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30602.1[GreenLeft_discussion] RITA, STALINISM & TROTSKYISM

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  • MAX WATTS
    I M NOT GOING TO BUY INTO THIS LOCAL OZ - DISCUSSION , BUT I AM STRUCK BY A GREAT OMMISSION IN BOB GOULD S PAPER. PARTICULARLY AS IT APPLIES, AT LEAST
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2003
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      I'M NOT GOING TO BUY INTO THIS "LOCAL OZ - DISCUSSION", BUT I AM STRUCK BY A GREAT OMMISSION IN BOB GOULD'S PAPER.   PARTICULARLY AS IT APPLIES, AT LEAST LATERALLY, TO THE QUESTION OF STALS AND TROTS.  OLD LEFT AND NEW LEFT.  max watts, annandale 2 june 2003
      ==============================
      AS THE VIETNAM WAR CONTINUED, AN EVENTUALLY EXTREMELY IMPORTANT NEW "FRONT" OPENED UP - RITA THE RESISTANCE INSIDE THE (THEN MOSTLY AMERICAN (1)) ARMY (2)
       
      AS OF SEPT 1967 THE ACRONYM RITA (3) COVERED MANY OF ITS ASPECTS
       
      IN EUROPE, WHERE THE 7TH ARMY (OF THE UNITED STATES) - USAREUR - FORMED AN IMPORTANT RESERVE FOR "VIETNAM" - RITA (1) GREW RAPIDLY.
       
      SECTIONS OF THE ANTI-WAR CIVILIAN MOVEMENTS BEGAN TO SUPPORT THESE RITA GI'S.   THESE SUPPORTERS WERE OFTEN CALLED "FRITA'S" (FRIENDS OF RITAS).
       
      BOB GOULD SHOULD BE HAPPY TO LEARN THAT THE COMMUNIST PARTIES (WITH THE PARTIAL EXCEPTION OF THE WEST GERMAN, AMERICAN AND ! AUSTRALIAN !) FAILED - FOR A LONG TIME - TO EFFECTIVELY SUPPORT THESE SOLDIERS.   WE HAVE (AT LENGTH!) ANALYSED THIS FAILURE, WHICH CARRIED OVER INTO THE RITA WORK IN OTHER ARMIES (PARTICULARLY THE FRENCH, ITALIAN, PORTUGUESE..)(4,5,6)
       
      OF COURSE, MANY INDIVIDUAL CP MEMBERS, IN MANY COUNTRIES, TOOK ACTIVE, OFTEN LEADING, ROLES AS FRITAS (INCLUDING IN AUSTRALIA JACK MUNDEY, MARTA ANSARA, ET AL.), BUT THE PARTY LEADERSHIPS USUALLY TOOK A VERY LONG TIME TO "COME AROUND".  (5, 7)
       
      FEW OF THE EARLY FRITA'S HAD MANY (OR ANY !) CONTACTS WITH THE VARIOUS "TROT" GROUPS, INDEED MOST WERE, IF AT ALL INTERESTED, SOMEWHAT "ANTI-TROT", BUT NEEDS MUST BE WHERE THE DEVIL RIDES (AH.. "GI'S AND FRITAS NEEDED SUPPORT, NEVER MIND WHOM FROM).,
      FACED BY THE ALMOST HYSTERICAL REFUSAL OF MOST "OFFICIAL COMMUNIST PARTIES" TO BECOME INVOLVED, THE "FRITAS"  SOUGHT AND FOUND SUPPORT IN THE "NEW LEFT", INCLUDING VARIOUS TROT GROUPS, IN FRANCE, GERMANY, JAPAN, BRITAIN... AND OF COURSE - INDEPENDENTLY - THE USA.
       
      NOTA TRES BENE:  WHILE RELATIONS WITH THE AMERICAN SWP DEVELOPED AND WERE CORDIAL, THE REALLY MOST EFFECTIVE FRITA/RITA AMERICAN WORK WAS LONG DONE BY THE - TILL THEN QUITE SMALL - TROT "WORKERS WORLD PARTY", WHICH - AFTER JAN 1968, SPONSORED AND SUPPORTED THE AMERICAN SERVICEMEN'S UNION ASU, AND ITS MONTHLY GI PAPER:  THE BOND.
       
      ENUF...  IF ANYONE REALLY INTERESTED IN RITA AND FRITA, PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, LOOK UP SOME OF THE LIT.   NOTED BELOW:
      ===================
      (1)     TODAY RITA APPLIES TO ARMIES IN GENERAL.   "WE" LEARNED, AS TIME WENT ON, THAT IT EXISTED AND GREW IN MANY OTHER MILITARIES.
      (2)    ARMY = HERE USED FOR ALL BRANCHES OF THE MILITARY.   NB:  INITIALLY "SOLDIERS" APPLIED ONLY TO ALL ENLISTED (RANK AND FILE) SERVICEPERSONS, BUT OFFICER RITA DOES EXIST, AND MAY BE OF IMPORTANCE UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS (SEE (5)
      (3)    RITA - (AND LATER FRITA) WERE TERMS "INVENTED" BY US ARMY PRIVATE DICK PERRIN AND PFC TERRY KLUG IN 1967, WHICH SOON SPREAD WIDELY.   PREVIOUSLY FRITAS HAD USED OTHER TERMS, INCLUDING A&A (AIDERS AND ABETTORS), "THE BABY BUSINESS";  THE AMERICAN MILITARY HAD/HAS CALLED RITA: "DISSENT".
      (4)    A/ IN 1965/66 THE AMERICAN COMMUNIST PARTY DID SUPPORT THE "FORT HOOD 3", AN "OPEN" RITA ACTION - "REFUSING TO GO TO VIETNAM - WE WILL GO TO JAIL". BUT LATER THEIR SUPPORT FOR RITA WAS OVERSHADOWED BY THE WORK OF THE SWP AND - PARTICULARLY - THE WWP, OTHER, NEW LEFT, GROUPS.
      (4)    B/  THE WEST GERMAN DKP (COMMUNIST PARTY) DID SOME F/RITA WORK IN THE GERMAN ARMY AND SUPPORTED - IRREGULARLY - AMERICAN AND FRENCH RITAS IN WEST GERMANY.   THE DDR (EAST GERMAN) GOVERNMENT GAVE ASYLUM - ON A VERY "KEEP QUIET" BASIS, TO SOME AMERICAN SOLDIERS, BUT THIS - FOR MANY REASONS - REMAINED A VERY MINOR "FRONT".
      (4)    C/    AMERICAN RITA'S HAD CONSIDERABLE BACKING IN AUSTRALIA, PARTICULARLY SYDNEY, WHERE "SYDNEY FTA" (FUCK THE ARMY) WAS PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED QUITE WIDELY.   DOZENS, PROBABLY SCORES, OF AMERICAN SOLDIERS REMAINED IN OZ, RATHER THAN RETURN TO VIETNAM.  THEY RECEIVED QUITE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT, INCLUDING FROM THE BLF (JACK MUNDEY), WHICH ISSUED "TICKETS" ALLOWING THEM TO WORK HERE...   IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE OZ PEACE MOVEMENT FAILED SIGNALLY TO SUPPORT RITA IN THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY... FOR MANY REASONS (5)
      (5)     "LEFT FACE - SOLDIER UNIONS AND RESISTANCE MOVEMENTS IN MODERN ARMIES" - DAVID CORTRIGHT AND MAX WATTS, GREENWOOD PRESS, NY, 1991.   US $ 59.95 ! (SORRY !) - BUT COPIES IN SYDNEY UNIV FISHER LIBRARY, ADFA CANBERRA, MELBOURNE UNIV.. ETC.
      (6)     "US ARMY - EUROPE" (From Desertion to RITA - How the Underground Railway led to the Resistance inside the Barracks); Harald Kater Publishers, Goerlitzerstr 39, D 10997 Berlin, Euro ? 8 ?;  in German. COPY IN SYDNEY UNIV FISHER LIBRARY.  Spanish and English partial editions via Max Watts)
      (7)     "G.I. Resister:  the story of how one American Soldier and his Family fought the War in Vietnam";  Dick Perrin with Tim McCarthy; .Trafford Publishing, 2333 Government St., Victoria, BC, Canada, but copies can be obtain directly from the author:  Perrin Dick giresister@...;  Box 62; Lebret, Saskatchewan SOG 2YO, CANADA;  Phone: 1 306-332-5976
      Copy in Fisher Library, Sydney Univ.
      Other books are available in various libraries, info ex max watts
      see also:   RN 3205 - UPDATE ON RITA, published in Australian Socialist 1/2000 - also ex max watts.
      =============================================
       
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Gould's Book Arcade <ggouldsb@...>
      Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 3:49 PM
      Subject: [GreenLeft_discussion] STALINISM & TROTSKYISM

      > TROTSKYISM  &  STALINISM
      >
      > In my Inbox this morning, from Marxmail, lobbed a
      rather vintage piece of
      > anti Trotskyist slander from some Stalinist
      called Jim Craven. As it
      > embodies all the old slanders in such a
      confident, know-all way, and as
      > other Stalinists on the Marxmail list,
      like Maripower, and some excitable
      > Stalinist bloke in England, who
      threatened to stick his parliamentary pike
      > up my (presumably political)
      arse, have made similar sweeping comments about
      > Trotskyists and
      Trotskyism,  I think Craven's piece requires a modest
      > response, and
      I crave Louis Proyect's indulgence, considering that all this
      > Stalinist
      abuse has been allowed to pass without response, so far.
      >
      > I
      might commence by describing yesterday's forum, organised by the Sydney
      >
      Labor History Society, on the Australian Communist Party and 1956. The
      >
      speakers were 1956 CP dissidents, Bob Walshe (who helped produce and
      >
      distribute Kruschev's Secret Speech about Stalin when the Australian CP
      >
      leadership were still claiming it was a forgery), Elaine Bryant, and myself.
      > Also speaking was Eric Aarons, one of the CP leaders in 1956.
      Many of the
      > nearly forty people who attended had been in the CP in
      1956.
      >
      > The three people who had left the orbit of the CP at that
      time, described
      > the ferocious Stalinist atmosphere in the Australian CP,
      when the Kruschev
      > Report was suppressed in Australia, and their personal
      reactions, both to
      > the Secret Speech itself and to its suppression in
      these Southern parts. I
      > described my own activities subsequently, after
      joining anti Stalinist
      > socialist groups, in personally campaigning with
      Kruschev's Speech to bring
      > the truth about Stalinism to fellow activists
      in the left of the Australian
      > labor movement, and the tensions that my
      activities in this regard
      > generated.
      >
      > An interesting
      feature was that the whole three of us who left the orbit of
      > the CP at
      the time, all share an ongoing commitment to the socialist
      > project, of
      an anti Stalinist character. Bob Walshe became one of the
      > founders and
      long time activists in the environmental movement. The last
      > time I saw
      him was a couple of months ago when we were both demonstrating in
      > his
      home area, at Sutherland, against the Liberal Party state council
      >
      meeting, in opposition to the Liberal's rotten Iraq War. Bob Walshe is
      >
      nearly 80.
      >
      > Eric Aarons made a general defence of the CP
      leadership's actions at the
      > time, and claimed that they were confused
      about the authenticity of the
      > Kruschev Report, in the face of all the
      evidence presented by me and the
      > others, that they knew damn well that
      the thing was authentic. Eric Aarons
      > has just published a book, which he
      promoted at the meeting, called "What's
      > Right" which proclaims the
      complete death of the Marxian socialist project.
      > Aarons and the other
      trustees of the Search Foundation, which administers
      > the CP's residual
      assets, combine a defence of the history and role of the
      > CP, with a
      current political position that the whole idea of a traditional
      >
      socialist policy has to be discarded.
      >
      > Again in Australia, the
      Maoist Stalinists of the sixties and seventies,
      > Albert Langer, Kerry
      Russell, Barry York and others, have received
      > considerable publicity in
      the Australian bourgeois press, for their support
      > of Bush's, Blair's and
      Howard's Iraq War.
      >
      > Those interested in such matters should surf
      Langer's Stalinist
      > pro-imperialist web site, Lastsuperpower.net, to get
      a flavour of how a
      > thoroughly Stalinist political tradition can be used
      for pro imperialist
      > purposes. I have written several refutations of
      Langer's and York's views,
      > which are available on OzLeft.
      >
      > Jim Craven says:
      >
      > "It is in the same spirit as when the
      Vietnamese were under
      > unprecedented siege from U.S. Imperialism, they
      were "supporting" the
      > Vietnamese resistance while openly denouncing the
      Vietnamese government as
      > "Stalinists" and a "deformed worker's
      state"."
      >
      > How lobotomised can you get! What fucking planet did
      Jim Craven live on in
      > the 1960s. It's a matter of brutal historical fact
      that Trotskyists in many
      > countries and of all shapes and sizes and
      groups, were at the heart of the
      > popular agitation against the
      imperialist war in Vietnam, and in support of
      > self determination for the
      Vietnamese people, notwithstanding the fact that
      > they knew a good deal
      about Stalinism. The question of national self
      > determination had greater
      weight, even for state capitalist groupings, than
      > the obvious Stalinist
      character of the Vietnamese CP. I would refer Craven
      > to the United
      States where the American SWP played THE critical role in the
      >
      mobilisation against the war, which is well documented in Fred Halfstead's
      > useful book. I would also refer him to Britain, where the
      Vietnam Solidarity
      > Campaign, with such people as Tariq Ally, Vanessa
      Redgrave and Shiela
      > Rowbotham, etc, was the major mobilising
      organisation. (I would also refer
      > him to the rather nice short story we
      have up on OzLeft, "Trotsky's Other
      > Son", by Carol Singh, about the
      energetic Trotskyist Pat Jordan,  who was at
      > the centre of the
      VSC.)
      >
      > Here in Australia, in Sydney, a grouping of Trotskyists
      in which I was one
      > of the leading personalities, were the major force in
      getting the anti
      > Vietnam War agitation going, and sustaining it and
      developing it, and this
      > is noted in all the significant literature on
      Australia in the Vietnam
      > years. My personal activities were also noted
      and recorded by the Australian
      > bourgeois State, in the sense that they
      collected 6,000 pages of files on my
      > activities, which I have
      progressively acquired over the last five years
      > under the 30 year rule
      in the Freedom of Information Act. (While there are a
      > few bits blacked
      out, I find these files of considerable use in my literary
      > work about
      the period. That period was so hectic that I didn't keep a diary,
      > but,
      ironically, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)
      >
      filled that gap for me.)
      >
      > In another context, the Vietnamese
      also noted and remembered our activities.
      > I've been told with amusement,
      by a number of Australians who have visited
      > Vietnam, that the Museum of
      the Revolution in Ho Chi Minh City has a room
      > where they have an exhibit
      from the anti war agitation in most countries of
      > the world, and the
      exhibit from Australia is the front page of our Vietnam
      > Action Committee
      magazine, "Vietnam Action" with a photo of one of our
      > demonstrations
      with a big banner "Get Out of Vietnam" and my ugly younger
      > mug, walking
      proudly along beside the banner.
      >
      > A feature of the period was
      that in many countries like Britain, France,
      > Australia and the USA, the
      Trotskyists took the lead in the campaign against
      > the War because they
      had more forthright slogans like "Withdrawal of All
      > Imperialist Troops
      from Vietnam", which had great appeal for the youth,
      > when the Stalinists
      of the time had more ambiguous propositions like "Peace"
      > .
      >
      > In the recent mobilisations against the Imperialist War on
      Iraq,
      > Trotskyists, again of all shapes, sizes, groups and sects, despite
      their
      > contradictions, weaknesses and occasional inanities, played a
      critical
      > mobilising role, particularly in such countries as Australia,
      Britain,
      > Ireland, Greece, France, the Spanish state and other
      places.
      >
      >
      > I notice that Jim Craven stakes some kind of a
      claim as a representative of
      > indigenous people. Well, it's also a matter
      of historical fact that part of
      > the Trotskyist tradition, despite its
      contradictions and weaknesses, is a
      > preoccupation  with the
      national question, and the right of nations to self
      > determination, and
      the Trotskyists of all shapes and sizes, have a pretty
      > substantial
      record of agitation and solidarity with colonial struggles.
      > These
      questions obviously don't present easy answers when you get
      >
      contradictory situations where American imperialism, in particular, uses
      >
      rhetoric about democracy and national rights for such people as the Kosovar
      > Albanians and the Kurds, in a bad way. Nevertheless, the
      struggle for the
      > national rights of real peoples to self determination
      is at the centre of
      > the Marxist tradition, and despite new problems
      presented by imperialist
      > attempts at exploiting the question, Marxists
      should still defend, in
      > general, the right of nationalities to self
      determination. The Trotskyist
      > tradition contains a serious discussion of
      these matters.
      >
      > Jim Craven's Stalinist tradition has little to
      usefully contribute in
      > relation to the modern history of the national
      question.  I don't set myself
      > up to speak for indigenous peoples,
      but indigenous peoples' representative,
      > Craven, might benefit from
      studying the discussions of the national question
      > that have taken place
      in the Trotskyist tradition.
      >
      > I have been fascinated by the
      discussion of Zizek on Marxmail. Well, I share
      > with Louis Proyect the
      circumstance that Zizek is also one of my bete
      > noires. My deep rooted
      animosity to Zizek isn't really based on his high
      > theory, much of which
      I find almost unintelligible, but on his political
      > standpoints. I was so
      angered by his review of the Getty, Naumov book on the
      > Purges, in "New
      Left Review" a couple of years ago, that I started an
      > article about it,
      which I may now complete. I found Zizek's article deeply
      > offensive
      because of its thoroughly historically revisionist, pro Stalinist
      >
      aspect. In this article Zizek attempts to demonstrate using Naumov and Getty
      > 's book that Stalinism and the purges flowed directly out of
      Leninism, and
      > were a natural extension of Leninism. He even purported to
      regard the
      > Yezhovtschina as a kind of self inflicted suicide by the
      Bolshevik Party.
      > This ludicrous construct, bolstered by Lacanian mumbo
      jumbo, left out all
      > the stages of Stalinist counter revolution, by which
      Stalin and the
      > bureaucracy cemented their power, which eventually became
      Stalin's personal
      > power, with some sort of aim of minimising the
      personal role of the
      > bloodthirsty monster who ran the show.
      >
      > It's hard to imagine a less materialist and scientific view of
      the
      > development of Stalinism than Zizek's. Why Zizek is important, from
      my point
      > of view, is that the conflation of Stalinism and Leninism, is
      exactly the
      > way all the reactionary pundits and ex Marxists of all
      stripes, proceed in
      > their attempt to bury the socialist project for all
      time. These are quite
      > important current ideological questions in
      Australia, because a significant
      > number of ex Marxists, like Keith
      Windschuttle, Langer and others,
      > deliberately conflate the two
      contradictory traditions of Leninism and
      > Stalinism, in this way. I have
      been engaged, as a minor public intellectual,
      > in debate and argument
      with such people. (See my "Open Letter to Keith & Liz
      > Windschuttle"
      on OzLeft, and my remarks in Jane Cazdow's Sydney Morning
      > Herald "Good
      Weekend" feature article about Windschuttle, 17/5/03.)
      >
      > Craven
      can make opinionated off the cuff assertions about Trotskyism if he
      >
      likes, but the crimes of Stalinism are comprehensively documented in
      >
      literally hundreds of books, and the historical record about the crimes of
      > Stalinism has been massively increased by the partial opening of the
      Soviet
      > archives in the last 15 years. Books continue to pour out based
      on archival
      > material. In Australia there is the recent moving and
      painful book, "Secrets
      > and Spies, The Harbin Files" by Mara Moustafine
      (Vintage/Doubleday 2002).
      > Moustafine documents, from the Soviet
      archives, the sad fate of the pro
      > Soviet wing of her family from Harbin
      in China, who went back to the Soviet
      > Union at exactly the wrong moment
      in the middle thirties, to assist in
      > socialist construction. They were
      wiped out, like most other returning pro
      > Soviet Russians, Finns and
      others from overseas, in the Stalinist meat
      > grinder. My personal ASIO
      file records my persecution (but not my
      > extermination) by the Australian
      bourgeoisie. On the other hand, Moustafine'
      > s family's GPU files records
      their physical extermination, which is somewhat
      > more final. I can at
      least speak for myself. bt Moustafine's family have
      > been able to rely on
      the extraordinary fortitude of Mara Moustafine many
      > years later,
      ferreting out the awful story from the dusty files in the
      > Lublianka.
      Most others of the millions of communists and socialists who were
      >
      murdered under Stalinism will never be remembered, except in a general way.
      >
      > I crave the moderator, Louis Proyect's tolerance in these
      matters. It seems
      > to me that he should now be willing to allow a
      carefully moderated
      > discussion of some of these outstanding but
      important historical questions.
      > It seems to me not reasonable to allow
      all these throw away pro Stalinist
      > pieces of abuse to pass through to
      the keeper, so to speak, without a
      > serious political discussion.
      >
      > - Bob Gould, Sydney, 20/5/03
      >
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