The MIA, the Barnesites and Trotsky

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Mon Oct 9 16:30:01 MDT 2000

I found Fred Feldman's comments rather strange.  Does he really think that
there is not going to be some animosity towards the Barnesites from
ex-members who were purged without even a cursory tip of the hat to the
norms of workers' democracy?  And, given the amount of life's labour that
various people on and off this list put into building up the resources of
the former US SWP (now no longer in existence, but a remnant, the
Barnesites, continues to use the name), the Barnesites are lucky not to be
getting lawyers' letters for compensation payments for the labour that was
extracted under false pretences.

AS I pointed out before, much of the work done in creating Pathfinder's
Trotsky catalogue was by peope who would have much more in common with the
MIA than with the current proprietors of Pathfinder Inc.

I also think that some former US SWP members need to be a little less
precious about the tradition and its place in the overall Trotsky legacy.
For years, the  Healyites in Britain porbably published as much Trotsky
stuff as Pathfinder.  All around the world, there have been groups, often
operating in far more difficult circumstances than the USA, bringing out
little editions of various writings of Trotsky.  The United States is not
the centre of the world, and the US SWP is not the centre of Trotskyism,
with any kind of special rights or special claims on Trotsky works.

Yet the historical accident that Trotsky found refuge in Mexico and
therefore was closer to the US than any other imperialist, English-speaking
country - and it was only such countries which could really raise the kinds
of funds necessary to produce Trotsky editions in abundance - has been
turned into some kind of 'special relationship' which gives the
organisation bearing the name of the 'SWP' proprietary rights for all time.
Trotsky would be horrified.

During the Stalinist purges, certain people, even as they went to the
firing squad, could not help believing that Stalin wasn't that bad and that
really it was somehow their own fault.  Other purge victims, instead of
taking stock and making an analysis of the degeneration of the revolution,
still craved acceptance by the regime.  No matter how badly it treated
them, they could not face up to harsh reality.  I can't help feeling a
touch of this when reading Fred Feldman.

Philip Ferguson

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