Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Progressive Labor Party

“Chicken Little in Boston”

Letters from N.C. Members on Chicken Little’s Factionalism

Dear Milt:

This is from a week old memory so some of it is not exact. Jared did most of the talking so I will try to repeat what he said. My general impression of the discussion was that Jared’s attitude was fairly consciously factional (he asked me not to repeat any of this discussion to anyone, he considered me part of the Boston group the “left” in the party) and that it was not simply a mood but had already been rationalized and developed into a “line” (he agrees with the party line but not with its execution). In terms of carrying out the line, the party leadership is divided into left (Jared and Boston), Center (Milt) and Right (Freddy). He was however also torn to some extent – he wanted me to think that his main conclusion was to build the party, that he hasn’t talked to anyone else including Ellen about this, etc. I challenged him at a number of points in the discussion both about the factionalism in his attitude and also about his being wrong about party-building but did not change his mind.

Jared was anxious to see me in Boston. He called twice (first at my mother’s then at my sister-in-law’s) and suggested I take a cab over there. When I got there, Ellen went to bed. He and I chatted briefly and then he told me that he had felt personally hurt by what I said in the NC meeting on Saturday. He said that he expected others to be critical of him but not me, especially since I did not know the situation. I said that I thought what I and others had said in the meeting was right, especially about the factional attitude of the Boston comrades. He said that he had raised criticisms of Bob and the work in NY in the Friday meeting with a constructive attitude. He said he wanted to fill me in on his side of the story about Bob C. especially since Bob Leonhardt had talked to me about what he thought. He related the various Bob C. horror stories and linked them to a sloppy attitude toward recruitment and party building in NY. He also brought up the story of Bonnie B. whom Bob had told Steve E. to work with because we might have been too harsh with her in Boston (he reminded me that at Bob’s request we had done our best to isolate her) and that she had said in a letter that her aim was to destroy the party). Then he said he didn’t blame Bob for this because he was simply doing his job (carrying through on what Milt tells him to do) but rather that this was Milt’s fault.

Jared said he hadn’t intended to tell me all this, but then continued to anyway. He said he agreed with the party’s line 100% which he thought came from Milt. But he thought Milt and the party leadership in general were very lazy or sloppy in the application of it, especially party building. He thought he was better in this, because at least he thought the situation in Boston was horrendous and was trying to correct it. He thought the character of his disagreement was that he was raising the consequences of Milt’s line with Milt. He said he had raised criticisms with Milt about this many times in the past year, hut that Milt had not listened. Milt is older and somewhat set in his habits about these things. He thought trying to raise this criticism as he had done in the Saturday meeting was subjective, because the right wing drift was stronger than he had thought. In answer to questions I had raised about his attitude toward the party and his factionalism, he said that his conclusion was to work harder and build the party and to show that his line was correct in practice.

He thought Janet F. was a failure as student organiser and that was because Milt had not given her enough help. He saw the big increase in party membership in the Boston slabovia work as an indication of successful party building. He said that this left wing strength had emerged in Boston because of the Harvard strike (and he included me part of it) and that it consisted in an attitude of real political struggle and trying to win people. He said that Milt regarded him as a “wizard” and didn’t understand how he could win people in this way (i.e. through these political discussions). He brought up the case of Barbara D. She had told Milt she was going to quit the party. Milt told Jared. Jared urged Milt to talk with her. Instead he went on vacation. She quit. Milt then asked Jared to talk with her and Jared won her to stay in. He said that I was another example. When I was putting forward that the NLF was good along with Dave L., Milt and others were set to write me off as allied with him. Jared struggled with me and won me over. He said that Milt’s general attitude toward him was that he was very productive (Milt didn’t understand why) and that he had to be managed. He said that the essence of his approach (as opposed to being lazy) was to stay up until three in the morning with people if necessary.

He said I should look at the NC meetings more politically. There was a left (Jared), a center (Milt) and a right (Freddy). This showed up for example in the discussions about whether Jared should be on the NC subcommittee about the Slabovia work (though he did not feel it was so important that he be on that committee because he did not disagree with this line which would be formulated, just the execution of it). Also that Freddy did not mention the striking increase in Boston membership in this work in his report.

He said again that his main conclusion from all this was to built the party and that who was correct would be shown in practice.

He said he hoped there wouldn’t be a big struggle around what happened Saturday at the meeting, because it might disrupt the work in Boston and a lot had to be done. He asked me not to mention our discussion with anyone else. He was thinking particularly of people on the West Coast. He said the result of the Saturday discussion and his subjectivity in it would be to make people wary of taking advice from the Boston comrades, but since it was usually good advice, they would come around over time. If I told anybody it would strengthen this tendency to resist advice from Boston. I told him I might tell Bob. He asked me to emphasize that he wasn’t worried about Bob C. and was out to build the party. He said that he was glad to have talked to me because he hadn’t talked to anyone even his wife about this.

Alan G.

* * *


Dear Milt,

After the Saturday session of the NC meeting I had a three hour conversation with Jared. I initiated this because I was particularly angered and surprised by Jared’s attitude during the last two hours of the meeting.

When we got out on the street I saw Jared talking with Martie. I went up and asked him where Ellen was, as I had hoped to talk to her too. He said that she had already gone home. Why? Because she was very upset and angry with him. Why him? Because he was the one who persuaded her (against her original wishes) to join the National Committee. I burst out: “You’ve got to be kidding. You’re crazy.” Jared turned and walked away.

I went off to the Subway but quickly changed my mind and came back after him. He was walking with Martie. I apologized for losing my temper and asked him to come with me so that we could talk these things over. He agreed, but instructed Martie, who was going to the Israel’s apartment, that she must not say anything to Ellen. He was quite serious and repeated this emphatically as Martie walked off.

Jared was extremely agitated. I told him that I considered his remark about him persuading his wife to join the NC to be offensive and anti-communist. He disagreed. He was very suspicious of my reasons for talking to him. He asked me: “Who sent you? Did they tell you to come and talk to me? ...” I know that I’m no longer trusted... because I wanted to talk to Milt just now, but he refused and said that it would be better to talk these things over collectively...”, “...they are double talking me...”, “... I don’t want to talk to you because anything that I say will be considered factional...”

We went into a bar and had a few drinks. Jared did most of the talking. It was very difficult to interrupt him and equally difficult to get him to listen. He insisted that I didn’t understand what was going on at the NC meeting. That I might understand if I would hear his version of the Bob C. story. Only then would it be clear that Bob had violated Democratic Centralism, and that Bob, by giving Jared a series of evasive answers, had only been covering for Milt, whose sloppiness was responsible for the entire affair.

He said that Bob was merely a servant to Milt. That Milt encouraged servility in all those around him. That he Jared had always been servile. I asked him if he was jealous of Bob or for some reason unwilling to accept Bob’s leadership. He dismissed this, explaining that this could not be so because...“Bob is always courting me. He is very anxious to be my friend.”

Jared’s mood varied sharply throughout our talk. Sometimes he would stop himself and say that he never should have talking to me... a few minutes later, with tears in his eyes he’d say: “You are really my friend. What you have done by coming to talk to me after what has happened is real friendship.” And then again...“I shouldn’t be talking to you. Don’t tell anything I said to anyone.” I told him that was ridiculous and he said that he would never talk to me again if I repeated any of this.

From time to time he would say: “My whole life is the party.” “I would die for the party.” “Without the party I’m nothing.” I asked him if he felt that it was necessary to reassure me of his loyalty with all these testimonials but he insisted that it was not so.

It was getting late and I asked him if Ellen was coming to the dinner. He said probably not. I urged him to call her and offered to call myself. He said, no. Only he could talk to her. He finally called and spoke to Ellen and Martie. He said that Martie was helping to persuade Ellen to come and that Martie was “really a beautiful chic.”

I told him that the phrase “Jared’s entourage” really seemed to fit his attitude toward Ellen and Martie, that they were perfectly capable of being party leaders without his over-the-shoulder guidance and that his behavior reflected a lack of confidence in them that was not shared by the rest of us and that hindered and distorted their political development. He disagreed. At this point we arrived at the restaurant and our conversation ended.

I discussed this with Alan this morning and reviewed his letter to Milt. It is not necessary here to repeat our positive assessment of the work in Boston. But I am very worried about the seeming irrational and factional throwback that has seized hold of Jared and is threatening to turn a very good thing into its opposite.

My attitude towards Jared after our talk was that I had talked to a man who had had a momentary fit... but that he had calmed down and recovered his senses. But I am now convinced that the only thing that I got across to Jared that night was that his manner of struggle was incorrect. I do not believe that he changed his thinking about any of the charges that he made to me or subsequently repeated in more elaborate form to Alan.

Alan told me that he felt his relationship with Jared in the past had been very friendly, “... as long as he was part of the team...”, “... that Jared ruled the roost in Boston...”, “... that he had always had great difficulty in struggling with Jared and that the atmosphere at city committee meetings was punctuated with violent outbursts between the Israels, with one or the other leaving the room in anger . . . and that the tense atmosphere of these meetings had its effect... on him ...

Furthermore, Alan had a conversation with the man leading Level II in Boston who bent his ear with another Bob C. type remark regarding a comrade in this work at U. Conn.

In short, the display of factional and arrogant behavior which we all witnessed at the NC is not in my opinion merely the aberration I thought it to be. There is a history to it. I know that our friendship and work with Jared, which goes back twelve years has always had plenty of sharp struggle and that the whole party has benefited greatly from the outcome. I hope the outcome of this one is just as good.