The Weisses

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Aug 7 15:50:44 MDT 2002


Richard Fidler:
> Lou, did you actually know Murry and Myra? Your
> >comment ("Murray and Myra were typical party leaders, intolerant to a fault
> >and convinced of their own intellectual and political superiority to
> >everybody else.") certainly does not correspond to Theodore Edwards' account
> >at the Trotskyism in the United States conference you and I attended in
> >2000. Edwards knew them well.
> >
> >Or is your characterization just an inference?


Lou:
> My characterization comes from long discussions with Cynthia Cochran who
> knew the Weisses extremely well.



Obviously, I knew/know none of these people.  But I recall that Richard
Fraser, who had major disagreements with the Weisses, viewed them as
very different from the Dobbs/Kerry leadership of the 1950s.  In a
lengthy document on the SWP leadership of the 1950s, written in 1965,
Fraser and Clara Kaye argue that Los Angeles in the early 1950s, under
the Weisses' leadership, was a model of intellectual openness and
organisational creativity.  It was quickly stomped on by Dobbs/Kerry who
eventually succeeded in driving the Weisses out of the party.

I know that people involved in the 'Cochranites' don't much care for
Richard Fraser, which is understandable I guess.  But I am interested in
him and Clara Kaye's evaluation of the Weisses because Fraser/Kaye, at
the time they were writing, had no reason at all to swing any axes
either for or against the Weisses, whereas the 'Cochranites' have every
reason to bear long historical grudges.  (I should point out here that I
*do not* agree with the kind of characterisations made by Cannon,
Dobbs/Kerry etc of the 'Cochranites' as some kind of petty-bourgeois
element; that was typical crap of the kind that eventually became the
in-house way of dealing with opponents in the US SWP, the deleterious
affects of which can be seen in the subsequent evolution of the outfit
under Barnes.)

Philip Ferguson

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