[APPENDIX 2 TO LETTER OF RESIGNATION FROM THE INTERNATIONAL BOLSHEVIK TENDENCY]
[Appendix 2 to Letter of Resignation from the International Bolshevik Tendency by Samuel Trachtenberg]
Exchange between the International Communist League and the International Bolshevik Tendency
Excerpted from http://www.bolshevik.org/TB/TB5html.html
A report from the Permanent Revolution Group (published as part of the Riker/Smith document collection reprinted in Hate Trotskyism, Hate the Spartacist League No. 8) gives evidence that Logan is up to his old tricks. This report positively describes a “communist criticism” session, in which “all comrades were expected to comment openly and frankly on the good and bad characteristics of other comrades..” At the end of this torment—which lasted three days—the organizer, who had a young baby, resigned for not showing enough “vigour and consistency.” Such “methods” were used for years to break critics and mold mindless hacks in Stalinist organizations, and they were also adopted by the moralists of the New Left. But they are antithetical to the training of critical Leninist cadres. And look who’s calling us a “cult”!
The PRG “commcrit” exercise in early 1993 was perfectly innocuous. The organization was overdue for adjustments to the division of labour, and one result of the exercise was the election of a new organizer. Having spent a number of years in this demanding post, the PRG organizer was interested in changing his role in the organization. There was no question of any loss of political authority.
Beyond such normal organizational adjustments, it was also necessary to address the fact that the political functioning of some comrades had begun to slip. There were various other symptoms of political demoralization and expressions of dissatisfaction which also had to be dealt with. These ranged from criticisms of the operation of the group as a whole and the performance of various members (particularly leading comrades) to calling into question the fundamental programmatic basis of the Marxist movement.
Initially the PRG executive had intended to raise its concerns with the functioning of various comrades as personnel points in the regular Wellington branch meeting. But it was subsequently proposed that the essential points could be made equally well if, instead of simply focusing on the shortcomings of a few, the discussion were broadened to include the functioning and political development of the group as a whole, from the leadership down to the most recent recruit.
The exercise, which was always projected as a “one-off” event, took place over three branch meetings. While some comrades (including some leading comrades) found it a bit uncomfortable at points, everyone, including the (now ex-) comrades who had been the initial source of concern, felt that it was a positive experience and had helped to clear the air.
Commenting on the SL’s allegations that these meetings were about “breaking critics” and “molding mindless hacks,” comrade Marcus Hayes remarked:
“I can’t see any objection in principle, and the only question to me then is: was the actual event in practice abusive and unhealthy? It’s entirely a contingent question….
“Concerns based on what the exercise might have been like in other circumstances, or what these things can sometimes turn into, etc., etc., in fact assume circumstances different from what we actually had, that is, something less than a healthy regime.”
By projecting their own internal life onto us, the SL scribes conjure up a truly nightmarish scenario. Their conviction that it must necessarily have been an abusive psychological torture session is presumably grounded in their own experience. In a similar fashion many ex-Communists concluded that Lenin’s democratic centralism led inexorably to Stalin’s gulag.
But in politics the truth is always concrete.