Jenness, Barnesites

Mark Lause lause at
Wed Apr 25 03:02:34 MDT 2001

I have recently had contact with some former Maoists who, decades ago, used to
denounce me as "a Trotskyite liberal sellout".  They've all grown up to be good
little Democrats who pontificate over "those youngsters who threw their vote
away on Ralph Nader".   ....but they still call me "a Trotskyite liberal
sellout" who helped elect Bush by keeping the presidency out of Al Gore's hands.

So, too, some of you understand the party centered institutionalism of the SWP.
...but you still speak the old language.  There was never any such critter as an
"Internationalist Tendency Party" or a "FPO Mandel tendency".  (The
"Internationalist Tendency" was expelled July 4, 1974, not July 4, 1976.)

The breaking discipline thing is also a fiction.  How anybody "breaks
discipline" by internally discussing criticisms with the like minded always
struck me as characteristic of a cult.  Calling a social gathering of the like
minded after an event "breaking discipline" is even sillier.  The SWP leadership
creates a climate that so thoroughly proscribed dissent that almost nobody but
other dissidents would drink with a dissident.  Hence, when disserters would
drink with the dissidents, it's "breaking discipline".  (I'm sure Charlie Manson
would understand the processes.)

Bigggest fiction, though, might be any reference to the SWP's trade unon work in
the early 1970s.  At the time, the party had a couple of hundred people in
unions, but it never did anything with them.  At the 1971 or 1972 Oberlin, one
of the old trade union spokesmen for the SWP leadership described the party's
labor work as being at "ground level zero" with no immediate plans of changing
that.  While SWP leaders denounced both FPO and the IT for wanting to abandon
the student movement and force members into industry, the dissenters of
basically wanted to coordinate some initial political activities where members
already worked.

The only place the SWP leaders wanted even to acknowledge that it had unionists
was in the Chicago based railroad union, which included only a few people and
was entirely under the authority of Ed Heisler (if I recall his name rightly).
The fact is that there was no work at all during the early 1970s, beyond a few
antiwar leaflets distributed from time to time (in contrast, remember what the
much smaller IS was accomplishing in the IBT).   Andrew Pulley, who I personally
liked very much, worked there for a while and was very popular there, but the
SWP yanked him out, if memory serves.

Worse, Ed turned out to be an FBI informant.  He had been reporting on SWP/YSA
activities going back years before when he was working for the antiwar movement
in Wisconsin.  Indeed, it was later said that the SWP moved him to Chicago in
part because a lot of independents in Milwaukee had decided on some good
circumstantial evidence that Ed was a cop.  Rather than listen to what outsiders
said about one of their annointed youth leaders, the SWP shuttled him to another

Anyway, the SWP gave Ed the party franchise to coordinate any and all trade
union work, because he fully supported the "go slow" policy of the Barnes
leadership against the IT and the FPO.  Indeed, the SWP of the early 70s used to
refer all members of any union to report on their jobs, their home addresses,
phone numbers, and any contacts on the job to Special Agent Comrade Ed.  I knew
Ed somewhat both during this earlier period, and later in the 70s, partly
because he was one of the few majority supporters who'd lift a glass with one of
the proscribed.  (In fact, several of us went drinking with the fellow after our
branch organizer already knew he was a cop informant and that he had quit the
SWP.  She wasn't telling anyone at that point, simply because it spoke volumes
for the ineptness of the leadership and the dangers of putting all your eggs in
the same institutional basket.)

We dissidents were right about the SWP's "current radicalization" thesis of the
early 70s, but it gives me ABSOLUTELY NO PLEASURE TO SAY IT, because it means
that our best efforts had a remarkably transcient impact in American politics.
The great political impact of the Sixties in the US was "the backlash".  Worse,
the great political theory (the seeds of which were certainly there in the SWP
during the early 70s) was a particularly lamebrained Postmodernism by which any
real radicalism could be gutted, stuffed and turned into a nice little
"politically correct" meatloaf for the idea starved intelligencia at the next
corporate sponsored banquet.

Mark Lause

William Warren wrote:

> More info on the tendency mentioned _did it proceed the FPO Mandel
> tendency which was expelled July 4 1976?.
> Also I would be interested to know about trade -union fraction of
> SWP in this period as I thought what little ,at least in Chicago,
> trade union members the SWP had were in the railroad brotherhoods
> and mainly members of Fop-O as Lenore Sheridan-a real
> apparatnick called them.
> >From: Philip Ferguson <plf13 at>
> >Reply-To: marxism at
> >To: marxism-digest at
> >Subject: Jenness, Barnesites
> >Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 13:13:51 +1200
> >
> >I mentioned to a very good friend of mine that Doug Jenness had been
> >expelled recently from the Barnesites.  This particular friend is a
> >(now-retired) veteran trade union militant, who was sacked and harassed for
> >shopfloor organising from literally one side of the States to the other -
> >New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco (and several other places).  He was
> >involved in the US SWP in the 60s and part of a tendency - the
> >Gregorich/Passen opposition - that was stomped on and pushed out of the
> >organisation in the early 1970s.
> >
> >He had this to say:
> >
> > >>I was interested to read that Doug Jenness was expelled by Barnes for
> > >>breaking party discipline and quitting his job.
> > >>
> > >>My first thought (after thinking it couldn't happen to a nicer guy),
> >was:
> > >>Wow! that guy "Flipper" runs a tight ship, even for a cult-master.
> >Dog-loyal
> > >>toadys like Jenness are not easy to find these days. I would have
> >thought
> > >>Ole Jack would have let him off with a couple of months latrine duty in
> >the
> > >>Penthouse.
> > >>
> > >>While I never thought much of Doug, I got to know Linda when I was in
> > >>Washington DC in 1967. I was there on party assignment with Dan Styron
> >to
> > >>organize a headquarters for the "March on the Pentagon" in October that
> >year.
> > >>
> > >>As for Mark Curtis, I still don't think he did it. And no, in the U.S.
> >it's
> > >>no big deal to line up a 15-year-old girl and her parents in a frame-up.
> >All
> > >>it takes is money, an anti-communist culture, and a government with the
> > >>will. Considering what they did to the Black Panthers, (the Rosenbergs,
> >Big
> > >>Bill Haywood, Haymarket, Scotsboro Boys etc.), it doesn't surprise me.
> > >>
> > >>Fred
> > >>
> > >>PS:
> > >>I wonder of Mary Alice Waters/Barnes ever thinks of Dan Styron and the
> >way
> > >>he died? What shits those people are. Can you ever imagine what this
> >country
> > >>would look like in the extremely unlikely event they were in power?
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> _________________________________________________________________
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