Forward from David Altman

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Apr 23 07:47:05 MDT 2001


Lou: Please post.

Whoa! I really have to take exception to some of the frenzied speculation
in this List regarding Barnes, Dan Styron, etc.

I think it's pretty preposterous to speculate, as Lou has, that Barnes was
somehow responsible for Styron's suicide. I had heard, around '73 or so,
years before his death, that Dan was manic-depressive. This was after he
had suddenly dropped out of sight for a period of months and then just as
suddenly reappeared. This medical condition of Styron's wasn't well-known
among the rank and file, and that was as it should be. It was none of their
business!

Wife-swapping among the Carlton crew ... well, they always struck me as a
pretty straight-laced bunch. So Mary-Alice left Styron for Barnes, and
Betsy Stone left Barnes for Joel Britton - big fucking deal! I doubt by the
time Styron killed himself (by asphyxiation, by the way, not by blowing his
brains out) that he gave it much thought anymore. He had been in a serious
long-term relationship with Olga Rodriguez for the previous ten years or so.

The generation that joined the SWP after Barnes & co., now that was a wild
lot! One amusing story that was making the rounds of the Los Angeles branch
circa 1972 concerned a fellow who had managed to infect half the branch
with gonhorrea. There was a pretty decent amount of bed-hopping, especially
at Oberlin, but what can you expect - it was the SEVENTIES! I regret to say
that I wasn't a part of any of this merriement.

Sorry, but I can't agree that "party life" was always miserable and
wretched. For the most part I have real fond memories of my time in the SWP
during the seventies. I was never a big leader of the party, but I made a
lot of friends (many of whom are friends to this day) and had a good time
for the most part. It was only when the eighties began that things started
degenerating into drudgery and guilt and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And Phil: Cut José, Barry Sheppard & Malik Miah some slack concerning their
"responsibility" for the rise of the Barnes cabal. Let he among you who has
not sinned cast the first stone! The fact is that many, including me, went
along at first with some of the excesses of the party leadership because,
dammit, they had done a pretty good job leading things up to that point and
we gave them the benefit of the doubt. For some of us it took longer than
others but the important thing is we managed to pull ourselves out of that
mess and redeem ourselves. I'm sure there are many who are still in the SWP
who will do the same.

David Altman


Louis Proyect
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