Fw: Re: Fw: Re: International Socialist Tendency Split

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at SPAMjuno.com
Mon Mar 12 02:34:35 MST 2001




--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Justin Schwartz" <jkschw at hotmail.com>
To: farmelantj at juno.com
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 04:06:21 -0000
Subject: Re: Fw: Re: International Socialist Tendency Split
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Greensboro was before my time. I was mainly in the NDM, the successor
group,
which had expressly renounced violence. I would not have joined a group
that
advocated the overthrow of the government by force. Quite apart from any
other considerations, I have always thought it quite mad to think that we

could take on the 101st Airborne. I don't say that there are no times and

places where armed struggle is called for. The Warsaw Ghetto fighters
were
heroes. I think the Sandinistas and the FMLN had no reasonable options
but
armed struggle. The ANC came around to that perspective too. But in
modern
Ameriac, it is not only not called for, it is insane.

In any case, I knew Party members from, say, 1982 on.

Lessons like what? Don't try to use guns if you haven't a clue,
especially
against people who do? The CWP 5 and others at the march _were_ armed.
There
was a sort of shootout, rather one sided; you can watch it on TV; ther
was a
PBS special on Greensboro. The Klan and Nazi assassins included people
who
had hunted since childhood, probably ahd been in the service; the
marchers--several physicians, a philosophy PhD, among others--hadn't a
chance.

It's true that the local police did not protect them and were in fact in
collusion with the killers, pulling out of town so as to let the lynching

occur. But self-defense was not practicable. It was a delusion. The
gun-waving and arms-bearing was a bit of late-70's craziness, tragically
dashed by Greensboro.

Politically, the decision to try armed self-defense was a disaster. The
press depicted the massacre as a shootout between extremist groups rather

than as a murderous assault on a labor and civil rights march. It would
have
been much better if the Party had let the Klan and Nazis shoot them
without
attempting srmed self-defense. That was the lesson the Party drew from
it,
after some struggle, and it led to the renunciation of violence in NDM.
(NDM
didn't work out, and has long ago dissolved, but that's another story.)

It's true that we need to be strong in the face of the bad guys, but
there's
strength and strength. I think the SCLC showed real strength in the face
of
Bull Connor and his dogs and firehoses by turning out again and again,
filling the jails, and not going away. It's not necessarily showing
strength
to wave guns about. A lot of our strength is in moral superiority. That
is
dissipated if we act in a way that is easily depicted as being no
different
from those we oppose.

Whether it is advisable to rely on the government for protection against
right wing forces depends. I don't think there is a  general rule.
Sometimes, as in Greensboro or at Pittson, or more recently in the
Detroit
newspaper strike, the authorities are in collusion with the bad guys. I
actually rather suspect that the kind of old-style lynch-law collusion
that
occurred at Greensboro is rare and decreasingly common. So too is the
old-style hood-and-sheets racism of the KKK, which is under severe
assualt
from lawsuits mounted with great effect by the Southern Poverty Law
Center.
People say bad things about Morris Dees, but his tediously legalistic
tactics have put the Alabama Klan and the Ayran Nations literally out of
business. That is one way to rely on the government.

Btw, the figure of "tens of thousands" of Blacks lynched by the KKK is
way
too high. The true figure is somewhere between three and six thousand
lynched by all whites (not all or even mainly the KKK as such) from the
end
of Reconstruction to the present. I am not minimizing the terror under
which
Southern blacks lived: a lynching or two a week on average for 100 years,

mostly concentrated in the period 1877-1940, was enough to make life in
the
Jim Crow south a nightmare. (For this, see Leon Littwack, Been in the
Storm
Too Long.) But there's no point in exaggerating. It's like the people who

insist that Stalinism muat have had 20 million--50 million! 100 million!!

deaths. Wasn't eight or ten million enough?

--jks



>
>Justin,
>
>Since you were at one time a member of the CWP, I was wondering
>if you had any special insights concerning the Greensboro massacre
>that you might be willing to share.
>
>J>
>Red Rebel:
> > Which also proves just how inneffectual, and indeed self-defeating,
it
>is
> >for the supposedly "revolutionay" left to be relying on the state for
> >protection. This is after all, the very state we are supposed to be
> >hell-bent on overthrowing!
>
>The point in calling the cops is to make the record that the Klan was
>breaking the law. By blasting the Klan and the cops at a press
>conference,
>it put additional pressure on local city government to cut its ties to a
>terrorist group. This is what was needed for the left to move forward in
>Houston. If we had to worry about midnight pipe bomb attacks on our
>bookstores, etc., we would not be able to reach people effectively with
a
>socialist message.
>
> >Perhaps if the CWP had been armed with M16's then they wouldn't have
>fared
> >so badly. As I understand it (and I am open to correction, having only
>read
> >of this incident in SL lit), the CWP were unarmed (or at least, didn't
>have
> >firearms).
>
>You have zero understanding of the relationship of class/political
forces
>in the USA. First of all, the CWP did have baseball bats and clubs which
>they planned to use. It did have pistols also, but did not plan on using
>them. But before they could begin to use them, five of their members
were
>left dying in a pool of blood.
>
> >And surely the whole point of this tale isn't that this was a
> >shootout between extremist factions (as reported by the media) but a
> >massacre of communist activists by the KKK, who were infiltrated by
the
>FBI
> >and protected by the cops.
>
>The whole point of the tale is that the US in 1979 was not an
appropriate
>arena for armed confrontation between tiny Maoist groups and terrorist
>gangs that were given sub rosa support by the cops and local government.
>Perhaps you are confused with the German class struggle of 1923 in which
>the Revolutionary Shop Stewards group threw dynamite at the army in the
>coal fields of Saxony. An understandable mistake. I often fantasized
that
>I
>could fly or become invisible when I was a small child.
>
> > It seems to me strikingly obvious that if your enemies are armed then
>you
> >should also be armed appropriatly. In the UK, Anti-fascist Action, the
>group
> >your correspondent is referring to, entered into 'squaddist' assaults
on
>the
> >BNP. NF and then Combat 18 (much to the disdain of the bulk of the
> >trotskite/liberal left, despite the fact that it was their members who
>were
> >been beaten and terrorised on the streets and in their homes on a
>regular
> >basis). Although firearms were never used in open conflicts, every
>weapon
> >short of such was utilised by both sides. And as was pointed out, the
>result
> >was that the British far-right gave up on open activity for half a
>decade as
> >a direct result of these attacks.
>
>You really should make an effort to understand American politics and the
>special role of the KKK. It is unlike anything that exists in Great
>Britain. The Klan murdered tens of thousands of blacks through the 1950s
>with the full backing of the state.
>
> > The lesson learnt by Anti-fascist Action is that to dissuade attacks
on
> >your organisations from the far-right, you have no option open than to
> >'terrorise the terrorists'. It does work. Fascism thrives on the
>weakness of
> >it's targets. It crumbles in the face of strength. 'Pro-active
> >Self-defence', if you like.
>
>Terrorize the terrorists? Empty bluster. Throwing rocks at or punching
>skinheads has absolutely no relationship to what the American left faced
>in
>the south. There are occasions when a mobilized labor or civil rights
>movement employed self-defense, including arms, but this had no
>relationship to the objective conditions or relative weight of the CWP
in
>1979 in North Carolina. Tactics flow from concrete circumstances, not
>empty
>ultraleft blustering.
>
> > The far-right in Britian does have access to fire-arms, however they
>tend
> >to only be 'holding' them in transit for the rather more threatening
> >fascists of the Loyalist death-squads in occupied Ireland. There, of
>course,
> >the response from the 'left' (ie Republicanism) to armed fascist and
>state
> >attacks was a very effective response in kind.
> >
> >J.
>
>If I ever blather on about Irish or British antifascist tactics armed
>with
>as much ignorance as Red Rebel has about US politics, I give James
>Farmelant full permission to sedate me.
>
>
>
>Louis Proyect
>Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org/
>
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