[Marxism] Grappling With the Racism of the DSA’s Founders

Steven L. Robinson srobin21 at comcast.net
Mon Sep 10 10:17:33 MDT 2018


Howe's legacy is not insubstantial - just from the founding of Dissent back in the 1950s.  That journal has long been a leading voice of voices associated with DSA.  Whether or not it is now eclipsed by Jacobin is a legitimate question.

More important was Howe's role on shaping DSA's perspective on international matters.  Yes, he was a zionist but he was also a cold warrior.  Toward the end of his life, he supported the Gulf War of 1991. Not all DSA leaders shared his precise views on that point, but he certainly influenced them. Harold Myerson comes to mind. In 1991 he was a columnist for the Los Angeles Weekly and a DSA member. Myerson devoted a better part of a column of his to red baiting the main local and regional anti-war coalition, attacking it as being led by a bunch of Trots. Those attacks led to the creation of a rival coalition. The war ended before the new coalition did much of anything.

Whether or not the current DSA inherits the foreign policy views of Howe is - hopefully - doubtful because of the huge influx of new, younger members and the change of the group's character from a small largely paper organization to a much larger activist grouping. Given all that, the current DSA is more likely to be influenced by the politics of Bernie Sanders and less by Harrington and Howe. While that is problematic on its own terms, it is not addressed by dredging up the history of Shachtman, Harrington and the Coalition Caucus.  SR 


> On September 9, 2018 at 10:15 AM Joaquin Bustelo via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

> 
> Yet, when I saw the name of Irving Howe my reaction was: "Irving who? 
> The guy who wrote World of our Fathers?"  So I'm not the one to judge him.
> 
> So that was the first reason I didn't include him. The second reason is 
> that the charges he lays against Howe are that he was a Zionist 
> (perfectly true, I gather), that he was part of the cold-war 
> anticommunist social democratic current years before DSA was founded, 
> and that he never completely abandoned some of those views.
> 
>



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