March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm #81157
Following is a discussion on the page titled: Letter.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm #87917
Socialist Party Head OfficeParticipant
Comment received from a Socialist Standard reader:Dear Comrade,Please forgive an elderly anarchist, intervening1 in what you no doubt consider a private fight.Pace the SS editors, the story you relate was fairly well known before 1952; Guy Aldred certainly recounted it in a pamphlet. I am fairly certain that I had read it in something produced by the SPGB. & it was certainly in one of the more widely circulated Labour histories, (whether by GDH Cole or not I cannot now remember.) I came across it in the Socialist Leader (the then paper of the ILP) & I would think Bevan had mentioned it in Tribune, as also Gallacher in his auto-biography.Obviously you are right that the trade unions lacked a socialist consciousness, (after all even the Labour Left & the Stalinists argued from that.) But your letter (& the SS editors) go on to make two assumptions, neither correct:(a). the IWW didn’t stress the need for social change,& (b). the SPGB at that time did not believe in working in industrial unions.The IWW removed the political action clause because it believed that De Leon was forcing all members to join his particular party. Incidentally the resistance came from people who were in the Left of the SPA. the anarchists – like Vincent St John – played no part in the split.SPGB members were active in the SLPGB-formed Advocates of Industrial Unionism, for a time forming the majority of its membership; in the USA, WSPUSA members were active in the IWW as late as the ’50s. They didn’t then regard this as cutting off their legs.We do indeed have differences: but it would help if we each only talked of real differences, rather than inventing imaginary ones.fraternallyLaurens OtterMarch 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm #87918
Laurens’s “memories” must be failing him once again. All the sources I’ve been able to track down (admittedly only on the internet) give Bevan’s 1952 book as the source of Smillie’s account. If somebody can find an earlier source we’ll print a correction.All the other statements in Laurens’s letter are wrong, except what he says about the IWW not being an anarchist or anti-political organisation.March 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm #87919
Socialist Party Head OfficeParticipant
Email received from the person who wrote the letter in the March Socialist Standard:
In Laurens Otter’s text he states:
“The IWW removed the political action clause because it believed that De Leon was forcing all members to join his particular party. Incidentally the resistance came from people who were in the Left of the SPA. the anarchists – like Vincent St John – played no part in the split.”
I don’t know where Laurens Otter picked up this commentary but in the minutes
to the IWW Convention of 1905 and 1906 both of which I have copies of and in
De Leon’s collected series of letters on the issue of political and economic
actions of the working class at the time entitled As To Politics he
insistently maintained the requirement that the economic organization of the
working class must be unaffiliated with any political party; that it will
reflect its own political party. Hence, he stated in the first letter in
the pamphlet to John Sandgren, last paragraph: “As to the Socialist Labor
Party, it will never need to be appealed to ‘to break up camp’ after the
bucket of the I.W.W., having gathered sufficient solidity, will itself have
reflected its own political party. That day the S.L.P. will ‘break up camp’
with a shout of joy – if a body merging into its own ideal can be said to
‘break up camp'”. Mr. Otter will find this theme and similar replies repeated
again and again throughout that writing.
Bernard BortnickApril 30, 2012 at 5:52 am #87920
I think the letter needs to be revised.May 1, 2012 at 7:29 am #87921
ALBParticipanthannieB wrote:I think the letter needs to be revised.
Not sure which letter you are referring to, but there’s another exchange with Bernard Bortnick in the May Socialist Standard here:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2012/no-1293-may-2012/letters
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