20085Barry Sheppard's two visits to Sydney in 1969
- Jul 18, 2005Truth will out, even 35 years later Barry Sheppard's two visits to
Sydney in 1969 By Bob Gould
Barry Sheppard's account of the US SWP in the 1960s, in his book, The
Party, while useful, is being treated just a little too reverently for
The reception Sheppard's book is getting has a good side, in that it's
encouraging some of the youth in the socialist movement to look at the
sixties again. His straighforward narrative of the development of the
antiwar movement in the US is particularly valuable in this respect.
It's a bit hard to get some of the youth to read about the history of
the movement, and despite my criticisms of Barry Sheppard's book I've
drawn it to the attention of several student activists, as it happens
members of the IS family of currents, because they were doing essays
about the sixties, or studying that era, and they found Sheppard's
book very useful, particularly one comrade who was doing an essay for
a university course about the antiwar movement in the 1960s.
The negative side of Sheppard's book is the way he glamorises the
philistine ultra-centralisation of the US SWP in the Farrell
Dobbs-Jack Barnes era, in which he was a major participant.
In particular, Sheppard's account of his global activities as chief
overseas organiser and enforcer for the US SWP, in which he actually
engaged energetically in setting up clones of the US SWP, and
splitting groups to create those clones, is as phoney as the
proverbial two-bob watch.
Sheppard's account of his visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1969
is Dobbsist blandness and hypocrisy carried to a very high plane.
The reader with an educated eye should carefully compare Sheppard's
account of his visit to the antipodes (pp 242-243) with John Percy's
account (pp 130-132) in his history of the DSP, published
simultaneously with Sheppard's book.
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