Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Progressive Labor Party

“Chicken Little in Boston”

N.C. Statement on factionalists in Boston – Or the party is not up for grabs or sale

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the National Committee unanimously voted to expel for factionalism the entire leadership of Boston PLP: Jared Israel, Ellen Israel, Stella R., Martie R., Eddie E., and Norm D.. The NC also ratified the Detroit comrades’ expulsion of Bruce and Debbie A. for their role in this factionalizing. Finally, the NC voted to expel all New England PLP members who actively carried out the anti-party campaign organized by the Boston leadership.


A combination of serious internal weaknesses and sharpening class struggle had led to a headlong retreat by the Boston group since the Party’s July convention, culminating in their decision to abandon the working class and socialist revolution.

The first manifestation of this retreat appeared at the January NC meeting, when Jared Israel opposed two important turns toward the working class: a) the NC decision to organize the party on a “war footing,” particularly in the auto industry, in order to advance under the bosses’ murderous “energy crisis” attacks; and b) the proposal to make Derek P., a lifelong worker, the New York City trade union organizer.

In form, Jared’s “outburst” was a gross, uncomradely attack on the entire National Committee. In content, it was an assault on the concept of building a working class party with a working class leadership.

Initially, the National Steering Committee thought that a self-criticism and an important change in Jared’s living habits would solve the problem of his political degeneration. He had been functioning with a foot in both camps: as a party leader and as a capitalist, helping run his mother’s business. He agreed to leave the business.

However, he had already been factionalizing (against the party before he made this agreement. When his lies and his attempts to undermine the leadership were uncovered, the Steering Committee made a new proposal: a) Jared and Ellen should move to New York; b) Jared should constructively present this to the rest of the Boston leadership; c) JARED SHOULD GO TO WORK AND NO LONGER BE A PARTY FULLTIMER.

Lenin considered the relationship between petty-bourgeois intellectuals and work a vital question. He wrote: “Mortal fear of this school (i.e. work) and utter failure to understand its importance as an organising factor are characteristic of the ways of thinking which reflect the petty bourgeois mode of life and which give rise to ...anarchism...”

The idea that he might actually have to go to work pushed Jared over the brink. He went berserk. He organized the entire Boston leadership and most of the membership into a faction to oppose the decision of the steering committee and to keep himself in command of his Boston fiefdom.

He so feared open criticism of him and his ideas by the steering committee and others that he refused to allow steering committee representatives or anyone else in the party who disagreed with his factionalism to speak to PLP members in Boston or attend meetings of his faction. He furiously attacked the NSC for “suppressing political disagreement” yet was the first to turn tail and run from struggle.

His fear of ideological struggle around his ideas and his personal weaknesses was piddling compared to his fear of the ruling class.

The keynote of the party’s July convention was the resolve to make the revolutionary communist program of the PLP a real force in the trade unions and in the fight against racism. This means above all building a party of communist workers in key industries and union s, capable of leading militant struggle, shutting down production to force economic and political concessions, and ultimately leading the war for socialism.

To accomplish this goal, the convention raised the slogan of doubling the party’s membership within two years, primarily through the recruitment of workers, with an all-out emphasis on black and other minority workers in basic industry.

Coming hot on the heels of this convention, the party-led Mack Ave. sitdown, in which hundreds of mostly black workers proved they have the greatest need and the greatest ability to carry out the party’s line to smash this system, electrified the working class and sent a shudder through the bosses.

Although the Boston PL group, predominantly white college students, initially appeared to agree with the line of the convention, in fact they opposed this line and refused to carry it out.

When the Boston ruling class organized an attempt to whip up racist hysteria (the Wagler incident [the case of a white woman who, it was falsely claimed, was murdered by Black assailants – EROL]), Jared panicked. Only after innumerable phone calls to the party headquarters could he be persuaded to carry out aspects of the party’s anti-racist line. The burden of this criticism doesn’t fall on him alone: most party leaders recognize that fear of both the ruling class and of the workers is a major obstacle to fulfilling the mandate of the convention. But this fear became qualitative in Boston and turned a good thing into its opposite.

Contrast Jared’s panic over the Wagler incident with the boldness and decisiveness of the party leadership in Detroit at the time of the Mack Ave. rebellion. Jared made this contrast and drew his own incorrect, self-serving, factional conclusions: that “thinking” is better than fighting, that Mack Ave. was a fiasco, and that only the Boston hotshots have the left line.

From fear of the ruling class and racist panic at the idea of organizing workers to fight back, it was only a small step to making racist attacks within the party. Instead of carrying out the line of the convention, the Boston faction has slandered all black and Latin members of the National Committee. They have singled out all the black party members in Detroit as targets for their racist gossip. Jared attacked the party’s drive to recruit black workers. The Boston group raised the smokescreen of fighting racism among white workers as “their” slogan. PLP has always stressed the fight against racism among white workers but has also linked this fight to recruiting black workers and developing minority working class leadership in the party.

The Boston faction’s hysterical opposition to this line is exposed by their phone calls to party members around the country condemning interracial marriages (with the same arguments of the Nazis and KKK) and their claim that black workers are at “too low a level” to be in the party, what kind of party are we building if the workers who made the Mack Ave. rebellion don’t belong in it?

The line of the convention and its elaboration by the January NC meeting have been verified in life. The decline of U.S. imperialism and the crisis in which the bosses now find themselves has brought about a qualitative sharpening of class struggle against the working class. Boldness in bringing communist ideas to the workers, boldness in leading the fight to turn the attack around, and boldness in making our party leadership a working class leadership at all levels, are key if the party is to grow and the workers are to win.

Because of his own internal development, Jared, the ex-student turned boss, was not prepared to carry out this line. Far from putting the party on a war footing, he was afraid to organize it even to carry out defensive actions. Because he refused to accept the criticisms of am his weaknesses and change his life by quitting business and going to work, he developed a line to rationalize his class outlook.

The student composition of the Boston group and its failure to fight for the working class and the line of the party increasingly isolated it from workers and particularly minority workers.

This explains why “think” instead of “fight” has become their main slogan. What does this mean if not capitulation to the ruling class? You screw us, and we’ll think about it. Lenin and others wrote about the relationship between theory and practice. Nobody in the NC denies the importance of theory and line, but the major aspect of the line is to destroy the bosses in life.

The racist and anti-working class attitudes of the Boston group are not to be found in Boston alone. There is constant struggle throughout the party against these trends. But the Boston group has gone over the brink. When the NC acted to put a stop to the fear of militant struggle and the racist line being developed in Boston by removing the leaders, they reacted with an all-out factional attack on the party. They have organized themselves as a group to push their racist filth in the name of a struggle against revisionism and have usurped the slogans of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in a comic attempt to cover up their fear of the people.

Characteristically, along with their fear of work and the working class, their racism, and their hysteria in the face of the bosses’ attacks, one of their first pronouncements is a new attack on Stalin and the historical achievements of the communist movement. Stalin has always been hated by the bosses and their Trotskyite allies because of his ruthless defense of the first working class dictatorship in the Soviet Union. This new Trotskyite faction is treading down a well-worn path.

The bosses have always used errors made by working class revolutionaries in order to discredit revolution and communist parties. Stalin made errors, we all make errors. But we will not apologize for Stalin to the bosses or their mouthpieces any more than we will apologize for Mack Avenue.

The Boston group’s factionalism and racism are grounds for their expulsion.

Some of the former comrades have raised the idea that if their new “party” doesn’t work out, maybe they’ll rejoin PLP after “a few ask months.” They should think more seriously about the consequences of what they have done. The party and the working class don’t consider revolution a game. It isn’t like buying a hat: if it’s in style you’ll wear it, if not, junk it. Fighting to crush the bosses is the most important thing in the world. Actively and consciously organizing to destroy the party that fights for revolution is a weighty matter. The former comrades from Boston had better understand that their political dilettantism is outside the limits of our party.

Historically, every Trotskyite, anti-working class, anti-struggle faction has been ground to bits by revolutionary workers and students.

The pitiful olive branch held out by the Boston group, asking PLP to let them alone, will not save them from a similar end.

Racists and anti-working class forces who try to use the banners of communism will be crushed, even if their impact does not exceed that of the political panty raid organized by the Boston group.

In contrast, our party is solid as a rock in its unity against this puny factionalism and, more importantly, in its determination to fight on until victory.

The Boston factionalists miscalculated their ability to “win over” other PLP comrades to their line. At every turn, their Trotskyism was rebuffed by party leaders and members all over the country. As a result of this attack, PLP has grown stronger in its resolve to become a party of the working class, while the Boston group has already begun to disintegrate, most significantly, losing the allegiance of the handful of working class forces who went along with the faction.

There are useful political lessons for the party in the ideas and actions of the Boston group. We can learn from this experience. But, while the events in Boston are not a good development, historically speaking, they are like a pimple on a giant.

Today, our party faces two significant obstacles. Externally, our problem is the ruling class. We have to crush them. Internally, the problem is ourselves and our vacillation. All our experiences show that when we put forth and carry out our line among workers, the class struggle advances and the party grows. The footnote of Boston factionalism is over. The process of making PLP a revolutionary working class party has just begun.