Jeff's point on communist practice

Chris, London 100423.2040 at
Fri Dec 29 00:48:54 MST 1995

Since it feels like I have disagreed with Jeff on a number of things,
particularly about having a blanket idea of "Stalinism" which lumps everything
we don't like into one repulsive ball, I fear he won't welcome my 
support on a specific point. But I have to say his description below
echoes my experience over a number of years in the British Anti-Apartheid 

<<<There is a certain point where you have to judge people based on what
they do, not just what they say.  I was on the Executive board of a UE
local and figured out pretty quick who was CP and who wasn't.  As my
experince on the left grew, it became clear who was in the CP and who
wasn't in many different situations.  NEVER did the people in the CP tell
me or anyone I knew that they were in the CP.  Currently, the CP people I
know in my local and in LPA DO NOT organize as open CP people nor do they
privately tell me they are in the CP.  (There is one, individual exception
to this rule in the form of a person who I knew before he joined the CP).
This is not open, honest, flexible organizing.  >>>

After a while you got to learn that the most reliable members of the Anti-
Apartheid Movement were either Christian or Communist. But as organised 
communists they were secret, guarded and suspicious of marxists whom they
regarded as unreliable. One feared that decisions were taken on an organisational
basis rather than in open discussion. They provided great stability to 
the work, but Jeff's point about being inflexible rings true to me.

This is why in the past I have challenged Scott about whether in their
actual workplace, and yes, Jean-Yves brings up families, in their families,
members of the CPUSA can say *and work with the understanding* that they are
"Communists". It is not about revolutionary heroism. It is about whether you 
can be in constructive dialogue with ordinary people.

Now, I do not think this problem is best dealt with by throwing accusations.
It is a problem we share. It is partly the deformations imposed on us, by 
living and working in a society dominated by state structures and an ideology
that will attack marxist ideas. People can lose their jobs, and in some
countries, eg Argentina, people can lose their families and their lives.

It is also true that the mistrust of other marxists, whether they be Trotskyists,
pain-in-the-arse Maoists, anarchists or whatever, reacts back and reinforces
the feeling among those like Charlotte who think they ought to be in a 
disciplined Communist Party , and  put up the shutters against dialogue.

We have the opportunity of dialogue about this problem on this list, and all 
learning more, even though each of us must make our own decisions about what
organisations to join and how to work.

Regards to all, (I am not a Christian, but I still mean it)

Chris B,


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