18790Re: A critical reading of Resistance by John Percy
- Jun 15, 2005By Bob Gould
Sol Salbe's critique of John Percy's book has some value, as far as it
goes. He details a number of obvious errors.
Nevertheless, Sol acts as a kind of attorney for John Percy. He says
that Percy's errors and omissions are mistakes, and he implies that
his old friend, Bob Gould, who he helped to hunt out of the old
Resistance, is a trifle paranoid in not accepting that Percy's
mis-statements are simple mistakes.
As I said in the first piece I wrote about Percy's book, it's rather
fascinating to be the Goldstein figure in a book like Percy's, with
about 80 mentions, 70 of them derogatory.
Apparently I'm mildly paranoid because I draw attention to this.
Come off it, Sol. Percy's book is an expanded version of the lectures
he has been giving for 20 years, so he has had plenty of time to
correct the errors of fact if he was a serious historian.
If Sol has been following carefully the numerous articles that I've
written on various aspects of Percy's book, it was only in the first
one that I dealt at length with Percy's slanders of me.
Towards the end of my assessment of the book, after another few
articles, in a month or two, I'll deal with further slanders of myself
in greater detail.
What I've mainly written about so far is Percy's rewriting of the
history of the labour movement and his false and inaccurate treatment
of the activities of a number of people other than myself.
The old Australian Trotskyists at whose feet I served my political
apprenticeship, who as John Percy is fond of saying were a small and
beleagured group, approached politics from the point of view of the
necessities of the class struggle and the crisis of leadership in the
labour movement and the working class.
They regarded organisational arrangements as flowing out of the
objective needs of the class struggle, which was one of the reasons
they chose to pursue the entry tactic.
From the moment when John and Jim Percy had their lightning bolt from
New York about the critical importance of the Cannonist form of
organisation, a lightning bolt which I precipitated by suggesting that
they read Cannon (not anticipating the bizarre consequences that would
ensue), the Percy current has proceeded from the interests of its
sect-like organisation, rather than the needs dictated by the ebb and
flow of the class struggle and the crisis of leadership in the labour
movement and the working class.
Percy's book is shot through with this obsession with organisation and
with building his sect as a thing in itself. By assembling it all in a
book, Percy has opened the way to a sustained and careful critique,
which is what I'm engaged in and will continue until I'm finished,
which will take some little time.
One striking thing about Percy's book is his cavalier attitude to
detail, which Sol focuses on. In this Percy's book is very like Denis
Freney's autobiography, A Map of Days, which is also very cavalier
In passing, Sol, you should really try to work out which strategic
approach to the labour movement is the more useful and correct: the
strategic united front approach that I advocate, or the Joshua
strategy of the DSP leadership.
This is an objective question of considerable importance to the
activities of socialists in the labour movement at this time, and a
bob each way isn't much use in current conditions.
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