Exchange with a former Spartacist
The following are lightly edited excerpts from a recent communication with a former Spartacist:
I’ve checked periodically over the years and have tended to agree with your co-thinkers, and my instinct is to agree with those of you who reject the claim that Russia is imperialist.
I think, as I have for decades, that the main task was for many years archival, and I salute you for having carried it out. You have preserved the program and the analysis and kept it available online.
It will be discovered.
An upsurge could have been expected, but not the form it took. From that first night the police station in Minneapolis went up in flames, BLM was anti-state, integrated, and primarily a movement of the young working class. Identity politics, the more overtly reactionary version of what we used to call single-issue stuff, disappeared. Sexual harassment? You have to deal with all my sisters, and my brothers. The US Supreme Court makes an LGBT ruling and there are LGBT Black Lives Matter demonstrations that night across America. That was in the wake of a small pre-pandemic strike wave, including one that, sold-out though it was, looked like a win—the first win for our side in years.
And so, there will be lots of folks looking around. Online, in bookstores, and in libraries. And some will figure it out.
I grew up in a fairly poor working-class neighbourhood….A bunch of us, determined not to go to factories, decided we were Marxists, communists, and Trotskyists. [Two future Spartacists] didn’t find us, we went looking for them. Now, if that could happen with a bunch of fifteen year-olds in a backwater, imagine what’s already starting in NYC, Boston, Austin, and L.A.
So, while I could never have worked up the enthusiasm or staying power for the tasks you assumed, I can appreciate that you guys could and did.
Good to hear from you and thanks for your kind words. I am glad that you are still broadly in tune with Trotskyism. You may have seen where we were tweaking our former associates for their unwillingness to explain the role of Russian “imperialism” in Venezuela, Cuba, etc., or how they view the bloc between Russia and the Chinese deformed workers’ state….
Anyone reading our 1982 founding declaration can see that the main elements of our analysis of what was going wrong with the Spartacist League at that point have been borne out. Our continuing coverage of the SL as it sank ever deeper into overt revisionism and brain-dead cultism also stands up pretty well I think: what started with marching around under the flag of the Salvadoran popular front, identifying with [Soviet leader] Yuri Andropov and calling for saving the U.S. Marines in Lebanon, concluded with the “Hydra” statement’s wholesale repudiation of much of what distinguished the SL from its centrist competitors….(we addressed this in our pamphlet “Leninism & Nationalism.”)
The willingness of most of the SL cadre to swallow anything and everything Robertson said—which perhaps climaxed with the unanimous approval (and subsequent unanimous rejection) in 2010 of the U.S. military intervention in Haiti—demonstrated that nothing remained of the Marxist impulse that launched the RT [Revolutionary Tendency—the SL’s forerunner in the early 1960s]. We had always presumed, or at least hoped, that by telling the truth and identifying the links in the pattern of mounting revisionism it might be possible to salvage some elements of the core cadre, who could be valuable in putting together an organization based on the SL’s historic program of significantly larger dimensions than what we have thus far been able to build. Over the years we won a few cadres as well as the sympathy and cooperation of a somewhat larger layer… but the big split we had hoped for never took place and, in the end, most of them ended up dropping out and/or drinking the Kool Aid.
You are absolutely right that there is a huge potential for leftist growth within the U.S. (and virtually every other imperialist country) and that we are likely to see a resurgence of a wave of serious subjective revolutionaries. This may provide the opportunity, perhaps initially through a process of splits and fusions involving existing groups as well as newly developing ones, to forge a serious revolutionary cadre formation with at least the capacity of the CLA of 1933 or the SL of the mid-1970s—which could provide the basis for winning influence within a section of the working class. We are doing what we can, given our very limited resources, to hasten such a development.