Re: [swp_usa] Mark and Me
>And does anyone know what happened to Mark's wife at the time of theI haven't seen Kate Kaku's name in some time. I was active in the YSA
>rape charge? I know she stood by him, but it seems she ended up
>dropping out of the party very quietly. Did the party do anything to
>support HER while it was running a defense campaign for Mark?
and in founding the San Francisco YS while Mark was still in jail.
Needless to say, his conviction and the party's defense were a
hot-button issue in feminist Santa Cruz, especially since the comrades
made so much of his defense campaign at the literature tables. (I
remember at a recruiting meeting before I joined, one comrade stating
that if you didn't believe in Mark Curtis' innocence "you'd might as
well not even join the YSA.")
In any case, Kate got a lot of attention and support. She advanced in
the party, just as Mark did, and was a prominent figure at the Oberlin
conferences. I doubt that she received the sort of counseling one
would probably need in dealing with so public a family crisis, but
having so many sympathize with you can be a powerful thing in
itself. But I must admit to wondering after a while, like in year 5
or 6 of his term, whether her heart was in it and with him anymore.
She never spoke or wrote personally or emotionally about the case but
always in terms of workers democratic rights and so on.
- Not so long ago, a friend who has been in the political orbit of the Spartacist League for a very long time but for complex reasons never actually joined, told me a fairly similar story about what the organization looked and felt like these days. It was a story of an ageing, bureacratized organization that was unable to break out of its isolation that made inappropriate demands on its members and alienated people who were coming around it by its off-putting style of presenting itself.
I said to him more or less what I will repeat to you: I thought this was a sad and tragic story since I always prefer to hope that a group will rescue and revive itself and find its way back to a viable revolutionary outlook rather than just peter out by following a sterile orientation through to its bitter end.
But that's a view from the outside looking in. Once you do join an organization that turns out to be on such a wrong track it generally takes some fire in the belly to break away. People who break away and stay political probably leave angry whereas people who break away just sad probably drift away from a socialist outlook altogether.
Thanks Jenny, as always, for your very thought-provoking comments.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "J.L. Broz" <jenny.broz@...> wrote:
> --- In email@example.com, "Tami Peterson" <tamipeterson@> wrote:
> > Phil clearly hits the nail on the head with the party becoming a place
> > where people look for human companionship, conversation, admiration
> > and so forth. I remember personally feeling, after being expelled that
> > I had absolutely nothing to live for. Everyone I knew or cared about
> > was in the organisation as I had long since been cut-off from my
> > family and I had been told, by numerous friends of mine, that I was no
> > longer a revolutionary. It was truly heart-wrenching to see these
> > people at demos and have them refuse to even make eye contact. If I
> > did approach them, they refused to speak to me and once I saw an old
> > active supporter in Salt Lake, Dave W., who I had long considered a
> > friend, who refused to shake my outstretched hand. Such snubbing has a
> > devastating effect on people who have no other friends or aquaintances
> > after years in the organisation.
> > I did try to work with some of them in the Cuba coalition in NY but
> > this proved extremely difficult as many of them had to pretend not to
> > know me when in reality they knew me very well and the Workers World
> > party were not much help either.
> > Whether they admit it or not, this is one primary driver for those who
> > remain in the organisation. I met many an active supporters who told
> > me that was why they still paid their dues - so that they could still
> > go to Oberlin to see their friends. Of course there's the
> > revolutionary romanticism, but the desire not to be cut-off from the
> > only people you know or care about is a strong pull - and also
> > incredibly human - and human things like affection, families and
> > friendships ARE looked down upon in the SWP. Obviously this is in
> > direct contradiction to Marx's "Nothing human is alien to me".
> > In this sense, I don't particularly despise people who snubbed me or
> > who remained in. They were trying to ensure their own survival in the
> > organisation and frankly for a lot of them, it really is all they have
> > after having been in for such an extended time period. I was lucky in
> > that I had been in for a shorter time period and also had a partner
> > who was brave enough to leave with me (and remains a good friend to
> > this day). I still miss a number of people who were very good friends
> > when I was a member who are still in and as such will not speak to me.
> I'm writing a political philosophy paper on "radical vs. liberal theories" (you know who the radicals are!) and so I'm wandering back here to reflect (not for content, solely for sentimental purposes, if you can call it 'sentimental'). My partner and I joined the S-Dubya because we believe passionately in social justice and a better world, and want to see the end of capitalist economics and politics. From the outside they seemed extremely respectable, organized, disciplined, and a well-kept secret. Once the honeymoon period passed, we realized the SWP wanted all of our money, all of our time, all of our allegiance, and for us to shut off any part of our minds that wasn't completely in unquestioning agreement with their ever-revolving political "lines." That may seem like hyperbole, but the group itself has become unbelievably isolated. All of my friends, even the super leftists, were completely creeped out by them - and they saw firsthand, because we'd invite them to forums.
> I am so, so glad that we peaced out before we became completely isolated from our friends and family. It seemed totally natural in order to "fight for the working class," also known as bankrupting people with our expensive sh-t. Buy our $25 books! Buy a subscription to our paper! Donate! Donate! Donate! We're having a fund drive every three months! And oh, now we need MORE money to send our "footloose" militants to ____ to sell MORE of our sh-t! If this is the organization that's going to overturn capitalism, capitalism is here to stay.
> What moved me to write this were Tami's comments on the S-Dubya not encouraging affection, families, or friendships. My partner and I did not meet in the organization, yet we both began to feel that if he were asked to move elsewhere and I wasn't, it would be the noble thing to do to move (I figured he'd be expelled if he didn't, and then he could never ever be political again, ever). What?! We are very much in love and will almost certainly be together for a good while. What's wrong with that? We were encouraged to do lots of things separately, and both of us were (and are) completely able to function without one another, that's not a problem. The problem was how the party encroaches upon all of your time. We'd spend all of our time together in the service of the party, and then we'd go home and sleep. We started fighting. I hated it, yet leaving wasn't even an option because of how often they drill into you that this is the premier socialist organization in the WORLD. See the last sentence of my previous paragraph.
> What about being a political being doesn't include simple humanity? Their only potential recruits at this point are sociopaths. God, it was so frustrating. I do miss some comrades, but most were sanctimonious holier-than-thou idiots who've set Marx, Engels and Lenin spinning in their tombs.