Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Progressive Labor Party

“Chicken Little in Boston”

Fighting for the Left in Boston – Or how to become a “left-winger” – presto!

One of the more puzzling aspects of the situation is the oft-repeated claim by the leaders of the new “party” that they have been engaged in a long-term struggle within PL for their “left-wing” line. They certainly kept this internal struggle a good secret. Read their contributions to the pre-convention & post-convention bulletins.

John S., a member of the faction advocated that the PLP adopt the Line: “Vote for McGovern – As President, This Boss will have to Put up of Shut Up.” This masterpiece of revolutionary thinking will be found in Convention Bulletin #2, p. 37.

Jon H., another of the new party’s leaders, wrote in Bulletin 10 that the party’s line on Watergate was revisionist (and in fact, he attempted to factionalize around that). In Bulletin 11, he wrote a self-criticism, saying that the party’s line on Watergate was right.

Boston PL members made many contributions to the pre-convention bulletins. Numbers 11, 12A, 12B are practically all Boston articles. On the whole they make many good points about weaknesses in the party – but a careful reading of all the pre-convention material shows that they points aren’t much different from those made by lots of other people. Failure to build the party is the main thing stressed in these articles. Racist and anti-working class attitudes are explored. Anti-communism within the party is examined. Many useful insights are developed by the authors of these articles. A lot of good advice is given. IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE NEW PARTY DIDN’T TAKE THEIR OWN ADVICE SERIOUSLY. Some examples:

Jared’s direct contributions to the internal bulletin are found in Bulletin #5 calling on party members and friends to raise money, sell Challenge, sell subs. Nothing wrong here – but also nothing terribly different from what lots of other comrades were raising. In Bulletin 12A Jared defended the concept of applying 30 for 40 to teachers work – a subject debated at the convention – and where the overwhelming majority of the TU workshop endorsed a position similar to that outlined by Jared. His last direct contribution is found in Bulletin 12B saying our self-criticism shouldn’t be all negative. He said, “Self-criticism in the true sense means analyzing the work to find the roots of its strengths and weaknesses, so we can make basic changes to improve the work. At this point our goal must be to transform PL into a truly mass party especially by winning many rank-and-file trade union militants from basic industries – especially minority workers. What holds us back, in general is resistance in the party to building and consolidating ties with workers. Our self-criticism must be more and more geared to overcoming this resistance. We need a constant struggle to build up the good – the future! and to defeat the old bourgeois ideas and practices. But this is a long-term struggle. So let’s not kill the patients while we’re carrying out the cure! There is room for a very negative approach. We should save this approach for when we’re dealing with people who’d like to kill PL. With them we should be very negative.” This was printed in June, 1973.

Look at the contributions of some of the other “long-term fighters against revisionism within the party.” Ellen Israel in Bulletin 12B (p. 1) in a piece on methods of leadership she points out, correctly, ”Aside from racist and anti-worker attitudes... and apart from the objective problems of ex-students doing this work, I agree with the Bulletin 8 article that this hesitation (to being committed to party building forever! as a way of life!!!) is largely due to a lack of dealing politically with personal problems.” (p. 3)

Obviously we don’t build leadership effectively enough in the area. There is a servility problem. (p.4)

HAVE TO RECRUIT WORKERS – ESPECIALLY MINORITY WORKERS We’ve recruited 8-10 workers to TU work in New England. Most are now on leave or out. They were lost (temporarily or permanently) because we failed to figure out how to seriously deal with real life problems....We have an ex-student mentality! (p.5)

The article goes on to make many more useful remarks regarding the anti-worker and racist attitudes in the party in Boston. The last line of the article says “There is a double standard which is protecting these ex-students from having the ante upped by the sharper, more class conscious experience and views of the working class comrades.” Too bad Ellen didn’t take her own article seriously.

Tony K., leader of the new party in Storrs, Connecticut; his article entitled On the Right Wing Trend in faculty Work at U. Conn (Bulletin l2A, p. 46). His piece includes this gem:

My own greatest ideological weakness is anti-communism and fear of a-c. I don’t put forward the line because I am afraid of an a-c reaction like ’You commies want to destroy people’s freedom.’ My fear of this reaction is at least partly due to a lingering hidden agreement with this crap. I think that the basis of this idea in myself and others is the false and corrupt notion that intellectuals can make a comfortable peace with the ruling class and that workers’ power isn’t really in our interest. (p.49)

Yes, Tony, you’ve put your finger on it. But if this was true of you in June – and presuming that you’ve now completely overcome all your weaknesses – how about giving the rest of us assholes the same chance to change. All of the other leaders of the new party, to the extent that they contributed to the pre-convention discussion, was along similar lines. We repeat, much of the stuff in the articles was pretty good – but didn’t really differ from what was written by others. The same was true of their contributions at the convention. If there was some kind of internal struggle led by Jared, etc., it was a pretty well-kept secret.