Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael Lerner


May 2nd Leader Denies PLP Controls Movement

First Published: Harvard Crimson, April 28, 1965.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Albert Maher ’63-2 attacked last night an article in the Saturday Evening Post which identified the May 2nd Movement as a front organization set up and controlled by the communist Progressive Labor Party.

Maher was one of the founders of the national May 2nd Movement and organizer of its Harvard chapter.

Maher said he joined Progressive Labor “in terms of personal commitment” a month ago. He officially became a member of the party at its opening convocation in New York two weeks ago. “I stopped attending the meetings of the national M-2-M about two weeks before I joined PL, simply because I did not have enough time, ”Maher said.

’For Revolution Here’

Progressive Labor is widely known as the Chinese faction of the Communist Party of America, which has now set up an independent organization. This is not accurate, according to Maher.

“We’re not pro-Pekin, we’re for revolution here,” Maher stated. “We may agree with the Communist Chinese on many points. But the whole logic that people in the U.S. cannot arrive at a position that happens to coincide with the Chinese position is a false one. To call someone pro-Chinese is too use a terminology that conceals more than it reveals about the person.”

The articles in the Post were based on interviews with Phillip Luce, a former member of Progressive Labor who “quit the extreme left” when “he discovered his organization’s violent plans.”

In his own article in the Post, Luce said that PL had a secret arms cache in New York, that members had been conducting target practice on, Long Island before the Harlem riots, that a small group was being chosen to go underground and learn the techniques of sabotage in case of war with Communist China, and that many members of PL were being trained in karate for defense against the police.

Luce claims he was expelled from Progressive Labor because he decided to write a magazine article exposing the dangers of the group.

A statement Maher helped write that is being distributed by PL across the country accuses Luce of having been dropped for other reasons: “like all of us he was under tremendous pressure. He was facing 20 years in jail and a $20,000 fine for having visited Cuba. Early this year, we had discovered that he had succumbed to these pressures. To escape, he began using heroin, embezzling funds from the movement to pay for his need; indeed, he finally sold out to the police, to the ’destroy-PL’ campaign. To feed his illness, to escape from the reality he had opposed, he turned against his friends and against his own ideas.”

Maher does not plan to drop out of M-2-M at Harvard because of his own membership in PL. He is also one of the three chairmen on the steering committee of the Harvard-Radcliffe Socialist Club.

According to Maher, the difference between being a member of PL and belonging to M-2-M is that the former “involves a commitment to a socialist revolution in this country, and fighting for that revolution by whatever means are necessary-above ground or underground, in the event of open fascism.”

In M-2-M, on the other hand, “one must be against imperialism, but it is not necessary to be committed to a socialist revolution.” With me,” Maher adds, “the more I understood imperialism, the more I saw the need for revolution.”

Aside from attacking Lace’s general allegation that M-2-M was a puppet of the PLP, Maher also objected to Luce’s specific statements. “The existence of an arms cache is total bull. Our program is entirely is the open. We believe there must be a revolution, but it cannot come for a long time–not until the millions understand the need for it.”

Maher called the allegation of a terrorist cadre “something out of the Manchurian Candidate.” As for PL members Studying Karate, he said that is true. “But a lot of people study karate. The reason is that the mental discipline that goes along with it is attractive to people who think. Many members were studying karate long before they ever heard of PL.”

Maher believe that one member of the national committee of M-2-M is a member of PL, but that Lace’s statement that PL controls a majority of the M-2-M have created their own ideology as individuals, not under orders from anyone. That whole Luce article and the piece accompanying it came straight out of Luce’s head. To me, most of his allegations are simply ridiculous. The leadership of PL seems to agree: a PL lawyer has field suit charging the Post with libel.

Maher hopes that a chapter of the Progressive Labour Party will be organized in Boston. “There are a couple of people interested in it. There are also some people in Roxbury and Dorchester who are interested in doing some organized work as Communists.” He has no immediate plans, however, to get such a organization started.