Fire Ants (to Richard Fidler)

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Nov 20 16:14:00 MST 2002


Richard to Louis:
> For example, this discussion
> effectively began with you and Philip Ferguson (inspired by Bob Gould's
> comment on DSP convention seating arrangements) objecting to such trivial
> details as the fact that elected delegates sit at the front of the hall,


Er, Richard, I never objected to their seating arrangements.  Indeed, I
never even commented on their seated arrangements.  In fact, I think
seating the delegates at the front is quite sensible.

They don't have to be at tables with a big space between them and the
rest of the membership, but it makes sense to have them at the front of
the hall, just for ease of getting to the mike and so on.

Secondly, and more importantly, perhaps you would like to give us your
reading of why the US SWP degenerated into a cult around Barnes.  Since
the US SWP was, historically, not without significance in the North
American left, and to a limited extent globally, and there are lessons
to be learned from even the most off-the-wall outfits like the Healyites
and today's Barnesites, this would be of some interest.

In terms of Lou's comments about Dobbs, there was a very interesting
paper written in 1966 about the Dobbs/Kerry leadership of the 1950s and
their intense economism and dislike/distrust of open political
discussion and debate.  It was written by Richard Fraser and Clara Kaye,
and had some interesting stuff about how the more democratic-spirited
and anti-economistic elements, in particular the Weisses, were isolated,
worn down and eventually driven out by Dobbs/Kerry.

I would say that before things were taken to their pretty much logical
conclusion with Barnes, who has strangled the whole organisation unto
death, there probably earlier (eg Felix Morrow) everyone who ever
disagreed with the central leadership cabal on anything significant
found their asses booted out of the organisation.  Usually with some
daft class characterisation made of them at the same time, the US SWP
leadership's own Trotskyist version of the most dogmatic Maoist
'two-line struggle' notion.

I don't think many people would fancy living in a workers' state run by
the kinds of people and procedures that dominated in the US SWP.
Fortunately, such organisations are inherently incapable of building
real (ie serious) workers' parties, never mind leading revolutions.

Philip Ferguson

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