Friday, February 01, 2008

*From The Pages Of “Workers Vanguard”-Supreme Court: Retooling the Machinery of Death-Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

Click on the headline to link to the article from “Workers Vanguard” described in the title.

Markin comment:

As almost always these historical articles and polemics are purposefully helpful to clarify the issues in the struggle against world imperialism, particularly the “monster” here in America.

A Study in Black and Red- Memoirs of an Unrepentant Black Stalinist- The Harry Haywood Story- "Black Bolshevik"

Click on the headlne to link to a Wikipedia entry for Harry Haywood.

Book Review

February is Black History Month

Black Bolshevik-Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist, Harry Haywood, Lake View Press, Chicago, 1978

If there is one name in the early American communist movement of the 1920’s associated with the theory of national self-determination for blacks (specifically in the then Southern Black Belt) it is the author of this autobiography, Harry Haywood. While I will discuss that theory below this is also an opportunity, during Black History Month, to analyze the political trajectory of an American black communist who tried, unsuccessfully, to bring being black and being red together. That prospect is still a key task for the American left today. That Haywood failed to so is due, in great part due to his willfully stubborn adherence to Stalinist politics, in the final analysis does not take away from the importance of today’s youth reading about his political struggles.

I have read a fair number of biographies of 20th century black American revolutionaries like Malcolm, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and others. Haywood’s autobiography is quite different from that of latter black revolutionaries; let us say the average Black Panther of the 1960’s biography. Although Haywood was brought up and came of age in the Middle West, notably in Omaha and Chicago he had many roots in the South and on the farm. Later black revolutionaries have a greater urban and more proletarian profile. Notwithstanding those differences Haywood’s tales about the various problems he had seeking and keeping work as a proud young black in a hostile white world will resonant with today’s black reader of his story. No question there have been some strides made by blacks in this country but Haywood’s tales of the racial prejudice down at the base of society that he confronted constantly could have been written today.

One thing that I have always looked for in reading about previous generations of radicals and revolutionaries is to find the spark that drove them over the edge away from bourgeois society and on the road to fighting for fundamental social change. Revolutionaries are made not born so I have found that the reasons span a wide range of human experiences from deep-seated class and racial hatreds to intellectual curiosity. Although it is easy to see how blacks and other minorities in this country could take a radical path without much effort it is nevertheless truth that, as with whites, most have not. It is thus interesting to compare notes. Haywood’s military service, unlike my own service during Vietnam, in a black regiment in World War I that was sent to France and which came under fire was not a decisive radicalizing experience in itself. However post-war white racial attitudes and the very real racial riots in major urban areas like Chicago, belied all the propaganda about the democratic nature of the war and acted as a catalyst to move him to politics and toward leftist politics.

Haywood became a communist in the early days of the American party, the time of the consolidation of the Communist International and the afterglow of the early heroic days of the Bolshevik Revolution. when black communists were few and far between. This was a time, unlike our own, when willing, capable young blacks, workers, women and others were systematically trained here and in the Soviet Union to become professional revolutionaries. Much of Haywood’s early experiences as described in detail in the book centered on his student days in Moscow.

Haywood went through the University of the Toilers of the East and the Lenin School in the Soviet Union at the time of the Stalinist consolidation of power there and his political development reflects that change. That experience does not negate the important of training to create cadre. My generation, the generation of ’68, and later generations have had to learn by the seat of their pants. There is a difference and its showed in our poor theoretical and organizations understandings.

In many ways the most interesting sections of Haywood’s book revolve around his factional activities in the early days of the party. I have read Cannon, Foster, Browder, Lovestone, Wolfe and other whites from the early days discuss their factional activities that dominated the early party. It was rather interesting to get a black perspective on these events. I might add that Haywood’s take, as a member of the Foster faction, on the matters confirms the thoughts of the others that the early party was a ‘hothouse’ of factional intrigue, if not a madhouse.

Every question, including Haywood’s pet theory of an embryonic black nation, was subject to the gristmill of the factional struggles in the early American party as well as by the dictates of the Communist International that served as a referee during these donnybrooks. The main fault lines though these fights can be summarized as first (and foremost) who would run the American party-the party functionaries or the trade unionists. Ultimately, as the Stalinization of the Communist International set in the fault line turned to who was loyal to Moscow and who wasn’t. Haywood always drifted with the winds and bent at the knee to Stalin

The thread that centrally runs throughout the early part of Haywood’s take on the early party is the black question. Specifically the question of whether blacks in this country in the 1920’s formed a nation or were a racial color-caste. That political fight might seem odd today when blacks are, at least formally, integrated (at the bottom) of American society but then, and perhaps only then, this question had a semblance of realism to it.

Haywood’s section on the development of communist work among blacks, the creation of a black cadre and the formulating of the question of a black nation with the right to national self-determination is an essential reading for any militant trying to find the roots of communist work among blacks. Although the 1920’s were not the heyday of black recruitment to the party, the pioneer work in the 1920’s gave the party a huge leg up when the radicalization of the 1930’s among all workers occurred.

The left-wing movement in America, including the Communist Party and its offshoots has always had problems with what has been called the Black Question. Marxists have always considers support to the right of national self-determination to be a wedge against the nationalists and a way to put the class axis to the fore. In any case, Marxist has always predicated that support on there being a possibility for the group to form a nation. Absent that, other methods of struggle are necessary to deal with the special oppression of black people. This special oppression, nevertheless, requires demands to address that situation not the benign neglect (at best) that it has received through most of American left history.

Part of the problem with the American Communist position on self-determination was that the conditions which would have created the possibility of a black state were being destroyed with the mechanization of agriculture, the migration of blacks to the Northern industrial centers and the overwhelming need to fight for black people’s rights to survive under the conditions of the Great Depression. Moreover, overall blacks were won to communist politics DESPITE the Communist Party’s position on black national self-determination. However, carefully read this section as it is the genesis for many of the theoretical threads of black nationalist positions today.

Above I mentioned that blacks began to follow the lead of the Communist Party despite its position on the black nation. The actual work of the party, and Haywood’s own work as an organizer of strike solidarity action on behalf of the National Mine Union, gives evidence of that contention. Although the slogan of national self-determination played a propaganda role in the background for holiday occasions during this period, called the ‘third period’ in communist parlance, the heart of communist work in the early 1930’s were struggles over wage equality, saving jobs, unemployed work the fight against lynch law in the South and labor and black defense work.

The most famous aspect of that defense work, which Haywood had a role in, was the case of Scottsboro boys, nine Alabama men who were being railroaded into the electric chair over the alleged rape of two white women. This was a case to hot to handle for the likes of the NAACP and other liberal organizations, until the fight against it became a mass movement and they tried to channel it in their direction. Nothing new here. If there has been one taboo in modern American politics greater than being black and red it is the question of interracial sex. Perhaps not as overtly this remains true today. The Communist Party nevertheless did yeoman’s work to save the lives of the Boys. Kudos here for their defense work.

In a very literal sense Haywood’s heyday was the so-called ‘third period’ when the Communist International, falsely as it turned out, predicted imminent socialism, or at least the fight for it. His personal political trajectory rose and fell on that note. The time of the popular front in the late thirties and its later manifestations in anti-monopoly coalitions and emergence into ‘progressive’ politics were not his times. From membership in the Political Bureau at the height of the 'third period' he thereafter became, in essence, a gadfly with this black belt self-determination strategy. Popular frontist politics, or one of its variations, is not a time for clear class lines or seemingly provocative proposals that would split off nations from the American body politic.

Most of the last third of the book, after detailing and defending Haywood’s murky service with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, his merchant marine service in World War II and his post war struggles against Browderite ‘revisionism’ (a Stalinist variation of class collaborationism) is spent in criticism of the policies of the American Communist Party.

Oddly, at least in partial and distorted sense, some of Haywood’s criticisms are those that left anti-Stalinists had been making for at least a few decades at the time of publication of his book. The problem with Haywood’s analysis (aside from the Black Belt fetish) is that it is essentially unreconstructed Stalinism. A basically correct critique of the popular front with Roosevelt, for example, commingles with a post hoc defense of the Moscow show trials of the same period. A critique of the anti-monopoly coalition strategy of the 1950’s with a defense of Stalin against Khrushchev’s 20th Party Congress criticisms. In the end despite snatches of agreement we part ways with Mr. Haywood over virtually every political issue. Nevertheless read this book and the memoirs of all the old communists you can get a hold of in order to find out what went right ( and what went wrong) with the early 20th century communist movement.

Political Bric-A-Brac

Every once in a while I find myself at something of a lost in trying to get a handle on the trends of the day. Today is such a day. Sure, there is plenty of news to talk about, especially political news on the campaign trail but that ‘space’ has been done to death by the chattering classes. These American presidential nominating contests have taken the air out of the fight to talk about more substantive issues. Like those damn wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are no closer to being ended than at this time last year despite any rhetoric emanating from the campaign trail. Today we make just a few haphazard comments while stewing about the situation.

The American Commanders in Iraq Are Getting Skittish

Of necessity the lead comment today, as has usually been the case over the past five years, is the situation in Iraq. The presidential candidates may have effectively banished it from serious discourse, the media may have placed it on page fourteen, Congress has taken a dive on ending funding for it, the bulk of the American population may have sent it under the radar but the damn thing still goes on at about the levels of troop engagement of five years ago.

According to the military analysts the ‘success’ of the surge over the past several months has permitted steady troop reductions that will reduce the American presence to fifteen brigades by summer. Now, however, there is serious talk by military authorities of a ‘pause’ to evaluate the progress of the surge strategy. That, my friends, is short hand for hedging bets that the Iraq military and/or police are up to the task of policing their own country. The long and short of this is that the Bush Administration has left the next presidential administration an immediate decision before it on the question of further withdrawals. Thanks, President Bush. To help the next administration along on its way let me give a lead on this – Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

In light of the remarks in the above paragraphs I have to take a political slap on the face for somewhat missing the extent of the rise of the economy as the central question before the public. Since last year I have believed that foreign affairs would be central to the American presidential campaign. Although I will not give up my persistent advocacy that Iraq and Afghanistan are the burning questions of the hour it is hardly irrational that the many individuals and families that are facing the wall on mortgage foreclosures, unemployment or the ability to just pay the bills see economic recovery as their primary issue. Okay, so it is the economy, stupid!

Mark this, however, where and what are the proposed just solutions to the problems of the vast inequalities of wealth in America coming from? The Republicratic candidates? Hell, no. They all are committed to ‘free markets’ and, one way or another, the international capitalist globalization of those markets. This would be a great time for those of us with socialist solutions, that is, social solutions to the economic problems of the day, starting with the need for a planned economy, to take the floor. And link the fight against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the war against the working class and poor here.

Israeli Supreme Court Approves Cut in Gas Supplies to Gaza

In a commentary a couple of months ago concerning the lead up to the Middle East Annapolis meetings and President Bush’s pollyannaish belief that he could gain a peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians I mentioned that I HATE to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian confrontations because there is so little sense that, this side of paradise, there is any rational and just solution to the long time controversy. A recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court on cutting gas supplies to Gaza is a case in point. That august body has determined that using this weapon of limiting vital gas supplies to the residents of Gaza by the Israeli government is correct in its fight against the ‘terrorists’ who rule there (by that they mean Hamas). The reasoning of the Court, however, will be hard to square with any sense of traditional Solomonic judgments, the vaunted rule of law that Western civilization touts as the cornerstone of its existence or simple humanity. Once again I throw down the challenge- Is there really any solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict short of a socialist one in the context of a wider Middle Eastern solution? To ask the question provides the answer.

Okay, now that I have gotten the serious commentary out of the way I can move on to American presidential politics. What would one expect from a confessed political ‘junkie’, anyway? At this point most of this campaign is of real interest only to technicians but here are some observations from afar. As always, I preface my remarks with the comment that, thankfully, I do not have to vote for any of these candidates.

In Mr. Bill’s Neighborhood-South Carolina.

The long time notion that Bill Clinton had been the first ‘black’ president, a comment made as much or more in the past by blacks than whites, got sorely tested and justly upended by the campaign in South Carolina. Clinton in attempting to prove that whites can use the race card as well as blacks, especially when ‘wifie’ is a candidate, got his head handed to him on platter. When the deal went down Mr. Bill turned into just another redneck hillbilly from the Ozarks and blacks judged accordingly. The fallout from this is far from over. Mr. Bill is being openingly mocked by younger blacks that I run into as just another white honky. If one really looks at what Clinton did during his reign, eliminating welfare as we know it, making the death penalty easier to impose and putting more police on the ground in black neighborhoods that is a perfect description. Playing jazz saxophone and having a few black friends on Martha’s Vineyard does little to cut the other way these days.

The Talk Around The Water Cooler

Maybe it is the winnowing process at this point in the campaign. Maybe it is just the momentarily whirl of politics but around my work water cooler there has been a very dramatic shift in political talk. About a year ago nobody (except me, of course), white, black or Hispanic talked about anything or anybody but Hillary. Today that talk has significantly shifted.

Blacks, who last year thought that Obama was too white, now are making it a question of race loyalty to support him. And by their lights this makes sense. Obama may be mixed but in race-conscious America he is BLACK. Hispanics, and in this particular case I am talking about Hispanic males, are talking up Hillary. This reflects the tension between the black and Hispanic communities that get a full workout over the question of immigration and other issues that separate these communities.

As for whites, again especially males, there is now actually less talk about the presidential campaigns. The great secret of this campaign at least on the Democratic side, a secret that will become more apparent now that John Edwards is out, is that white males for the first time in Democratic Party history do not have one of their own to vote for. For those old enough to remember the old days this is indeed a strange turn of events. The main point here, from a socialist perspective, is that if either Hillary or Obama wins the presidency that has to be a significant development in this country. Is that enough? Hell, no but it is significant.

John Edwards and the Working Class

The recently ended campaign of former North Carolina Senator John Edwards is a case in point for the proposition that while you may come from the working class that does not insure that you are a working class candidate. And that, my friends, is the problem with today trying to run a populist campaign out of the Democratic Party. In order to do so you must put it in terms of the middle class, a very nebulous and slippery concept. However, the middle class in this country is not the working class. If you are going to fight for the poor of the Ninth District in New Orleans (and that is very definitely a good thing to fight for) then you cannot mix up your message. But what you really need to do is get the hell out of the Democratic Party and fight for a workers party. Then you can, like I am, be a proud son of the working class.

The Revenge of John McCain

Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain staked his campaign on the premise that the surge strategy in Iraq would work. Those of us on the left who have argued that it would not have to take our licking on this issue. At least in the short haul the surge has worked and that success has worked to McCain’s benefit. We concede the point for now. But as stated up in the first comment we still fight for immediate withdrawal from Iraq no matter whom the next president will be.

The Torch Passes

In my youth I cut my political teeth on John Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Elsewhere in this space I have freely admitted to having had my first political love affair with Robert Kennedy. Recently long time liberal icon Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and John Kennedy’s daughter Caroline went out of their way to endorse Senator Obama. As John Kennedy said in his 1961 Inauguration speech the torch had passed to a new generation. That thought is being echoed here. I have also mentioned in this space that I sense the need for and welcome that change. The question remains, however, what programs and what policies will the next generation take hold of to ‘seek the newer world’. In my dewy-eyed youth it was enough to use a few sweeping phrase for a politician to state his (or her) case. In my old age I want a specific program that fights for the interest of working people. To date I do not see that. Enough said.

Anyone Can Run for President, Right?

Most of us remember as kids the old democratic political adage that any one (or almost anyone-look at the constitutional limitations) could run for President of the United States. As we matured we became painfully aware that that adage was less than the truth. In recent decades this has become even more painfully clear, as the cash nexus has driven the price of presidential politics through the roof. That brings me to the question of buying your way to the presidency. One multi-millionaire Republican candidate ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has literally kept his campaign alive by dipping in his own funds. New York City Mayor Bloomberg, if he decides on an independent run, apparently would finance such an endeavor by tapping into his personal fortune. I can only say this when the fight for a workers party wins us a workers government it will not be the color of one’s money but the worth of one’s political program that will be decisive. Or you will get the boot, pronto. Again, enough said.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

*Free The Last of the Ohio Seven-They Must Not Die In Jail

Click on title to link to the Partisan Defense Committee (an organization whose goals I support) to learn more about the Manning and Laaman cases(and other political prisoners supported by the organization)



I have added a link to Tom Manning's site that can provide a link to Jaan Laaman's site. For convenience I have labelled this link the Ohio Seven Defense Committee site. Free the last of the Seven. Below is a commentary written in 2006 arguing for their freedom.

Below is a repost of a commentary I made in 2007 to support of freedom for the last of the Ohio Seven

The Ohio Seven, like many other subjective revolutionaries, coming out of the turbulent anti-Vietnam War and anti-imperialist movements, were committed to social change. The different is that this organization included mainly working class militants, some of whose political consciousness was formed by participation as soldiers in the Vietnam War itself. Various members were convicted for carrying out robberies, apparently to raise money for their struggles, and bombings of imperialist targets. Without going into their particular personal and political biographies I note that these were the kind of subjective revolutionaries that must be recruited to a working class vanguard party if there ever is to be a chance of bringing off a socialist revolution. In the absence of a viable revolutionary labor party in the 1970’s and 1980’s the politics of the Ohio Seven, like the Black Panthers and the Weathermen, were borne of despair at the immensity of the task and also by desperation to do something concrete in aid of the Vietnamese Revolution and other Third World struggles . Their actions in trying to open up a second front militarily in the United States in aid of Third World struggles without a mass base proved to be mistaken but, as the Partisan Defense Committee which I support has noted, their actions were no crime in the eyes of the international working class.

The lack of a revolutionary vanguard to attract such working class elements away from adventurism is rendered even more tragic in the case of the Ohio Seven. Leon Trotsky, a leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution of 1917, noted in a political obituary for his fallen comrade and fellow Left Oppositionist Kote Tsintadze that the West has not produced such fighters as Kote. Kote, who went through all the phases of struggle for the Russian Revolution, including imprisonment and exile under both the Czar and Stalin benefited from solidarity in a mass revolutionary vanguard party to sustain him through the hard times. What a revolutionary party could have done with the evident capacity and continuing commitment of subjective revolutionaries like the Ohio Seven poses that question point blank. This is the central problem and task of cadre development in the West in resolving the crisis of revolutionary leadership.

Finally, I would like to note that except for the Partisan Defense Committee and their own defense organizations – the Ohio 7 Defense Committee and the Jaan Laaman Defense Fund- the Ohio Seven have long ago been abandoned by those New Left elements and others, who as noted, at one time had very similar politics. At least part of this can be attributed to the rightward drift to liberal pacifist politics by many of them, but some must be attributed to class. Although the Ohio Seven were not our people- they are our people. All honor to them. As James P Cannon, a founding leader of the International Labor Defense, forerunner of the Partisan Defense Committee, pointed out long ago –Solidarity with class war prisoners is not charity- it is a duty. Their fight is our fight! LET US DO OUR DUTY HERE. RAISE THE CALL FOR THE FREEDOM OF LAAMAN AND MANNING. MAKE MOTIONS OF SOLIDARITY IN YOUR POLITICAL ORGANIZATION, SCHOOL OR UNION.


How The West Was Won?

DVD Review

Magnificent Seven, 1960

The portrayal of the American cowboy has undergone a dramatic upheaval since the time of my youth in the 1950’s when the image of John Wayne as the Maximum Cowboy held sway. In such films as Red River Valley we were presented with morality plays that displayed white American manhood (and marginally, womanhood) and frontier virtue, etched in starkly black and white terms, from a long gone era. Since then we have been presented with good bad cowboys, bad good cowboys, spaghetti western cowboys, down on their luck corrupt cowboys, end of the line cowboys and gay cowboys. From the classic The Misfits to Brokeback Mountain we have seen the cowboy turn from a simple slow to draw, slow to anger angel of deliverance to a much more nuanced figure on the screen with an internal life almost as conflicted as our own.

No small part in this turnaround has been played by the work of the likes of Larry McMurtry who have taken a deep knowledge of the real West and presented us with a truer vision of what the westward expansion of America was all about. Today however, in the movie under review, The Magnificent Seven (hereafter, the Seven), we hark back to that earlier concept that I mentioned above when all a man needed was a horse, a few weapons of choice and plenty of open space.

The Magnificent Seven, interestingly, was first screened in the early 1960’s in the same period as the Misfits. Both films had plenty of well-acted performances (including by Eli Wallach in both films), understandable, if sparse, dialogue and nice plot lines. However, apart from those similarities they go there separate ways in looking at the heroic figure of the American cowboy and his fate in a modernizing world.

The plot line of the Seven is fairly simple, as is usually the case with old time oaters, as a village of beleaguered Mexican farmers being bled white by a gang of Mexican bad guys seeks help from north of the border. In forming a small army of motley gunfighters to battle against evil Chris (played by Yul Bryner) has gathered in every social type, from pathological killer to raw kid on the make, known to the western. However when the deal goes down the good guys beat the bad guys. Straight up. The cast of actors used to fill the roles of the gunfighters was basically a who’s who of macho male actors, from Bryner to McQueen to Vaughn, of the early 1960’s. Here high testoserone meets a worthy cause.

Although there are plenty of doubts about the virtues of the cowboy lifestyle expressed by the lead cowboys, particularly by Steve McQueen, this film’s central premise is that it takes such types with their well-worn sense of honor to right the wrongs of the little world that they have decided to inhabit. In a sense this is the Last Chance to give meaning to all those macho qualities that we have been told created the vast American West. Adios.

Monday, January 28, 2008

* American Communist Founder And Leader James P. Cannon Is In The House!

Click on title to link to the James P. Cannon Internet Archive's copy of his 1944 analysis of the lessons of the great Minneapolis teamsters strikes of 1934 (in which he played an important advisory part).

I have added a link to the James P. Cannon Archives. Those who read this space know that I stand proudly in the Cannon tradition of socialism. His work was, in his prime, the work of a man who wanted to make a revolution. In a real sense today's militant leftists, whether they know it or not, also stand on that tradition, as well. If you do not read anything else of Cannon's read his analysis of the great Minneapolis General Strike of 1934 (written in 1944) that he helped direct. It has many lessons for today's class struggle-starved militants. I will be commenting on the article shortly.

*The Fox in the Hen House- A Paul Wolfowitz Sighting

Click on title to link to Wikipedia's entry for Max Schachtman the "max daddy" of the neo-conservatives back when they flirted with what they thought was Trotskyism in the 1950s. At that time old Max had long shed the revolutionary credentials (and they were real)of his youth.


In the spring of 2007 after head of the World Bank and former deputy secretary of war Paul Wolfowitz got the boot from the bank for trying to impress his girlfriend
I speculated that he would not wind up sleeping on a Central Park bench. Needless to say I was right- these guys and gals flip through government and the think tanks with the greatest of ease and the good old boy and girl networks provide the parachute.

Apparently Wolfowitz initially landed at the conservative old folks home- the American Enterprise Institute but as a recent item by Janine Zacharia of Bloomberg News that caught my attention noted the boy is back in the hen house. Wolfowitz has now been tagged to head the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board. This board gives ‘advice’ on a whole range of issues concerning arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, etc. A nice soft job for an old pro at such issues.

But, hell, wait a minute. This Wolfowitz is the same guy who was the point man (person, excuse me) on the question of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And if memory serves me right, according to Seymour Hersh’s April 2006 New Yorker expose, a leading advocate for disarming Iran by military means. What kind of advise would any rational person, and I believe that Condi Rice is by her own lights rational, take from this guy? Paul Cirincione of the Center for American Progress (where do they get these names for these think tanks, by the way) hit the nail on the head with the following comment-“The advise given by Paul Wolfowitz over the past six years ranks among the worst provided by any defense official in history. I have no idea why anyone would want more.” Nicely put. And that is by someone working the same street as brother Wolfowitz. Note this though- Saddam Hussein was not the only one who should have been in the dock for crimes against the Iraqi people. One unlamented former American War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should have stood beside him. And his deputy Paul Wolfowitz to his right.

Below is a repost on a comment made in May 2007 as Wolfowitz was facing the ax at the World Bank.

On the Outside Looking Out- The Strange Tale of Paul Wolfowitz Former Neo-Con Whiz Kid

At one time the currently beleaguered head of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz was seen as one of the ‘best and brightest’ of his generation of neo-cons who had come to dominate the inner team of the Bush Administration. While one should not expect that Mr. Wolfowitz would wind up sleeping on a bench in Central Park his star has certainly lost its luster. First the quagmire in Iraq of which he was a central architect and now creating a 'safe haven' for his girl friend. Oh well. I personally will cry no tears over his fate. Will you? This case is, however, prima facie evidence for why, when the working class takes state power through workers councils, we will invoke the long time socialist tradition of immediate recall of governmental officials for cause. One should not have to go through a 'cold' international civil war at the World Bank, or anywhere else for that matter, just to get rid of a guy who is out to impress his girl friend.

Just one other little point on Mr. Wolfowitz’s personal history. Much has been made in the more political publications about the so-called Trotskyist past of a number of neo-cons, including Mr. Wolfowitz. One would get the impression that these were 'red' revolutionaries who saw the error of their youthful ways and on seeing their errors immediately offered their services as direct agents of American imperialism. Not so. They essentially spent five minutes going to some State Department socialist meetings of the American Socialist Party in the late 1950's or early 1960's.

What passes for the Trotskyism the publications are talking about is the Trostkyist past of one by then burned-out Max Shachtman of the Socialist Party, he of the support to the Bay of Pigs invasion and of the Vietnam War infamy, or of Irving Howe, social democratic editor of Dissent. By comparison with their progeny both Mr. Howe and Mr. Shachtman were serious about Trotsky's ideas and in the case of Shachtman had actually rendered valuable service to the Trotskyist movement at one time. But that was in their pasts. When the neo-cons arrived neither Howe nor Shachtman were Trotskyists. Christ, from their political positions at that point I do not believe that by that time they knew how to spell the word. If one was looking for the semblance of Trotskyist ideas in America at that time the place to look was the Socialist Workers Party led by James P. Cannon. I do not see that political address on any neo-con resume. Enough said.