Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Progressive Labor Party

“Chicken Little in Boston”


Chicken Little’s Anti-Party Masterpiece (N.C. Article)

The Chicken Little faction left the party with unseemly haste. 3 days before they got out Jared produced a document explaining their position. But they sought to prevent it from getting into the hands of anyone but pure Boston members. This positions paper represents a precise reversal of every stand which the party (verbally supported by the delegates from Boston) took at the Convention last summer.

Chicken Little does not present an analysis of the objective situation. But in his report it becomes clear: crisis for US bosses, increased oppression of workers and mass revolt against imperialism inspire him with fear. He says:

During periods when things aren’t so bad for the workers, you can’t even launch a mass movement without fighting serious ideological obstacles. This is for instance still true in Lynn....It is already less true at places like Mack, where things are much sharper and the workers are much more rebellious...People will rebel without our presence if things are real bad. If things are objectively sharp enough, we can become involved in what seem like very sharp struggles... but during which we do no ideological work...At a later stage, if things get worse(for workers) it would be possible to recruit lots of workers DESPITE THEIR PROFOUND DISAGREEMENT WITH A PARTY LIKE OURS WHICH HAD NEVER STRUGGLED MUCH WITH THEM. Pretty soon, we would drop the pretense and have a plain revisionist party.

This line has a “left” cover about “fighting serious ideological obstacles”. Presumably, according to Chicken Little, the rest of the party is uninterested in fighting racism, anti-communism etc., in these struggles and advancing the idea of dictatorship of the proletariat.

This is a sick joke. But in looking more closely at Jared’s argument, it is clear that he is the one who does not want to take on these “serious ideological obstacles” within the class struggle because he does not want to get involved in this struggle at all. The main point of his analysis is to talk down getting involved in the increasingly sharp rebellions of workers. Mack Avenue is the primary example. But he especially stresses how horrible it would be if due to the new situation we could recruit lots of workers and become a working class party with real mass influence.

Recruitment of workers, dismissed by sneering “at a low level”, is the main sign of revisionism, according to Chicken Little. For a man who pretends to place such emphasis on ideological struggle, Chicken Little has little confidence that these militant workers can be wn to fight for socialism (only students, ex-students and bosses really understand!). Beyond this, he has even less confidence that the present Boston faction can win any of these workers, because though things are really getting bad elsewhere, in Lynn, where the GE concentration was not going too well, the problem was not in the party’s work, especially its lack of boldness and real involvement in the class struggle, but in “ideological obstacles” among the workers. Or as the old “new working class” forces in SDS used to say, American workers are reactionary.

In the first paragraph, Jared gives the impression that the Boston leadership was the main force in the party struggling against the right wing trend, and that the Steering Committee in NY (not to mention the rest of the NC) is the source of this trend. (“The struggle over the party’s move to the right has been going on between party leaders and others in New England and the Steering Committee leadership in New York for over a year”). This is of course a lie. But let us look more closely at this new “left” line from Boston. Jared says that the struggle at the convention was against “the ultra-rightist position on Challenge – that it should be liberal. The implication of this was NO PARTY.” According to Jared, the Chicken Little faction of course is better. It is for “ideological struggle”. In fact, however, the Chicken Little faction is out in words as well as in action to destroy the party.

Chicken Little says:

The main question in our practical work has always been: what is key? Simply gaining tactical leadership and being loved for gains we deliver? Or is the party’s main task to seek out the ideological obstacles to the development of the movement and defeat these?

Very little of the latter gets done. Thus in Wally Linder’s critique (Bull #3) of 1199 strike he completely concentrates on a) the tactical methods of leading a strike (which any sensible group of workers can figure out without us, given the incentive, b) the need for the party to guarantee these tactical steps.

Now the essence of the conception of a communist party as opposed to a loose educational society is precisely its organized, military aspect, its ability to participate in, and learn from the class struggle and advance it to a higher level. These struggles especially trade union struggles are schools for communism. Yet we have just begun to participate in – and make headway in – the unions.

Wally’s article a makes a profound self-criticism around this point: in the 1199 strike, despite having called for a strike for months, we did not have the approach of taking leadership. Many of our members in trade unions are not yet “sensible workers”; we ourselves have not yet learned from other workers how to give such leadership. If we do not yet understand this point, how we going to be able to draw the real lessons of these struggles, to advance them to a higher level? By standing outside them and putting out a leaflet that Mack Avenue was adventurist (a “fiasco” screams Chicken Little) like the Labor Committee? Our ability to give concrete leadership around, our basic ideas: fight to win, flight racism, fight the government, fight for internationalism, fight for socialism, etc. depends on our participating in, and learning how to take leadership in these struggles. There is no way to learn these lessons without participating in practice. The line “ideological struggle” against “tactics” is not the position of a communist party (which is to learn how to give strategic and tactical leadership trough practice – bold action – in the class struggle). It is the typical position of the various degenerate trotskyist sects. In fact Chicken Little’s article enables any not too “sensible” trade union members in the Boston group–and fortunately for Chicken Little there are not too many–to feel comfortable standing outside of strikes and putting forward “ideological” pronouncements. We wish them the same greetings that the Mack Avenue strikers gave the Labor Committee.

Two key elements of the party–participating in and providing strategic and tactical leadership in the class struggle, and specifically fighting for leadership in the unions, are attacked in Chicken Little’s report. Conclusion from this alone: no party.

Beyond this, our party is a working class party. But Chicken Little wants a party without workers, especially minority workers. He also wants a party without enthusiasm for serving the working class and party members without commitment:

Instead (of discovering the Boston group’s “magic”) we’ve seen a weakness develop into a line. Be good tacticians. Be bold. Recruit so we can plan the struggle collectively. Let workers in. Develop a semi-religious spirit of enthusiasm in the party.

Don’t let workers in – who is Chicken Little calling on? Not the workers in the party. Like Boston, Chicken Little says, keep the party mainly student. In fact, Chicken Little’s main example of a good struggle is the Harvard strike of 1969 (talk about living in the past, the Boston group has done nothing even about Herrnstein who is at Harvard) as against Mack Avenue. The report resurrects the idea that the party has a policy of “racism vs. students”?!! Anyone remember the old racist “new working class” pamphlet “student as nigger”?

Who’s party is it, workers or students? The workers (and all serious members) of the party want to be a working class party. Chicken Little wants something else.

Chicken Little clearly feels no enthusiasm for revolution. He protests himself a “very loyal” communist (p. 1) and yet was afraid to fight for any of his bourgeois ideas within the party. On the question of commitment, he says

Bob (Leonhardt) reported that Milt felt key weakness in party was lack of commitment. People had to learn to be ready to move, leave family, die, be like Stalin who walked through prison camp gauntlet of flailing sticks reading a bok by Lenin (we feel this dead wrong. Main task is to give daily leadership to each other on how to fight among masses over key obstacles to forward-movement of work.

Enthusiasm for revolution – always called religious-fanatical by cynical exploiters–lifetime commitment to revolution, loyalty to the party as the key instrument of revolution, loyalty to the working class are admirable concepts. They represent qualities which we should strive to encourage and develop in all of our members and friends. We aim to serve the working class, not “each other”. As for Chicken Little, if he and his friends are “committed” to and giving “daily leadership”, what then is copping out?

If workers are no good and commitment does not exist, minority workers, and minority leaders of the party especially bad. Aside from the attack on Mack Avenue, aside from the fact that the most oppressed workers – minority workers – are the ones to whom the party belongs, most belongs, and whom should most serve, every every minority leader of the party, especially new leaders, are attacked by the Chicken Little faction. Walt R. is responsible for the work in Detroit. Yet according to Chicken Little, Mack Avenue is a “fiasco” (and at the Boston meeting last Wednesday, Walt was called a “failure”). Similarly Dolores G. is the editor of Challenge-Desafio but C-D is now “revisionist”. Luis C. is “intolerable”. John Harris is singled out for special attack:

Harris’(West Coast organizer’s) position: recruitment of black, not fight racism among white workers is key task of party. What this meant was have to concentrate on making friends with blacks and ”let them in”...Harris’ concluding speech was typical of convention: full of rah-rah, very little that was political.

Minority leaders of the party (duped by Milt no doubt) had a special enthusiasm for the party’s line at the convention–and that’s bad according to Chicken Little.

But if the snivelling Chicken Little faction is now upset by John’s speech (though they weren’t at the time) that is only because its leadership is racist and anti-working class.

Internationalism is a basic concept of our party and of the Convention. We forged closer relations with the Canadian Party of Labor and the Puerto Rican Socialist League and began discussion as a first step in the protracted process of developing a new international. First steps in the communist movement are often small and difficult. But they also often lead to great working class movements. The Convention was enthusiastic at this first step. Let Chicken Little and the exploiters scoff:

The highest point of convention was supposedly a) the presence of many foreign students (big deal! how hard is that to achieve?)...

Our party will continue to work toward the renewal of an international working class movement.

Finally, Chicken Little continues to protest his agreement with RR III [Road to Revolution 3 – EROL]. In RR III we examined the process of working class revolution and showed how our party emerged from the historical development of the working class movement and Marxism-Leninism, how we learned from this movement’s great achievements as well as from its weaknesses. In RR III we made a brief analysis of Stalin, and concluded that his role was mainly to develop and defend the dictatorship of the proletariat, and secondarily, that he had made serious errors. That position was reaffirmed in the pre-convention discussion, especially Stalin’s (the Soviet CP’s) leadership of people’s war to defeat the Nazis. At the Convention, Chicken Little congratulated the authors of these articles and browbeat comrades from San Francisco who were critical of Stalin. But now the ruling class, in response to the decline of US imperialism and increasing revolt, is waging a big campaign around Nazi-lover Soldsomeshitsyn to build the anti-communist idea among workers that communists are murderers. And how does the Chicken Little, faced with this severe “ideological obstacle”, respond? By snivelling against an article in Challenge:

The Challenge before the Sit Down issue...has an article on Soldsomshitsin which completely eulogizes Stalin–a far cry from the stand in Road to Revolution 3.

As if this comment were not enough, Chicken Little felt driven to scribble the only comment in pen in his whole article: “(even the weak) stand”...

We reaffirm that one of Stalin’s good points was his ruthless attitude toward factionalists who would destroy the party.

Though every position in Chicken Little’s masterpiece represents a reversal from his (and the Boston faction’s) verbal stands at the Convention, Chicken Little wants to rewrite history. He says twice:

Let’s reopen the political discussion that was kept in very narrow limits before the Convention, then basically suppressed at the Convention. (p. 2)

The Convention was much sharper. There the left was systematically suppressed. (p. 4)

Now, one form of classical anti-communism, especially familiar to those who were involved in the pre-1969 SDS, is that ideas which are never expressed, are nonetheless being “suppressed” by communists. Certain ideas which have a basis in the minds of alls student and ex-student comrades were “suppressed” at the Convention.

For instance we reaffirmed our determination to become more fully a party of workers, especially minority workers. Even though the members of the Chicken Little faction didn’t put these ideas forward at the Convention, we can see now how ”suppressed” this faction feels, if not by the concept, then by the increasing practice in this direction.

Secondly, there was a major ideological struggle at the Convention over whether or not the bourgeoisie should continue to exist under socialism. This idea was defeated – and the bourgeoisie will be suppressed. The Chicken Little faction is already more fearful of the party, the workers and the dictatorship of the proletariat than it is of the ruling class – and if we continue to go forward they will have much more to be afraid of.

“Chicken Little’s Empire” or The Party is not for sale

The Chicken Little Faction’s political opposition to the party’s line is of very recent origin. For them in fact, this qualitative flip-flop occurred only at the end of a long process. Jared’s leadership in Boston was always characterized by an underlying factional tone – in Boston we know how to do things better. By subtle sniping, he gradually won others to this outlook and created an atmosphere of factionalism. (Years ago, before Jared was removed from the NC for the first time, for instance, the party in Boston put out “PL BOSTON NEWS”, an elaborate magazine which filtered the “crude” working class line of Challenge-Desafio for students).

This kind of atmosphere is extremely poisonous in a revolutionary party. Instead of principled political struggle, dishonesty, gossip, back-biting and anti-communism (directed at a working class line) gradually develop, and as the class struggle sharpens can come out qualitatively in such farcical events as the recent formation of the Chicken Little faction.

Historically, every communist organization has been characterized by a struggle to transform intellectuals into serious communists. Marxist-Leninist ideas have first taken hold among intellectuals – for instance in Russia and China, and in every case, there has been a process of transition to becoming a party of the working class. Lenin and Mao stressed this development. A political struggle has raged in such parties between the line of rely on the workers, become a party of the working class, and the revisionist line of rely on the “good” or “progressive” rulers, the workers cannot be trusted, won to socialism, etc. The collective process of the party – which combines political discussion and evaluation based on Marxism-Leninism with disciplined practice is a tremendous vehicle for overcoming these class weaknesses and propelling the class struggle forward. But in every case, as the class struggle sharpens, as for instance now, US imperialism decays, and the imperialists intensify the oppression of workers, increasingly push racism and anti-communism, in such situations, class struggle in the party has always intensified, has always led the working class line of the party sharpening and to some developing the ruling class line. If the members who develop a revisionist line, are willing to participate in inner-party struggle, in accordance with democratic centralism, then they can often be won away from these revisionist ideas. But it is a law of the revolutionary process that some forces of this kind will not be won over, as the party moves forward and grows stronger, such forces become full-fledged revisionists, give up a communist approach to organizing, form factions, become kings of the mountain, or in this case, toads in the mire of the Boston sewer system, and finding themselves “suppressed” in a workers’ party, break away.

The current development in our party is a sign of our forward movement toward becoming a working class party with mass influence. In the next section we will explore some of our weaknesses, however, in failing to prevent this factional development from affecting so much of the Boston organization.

At the January 4-6 NC meeting, the factional spirit in Boston, led by Jared and Ellen Israel, became evident to the whole National Committee, On Jan. 5, Jared, Ellen and Martie R. engaged in a factional explosion. In Chicken Little’s report he does not specify the discussion in which this outburst occurred:

Later in that day, when Jared tried to raise a few serious criticisms of the work in NY, and then answered a question why he sounded nervous by saying he’d been trying to raise such points with Milt and expected to be given a hard time, the roof fell in.

The NC had just been discussing the qualitatively changed situation in the country and the need for bold action, particularly in auto and to build May Day. The Boston members of the NC, up to this point, had agreed with the discussion. As an organizational step in putting the party on a war footing in auto, it was proposed that Wally Linder head up the national auto concentration, and focused on the line of the party on developing the class struggle in auto, and especially on the fact that a worker, Derek, was being brought into leadership in the party, Jared exploded. He launched a vitriolic attack on Wally for misdeveloping Derek, attacked the WAM convention in Detroit, etc., and linked this up to weaknesses in the steering Committee (especially Milt) in developing new leaders. Jared’s solution – don’t bring Derek into leadership (in Derek’s first week of leading NY t.u. section, he got it out to support 4 strikes – which was a first). Aside from the class nature of Jared’s proposal, which the NC did not recognize at the time, everyone was taken aback at the poisonous, non-constructive character of Jared’s diatribe. Ellen, in the only time she spoke at the meeting, agreed with him. Wally spoke. When he said he tried to be open to criticism, Jared burst out “This is embarrassing!” Then Martie R. let the cat out of the bag. “Why is everyone so defensive here? Jim Dann (who had not been defensive over an earlier disagreement) and Wally especially. Why in Boston we really know how to criticize each other. We criticise each other so well that sometimes I end up in tears.”

By now the whole thing was getting ludicrous. The discussion continued, having shifted away from its original focus. Many pointed to the factional character of the Boston outburst. Jared spoke again – Ellen tried to shush him “don’t let it all out now”. At the end of the discussion Milt said that it was clear to everyone in the room what was happening, and was self-critical that he had allowed this development to go on in Boston for so long. He suggested that the steering committee meet with the Boston leadership to deal with it.

After the meeting, Levi went off with Jared. Jared was in a state of paranoid near-hysteria. “Who sent you?” (See L.L. letter) he asked. “I know how it feels to be isolated.” He had the attitude of keeping a leash on Martie and Ellen, “his entourage”, and Levi had to struggle with him (and them) to get them to come to the dinner for NC members and friends that evening.

Chicken Little’s Business Venture

At that dinner, some of the personal causes of Jared’s and Ellen’s deterioration became clear. Ellen Israel, who sat sullenly next to Jared throughout the dinner perked at only one point. Jared, who had been drinking a good deal, suddenly sobered up at the same point. Levi’s brother–a film editor–was there. When the Israels discovered what he did, they asked

“How do you screen out the background noise in a film about teaching tennis to children?” Levi’s brother, knowing that he was at a dinner for NC members of the Progressive Labor Party, did a double-take (“are you going into the film business?” he later asked Levi), but finally told them.

Later on, Jared, hoping to paper things over, leaned over to Milt, took $400 out of his pocket and said, with a boss’s largesse “Here you are, boy.” Normally, money is turned in by NC members at the beginning of an NC meeting, and without the “high style.”

The development of Jared from an ex-student with anti-working class habits into Chicken Little the businessman, had been recent. Last spring, Jared’s father, who owned a record business, died. Before he died, Jared had told Milt and others that he hated his father, who was an old revisionist. After he died however, Jared admitted that he was very shook up by it. He asked the steering committee for help with his mother’s business for a while, and then bragged to others (for instance Levi) that he was getting a salary from his mother now, not the party, and that for doing nothing. Actually he commuted to New York at least once a week, consulted with his mother often over the telephone, involved other party members in the business (John Pennington as a photographer, Laury H. as a tennis pro), and became preoccupied with it. By the time of this NC meeting, he was already trying to involve his friends around the country in this enterprise. He tried to interest Alan G. in writing film strips, and at the NC dinner, proposed a similar venture to Freddy Jerome. His mother noted this development – it later turned out – to the point of suggesting that since there was such conflict between being a revolutionary leader and being a businessman, he should drop out of the party.

After Saturday night, Milt discussed these development with other NC members, including Freddy, Levi and Alan, and made an appointment with Jared for Tuesday morning to raise with him that he should either get out of business or resign from the NC, resign from the party, and be a friend.

On Monday, Alan went up to Boston to meet with his thesis advisor. Jared was very anxious to get together with him–called him several times and suggested he take a cab (which Jared even offered to pay for) over to see him. When Alan arrived Jared told him he was personally hurt by Alan.) (not the others) criticizing him for factionalism in the meeting since Alan (who was responsible for the student work in Boston until he went to LA) did not know the situation. Jared wanted to tell him his side of the story. He then said that he agreed with the party line 100% but thought the rest of the party especially Milt had a wrong line on party building (cadre development). The key to this was intensive personal political struggle (the embryo of the line of Chicken Little’s masterpiece). Jared said that the party had a left (Jared), a Center (Milt) and a right (Freddy). He said that the left had emerged from the Harvard strike and included Alan in it. Finally, he told Alan not to say anything about his discussion to anyone else on the NC. Aside from the factional spirit of the argument, this proposal – to join the Boston faction whose implications have now become clear – was a gross attack on the NC and on the party. Still somewhat under Jared’s influence as a friend, Alan told him that he would probably tell Bob Leonhardt, which he did the next day. Jared tried to reassure Aim that his main aim was to build the party, that he had great plans for Boston, and that he hoped nothing would happen to disrupt the work. If Alan did talk to Bob, he should emphasize these points.

On Tuesday morning Milt met with Jared. Jared agreed to give up the business and was very self-critical. Milt told Jared that he had discussed tie problem of Jared’s business with others on the NC including Alan. Jared said nothing about his conversation with Alan of the preceding evening.

Milt returned to NY thinking it had all been too easy; Bob informed him about the factional discussion which Jared had had with Alan.

The situation with Jared was clearly very serious. The steering committee met and decided that the solution would be for Jared to leave Boston and move to NY where he would remain on the NC and help with PL magazine (Ellen would also be asked to resign from the NC). The steering committee hoped that others in the Boston leadership would develop to lead the work. The steering committee also asked Alan to write up his conversation with Jared which he did.

The steering committee then met with Jared and showed him the letters from Alan and Levi. Jared agreed with all the criticisms. He said he had known he was wrong the minute Alan head left his house (wrong probably because he knew Alai didn’t agree with him). But he burst out in tears and whimpered ”I’m devastated” by the proposal that he move to NY (greater sacrifices have been and will be asked of communists). He recovered himself and protested that the proposal to move was too harsh and would ”destroy the work” in Boston. This concept was already a clear indication of his King of the Mountain, cult of the Jared, attitude (Without Jared, he argued, eighty party members in Boston would certainly fall apart. Unfortunately, under Jared’s leadership, most of those 80 members have in fact fallen apart.) When asked would he move to NY if he were asked to become the party chairman, however, Jared said, “of course.” “Promotion,” not serving the working class, was Jared’s aim.

Jared said: “Give me the benefit of the doubt – let me stay in Boston – I’ve got great plans”. The steering committee replied: give the party the benefit of the doubt – move to NY. Jared said he would go along with it, since that was the party’s decision. He agreed that later that week, there would be a meeting of the Boston leadership to which Milt and Wally would come, at which Jared would make the self-criticisms and propose the move.

But Chicken Little – still having raised no “political” criticisms – had lied through his teeth.

He postponed the meeting for nearly two weeks (the stench of factionalism was already so strong around Boston that Chicken Little could write in his masterpiece “Most of you have been in study groups on the right-wing trend over the past two weeks.”) Then last Tuesday (Feb.5) Milt and Wally arrived for the meeting. They had expected to meet with Jared early; however they looked into the living room and saw the Boston leadership and a number of others.

Milt took Jared aside and asked him what was the nature of the meeting. Jared said: this meeting is a rebellion against the terrible decision of the steering committee. The meeting started – Jared said Milt and Wally would not be allowed to speak unless he called on them.

Jared had been organizing his faction openly in Boston for two weeks. The meeting was an ambush. Milt and Wally nonetheless tried to discuss things with them for some time although the meeting was like watching a bad comedy. “In Boston we do quality recruitment,” they said, “everyone else recruits shit.” ”Challenge is revisionist”. “The convention was revisionist”. After the first wave of heated discussion subsided things became quiet for a time, until suddenly someone brought up the Challenge article on Soldsomeshitsyn which praised Stalin. Faces got red – an even more heated display followed. Anti-communism was clearly a motivating passion in this faction. They continued “Lenin is shit”. “Stalin is shit”.

By now Milt and Wally found this meeting pretty amusing. “We demand” said the Boston leadership, that Jared and Ellen stay, there be a year of political discussion and then a new convention. Asked what he thought, Milt suggested that the Boston leadership expel Jared and Ellen from PL for factionalism and that he would recommend that to the NC. As Milt and Wally left Jared – red in the face – came running after them. “You fools”, he hissed, “All you had to do was agree that I could stay in Boston and we could have patched things up. You’re losing all these members and money.”

“I don’t like deals”. Milt said. “The Party’s not for sale.”

To Chicken Little – who had expected that Milt and Wally would buckle under – rather than laugh at the prospect of losing all those members and money, this seemed insanity (and so to every exploiter for whom money, not the working class, is the main question).

“Listen” shouted Chicken Little “I’m not Bill Epton. I have a base.” This is Kid Israel, the world’s first communist – look out.

The new political line had emerged. Lenin is shit. Stalin is shit. The NC is shit. Recruits outside of Boston are shit. Mack Avenue was shit. Challenge-Desafio is shit. The Convention was shit. Only Boston doesn’t stink – the only true communists. But if these are “communists”, what then are revisionists?

Between Tuesday and Saturday, Chicken Little and his friends scurried around madly. An all party meeting Wednesday night brought out pent-up anti-communist, anti-working class and racist sentiments. One member of the Chicken Little faction called Barbara H. in LA and said that the meeting was “euphoric”. Meanwhile the Boston faction had refused to tell 4 steering committee members (Bob, Janet, Dolores, and Levi) who had tried to come to the meeting, where it was being held. Their euphoria was coupled with fear of any political struggle (2 weeks of factional study groups was not enough for Chicken Little to feel confident). Chicken Little however told the NC members that there would be a meeting that Sunday (Feb 10) when NC members would be invited. That meeting was cancelled.

The euphoria was dampened however, by the rejection that the Chicken Little group received from all the factional phone calling the next morning. Except for Debbie and Bruce A., who had flown in from Detroit for the Wednesday meeting, the rest of the party stood firm.

Thursday, Chicken Little produced his masterpiece. Friday, 2 members from Boston who had abstained in the Wednesday vote had gone to NY. When they came back, they were placed under house arrest by members of the Chicken Little faction (their phones were answered for them, their address books were taken, and they were told that if they contacted New York, the Chicken Little faction would call all their friends and denounce them, etc.) The level of insanity which it had taken the Labor Committee four years to develop, the Chicken Little faction had achieved in less than 4 days. Hail the “new” guru, Chicken Little.

Saturday when the NC was meeting to discuss the Boston cop out, the Chicken Little faction held another emergency meeting and resigned en masse from the party. So much for their interest in “political discussion”. Under Chicken Little’s leadership they were too much in fear for their lives even to hold a meeting on Sunday to which two NC members would have gone.

Not revolutionary daring, but the cowardice of the exploiters is the new spirit of the Chicken Little faction.

Self-criticism

The Chicken Little faction in itself is not very significant. Though the defection of so many people in Boston is a setback, it is related to the new steps we have taken toward becoming a working class party. It also shows the weaknesses in those steps – and how much our real problem is still ourselves. While Chicken Little himself was probably not salvageable, many other comrades in Boston might have been won with a. better approach on the following questions:

1) the struggle around the class contradiction (students/workers) in the party. No one on the NC on Jan. 5 saw immediately that Jared’s outburst was related to the proposal that Derek become t.u. organizer in N.Y. Furthermore Jared and Ellen were allowed to pursue an anti-working class lifestyle (they would sit on the couch all day, each one on their separate phone while the kids ran up and down – interspersed with Jared and Ellen’s frequent fights. No one in the party felt comfortable visiting them, let alone their neighbors) with relatively weak struggle even before Jared was allowed to “temporarily” help his bereaved mother in business. Jared and Ellen were allowed to set a tone which rubbed off on others.

This contradiction, as noted above, is as old as the international communist movement. Failure to grasp it sharply is a class question. We must develop, as a main lesson of this experience, a method of training student and ex-student comrades in a much more fully working class outlook.

2) this point is linked to the failure to struggle sharply enough against the anti-working class tendencies in Boston as shown in its relatively weak involvement in the unions and fight against racism (especially its failure to win many minority workers or fight racism in the unions). The best way to carry out the party’s line and defeat attacks like the Wagler incident or the appearance of the Nazis at the School Board in SF is through getting workers in our unions to fight against them.

3) “Boston arrogance” became a joke throughout the party. It should not have been a joke – it should have been fought against harder and sooner. Many NC members let examples pass because Boston was “doing good work”.

The outburst against Stalin is of particular significance. RR III puts forward the view of revolution as an historical process. But the NC has generally not fought for this view enough. It has tended to dismiss the history of the working class movement and say, well – Stalin – Trotsky, etc., that’s old hat. What’s that got to do with us? Screaming headlines in the papers every day–communists are murderers, worse than the bosses (coupled with NY Times stories on the Labor Committee – from lunacy to savagery) are designed to build anti-communism. We have allowed an anti-historical view of the working class movement to continue in the party. The NC has led in training our party inadequately in viewing a constant internal struggle (for instance, the contradiction of transforming parties from mainly intellectuals to mainly workers), a process with great achievements (Paris Commune, Russian Revolution, defeating Nazis in WW II, Chinese revolution, great proletarian cultural revolution, sit-down strikes in US) to its credit. If we saw ourselves as part of this process despite the triumph of revisionism in the old communist movement, our former members in Boston would not have been so open to the illusion that the whole working class movement is shit – only they are “communists”.

The real lessons to be drawn from this experience are about ourselves. Without a sharper push to get into the unions, to lead strikes, to win workers to the party, to fight racism and anti-communism and to transform ourselves in this direction, we cannot go forward toward the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Our party, outside Boston, held solid as a rock under this attack. Our party has continued the forward movement marked by RR III and the recent PL convention. At this latest NC meeting, the commitment of all the NC members and also of many newer leaders of the party especially workers seemed strengthened by this experience. We must turn that increased commitment into sharper action against the bosses.