[non-member submission] Another view of the dispute between Pathfinder and MIA

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Oct 9 07:02:20 MDT 2000

>[from Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net]
>Well, I know many people are preoccupied with sitting shiva for the
>Milosevic regime right now, buy I want to make a few comments on the
>discussion carrying the highly premature headline, "Barnesites suing
>MIA," the Marxist I nternet Archive.  This discussion is being carried
>out in the calm, objective, fact-oriented tone that characterizes
>discussions of matters that touch on the Socialist Workers Party in
>the mailing llist ("Barnes is real scum."}.  I'm a former party member
>and that definitely colors how I look at it.

This confirms my suspicion that probably every ex-SWP'er with a computer
(and many current members--who knows) reads the Marxism list. The first
indication was when the Militant answered Jose's critique on their coverage
of the Elian Gonzalez case. Another indication was when I learned at the
American Trotskyism conference that another ex-SWP'er, who had formerly
been one of the top leaders until dropping out 25 years ago, also reads the

Fred was one of 3 ex-SWP'ers who wrote letters to the Militant hailing
their coverage of the Elian case (for those of you new to the list, let me
explain that the American SWP, once the largest and most influential
Trotskyist group in the world, took the position that the INS raid to
retrieve the Cuban child was an attack on the working class). The letter
was all the more poignant because Fred, a member for nearly 35 years, had
become an ex-member not of his own volition.

I was telling a friend yesterday how this organization had perfected the
technique of structuring a member's world view--what Jose has referred to
as the "cocoon effect." It made people say things that they didn't really
believe. For instance, when I was leaving NYC in 1977 to get a job in
industry, I told the membership at a big city-wide meeting that workers
were more receptive to revolutionary ideas than at any time in the 20th
century. In actuality, this was the time of Jimmy Carter, disco dancing and
cocaine for most Americans, not socialist revolution.

I only regretted that I had not told people what a really thought, namely
that the turn was based on foolish political projections. There's a
marvelous scene from Costa-Gravas's "The Confession" that expresses my
fantasy. An old Czech Communist is standing up and confessing his "crimes"
during the Slansky trials. He is presenting a lengthy confession along the
lines of: "Yes, I conspired with International Trotskyism to undermine the
Authority of the Proletariat". The courtroom is filled with the
international press and radio. During his testimony, people all of a sudden
start to chuckle. And then the chuckles turn into guffaws. The outraged
Stalinist judge says "order in the courtroom" and has the confessor removed
from the witness stand. It turns out that in the middle of his confession,
he had unbuckled his pants and let them drop to his ankles. That was his
way of telling the press and the radio that the whole thing was a farce. I
regret never dropping my pants in this way when I was in the SWP.

Louis Proyect
The Marxism mailing-list: http://www.marxmail.org

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