Nick Fredman, Peter Boyle and fire ants

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Nov 19 08:09:35 MST 2002

> Bob Gould responds to Nick Fredman, Kim Bullimore and Peter Boyle
> Even the physical arrangements at the conference accentuated my uneasiness.
> The elected delegates were up the front in a bloc (although perhaps that was
> physically  the only arrangement available), and after the
> hour-and-a-bit-long reports and a certain amount of rather desultory
> discussion in the intense heat of a January afternoon, all the hands would
> go up unanimously. Anyone who has attended a DSP conference in recent years
> will know what I mean.

What a depressing reminder of time spent at SWP conventions in Oberlin
when all the delegates were also clustered around the stage and podium.
I swear to god that I ever have a hand in organizing a convention of a
revolutionary organization, the first thing I will get rid of is that
arrangement. Looking back in retrospect, the main function of seating
people in that fashion was to help foster a cult of "leadership". In an
outfit like the SWP, which had fewer and fewer rewards in the mass
movement as the 1970s trudged forward, the best way to retain people was
to offer a carrot like being elected a delegate to the convention or
getting on the national committee.

The nominating sessions for delegates were some of the most painful and
embarrassing moments I ever spent in the Trotskyist movements as each
name put forward was vetted by the branch leadership. So and so was
"developing" as a branch leader, but tended to not work well enough with
the "team". Once the delegates were elected, the selection of national
committee nominees by these chosen few was even more excruciating since
the stakes were even higher.

I never realized back then that the only way that people can become
leaders is through their work in the mass movement. Can you imagine the
Bolsheviks going through the kind of ordeal that we went through prior
to national conventions? Nobody had to "motivate" the nomination of
somebody like Ryazanov or Kamenev. The masses had bestowed such honors
long ago.


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