Forwarded from Stephen Schwartz

David Walters dwalters at
Fri Nov 22 15:35:51 MST 2002

For all those that wish to know....

David Walters

>From Stephen Schwartz...

I thought you'd be interested to know that a Mexican publisher is bringing
out, in Spanish, a new version of my long 1981 essay on Peret, Munis, and
Natalya Sedova in Mexico.  This is partly stimulated by the new interest in
Trotsky because of the Frida Kahlo film.

The new edition will include a preface explaining the genesis of the work
and the experience of a small number of American ex-Stalinists such as
myself in trying to work our way out of the Stalinist milieu and mentality
in the late 1960s.  Of this group, I was the youngest and the only one not
oriented toward the academic life.  This meant that for me two fields of
activity were open that were paradoxically closed to others: one was real
trade unionism -- since, outside some Trotskyist cadre whose intellectual
activities were necessarily limited, none of the 1960s generation of leftist
intellectuals in America became involved in trade union activism in what I
would call an "organic" way -- i.e. committing in the long term to a place
in an industry and union, rather than in a short-term colonization program.
The other was the literary field.  I was the only person I know of who was
considered a "Trotskyist poet" in the Ginsbergian literary scene of San
Francisco, and, to my knowledge, the only such who ever appeared nationally.

This contradictory situation flowed from the fact that, being an uprooted,
declassed member of the petit bourgeoisie without support from my family to
pursue an academic or normal professional career (which did not appeal to me
anyway) I became "proletarianized" to make a living, and came into the trade
union movement "organically" rather than as an outsider.

At the same time, in the literary field, I was very much drawn to
surrealism, which really pushed me in the direction of Trotsky, once I
learned of the Trotsky-Breton relationship.

I saw myself for a long time in the image of Breton's "poet of the future"
of 1932 -- revolutionary poet, poetic revolutionary, but also a serious
labor activist.

This led me to Peret and Munis, and a further paradox: the opposition of
Munis's tendency to involvement in the trade union movement.  (I won't
address this issue in the new edition of the book.)

The new edition will also include a postface in which I will attempt to sum
up the situation today and, in particular, my views of the legacy of Munis.
Munis was the first person to indicate to me the connection between Russian
Stalinism and Russian Orthodoxy -- which became quite crucial for me in
dealing with the Balkan wars.

--Stephen Schwartz

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