot
themselves in the foot and lose whatever credibility they had in the Cuba
solidarity movement. What's going on? Millenial fever?
Julio Cesar

>>These are the same kinds of observations that Jose Perez made and which
>>drove the Militant editor into a frenzy. Quoting the cult leader, Steve
>>Clark writes:
>>"Fascism and war is the logic of the march of finance capital," Barnes
>>explained to participants in the Los Angeles gathering. "That is what
>>imperialism has inflicted on humanity twice before in this century, and
>>that is where capitalism is heading once again."
>Isn't Barnes a treat?  Watching his descent into madness is kind of like a
>re-run of the Healy phenomenon, except the Barnesites are far smaller and
>less successful and therefore, thankfully, less damaging.  Ultimately, in
>the Barnesite case, it is only the mental health of the cult members which
>is at stake - they are not in a position to do any damage in the real
>world, as the Healyites were.  If the Healy thing was a tragedy, the Barnes
>thing is just a farce.
>Moreover, the wooden prose of the 'Militant' is likely to induce sleep,
>rather than frenetic activity, among its few remaining readers.  An email
>acquaintance, and member of this list, told me a while back that the
>Militant had won runner-up in some contest on a left-wing radio programme
>for Most Boring Paper on the Left.  (Personally, I think they were cheated.)
>It is an amusing diversion to watch the New Zealand Barnesites apply these
>mad politics here.  Since Barnes thinks fascism is imminent, he keeps on
>having to discover important fascists or proto-fascists in mainstream US
>politics.  Buchanan was the big one for a while, then he discovered Jesse
>Ventura.  Well, the New Zealand Barnesites then had to find a Down Under
>equivalent.  There aren't any here, but that sure wasn't going to stop
>them, so they zero-ed in on Winston Peters, a populist politician.
>Now there were several problems with this.  One rather obvious one is that
>Peters is Maori and his party - whose politics are mildly social democratic
>economically, and whose appeal is to retired white folk and to Maori, but
>with a certain anti-Asian slant - won all the Maori seats in 1996.  Even if
>fascism were on the agenda in NZ, which it is not, it is unlikely - to say
>the least - to have a mass base among Maori!!!
>The Barnesites just looked mad - yet again! - when they tried to make out
>Peters was some 'Bonapartist' and embryonic Nazi.
>I've been too busy in the real world to look in on their planet and see if
>they have found any more 'likely' candidates for this role recently.
>>Let me tell you something. It is a formula for self-destruction to build a
>>revolutionary party today on the expectations that we are somehow in a
>>situation like the 1930s. It leads to all kinds of adventures and to
>>imposing artificially high expectations on your cadre, which leads to
>>burn-out and the reduction of the remaining members into a "hard core" who
>>can not be expected to correct the organization from a path of folly.
>It's also not good for the mental health of the remaining members.  They
>become so odd themselves, that they simply cannot correct the
>organisation's trajectory.  Besides, they have become so accustomed to
>people being expelled for daring voice even mild disagreements, that
>they're not likely to dare voice disagreement themselves.  In an outfit
>like the Barnesites, which is entirely removed from reality and inhabits,
>in Jose's memorable phrase, 'a parallel universe', there is *no corrective*
>force at all.
>Perhaps this also explains the rather over-the-top nature of Clark's reply
>to Jose Perez.  Anyone who disagrees with the loons, like Jose did, is now
>painted as part of some conspiracy to set up the Barnesites for violent
>attack.  This is mad, mad stuff.
>I interpret this as being evidence that they've now entered the paranoid
>stage of their dementia.  I think one would need to be a psychiatrist
>rather than a Marxist political activist to analyse the cult's further
>evolution and final demise.
>Philip Ferguson

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