How to make a revolution without ever getting arrested or how the suited vanguard organised Columbia

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Thu Nov 21 23:06:15 MST 2002

Cherie wrote:
> However, rather than
> giving us any real guidance as to how to work with other radical tendencies
> and advice as to how we should all organize the rest of the campus, the N.O.
> (National Office of the Young Socialist Alliance) ordered us to stop all
> direct involvement and take only a peripheral role (i.e., get out of the
> student occupied buildings where all the other radicalized and radicalizing
> students on campus were discussing, organizing, and generally leading the
> student revolt) and stick to activities such as selling The Militant
> because, you see, we might get arrested. This was more than embarrassing.

Cherie, your post, along with Lou's about grunt life and the gabardine
suited YSA leader have made my day.  I laughed out loud reading your post.

You won't be surprised to know that this heroic tradition has been
maintained and intensified.  One of my favourite stories about the
Barnes cult here comes from an Aucklander, an ex-Cliffite who was/is
quite into Cuba.  A few years ago he went to a Cuba thing organised by
the Barnesites.  At the time there was a rent strike in Auckland state
houses, organised by the State House Action Coalition.  One prominent
SHAC activist, who was facing eviction for non-payment of rent, had
barricaded himself in his house and various support activities and so on
were taking place.

Anyway, this young comrade, while browsing the ubiquitous Pathfinder
stall, asked the Barnesite staffing it about their view of the
occupation and what they were doing to support it.  "Oh no," replied the
Barnesite heroic revolutionary, 'we couldn't support something like
that.  It's illegal!"

And these phoney-assed fakers holiday in Cuba and run around
international anti-imperialist conferences, perennially posing as some
kind of revolutionary current. They'd be an embarrassment to a serious
left social democrat, never mind a revolutionary movement.

Can you imagine these phonies in Belfast or Derry in the late 1960s:
"Oh no, armed struggle against British imperialism!  We couldn't do
that.  It's illegal."

In a document written in 1965 one of the US SWP's veteran working class
militants and leaders, Dick Fraser, described the leadership of the YSA
as the most conservative element within the Trotskyist movement in the
States and said that when they succeeded to the leadership of the SWP
that would be the end of the SWP as a revolutionary force.  Clever old

As a working class militant he was quite appalled at their suits, their
social conservatism in general and their bizarre Victorian sexual
morality (which was all, of course, just as hypocritical as the original variant).

What an outfit!  (And I'm not just talking about the gabardine suit!
although that is a special treat.)


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