Forwarded from David Altman (Curtis)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Apr 15 02:51:37 MDT 2001

Lou: Please post for me.

Interesting to hear about Mark Curtis on the List. You'll recall I heard
the same rumor a year and a half ago and brought it to your attention,
although without any confirmation (I did put out a few feelers but didn't
hear anything definite) I didn't feel it would be responsible to broadcast
it publicly. I hadn't heard that some Chicago branch members were expelled
for having misgivings about the whole thing, but that shouldn't surprise
anyone. Shortly after I heard the rumor I called up an old roommate of mine
who's still toiling away in Jack Barnes's Vale of Tears & asked if he'd
heard anything. He replied, "I don't know about that! I don't WANT to know
anything about that!"

Regardless of Curtis's guilt or innocence in his case a few years back, I
always thought the claim that he was the victim of a political frameup for
his heroic leadership of Mexican packinghouse workers, or whatever, was
pretty hard to believe. Now, I'm inclined to think that he really DID try
to rape that young Black woman.

The fact that Curtis may patronize hookers, of course, doesn't mean he's a
rapist but it does indicate that he has a "secret life," and given that his
story about what happened in 1988 was so flimsy to start with, well....
Remember, the SWP didn't just defend Curtis back then, or "give him the
benefit of the doubt," they went around saying that the woman and her
family were working with the cops as part of the "frameup!" A cross was
burned on her front lawn! They traded on the good will of a lot of
progressive individuals and organizations, nationally & internationally, to
rally support for Curtis. Frankly, it all seemed out of proportion to the
facts of the case, even back then. The SWP spent a huge amount of money &
their own political prestige promoting the idea of a "Mark Curtis frameup."
It just goes to show how isolated & politically tone-deaf they've become.

In my own personal opinion, soliciting prostitutes seems like one of those
activities that should be incompatible with membership in an organization
of professional revolutionaries. Of course, given that the SWP has become a
pitiful little clot of washed-up sad-sacks with limited opportunities for a
social life of any kind, perhaps you can't blame Curtis. A few years after
I left the SWP there was a similar case here in Milwaukee. A comrade, who
was generally a dud with "the ladies," had hired a prostitute & rented a
car in which to entertain her. She ended up stealing his wallet & the car
too! The rental charges on the car kept adding up. Apparently he went to
the branch organizer & she brought him up on charges.

Now, if I were the organizer in a case like this, I would have said, "Now,
you know you're not supposed to be doing stuff like this & I'm going to
have to bring you up on charges, but given your situation & to spare you
any embarrassment, if you just quit the party quietly, I won't say a word
to anybody." Of course, this being the SWP, that didn't happen. He
resigned, but the branch had to go ahead and have a trial and formally
expel him, accompanied by much breast-beating and wailing about the poor
sap's degenerate character.

There but for fortune go you or I!

David Altman

Louis Proyect
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