[Marxism] Ernie Tate and Isaac Deutscher

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 19 14:28:55 MST 2015

(I am loving every word of Ernie Tate’s memoir but especially this 
account of a squaring off at Deutscher’s home. If you know Ernie, as has 
been my privilege, this is an exquisite moment that really expresses the 
thread that runs through the two volumes, namely a working-class guy 
from northern Ireland interjecting himself into a world of intellectuals 
on the left, sometimes too smart for their own good.)

I remember once when he made a few disparaging comments in m company 
about the Fourth International, that I took to be a questioning of its 
very existence and which got my back up a little, I faced him directly 
on the issue, sort of poking fun at what he was saying. I posed a 
hypothetical situation to him, that of an imaginary apolitical young 
worker, who after reading a Deutscher book, for example, might become 
convinced of the need for socialism and shows up on Deutscher’s doorstep 
to ask him advice about what he, the young worker, should do to help 
bring about this fundamental change. For me, I said, I wouldn’t hesitate 
a moment because from what I knew from history, without their own 
organization, workers won’t get anywhere and I would tell the young 
worker to join my group as the first step in trying to build such an 
organization which could help lead workers in transforming society. What 
would you tell the young worker? I asked him, and I knew I was appealing 
to his background as an active revolutionary leader, of which I knew he 
felt proud. Momentarily, he looked a little bit non-plussed, probably 
thinking that I had a bit of a nerve challenging him like that, but he 
came back, surprisingly, saying he would recommend the same thing. 
Better that than nothing, he said, in a sort of backhanded compliment.

Buy it here: 

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