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Left Wing Lies
What a Worker Found in his Quest for a Definition of Socialism


by:
Ken Ellis

Revision #6


First Complete Working Copy: March 1995
Revision #5: August 2000, then uploaded onto the wwweb
Revision #6: Now complete
   Part A revised: 11-22-02
   Part B revised: 11-22-02
   Part C revised: 11-22-02
   Part D revised: 01-11-03
   Part E revised: 02-06-03
   Part F revised: 02-13-03
   Part G revised: 02-20-03
   Part H revised: 03-08-03

   'They think that just because we are poor, that we must be stupid as well, as though
one caused the other, and as though we cannot see through their scam.' - K.E.

   "The great thing is to get the working class to move as a class." - Engels

Rear Jacket Blurb

   A worker's first-hand discovery of how the Socialist Labor Party altered the theories and quotes of Marx, Engels, and Lenin in order to mislead the lower classes into adopting an anarchist program that had already been rejected by Marx and Engels. The details of which theories were falsified, how quotes from the founders of socialism were altered, and what purposes the alterations served. How SLP leaders squelched dissent and civilized discussion through censorship, secrecy, and a bureaucratic Party structure; and how it provides less freedom of speech for its members than the government which they claim to want to abolish. How alienation makes people susceptible to sectarian movements. The organizational structure of the SLP is contrasted with that of the First International Workingmen's Association. The Marxist theory of the state and the Paris Commune are compared to state socialist and anarchist theories. What Marx envisioned for monarchies, republics, and the future. What hasn't worked in Marxism and Leninism. What the lower classes can do before machine labor completely replaces human labor, and lots more.
   This book hopefully contains the proof that socialism as practiced today by a myriad number of sects, groups and parties, is little better than a pack of lies, and, for that reason, are all worthless to the working classes.

"Live working or die fighting."

   "The watchword of the modern proletariat" that the silk winders of Lyons inscribed upon their banner during their strike (From Marx's 1869 "Report on the Basle Congress").


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Styles   6
 Abbreviations and Glossary   6
 Dedication   6
 Acknowledgments   7
 Preface   8
 Foreword   9
 Introduction  10


PART ONE: THE MOSTLY FOLKSY AND GOSSIPY PART
 Early Involvement  12
 The Big Move  18
 New York, New York  19
 To the West, at Last  22
 Settling In  24
 Things to Think About  25
 "Bullshit!"  26
 The 1975 National Executive Committee Session  28
 Section Santa Clara  30
 A Trip Back East  32
 1976 Detroit National Convention  34
 The Old NEC Reports  36
 The Disappearance of the Notes  39
 The Significance of the NEC Reports  40
 The Sacred Cash Cow  42
 Startling Discoveries  43
 The State Convention  44
 "Proletarian Democracy versus Dictatorships and Despotism"  47



PART TWO: THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT
 The Worker-Peasant Alliance  56
 Alleged Predominance of Russian Middle Classes  58
 Alleged Absence of the American Middle Classes  62
 Misquoting the Founders of Socialism  63
 Defeating the Middle Classes  66
 Proletarian Dictatorship ... over the Peasantry?  68
 "Conditions!"  70
 Another Contradiction  73
 Viva la Republic!  73
 The Resolution  75
 My Meeting with the National Secretary  77


PART THREE: THE NATURE OF THE STATE
 A.P.'s Preface to: "Socialism: From Utopia to Science"   80
 Analysis of Arnold Petersen's Preface   83
 Recap of Falsifications, Misrepresentations, etc.  119
 The SLP's Theories of the State  123
 What to Think?  124
 The Real Theories of the State  124
 A Caricature of Marxist Philosophy  125
 Anarchist World Outlook  127
 Anarchy and the Party  129
 The Aftermath  131
 The Send Off  132
 Unity and Separation  134
 Psychological Conflicts  136
 The Departure  139
 Freedom of Information and Censorship  141
 Party Process  145


PART FOUR: "PD vs. D+D" REVISITED
 Taxes!  177
 Reform or Revolution?  184
 Union Questions  186
 A Fate for the State  192
 One or Two Stages of Socialism?  198
 The Commune and the State  203
 Economic Conditions and Political Solutions  212
 A Swipe at Unions  222
 Unions are Good, Politics Bad?  228
 The Day De Leon Saved the World  236
 The Party Destructive  242
 SLP Form and Function  256
 Comparison to the First International  258
 Party and Power  261
 A False Dichotomy  263
 Proletarian Economic Dictatorship  274
 David vs. Goliath Revisited  285
 Conditions, Forms and Dictatorship  287
 Two Types of Transition  306
 Union and Party Relations  313
 The Role of Force  328
 Nowhere to Run  354
 War and Peace  359
 Parting Shots  366


PART FIVE: CONCLUDING REMARKS
 Early Roots of Anarchy  373
 Autonomy  375
 Marx and Engels on Sectarianism  376
 Anarchist World Outlook  380
 SLP Members  382
 The Moral Pits  386
 Insidious Influences  387
 How the SLP Might Greet This Book  388
 What's Next?  393
 What Can Be Done?  394


APPENDICES
 APPENDIX ONE:  Engels on America and the SLP  396
 APPENDIX TWO:  Workmen's Advocate + Sorge-De Leon Cntrvrsy  490
 APPENDIX THREE:  Lenin and the SLP  532
 APPENDIX FOUR:  Examples of Anarchist Ideology  539


INDEXES
 Name Index  548
 Subject Index  552
 Organization Index  571
 Publication Index  576
 END  581

Styles

 Text coloring decodes as follows:

 Black:  Ken Ellis
 Red:  Marx, Engels, and Lenin
 Green:  Press report, etc.
 Blue:  Correspondent, adversary, SLP-related
 Purple:  Unreliable Info
 Brown:  Inaccurate quote, but true to intent

   Excerpts from my old notebooks from the 1970's appear in quotation marks, as in: "sample". Passages slightly altered for inclusion here appear in single quotation marks, as in: 'sample'.
   Direct quotes from
Socialist Labor Party publications, or from the pen of Arnold Petersen, appear in blue or purple, depending on veracity. Mere phrases or portions of sentences appear in single quotes.
   Creative interpretations of the views of anarchists, the
SLP, A.P., or other dubious sources, appear in single quotes, either in blue or purple.
   Authorized quotes of Marx, Engels, and Lenin appear in
red. Creative interpretations of their works - but true to author intent - appear in brown.
   
Editors' and publishers' footnotes from the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, the Workmen's Advocate, and other historical sources, appear in green. Undisputed material is also in green.
   Statements by individuals appear in
blue or purple.
   Quotation mark colorings indicate exactly 'who is quoting whom'.
   Contents within parentheses ( ) were provided by the author of the sentence.
   Pertinent explanations from
editors and publishers are often provided within brackets [ ] in green.
   Within quoted passages, my own interjections appear within fancy brackets { }.
   Ellipses dots ... in or near quotes indicate deleted irrelevant or superfluous text.

Abbreviations and Glossary

   A.P. = Arnold Petersen, National Secretary of the SLP from 1913 to 1968.
   Bourgeois (boor-jwah) = capitalistic, referring to owners of means of production.
   Bourgeoisie (boor-jwah-zee) = capitalist class, owners of means of production.
   Capitalists = Owners of land, factories and other means of production.
   Communism = Mostly used in the
Leninist theoretical sense of the future "administration of things", or the classless, stateless society after the proletarian dictatorship withers away.
   
Executive = National Executive Committee of the SLP.
   First World = The most capitalistically, democratically, and technologically advanced countries.
   
FI = First International Workingmen's Association, 1864-1872.
   
GC = General (or Central) Council of the First International.
   Ms. = Manuscript.
   
NEC = National Executive Committee of the SLP.
   
NO = National Office of the SLP.
   
NS = National Secretary of the SLP.
   
Organizer = Elected leader of a Section.
   "
PD vs. D+D" = "Proletarian Democracy versus Dictatorships and Despotism", Arnold Petersen's 64-page 1931 pamphlet that poorly critiqued Marxist theory.
   
People = current journal of the SLP, 1980 -
   Proletariat = The working class, non-owners of means of production, owning only their ability to work.
   
RSDLP = Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.
   Second World = Countries between First and Third World, in terms of level of development.
   
Section = The basic local unit of organization of the SLP.
   
SLP = Socialist Labor Party, 1876 -
   
Socialism = occasionally used in reference to warm and fuzzy Social Democracy, but most often to Marx's 'first phase of communist society'; the dictatorship of the proletariat; the era of transition to the classless, stateless administration of things.
   '
Socialist Party' = Before the Socialist Party split off from the SLP in 1899, the SLP was frequently called the 'Socialist Party'. But, the post-1899 SP plays no part in this book.
   
S-D, or SD = Social-Democratic.
   
SIU = Socialist Industrial Unionism, program of the SLP.
   Third World = The least technologically and economically developed countries.
   
WA = Workmen's Advocate, the early SLP newspaper, 1883-1891.
   
WP = Weekly People, a longtime journal of the SLP, 1914-80.

Dedication

   For a long time I wondered about to whom I should dedicate this book. But, after re-reading their letters to me, I feel that it can only be dedicated to rank-and-file workers.

Acknowledgments

   For providing the inspiration to finally start writing my memoirs of Party experiences, Frank Girard, editor of the Discussion Bulletin, deserves thanks. My book had been on the back burner for far too long, and without a little stimulus, it might never have been written.
   Several libraries have been of great assistance. For readings and translations of German texts, and for access to their collections, the
Niebyl-Proctor Library was most helpful. Also, the Center for Socialist History, the Wisconsin State Historical Society, the Berkeley Public Library, and the libraries at the University of California at Berkeley, all earned a big 'thank you'.
   Friends and kinfolk deserve thanks for being patient, understanding, tolerant and supportive in seeing me through this long task that I didn't want to let go of after finally tackling it. After the initial impetus to start writing early in 1992, what was initially intended to be no more than a 25 page pamphlet grew into a book, the book grew larger and more encompassing, and it gradually avalanched into an all-absorbing activity.

Preface

   In this book, I purposely didn't use the names of Party members or associates during my few years in the Socialist Labor Party. Using proper names could imply that problems back then revolved around personal conflicts. Even though a certain amount of mild and civil conflict around various socialist and organizational theories occurred over the course of 1976-7, the contents of this book will prove that conflicts of interests and ideologies sought expression in individuals.
   This book also cannot pretend to be an ultra-scholarly presentation of
Marxist theories. As negations of Marxist theories in Party literature were encountered, their rebuttals by Marx, Engels and Lenin were researched and juxtaposed with the SLP theories for the reader to compare. This book is an exploration of a Party's anarchist ideology that spanned more than a century.

Foreword

   Zeno said, "Falsity must not be demonstrated as untrue because the opposite is true, but in itself ...". Similarly, De Leonism, Industrial Unionism, or the SLP concept of socialism cannot be demonstrated as false simply because it varies so much from Marxism, but, rather, De Leonism must be shown to be false within itself, i.e., it has to be shown to be internally contradictory and inconsistent, which is a major goal of this book. If De Leonism can be shown to be false within itself, and if its negations can be negated, then an ordinary understanding of De Leonism may be replaced with an understanding of a higher type, one that acknowledges De Leonism's internal inconsistencies.
   Some people might find the many references to revolutionary violence disturbing, but it was important to place its many references in their proper contexts. Violence occurred while overthrowing some absolute monarchies, and while liberating some colonies, but violence is not necessary for social progress in democracies. Those who advocate violence as a catalyst for social change have been unconscionably misguided.
   This book started out with a rather limited scope, but after it developed beyond a certain point, I began to realize that the
SLP had distorted more of the Marxist theories, and in a more insidious way, than what I had originally suspected. Since this book is "application specific" to the SLP, workers involved in other movements may have their own webs of lies to unravel. If this book has helped to clarify any issue, it will not have been written in vain.

Introduction

   In 1972, I got involved with the Socialist Labor Party, commonly known as the SLP, one of the oldest political parties in the United States, with roots going back to 1876. At a political protest rally of some sort outside of Boston City Hall in 1972, I chanced to pick up a Weekly People newspaper, or perhaps an SLP leaflet, as well as literature from other organizations. When I took it home to digest it all, the SLP's seemingly scholarly approach and appearance of being well grounded in history impressed me enough to want to follow up and learn more about socialism from the SLP.
   To give the reader a perspective on why anyone would want to learn anything about socialism, a little of my background might be in order. While growing up near the coast of Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts, I became conscious at the age of 11 of a feeling of alienation, which worsened during my adolescence. After three years of Mechanical Engineering studies at a respectable college, I dropped out due to a profound lack of motivation. While struggling to figure out what was wrong, I read psychological texts, and before long convinced myself that my entire problem was caused by a deep neurosis. The texts led me to believe that my case was hopeless, especially without psychoanalysis, which I couldn't afford. I wallowed in sufficient misery for a while to finally get myself sent off to an analyst anyway, who lectured to me and prescribed pills which I didn't really want to take, and the first radical I met easily convinced me to stop taking them. A year of listening to an analyst's repetitive boring lecture finally inspired me to quit psychoanalysis altogether, though against the analyst's advice.
   Not long after quitting the psychotropics, I also accidentally stumbled on a technique to deal with negative feelings, which consisted of trying to feel them to extremes, or to amplify them, and to listen to what came out of the ensuing silence. Years later, I became aware that other analysts had already used this technique in their practices. After a number of such sessions, which finally ended in a sense of inner peace, I felt as though that particular kind of work on myself had been completed, though I didn't feel as though everything was "perfect".
After studying more psychology for a while in hopes of finding out why everything was the way it was, I began to detect different schools of thought in psychology, and the more I dug into them, the more I began to appreciate the radical psychologists. From there I moved on to appreciate sociology and then to radical sociologists and finally, to psychologists who espoused socialism. Dr. Franz Fanon's classic book "
Wretched of the Earth" told of Algerians who seemed driven to despair from living in a society with enormous differences in wealth between different economic classes, but when Algeria liberated itself from French colonial domination in the early 50's, a lot of 'mental illnesses' suddenly cleared up by themselves, and people were not being committed, or did not commit themselves into mental institutions, at anywhere near the usual rate. From this revelation, I jumped into the camp of the socialists overnight and nearly stopped paying attention to psychology altogether. Fanon's book was one more nail in the coffin of the belief that psychological understanding alone could be the simple answer to all of my problems, as well as to the problems of others. I then developed an interest in whether there were any general laws to describe the direction that society takes, where we have been as a society, where we were going, and what socialism really was.
   As my curiosity about socialism developed, I felt frustrated over not being able to find a satisfactory definition, so I eventually did something I never thought I would have the guts to do, which was to break with a previous prejudice against people who stood on street corners and handed out leaflets. I began a search for representatives of the socialist ideal, which is what took me to that demonstration outside Boston City Hall. When I finished reading what I had gotten there, perhaps it was the simple socialist message and the sense of deep historical roots that appealed to me, but having little to lose, I decided to see what I could learn at the advertised
SLP study class.
   In retrospect, my experience with the
SLP was, in a sense, a repeat of my experience with psychology. I became infatuated with the first bit of socialist truth at the age of 30 as I had with the first bit of psychological truth I discovered at the age of 21. A more careful analysis brought out the differences between classical and the radical psychology, and on the other hand, between the various shades of socialism. An educational process occurred in both cases.
   With that brief introduction, let's proceed to the period of my active involvement with the
Party.

PART ONE: THE MOSTLY FOLKSY AND GOSSIPY PART

Early Involvement

   The back of the Weekly People newspaper carried an ad for a study class 60 miles north of where I lived. So, I gathered my courage, overcame my shyness and prejudice against socialists and communists, and began attending the study class, which quickly became an unbreakable habit. At my first introduction to the works of Marx, Engels, De Leon and others, I felt quite a bit like a subversive, as if I was doing something that society didn't approve of. I also found myself having to face up to much of what I had been taught in grade school, which had been to fear and despise Marx and every other socialist and communist. I grew up in the McCarthy witch-hunt era, but was totally unconscious of its significance at the actual time. To find myself, years later, studying what socialists and communists had actually written was a bit on the subversive side for me, full of intrigue and even a bit shameful. Those negative feelings eventually gave way to appreciation, as I grew to feel more at home with my study class element and became aware that they were not much different from anyone else, but rather were tuned in to an ostensible philosophy of social harmony. I began to feel that it was ignorance that prejudiced others against socialism, but, back in my usual environments, my newly evolving socialist ideas did not find a welcome audience, but neither was I overly harassed about it as long as I didn't proselytize.
   Having been bitten hard by the socialist bug, I proceeded to buy
SLP literature, and continued to attend study classes regularly. I learned quite a bit about economics and the struggle over the product of labor, but remained confused about some aspects of socialist politics. I wondered a little why Marx, Engels, and De Leon were permissible to study, but more modern revolutionaries, such as Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh were not, as though they were taboo or boycotted, which disappointed me a little, but only a little, as the ignorance I remained in remained somewhat blissful, since I was very glad to learn the many things that seemed perfectly valid.
   The
SLP depicted their program as based on modern conditions in industrially advanced America, while other parties supposedly based their programs on conditions in less-developed countries, such as Russia or China. We were told how thoroughly American the Party program was, and how good-old American know-how had built a program free of Old-World prejudices and extraneous influences. At that early stage of my socialist consciousness, that aspect of the program had a certain appeal. But, there was also something about its depiction that alienated me a little. For a while, I wondered how much I was going to have to consciously resist feeling "proud to be an American", for the feeling was so similar to the one I got listening to politicians carrying on about how wonderful it is to live in the good old USA. I felt the walls close in a little when I reminded myself that I had never been very far out of the USA, and that I wanted to learn more about the experiences of workers from Europe and elsewhere to see if there were any lessons to be learned from them. I was also puzzled over having been handed the impression that Engels was inferior to Marx in some respects, and that one of Marx's sons-in-law had a less than noble character.
   Another disappointment for me was that the
SLP program for change, or Socialist Industrial Union (SIU), did not seem so easy to memorize, and eventually had to be learned by rote. Basically, the SIU is an organizational structure into which workers should organize in order to carry out a revolution in a thoroughgoing and peaceful manner. During an election, the working class would vote for SLP candidates, but, instead of taking power in the government, the Party would dissolve both the government and itself, and the Industrial Unions would carry on the administration of production rather than boss people around. They told me that the program was based upon all that was good in Marxism, and appropriate to industrially advanced countries, which sounded good to me.
   I was so impressed by the people I met at the
class that I thought that they must all have been genii. Their words seemed imbued with such awesome intellect and profundity that I didn't think I could ever aspire to speaking the same way. For quite a few months, I was totally thrilled with the new people I was with, and with what I was learning, such as how some old-timers spoke from soap-boxes during the Great Depression of the Thirties. Whatever little flaws I might have wanted to criticize seemed to be well compensated by the rather forthright analysis of economics, the class struggle, the materialist conception of history, and the instructor's fascinating stories. Eventually, after maybe a year, the study class seemed to become repetitive, and I even got a little bored at times, but I stuck with it and attended a few open Party functions, and helped the Party to "agitate", which meant distributing leaflets and older issues of the Weekly People.
   As I drew ever closer to the
Party, I was also told that all other alleged socialist or radical parties had been promulgated by the authorities to "confuse and confound" the working classes, and were actually run by the police. Other than those from the SLP, most writers were portrayed as falsifiers of Marxist theories, with very few exceptions. That was intriguing to learn, and it tempted me to feel that any party that would warn me about other parties like that would never lie to me. It certainly helped to keep me a certain distance away from the other groups, though I allowed myself to reserve a few doubts about the veracity of everything I was told. I sometimes even felt a desire to communicate with other groups at various times to find out what they were all about.
   In general, though, I overlooked what few little things I didn't like, figuring that
any party that could communicate all of the fascinating things they did so well had to have everything else all altogether in just the right proportions. I tended to blame myself for anything that I could not understand, and felt that whatever I could not readily accept from the Party was probably due to my own weaknesses. I wanted to learn so much more about this new outlook and philosophy that had such exciting possibilities for social change.
   After maybe six months of
study class, I became aware that followers of the Party could be divided into members and non-members, and I soon began to aspire to membership. But, because I had so little self confidence about my abilities to espouse the finer points of the Party program, I didn't ask about joining for yet another six months. When I finally did get around to ask about joining, I was encouraged to apply with more enthusiasm than what I expected. So, I practiced and acquired a meager skill in expressing the basic principles of Socialist Industrial Unionism, and that was sufficient to enable me to pass the test. I thanked my lucky stars that the exam wasn't as rigorous as I had feared. Though I wanted so much to belong to the revolution, my lack of self-confidence combined with my burnout and lack of sense of self-worth made me doubt any possible usefulness I might have for the revolution, but I eventually became a member early in 1973. I remember the feeling of pride I had while driving home, combined with a sense of amazement that any group would accept me into its ranks.
   There was a period of time when I was so absorbed with the study of socialism and
Party literature that it was like riding a crest of ecstasy. I made it a task to record the SLP study course onto cassette tapes, for that technology was finally becoming available on a mass basis. For quite a few weeks, I took the time to lay down on tape a considerable number of the pamphlets associated with the study course, which I later listened to while riding around in my car. At the end of the study course, however, came the reading of a pamphlet by Arnold Petersen entitled "Marxism vs. Soviet Despotism". I remember getting close to the end of recording that pamphlet, and then becoming so disenchanted that I even developed a positive distaste for it, but I didn't know anywhere near enough about my subject to enable me to develop a cogent argument against it. I told my study class instructor a little about how I felt about the pamphlet, but he only assured me what a wonderful pamphlet it was, just as wonderful as all of the other things that A.P. had written. That had a devastating effect on me, as I then became sure that the source of my disenchantment was my own inadequacies as a socialist, or as a human being. But, sufficiently satisfied with having gotten the basics down, I stopped taping the study course and began to enjoy the fruits of my labor. But I remained considerably disappointed in my inability to readily accept and take to heart everything I was reading and hearing.
   Sometime after joining the
Party, one of the things I had often wondered about came to have a greater importance than before, viz., the Party's near total lack of youth. I observed young people agitating for other parties, but wondered why they weren't in my Party. Even I was all of 30 back then, and I no longer considered myself to be truly young. At the study class, there was only one other person of my approximate age, but he hardly ever attended. I was somewhat comforted later on by the fact that a few other people my age joined the study class, and they stuck with it consistently enough to also become interested in joining. The Party seemed interested in them as well, and they joined up the month after I did. It was really nice to be friends with them, and we spent quite a bit of time together.
   At one of our
monthly Section meetings, some of the newcomers got to talking with one of the long-term members about our concerns for the Party. We voiced a curiosity (that I had learned to suppress) about where SLP philosophy fit into the spectrum of socialist philosophy. Amazingly enough, the long-term member told us that the Party had been accused by others as having an anarcho-syndicalist program. That statement really snowed me, as I had no idea what that meant, and I had no idea about how or where I could check into it further. But, I also got the feeling that to even want to know more about that subject was not welcome. When I couched those concerns in general form for consideration by our study class instructor as a topic for him to pursue, he replied that: "Part of the program of the SLP is to study the programs of other parties", but it remained an unfulfilled promise, for I can't remember learning anything else about any other leftist party in that class.
   At some point, another group of young people began to attend our
study class, but we found it unusual that they expressed great interest in becoming members immediately, claiming a previous long-term knowledge of our philosophy, but granting instant admission didn't seem possible. I couldn't imagine any one group accepting another group into their midst without first determining their mutual compatibility. Because of their appearance, they also didn't readily fit in with the "professional demeanor" of the rest of the members. They complained that the commute to our regular study class was too long for people of little means, so they suggested that the study class go to them. In order to accommodate them, I seem to remember one or more study classes held outside of the normal one, after which point they put more pressure on us to be admitted as members. Bowing to the pressure, I uneasily agreed to vote for their admission at our next Section meeting.
   At that meeting, one of the elder members who had never before met the new candidates took me aside and asked me if I really knew that much about them, which I interpreted as pressure to not admit them. On the horns of a dilemma, I succumbed to the pressure, and when the vote finally came down, I tipped the vote against them. This created a bit of a protest from them and the other new members, but the damage was done, and mostly to my own credibility. So, in a confusing compromise, I agreed to attend a few more extra-curricular
study classes to get to know them better, but, by then, I already knew much more about them than the members who really needed to get to know them. But, when I went the forty miles to conduct the next class, they instead were interested only in finding out why I had voted against them, and then proceeded to so earnestly pursue the subject that I felt intimidated, outnumbered, and uncomfortable enough to excuse myself early. When it came time for the next study class, I no longer was able to find them at home, so everything was dropped, but without much regret, and not without considerable relief.
   I had another major conflict with my
Section. Prior to officially joining, I had started meeting with a group of people near the home turf who produced their own newsletter and concerned themselves with labor issues. At factory gates, I occasionally assisted them in distributing literature that chronicled labor struggles and local politics, but it also took a very non-ideological stance in the process, not much more than facts and complaints. I appointed myself to inject the missing socialist ideological element, but the leadership rebuffed my socialist propagandizing efforts altogether, claiming to have had enough experience with various parties in the past. I wondered why they weren't able to discern that 'my Party was different, and I had the truth with me at all times.' They also had a storefront in a run-down district, but wouldn't let me put my Party literature where anyone could see it, much to my dismay. They also held community meetings at which all I could think about was what I would say about socialism if I had the opportunity to speak about it, but socialism just didn't seem to be anywhere near anyone else's agenda. I spent a lot of time feeling as though I had the answer to everyone's problems, combined with too little self-confidence to deliver it.
   After I became a member, I was as yet unaware as to how my activities with the home turf group would be perceived by the
Party, and when I proudly reported my activities to my Section, I was quite dismayed to find that, instead of being praised for being active, my efforts were condemned, and I was ordered to cease those activities immediately! Furthermore, I was amazed at the intensity of the reproach I received. It was as though I had violated some fundamental rule of which I had insufficient awareness. What I had done was apparently very wrong, even according to the Party Constitution, and I was ordered to cut off all contact with the home turf group altogether. The members proceeded to convey the impression that all other groups were agents of the state, paid to lead the working class astray, and that I would taint myself if I continued associating with them. But, having taken the work of the home-turf group at face value, I could hardly believe that they could have been any sort of agents. To me, they were as innocent as babes in the woods who needed to learn about socialism.
   My
Comrades seemed to have had their reasons why members should not associate with other organizations. I guessed that they must have included fears that SLP members might be swayed by the "false ideology" of other organizations, or maybe it was that association with other organizations might be "harmful to the Party" in some undefined way. I found it difficult to imagine what kind of revolution a party would be capable of facilitating if its members were not able to mix in with other groups or organizations.
   During the tirade of my
Comrades, I remember yessing them so that life could return to normal. I did not feel like I had done such a bad deed, and I was in a hurry for the agony to end, so I pretended to have been enlightened by them, all the while reserving the right to judge my actions at my own pace. While driving home, I felt that I was actually giving up some of my freedoms of association to be a SLP member, and I was not very comfortable with that feeling at all. Since the other members of the Section lived a considerable distance away from me, they would never know whether or not I agitated among other groups if I didn't tell them so, but that would have been an "unorganizational" thing to do, so I didn't give in to temptation, and merely obeyed rules that I considered to be as invasive as nonsensical.
   Since propagandizing other groups was taboo, it seemed that one's only other recourse was to
stand out on a sidewalk and leaflet individuals, which I also did a little of, but there was little satisfaction in this method. Of the hundreds of people I leafletted in this way, I can remember having had only one meaningful conversation.
   One of the first big functions I got to attend as a new member was a
State Convention and banquet. One of my first big anxieties descended when I got elected to some kind of committee, but it turned out to be a pretty painless experience after all, for they only elected everyone to some kind of a committee in order to make sure that no one was left out. So, it was easy enough to let the more experienced members take all of the initiative, and all I had to do for the most part was to sit back and listen. All of the proceedings were very new to me, having never before taken part in what I anticipated would be a planning session to change the world, but I had little opinion about any kind of revolutionary action at that point. I had previously feared that I was going to be put to some kind of a test, and that I would have been expected to show some kind of revolutionary initiative, but, fortunately for me, they were much more laid back than that, and no one seemed interested in running me through any kind of revolutionary gauntlet. And, when it was all over, I was amazed at how mundane the proceedings actually turned out to be.
   After the banquet and fund-raising parts were all over and we relaxed at our tables, I found myself with a group that included an ex-member who had come to the banquet as the guest of her husband. After we all became more comfortable with each other, she told me that
the SLP would never amount to anything due to all of the disagreements within it, which I found to be an astounding statement, for I didn't think that I could have found a more unified group of people in my whole life. What I also didn't expect was for her to get a little on the vociferous side, while her husband just clammed up altogether and let her talk. Just as I was beginning to think that I was going to learn some kind of astounding hidden secret about the Party, one of the Organizers came over and threw a blanket over the discussion. Previous to that display of passion, the issue of the Party's lack of youth was all that I ever had to cause me to speculate that something other than what appeared at face value might be going on. After that event, though, I began to wonder about the nature of my Party quite a bit more.

The Big Move

   Not too long after joining up, a letter to the Sections from the National Office called for volunteers to help move the NO from Brooklyn, New York to Palo Alto, California. After this call gestated in my mind for awhile, I began to get really excited about the possibilities that going to New York might open up for me. Travel. Adventure. Maybe even a front-row seat on the revolution. I was very bored at the time with my life as a wage-slave. Up to then, I had tried various jobs, and helping out with the family business didn't really seem much better than other jobs, so I was ready for a big change. Having never been motivated enough to join the rat race like so many of my friends and acquaintances, what with their responsibilities, families, homes, cars, boats, payments, steady jobs, etc., I was still willing to put up with a certain amount of financial uncertainty for the sake of following adventure. I could even be emotional at times and think "To hell with making money!" I regarded the average Joe's life-style with disdain, and doubted if I could have adjusted to such a routine, even though such opportunities had already come my way. My life had already been disrupted by having dropped out of college, so I felt different from the norm, though rare were the times I felt sure enough of the value of those differences to celebrate them. With all of my internal conflicts, it was many times enough of a struggle to remain a functioning wage-slave.
   Over the years, I had also spent a certain amount of energy following the few mundane ideals I had, but, as a newly converted socialist, I then had a surplus of ideals. This time, however, it was the revolution that beckoned, and I was becoming increasingly determined to follow the revolution, at least for a little while, to see where it would lead. So, it was with some trepidation that I pulled up roots once again and abandoned a secure, but not very exciting life, to see what lay beyond the horizon.

New York, New York

   I never relished the thought of moving to New York, especially in the middle of summer. I absolutely dreaded throwing myself into an environment of smog, crime, crowds, cockroaches, and any number of unknown possibilities. But I knew that it was not going to last for more than the two months of July and August of 1974, after which I would have to figure out what to do next. I was willing to cross that bridge when I got to it, but I was also a little nervous about the bold step I had taken. Bold for me, that is.
   I arrived in Brooklyn one hot afternoon and went up to the fifth floor of the industrial style building at 116 Nassau Street and got to meet the
SLP's National Secretary, who took some time from his busy routine to show me around. He briefly introduced me to everyone, and then to the long-time Party sympathizer who volunteered to put me up at his place in the Bronx. It wasn't long before I got into a regular work routine, which consisted of a long day's work, after which we would go back to the flat in the Bronx. After a great supper, I would be treated to many a tale of life at sea, or else tales of the SLP and the people in and around it. Throughout the summer, I got to meet many of the core people in The Big Apple. At one banquet, I even got to meet Arnold Petersen, whose theorizing figures heavily in much of this book. By that time, A.P. was in his 90's, his hearing was bad, and he didn't look very much in the mood for socializing.
   I should mention how I felt being in the same room with the man who led the
SLP for some fifty-five years or so. Back in the old study class, a lot of reverence was expressed for the man who had guided the Party for so many years. I felt as though I could have used some inspiration from someone, and I felt a certain compulsion to interrogate him as to the secrets of his long and revolutionary life so that I might someday be able to carry on in the grand tradition. On the other hand, I was a little too intimidated to pursue a conversation because I felt unqualified, and without an invitation to crash the club of the exclusive few who got to talk to the great leader. I certainly had no reputation as a fire-brand revolutionary organizer the way they are celebrated in fact and fiction. I had already been rebuffed by so many non-socialists for wanting to talk about socialism that the incessant rejection had already caused me to become shy about bringing up what had become an all-too-pressing agenda item in my conversations. I feared being considered a fanatic of some sort, for not much could be worse to a reputation than that, I thought. But, in spite of my suspected fanaticism, I had yet to be responsible for bringing in a single new member to the Party, and had yet to be responsible for passing out a ton of leaflets. So, except for my enthusiasm, I felt as though I had few credentials with which to start a conversation with a great man. But, in his condition of rather advanced old age, he was not very gregarious either, and seemed rather content to be attended by one of the NO workers who seemed to have known him for a long time.
   In spite of that failure to connect with the great old leader, I was still quite excited about being near the heart of the
Party, even if I wasn't learning all that much about it. And, it was still a relief to be there in New York rather than fixing cars, even if I wasn't making any money, which wasn't all that unusual for me. The Party had agreed to reimburse only my direct expenses, so I was careful to save all receipts for food, gas and whatever else I had to buy at the time, and turn them in now and then for reimbursement.
   While in New York, I hoped that I would also be able to learn something about the
Party's history and satisfy my curiosity as to why the Party was so small despite its many claims of greatness, as propagated in its own literature. I never felt comfortable asking direct questions about those matters for fear that it was not the way to get the answers I wanted so badly. I was so afraid of alienating people with questions that they went largely unasked as I struggled in vain to find diplomatic ways to find out what I wanted. In one attempt, I got myself invited to a NEC Subcommittee meeting, but I barely remember a thing about it, other than remaining somewhat bored throughout, but I did meet five important members I had never met before.
   As time passed, I gradually developed a sense for who was who around the
NO, and what was what. I observed how people interacted to get some idea of what was going on, and some of it seemed a little odd. Before not too long, the atmosphere seemed quite far from being that of just one big happy family. For example, shouting matches between personnel broke out more than once.
   I got to know a few workers at the
NO on a slightly more than superficial level, and I got the feeling that some of them were not very happy working there. Out in the industrial area, where I worked maybe half the time, three paid employees, two of whom were members, printed the Weekly People, the leaflets, pamphlets, NEC Reports, internal Party correspondence, etc. Changes in printing technology were going to make the printers redundant when we moved West, so none of the three printers were planning to move with the NO, and I had the feeling that none of them were too unhappy over losing their jobs, either.
   I spent most of the other half of the time in the shipping department. The shipping clerk had a job that was definitely transportable to the other side of the country, but he was of no mind to move out West either. I never learned too much about the source of his discontent, but one day I was shocked to hear that he thought that
Party literature was "bullshit". After the initial shock of hearing what seemed an absurd statement, I dismissed it as just another symptom of his seeming disgruntlement, and tried not to show my disappointment in him. But, his comment disturbed me, and I wondered how he could have felt so much contempt for the literature that had so captivated my interest. I asked myself if it was a personal grievance, stupidity, or what? It certainly could not have been based on the truth of the situation, thought I.
   Some corners of the
NO were off limits to people of my talents, so I didn't get to know the intellectual half of the workers very well, and, in some cases, not at all. What with so much work to do, and then having to commute for an hour and a half each way on worn-out public transportation, and then supper and bedtime, the schedule didn't allow for much exploration. One of the few things that I learned was that the Party couldn't attract people to come to a place like New York City to write for the Weekly People, but there were a few who were willing to go out West to write in a nicer environment. I estimated that about half of the New York staff made the move out to the West Coast.
   Quite a few members and sympathizers came from all over the country to help out at the
NO as well I. We got to work together quite a bit in our mutual tasks of packing up all the stuff to go out West, and in scrapping tons of lead from the obsolete printing operations. The Party also had to get rid of a ton of old literature and other memorabilia from times gone by. Not all was lost, however, for a sampling of all the "treasures" continued throughout the summer by an archivist from the Wisconsin State Historical Society, which is well known for its collection of socialist histories. But still, a surfeit of literature and stuff simply had to be dumped. Once I found out what was going on, and to prevent too much waste from occurring, I made it a point of going through the dumpster at the end of each day to get a sampling for myself and posterity. I also wondered why it took so long for anyone to tell me that precious history was simply being discarded, and I never found out how much stuff had simply been tossed before I had a chance to sample it.
   What with keeping so busy, it wasn't long before July and August of '74 were over and done with, and along with the passage of those two months of hard, sweaty work, my reasons for remaining in New York had also come to an end. Once again, however, I found myself in an uncertain position of not knowing exactly what to do with the rest of my life. I didn't really want to go back where I came from, since I felt that I had burned a few bridges behind me. So, I inquired of the
NS if there was going to be any need for help to set up the new National Office in Palo Alto. He indicated an interest in my continued assistance and agreed to continue to pay my expenses for the duration of our venture, which was estimated to last maybe a month or so. When it was to come to an end, that would be the end of my little "job", and I would once again be on my own. But at least I was to have an expense-paid trip to California, the only way I ever could have gotten there.
   After the last edition of the
Weekly People rolled off the old press and got wrapped and mailed, I made one more trip back home to pick up what I thought I would need for the long drive to the West coast, and for what I hoped might turn into a fairly long stay.

To the West, at Last

   Ever since the mid-60's, I had dreamed about going to California, so this new adventure was like a dream come true for me. I finally had a place to go to, and something to do when I got there. On the way out, I dropped off what seemed like a ton of salvaged literature on the Labor History department of a Rhode Island College. Then it was off to the West. Aside from getting a lousy speeding ticket, it was very exciting for me to be anywhere west of Ohio for the first time. After recovering from road fatigue after the nearly five days' drive from coast to coast, the new NO was searched for and found. Those who had flown out had already started remodeling, and had torn down a few walls, etc. Having acquired a few mechanical skills in my early years, I took on the tasks of putting together lots of steel shelving and storage cabinets, etc., and, for the first time in my life, I also got to do a little indoor electrical work with a member who happened to be an electrician.
   During the first few weeks, people came from all over the Bay Area and the rest of the country to help set things up. Everything had to be reorganized, new addresses stamped on all of the literature, and tons of stuff moved into final resting places, etc. Sometime after the initial panic over moving in and getting organized had subsided, the
National Secretary threw a little picnic-party for everyone in the big open space at the back of the plant. As we ate, chatted, and joked around, some of the heretical humorous leanings of the bright, young intellectual staff had already made an impression on me, and though I cannot remember at all what we were talking about, I cracked a joke that caused the NS to respond with, "There is going to be another disruption in the Socialist Labor Party". His statement certainly surprised me.
   Before long, the new shipping clerk decided to quit, so I eagerly volunteered to take his place. When my offer to fill the gap was accepted, I was in seventh heaven because I felt as though I was finally going to be in a position to find out how a revolutionary organization ticked. But, when I started working for the
Party and "got onto its payroll", I thought that it was at least somewhat strange that a revolutionary party would sign me up for the same kinds of withholding taxes and other deductions that any other company would. It was a relation to the government that I thought was a little too close to be revolutionary. How could a Party that seemed so interested in getting rid of the present day state be so blasé about getting rid of the financial basis of that state? But, I did not have a legal mind, and simply blamed the government for imposing rules. And, because everyone else in the NO was in the same boat as I, but did not complain, I didn't pursue the issue.
   At the same time that I was so enthusiastic about the new job, I was also suddenly panicked over the thought of how short-handed I would soon be, because I was then going to have to be trained in how to do all of the shipping clerk tasks, as well as build a bunch of bookshelves and do all of the other moving-in tasks that were still undone. A lot of the help that arrived to greet us had slowly dribbled away to practically nil. To get all of the work done, I worked nights, days, and weekends well into the following year of 1975. Since I felt that the extra work was appreciated, I didn't mind the extra grind so much, though it did get a bit lonely at times, especially when someone would complain that their
favorite project wasn't being completed as fast as they would have liked, but they weren't exactly helping to get any of it done.

Settling In

   As time marched on, the major projects managed to get done, and I was gradually freed from the overload of work I had taken on. If I had considered the work of the revolution to have been "just another job", I never would have done the work that I did and the way that I did it, seemingly driven as though by an obsession. I felt as though I was working to speed the day of the revolution, and if I did a good job, the pain and suffering of myself and the world would be terminated that much earlier, even though I sometimes doubted the validity of the emotion that was carrying me along. But, I also could not understand why none of the others were as enthusiastic as I was, and I admit that I was a little disappointed in what seemed like their 9-5 attitudes.
   As time passed, I also became somewhat disappointed with the position of shipping clerk, as I was stuck primarily in the rear of the building filling
book and leaflet orders and preparing Weekly People mailings. It began to look as though the only time that I would get to interact with others was when they came downstairs to get a cup of coffee, bring me a shipping order, or, on Fridays, help me wrap the Weekly People. If someone had their finger on the pulse of the Party, that person certainly wasn't I. It got quite lonely back there, and it rapidly seemed to turn out to be not that much different from all the other non-fulfilling kinds of work I was used to doing, i.e., working with things, rather than with people. My questions about what was really going on in the Party were still not being answered. I found myself to be just another cog in the wheel, and it began to get boring.
   Most of the time, unless there was a
Section meeting or some other Party event, NO employees went home, enjoyed family life, or did whatever they did, while I wondered why we weren't spending our spare time plotting the revolution. I guessed that for many of my fellow employees, life away from work meant seeking entertainment and/or just living a rather plain old working class existence. It seemed as though the work of the revolution was to be done during normal working hours, and aside from those 40 hours per week, we were free to do whatever we wanted, just like ordinary wage-slaves. That was disappointing, as I had expected that, as part of the National Office of a supposedly revolutionary party, my Comrades and I would be plotting the revolution 24 hours a day. But, that wasn't the way it was, so, on weekends, since there was little else to do, I often took off in my car for a drive to the hills, coast and rural areas that surrounded the Bay Area, and got to take in some scenery that I found to be a wonderful contrast to that of the East Coast. To this day, that aspect of my life back then remains a highlight.

Things to Think About

   On one occasion, one of the intellectuals and I went to a public confab to listen to a well-known writer for a Maoist publication give a speech. While other attendees in the audience were proud to publicly announce their affiliations during Q and A, the WP writer did not mention the SLP at all when he made his comment/question, so I asked "why not" after we departed, and he said something to the effect: 'After the revolution, those people are going to kill us.' I was so shocked by that statement that I was afraid to pursue it any further, as though I should content myself with having learned that much but no more. I also wondered about what kind of a reactionary movement I had joined that could inspire such wrath by other parties, a wrath that seemed to go far beyond ordinary rivalry between competing radical groups.
   On another occasion, the
Weekly People ran an article that included a small picture of a well-known member of another left-wing party, and when the NS saw the picture, he scrapped the whole edition, had it redone all over again, and we all worked late one night to get the new one into the mail. When I wondered what the big deal was, it was explained that some members would have interpreted the printing of that picture as a tacit endorsement of the other party. Some members might have been angered enough to diminish their support, or otherwise raise a big stink. I had heard a few stories about competition and antagonism between leftist parties, but was unprepared for the kind of expense to which the Party had to go to prevent references to certain individuals or parties from showing up in its journal.
   As time went on, others in the
NO began to sense the need for community, so a study class was organized. There I learned that, unlike the 'old guard' of the Party, the younger intellectuals didn't feel it necessary to condemn Lenin, Mao, and every other revolutionary in every other sentence that they wrote or spoke, which was somewhat of a discomforting and confusing surprise to me. I never really understood why so many revolutionaries had to be condemned so harshly by the SLP anyhow, but now I was in a group that didn't find it necessary to do so, and I had no frame of reference with which to judge what was correct. The exposure to a study class that dared to stray from what was considered safe material for SLP members intrigued me, and I was even encouraged to keep an open mind.
   A long time before, in conversations with one of the
WP writers back in New York, I had begun to sense that I really didn't know very much about anything socialist, and that my tendency to parrot old Party sayings would not merit automatic acceptance with the relatively young intellectual crowd. So, in order to be better accepted among the crowd of intellectuals that I was respecting more and more, and even wanted to be considered a part of, I felt a need to get a lot of tools with which to attain this new goal of obtaining a certain amount of intellectual acumen, so I started buying books. First, I got the Collected Works of Mao Tse-Tung. Then I got a book by Ho Chi Minh and one by General Giap. I really enjoyed the latter two, for they proved to me how much these revolutionary fighters really loved their countries and their people, as opposed to the self-serving kinds of authoritarian attitudes that some Party members attributed to them. When I decided to test the waters and brought up the subject of Ho Chi Minh to a member of the old guard, she said flatly that Ho Chi Minh was a dictator! Having read Ho Chi Minh, I was shocked by this statement. I had heard the intellectuals criticize the old guard as dogmatic, but this "dictator" reaction to me went beyond dogmatism. It was a level of condemnation that I could not understand at all, nor where it was coming from. But, having little understanding of my own from which to argue, I could do little more than hold back my tongue.
   On the other hand, I could talk to the intellectuals about things even as controversial as the "
dictatorship of the proletariat" without being put down as a traitor to some Party position of which I had little knowledge or understanding. When the Weekly People writers admitted the plausibility of a dictatorship of the proletariat in the USA, I was surprised at first that they would actually contradict the views of the rest of the Party, but they consistently did so only in private conversation. A certain amount of trust had developed between us, based, I presumed, on my willingness to develop my intellect so as to be more able to appreciate their perspectives, including the perspective that the Party needed a lot of education and change. At the same time, I sensed a certain reluctance on their part to openly contradict the beliefs of the general membership, but had no idea why that was so.

"Bullshit!"

   If the statement about Ho Chi Minh was strange, it did not prepare me for a statement that was even more strange, but from a totally different direction. Back at my worktable one day, surrounded by SLP literature, something simply unforgettable happened: One of the WP writers approached my workspace and exclaimed, "It's bullshit, all bullshit!" I was dumbfounded, having never heard anything as seemingly heretical from someone whom I respected as having learned his subject far more in depth than I, and probably more than most others in this world. In my bewilderment, it took a long time before I would even admit to myself that he had to have been talking about the literature that I so lovingly wrapped and sent out to the world every day. I didn't know whether to be outraged at the seeming heresy, or to tell someone about it, or what. I thought about it for a long time, and it reminded me of how isolated I was, as though the people around me were speaking a language I couldn't understand.
   After working in such ignorance for what seemed too long, I started to become more resentful of the bureaucratic nature of the
NO organizational structure. All Party knowledge seemed to be concentrated in the hands of the NS, and heaven forbid if a letter was misdirected to someone who shouldn't have opened it. One of my daily duties was to pick up mail from the Post Office every morning. At first, I used to take it all up to the NS and dump it in a big pile on his desk. After doing it like that for awhile, I asked if I could sort it out downstairs to help save him some time, and he agreed. That worked all right until the day I made a mistake and an important letter was opened by the wrong person and some bleep hit the fan, and then it was back to the old way of doing things. Of course, I never inquired too deeply into the nature of the consequences of my innocent error, because I had developed respect for the compartmentalization of duties, even though I resented it. I could feel, on the one hand, that it was none of my business, but on the other hand, that I had a right to know, since I was a NO employee and a Party member. But, since I had no idea how to solve this conflict, all I could do was to try to forget about it.
   As time went on, my curiosity continued to be unsatisfied about why we were such a tiny
Party if our SIU program was as perfect as we said it was, and if we were as great a Party we always boasted we were. I still wanted to know why the members were so old and why there were hardly any youngsters among us. These were a part of a set of gnawing questions for me, questions to which I couldn't seem to get any straight or satisfying answers, and I wondered if I would ever find any. Some of the other things that I also wondered about included: 1) What happened in the disruption I had heard about in Section Palo Alto in 1968; and 2) How could the Party claim that what happened in Vietnam made no difference to the American working class? Why did the Party seem to completely fail to celebrate the Vietnamese victory over American aggression and genocide? People mourned the 50,000 Americans who died over there, but it was years before I even heard about the one or two million Vietnamese who died.
   Not long after arriving in the Bay Area, I found myself tuning my radio to
KPFA's Pacifica Radio outlet in Berkeley - due to the eclectic, unpredictable and common-people orientation of the programming, and I gradually became a steady listener. As I began to talk up my listening experience among the members, I found out that KPFA was considered by some of them to be as much or more of a left-wing organization as it was an information outlet, and, as such, it was viewed as a competing interest, or even as one of those police-corrupted tools of the state that the whole rest of the left was supposed to be part of. Some of the local members had many times tried bringing the Party message to the attention of the Radio programmers with little success, and seemed to be boycotting the station in retribution. Later, I was so moved by one of KPFA's money-raising pitches, that I subscribed to that listener-sponsored station, taking a chance that no one in the Party would find out. I only told one of the WP writers whom I trusted, for, had the information fallen into the hands of the wrong members, it was conceivable that they might have considered bringing me up on charges for having sent money to an organization other than the Party.
   Over
KPFA's airwaves, I remember hearing the unrestrained joy of the progressive community at the news of the defeat of America by the Vietnamese, and I remember feeling so much in tune with that emotion compared to the seemingly complete lack of emotion on the part of SLP members. Even on the part of the intellectuals, I don't particularly remember much celebration either. Though what they wrote may have represented somewhat of a breakthrough in thought for the Party, it didn't seem like much of a breakthrough for me. But, at least they had established a climate at the NO in which the knee-jerk vilification of nearly everyone who came after Marx, Engels and De Leon, and who had a profound effect on world history, was at an end, or closer to the end. It was as though the reservoir of those who were willing to fondly remember, rehash and reprint the old formulas every week had finally dried up. With the new crowd, I got the feeling that they were still willing to rehash the old formulas, but weren't willing to do it as fondly as those they replaced. Perhaps even reluctantly, as indicated by the "Bullshit!" statement.

The 1975 National Executive Committee Session

   The NEC at that time was a ten-member elected body representing ten geographical regions within the country, roughly corresponding to the 10 major Postal Zip-Code regions. Theoretically, the NEC was the directing power within the Party between National Conventions, but one of the intellectuals told me that the NEC had historically served as a mere rubber stamp for the wishes of the National Secretary. Not long after the NO settled down in the Bay Area, an annual NEC Session was due, and this time it was held in San Francisco.
   One of the intellectuals had previously intimated that
the NEC had been allowing situations to build up that threatened the continued existence of the NO and the Party. On hearing that, and having trained my ears to take cues from the intellectuals, I then suspected that the NEC members might even be traitors to the Party. I remembered mailing out many a thick envelope of paperwork to them, but the NS never seemed very happy with the responses he got back.
   At the
NEC Session, the National Secretary brought up the subject of "the state of crisis" within the National Office that the move to the West Coast was supposed to have alleviated. By virtue of the move, the NO was supposed to be acquiring more help from members who had been unwilling to go to New York. But, the Weekly People still had no Editor, save for the overworked NS himself, and the office and writing staffs were still short-handed. Secondly, the membership was still declining in numbers, and the NS seemed quite serious when he drove home the facts about the decline of the Party.
   At the
Session, the NEC members questioned the validity of the WP article on the Vietnamese victory. The NEC took exception to the attachment of a progressive coloring to the Vietnamese victory over the USA, so the NS had to spend quite a bit of time defending the WP writers. It was there that I believe I heard the expression "national chauvinism" being attached to the views of the NEC and some of the members.
   The relatively new crop of intellectuals had always expressed a considerable degree of contempt for the intellectual capacity of the membership - and even that of the
NEC - to discuss matters of revolutionary theory. At this Session, the NS declared that: "the Party had made mistakes and had to engage in collective criticism to rectify the situation". This statement really aroused my curiosity, and I couldn't wait to engage in the process of "criticism and self-criticism" so that the Party could at last begin to openly discuss theory, and I might finally get to participate, or at least pick up on some new ideas.
   One troublesome item for me at that time was the problem of the
Party's credibility within the progressive movement, especially with regard to our failure to protest the criminally insane war that we waged in Vietnam. In general, the Party seemed not to care very much about what the American government was doing to that little country. Instead, they claimed that what happened in Vietnam made no difference to the interests of American workers. This argument was very disappointing to me, but seemed plausible at the time, considering the theoretical vacuum I was in.
   I frequently heard members refer to "
the interests of the Party", but only rarely did they mention anything about interests of working and oppressed classes. The only time I can recall members discussing the effects of some policy on "the interests of the American workers" was with regard to the war in Vietnam, and to them it was supposed to not make any difference. Having been relatively unaware of principles of international working class solidarity at the time, solidarity not being one of the Party's hot buttons, I had yet to learn to actively suggest that American workers should take an activist role in affecting foreign relations, and to do something to help our brothers and sisters in Vietnam. All I had at the time were my gut feelings, and I had never been taught to trust them. Perhaps trusting them had gotten me into too much trouble in the past. The position of strict neutrality on every member's part was not very comfortable for me because I had a strong opinion on the matter, but that opinion could not be openly expressed within the Party, and it would have been "unorganizational" to have joined other demonstrations in order to express it.
   I had no idea about where the
Party's attitude to the Vietnam war had come from, whether it was official, scientific, the result of some kind of prejudice, or what. Whatever the source of reluctance to support the Vietnamese, neither could the SLP stand up for American aggression, so there wasn't much for a member to do who wanted something positive to happen, except to hope that a box of SLP leaflets would reach the Vietnamese, and they would learn to overthrow their oppressors of whatever national origin by organizing into Socialist Industrial Unions.

Section Santa Clara

   What with so many of us newly transplanted NO workers living near the new headquarters in Santa Clara County, it wasn't too long before we decided to form a Section of our own. We certainly had enough members to create a quorum, and many of us were tired of the rather long trip up into San Francisco territory, into which Section most of us, if not all, had transferred our membership upon arriving in the Bay Area. I think that some of the NO staffers had also had quite enough of the influence of some of the older members of Section S.F. as well. Aside from the usual Party business activities of Section meetings, picnics, banquets, leafletting, etc., there didn't seem to be that much for the newcomers and the old-timers to talk about together. It wasn't very long before the intellectuals even began to seemingly boycott those Section S.F. meetings, though I and a few others from the Peninsula continued to attend them, but with increasing distaste, especially on my part.
   After having gone to enough of those
Section S.F. meetings, I became increasingly aware of the communications gap between the older members and the intellectuals, and it troubled me that, in spite of so many revolutionary interests in common, the self-described "only revolutionaries in the world" had so little to talk to each other about. It seemed like there was very little to get excited about in those meetings, unless one was on a working committee and maybe a new member came along once in a decade and one could plot and scheme and perhaps get the new member to take over another member's work. I remember the sinking feeling I got when I was elected into the newsstand repair committee - a committee of one. Such an honor.
   Having learned to buy into the attitude that
the communications gap between the intellectuals and the older members was irreconcilable, and having half-heartedly learned to mock a denigrating attitude toward the older members, I found more time to speculate about the dwindling of the Party. I used to joke (among very few others) that the success of our movement could be compared to the "Hundredth Monkey" theory, where all the SLP had to do was to blitz the masses with enough leaflets by which a critical mass of informed workers would emerge to organize the rest into Socialist Industrial Unions. That would have simplified the revolution and the work of the Party. I also had a recurring vision of the revolutionary moment when "the masses" would come down the street in a state of confused agitation and would luckily stumble on a SLP picnic. The speaker would interrupt his normal speech and tell everyone to organize into SIUs so that the revolution could begin. With theories like this, it's easy to see that I was becoming a little restless and bored.
   None of our activities seemed very revolutionary to me. After leafletting the first few times, I got to thinking how much I hated it and what a waste of time it was.
The masses were hostile and disinterested, etc., and it wasn't long before I wouldn't leaflet by myself anymore. Another factor of my aversion to leafletting was its seeming resemblance to begging, panhandling, or even to some kind of public perversion. A negative attitude was instilled in me at an early age against people who hung around street corners and made nuisances of themselves. They were simply to be avoided and ignored. I certainly was willing to make an exception if we were in an actual revolutionary situation, when people would be on the streets eagerly seeking information. Putting leaflets in the door handles of cars, or servicing the news racks weren't quite as obnoxious forms of activities as leafletting, but not many other SLP "revolutionary" activities appealed to me. To me, there was no joy in leafletting, and it was mostly downright depressing. Guilt over seeing others do it was my only motivation for getting out there and joining in. Since the others were doing a good job in at least pretending that they were having a good time, I tried not to demoralize them by grumbling too loudly.
   With all of the frustration that was building up, what helped sustain my patience was the reading I was doing outside of
SLP literature. I bought the 45 volumes of Lenin and started reading those in my spare time. I developed a real respect for those who, to one degree or another, had success in leading their people away from the yoke of colonial or imperialist aggression. As I warmed to the seeming honesty and consistency of Leninist philosophy, a mere sympathy with it was not enough to convince me to discard the Party's SIU program. It had only weakly occurred to me at the time that I might someday be willing to reject it, for the more I learned about other revolutions, the more I began to wonder about the relation between those revolutions and the SLP's program for change, due to the rather obvious differences in scenarios.

A Trip Back East

   What with my having been out West for almost a year, it was time to go back East to visit friends and relatives, and pick up more clothes and stuff from home. I timed my return to coincide with an end of the summer gathering of my old Comrades back East. At the gathering, word spread that I had been working at the NO, so I was asked to speak about my experiences. With considerable anxiety, I tried as best as I could to make my mundane experiences seem interesting. But, I was not an experienced speaker, and there was something that was bothering me, about which I could speak only with members, internal Party affairs having to remain within our small circle, so I was unable to come right out with what was on my mind.
   In my working environment at the
NO, the rift that I detected between the views of the intellectuals and those of the members out in the field was not a topic to which I had given much thought, but hanging around with the intellectuals throughout the previous year had inculcated within me a new and denigrating attitude toward the intellectual capacities of the rank-and-file out in the field, as though they were intellectually stunted somehow, or, as if the NO intellectuals had some kind of super status in that department. If I was being taught or manipulated by them to distrust or look down on the older members out in the Sections, it wasn't being expressed in such overt terms. Rather, I was merely picking up signals, which indicated that the older elements out in the field were holding back the younger progressive intellectuals who got the Weekly People out to the members every week, or otherwise did the intellectual, day-to-day running of the Party's affairs.
   Plunged, as I was, back in the old element of rank-and-file, I was suddenly confronted with having to be comradely and articulate in spite of my new superior attitude toward them, having learned to be contemptuous of their
inabilities to speak intelligently on theoretical affairs, even though I had yet to educate myself anywhere close to well on those matters, having thus far only absorbed a little Maoism and Leninism. So, as I spoke, I was defensive toward my new friends in the NO, and I ended my speech with a statement to the effect that "the NO staff is as dedicated to the abolition of capital as are the people gathered here today." This forcefully delivered statement was greeted with a deafening silence, as it would have been out of place for a member to have asked more about what I had meant in the presence of mere sympathizers. Also, their feelings about the subject, whatever they were, were not about to be changed by my little statement, which perhaps only created suspicions that I had gone over to 'the enemy in the NO.' It was only much later I learned that some members had thought that the NO had been captured by a gang of Leninists, and had given up any hopes for their salvation.
   One of my diversions while back East was to go see some of my old friends and tell them about my new life working for a revolutionary party in California. During one of my visits to one of my more radical friends, I proudly announced the name of the party I was working for, at which point he announced, "
They're pigs." I said, "What?" And he said again, "They're pigs!" Stunned into silence, I could not believe my ears. I had learned a lot about radical issues from him and had developed a considerable respect for his having acquired his convictions through struggle and practice in the thick of conflict. But, this was too much of a blow to my consciousness, and instead of asking for an explanation, I withdrew into a weak and fleeting elaboration of SLP principles, and not long afterwards excused myself. Others to whom I explained my new life wished me well, and seemed glad that I seemed happy in my new life. But the sting of the conclusion of my radical friend didn't easily die out.
   After getting back to work on the West coast, and almost like a consolation to my increasing sense of isolation and boredom, one of the
WP writers intimated to me that 'a whole lot of bullshit was going on in the Party, and that there would someday be a revolution within it.' Now, that was EXCITING news. But, perhaps he had forgotten what he had told me some time before, which was the story about him being there only to write for the Weekly People, and that what was going on in the Party was outside of the scope of his knowledge. Well, I didn't forget. My ears had always been perked for signs of contradiction showing up. He probably told me that little story to console me after I had complained about the alienation I had discovered while working for the most part alone in the back room as shipping clerk. I thought about that story about him being there only to work on the WP, and I remembered how hard it was for me to swallow it whole - and then when I heard about the so-called revolution within the Party, something clicked, though I didn't let on that I was aware of the conflict of testimony. I could play dumb once in a while if I thought doing so could best serve my purposes.
   Because of all that I was learning from them, I had come to regard the intellectuals as
heroes who would lead the Party out of the mess it was in, even though I wasn't able to define that mess. But, as time dragged on, and the much-anticipated revolution never seemed to show the slightest sign of approaching, I grew a little disappointed with the intellectual crowd. One time, while we were discussing the seemingly sad state of the membership, one of the intellectuals remarked, "The Party isn't ready for democracy." That statement fell on me like a ton of bricks, as I had always counted myself among those who wanted more Party democracy, and I felt as though my interests were being betrayed by the intellectuals. It also implied a real division within the Party between those who wanted democracy and those who seemingly had the power to grant or deny it at will.

1976 Detroit National Convention

   The NO staff did not regularly meet as a whole to work out problems within the Party, but once in a while a general staff meeting occurred, such as the one we had before the 1976 National Convention. During that staff meeting, an atmosphere of gloom and doom prevailed, where, once again, the NS was going to ask a higher body, this time the Convention, to do something about the allegedly intolerable conditions of working shorthanded at the NO. No new permanent help had yet arrived, and the word was that, if something was not done soon, the NO might collapse and the Party fold up. (There might be some who had been waiting for the Party to collapse as long as others have been waiting for capitalism to collapse.) Those were threatening words, and I suddenly felt a lot less secure about my prospects for future employment with the Party.
   Therefore, anticipation built up as the date of the
National Convention in Detroit drew nearer. Was this going to be the start of the revolution within the Party? Would there be any way in which I could participate? In my insecurity about my standing with the power elite within the Party, I had hoped that because of my past demonstrations of loyalty, such as all of the work and unpaid overtime I put in, that I would have been considered an ally of the brass, and that I might someday get a cut of the booty, which for me meant being pointed in the right direction toward learning something real about the Party.
   Because of my insecurity, I was surprised to find myself invited
to be flown to Detroit along with the rest of the NO staff. I had no idea how I was going to "pay my way", but I did manage to run a few errands and spent frustrating moments trying to keep the heating and air conditioning systems from running completely amuck. The meeting room was quite large, with a tall stage, and if it had been only half its size, it seemed as though everyone would still have fit in easily. I did a fairly bad job playing sergeant-at-arms for part of the proceedings because I hadn't been trained for the job and wasn't exactly sure what to do. I had a hard time playing the part of authority figure, having had so much trouble with authority figures in the past, and it reminded me too much of my bad old ROTC days in college. At one point, while I was getting people to show their membership cards to prove they were members, the Convention started a Session, even though my policing duties had not been completed. It seemed as though my unauthoritative requests to show their cards were being ignored.
   As I remember it, the tone of the
National Secretary's Report to the Convention seemed to be that the Party was in a lot of trouble, and that the Party was going to have to get busy if it didn't want to disappear. The proposed solution of working harder disappointed me, as it just seemed designed to fill the membership with guilt for having slacked off and enjoyed their "bourgeois life styles" just a little too hedonistically. The NEC was scolded for doing nothing as well, and from the limited amount of gossip running around in the NO to which I was privy, the NEC was supposed to be made into the major "fall guy" in terms of responsibility for the decline of the Party. For what little I knew, the NEC might very well have been the right target, but at the same time, I was starting to sympathize with them. They were being hit hard in the rumor mill, but it was becoming more and more difficult to believe that they could have been guilty of so many crimes against the Party.
   At the
Convention, I don't think I understood all that the NS was trying to do half the time, but it did seem like he got to "kick butt" quite a few times. After it was all over, I got the feeling from the staff that, after two tries, the NEC, Convention and membership alike were not getting the message, and that the Party indeed was doomed to collapse.
   But, amazingly enough, and not too long after the
Convention, four fresh faces showed up at the NO at nearly the same time. Two immediately started writing for the WP, and the other two assumed secretarial duties. The Convention had also nominated Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the '76 election campaign, a campaign manager was hired, and all of the NO office spaces got filled up. It might have been around that time that the WP writer who cried "Bullshit!" took a leave of absence. He admitted to me one day how burned out he was, which was also manifested by the diminishing number of stories that had carried his byline.

The Old NEC Reports

   After the dust from the Convention settled down, and since nothing really important seemed to come from it, and because I was still in a power and knowledge vacuum within the Party, I finally determined to do something about learning about Party history by taking up a reading of the old bound volumes of NEC Annual Reports we had brought with us from New York. Ever since the move, the volumes merely sat out on an open shelf, and after lingering close to them enough times to rouse my curiosity, I eventually promised myself to someday put a reading of them a priority on my agenda. At long last, I finally started spending a couple of hours per weekend with them, starting with the teens of this century, around the start of the Arnold Petersen era. With the tremendous amount of material that was in there, it wasn't long before I decided to take notes, or else forget everything that was read.
   Prior to taking up that study of the
Reports, I had felt that trying to understand a complex subject like the inner workings of a socialist party were subjects beyond my grasp due to my paucity of knowledge of things socialist, and probably due to a dim intellect on my part as well, in spite my strong motivation to learn real things about the Party, and about socialism in general. As I progressed through the Reports, not much more than points of general historical interest were noted at first, such as the First World War, the Palmer raids, etc. But, as the Roaring Twenties progressed, the stock market crashed, and the country slipped into a Great Depression, I thought that I would finally see some signs of healthy growth in the Party, but, instead what I saw was an inordinate number of expulsions of both members and Sections. The abundance of those anomalies started to stimulate my interest in following the arguments more closely. I had few guesses as to why the Party should not be succeeding fabulously, especially during the Depression, for hard times are supposed to breed socialist sentiment. At first, I suspected that the Party was being infiltrated by the kinds of agents, kooks and disrupters that revolutionary parties are supposed to be infiltrated with, so I then became interested in seeing if that was the problem, and how the Party was handling it.
   At first, presiding
National Secretary Arnold Petersen seemed able to slay any dragon with his mighty pen, and I enjoyed the way he draw upon history, philosophy, and other social sciences to seemingly make fools of his opponents. As I read further, however, it seemed that some members were being treated more severely than what they deserved, and I began to feel sorry for the expelled members and Sections. Due to the sincerity of some members' arguments, and the mountains of abuse A.P. heaped on them, there were a few cases I recalled as monuments of injustice long after reading about them, one of which disappointed me profoundly.
   As I read on, A.P.'s arguments began to appear more and more bombastic, vituperative, and increasingly devoid of the soundness of logic that a member would expect of a
National Secretary. While I felt that I did not have much of a mind for what was going on in this inner sanctum of Party history, I did feel at least somewhat competent in the area of simple logic, and in being able to tell where an argument might fall short of being convincing. As I began to more carefully study the arguments that A.P. put forth, I found his arguments beginning to make less and less sense, and my esteem for him slipped to a sickeningly low point. Quantity had turned into quality. Some of his major blunders sometimes even seemed humorous or outrageous. I occasionally reported the worst cases to my fellow NO employees, but I got different reactions from different people. When I got little or no reaction, I sometimes became unsure of myself and even felt guilty for attacking the man who had been National Secretary for fifty-five years; but, the more I read on, the more convinced I became that I was right about him.
   A draft of a letter to a member back East told of what I was finding in the
NEC Reports:
   'By the time I had gotten to the mid-twenties of the
reports, I had had it with A.P. I was rather upset with his isolationism in dealing with other parties, pushing isolationism as a principle with no basis other than a chimerical appeal to "the honor and dignity" of the SLP, as in the case of refusing financial aid from the Republican Party. The Republicans wanted to help us get on the ballot in California so that the vote would be split between us and the Socialist Party, which was then menacing the chances of the Republicans winning the state election.
   'Secondly, in the case of
Section Duquoines, Illinois, I was upset by the lack of sympathy to the pleas of the principal member of the case, who was obviously doing a good job organizing the coal miners of Southern Illinois, but getting little cooperation from the State Committee in getting paid for his efforts. His sincerity, as it shone through the simplicity of his language, was in stark contrast to the callousness of A.P., who, for example, nitpicked his way through the most insignificant errors in order to cause foul injustice to the organizer.
   'Thirdly, in the case of {L}, I was struck by the dogged stubborn persistence of A.P. in sticking to theoretical errors in the field of economics. Even an unlearned such as I had little trouble in discerning that the so-called disrupter {L} was correct and very patient and fair.
   'As I plowed through those twenty years of
NEC Reports and came across the most amazing errors in judgment on the part of A.P., it became logical to think that errors were being made on purpose in order to alienate members who had acquired an intelligence and independence of thought so that the intelligent members may one day rebel and either be expelled or quit in disgust, and drag the more intelligent members out of the Party with them, so as to retain in the Party only those who agreed with the dogmatic, shallow platitudes of A.P.'
   Strong words. It makes me wonder if I ever mailed out anything close to what I had drafted. Nevertheless, back at the
NO, I remember a time when a small group of us, including many of the intellectuals, were gathered informally, and the subject of why the Party was in such bad shape came up. To my total amazement, it was admitted that, while Arnold Petersen might have been bad enough, he was not the origin of the problem. So, if it wasn't A.P., who was it, Olive Johnson? (She was Editor of the Weekly People for a few years after De Leon passed away.) Or, was it the modern founder of the Party himself, Daniel De Leon? I gasped at the thought of the overwhelming task of having to read Party documents going back to 1890 in order to try to find out where the problem really originated. (Little did I know at the time that I would do precisely that and more.)
   When I first started going to the
NO to do the research, I was somewhat concerned that the NS might catch me in that act. I think the first time he caught me, he might have asked what was I doing, but after that, I don't think he ever mentioned it again. As the research proceeded, a curious conflict flashed across my mind about being interested in Party history, especially if our history wasn't really as grand and glorious as Party literature had made it out to be. What if our real history was something to be swept under the rug, and what if the real facts of Party history comprised a history of traitorism to the working class? In that case, it would be embarrassing for a loyal member to even think about wanting to learn Party history, since it would be the history of scandal and it would probably only be used to the detriment of the Party. As the research proceeded, I was becoming convinced that Party history was indeed shameful, and it became more and more difficult to pretend that it was glorious. Toward the end of the research, it became somewhat embarrassing to be caught in the act, like being caught with my hand in the cookie jar. But I must admit that my research had become juicy and interesting.
   I couldn't escape the conclusion that I was becoming a disappointment to the
NS, since my new labors no longer redounded to the benefits of either him or the NO, as so many of my previous efforts had. By that time, I had already grown ambivalent about my trust of the NS anyway. On his positive side, there was the seemingly free intellectual climate at the NO, and it was easy to imagine that it was a lot freer than the climate that probably had existed at the time of A.P., but on the other side, there was the gnawing reminder that, during the disruptions of '68, as one of the intellectuals alleged, it was the NS himself who had been "Arnold Petersen's hatchet man", and it was the NS who had personally flown out West to expel the members of Section Palo Alto and 'reorganize' it with loyalist members.

The Disappearance of the Notes

   Not long after starting to read the NEC Reports, I began to take notes on my observations, first in a shirt pocket notebook, but, as it filled up, and as I began to appreciate the magnitude of the project, I shifted operations to a larger notebook, which could have been referred to during the preparation of this book to clear up some questions of detail. For some careless reason, most likely as a matter of convenience, I kept those notebooks in one of the many glass-doored literature cases that were ordinarily used to store pamphlets in relatively small convenient batches. Bulkier quantities of pamphlets were kept elsewhere in big steel cabinets.
   One day, while away from my work table, but within sight thereof, I heard one of the squeaky cabinet doors being opened, and when I turned around to see who was there, I could see the
NS reaching into one of the cabinets close to where I kept my notebooks. I pretended to think nothing of it, since he did occasionally borrow pamphlets for perusal while considering having them reprinted, but, since he did go very close to my precious notebooks, I thought it best to look for them after he had left, and when I did, I was horrified to see that they were gone!
   What I couldn't pin down for sure, however, was just when they had disappeared. It had been a few days since I had last used them or checked up on them, and, since I didn't really see them go out the door, I couldn't really blame anyone. But, it burned me very much to think about all of the work that was gone, and, in this present endeavor, I could have more precisely presented what it was in the
NEC Reports that I had found fault with.

The Significance of the NEC Reports

   After reading many of the old National Executive Committee Reports, I did feel like I was hot on the trail of the reason why the Party was so small and weak. In those Reports, A.P. actually debated the issues and took such absurd positions on so many of them that I had no doubt that intelligent members had to have been alienated by his treatment of them, but, perhaps with the aid of his alleged "rubber stamp NEC", A.P. could simply have eliminated any opposition that represented a real threat to himself or to "Party positions".
   If A.P. could have been correct on issues enough of the time to maintain a certain amount of credibility, he could then string along a group that would continue to support him and the
National Office, no matter how badly he blundered in other respects. Members who became aware of glaring contradictions within A.P.'s theories and wanted to bring them to the attention of the rest of the Party would only burn themselves out trying to do so, and then they would resign, or perhaps be expelled. Anything corrective that an individual might want to do could be either repeatedly voted against by one's Section, or a whole rebellious Section could easily be expelled and the A.P. loyalists reorganized back into the Party. In the face of such opposition, the worst that a dissenter could do at that point would be to carry along a few others out of the Party, and perhaps organize another splinter party, such as the many that the SLP is famous for having spawned. With a scenario like that, the only people who would remain in the Party would be those with little burning interest in seeing that truth prevailed, and were rather content in parroting De Leonisms and Petersenisms. Thus, on the basis of what I was reading in the NEC Reports, it started to make sense to me why there was so little vitality left in the Party, given the caliber of those who were left inside to try to attract new blood from the outside.
   As an example of what I mean, I used to have the assistance of a member who came quite a few miles each week to help us wrap and mail the
Weekly People. As time went on, I related some of the curiosities I was finding in the pages of the NEC Reports. After so many weeks of listening to me, he finally expressed himself one day by slamming down one of the newspapers he was wrapping and exclaimed, "Well, let's not do this if it's not any good!" I was taken by surprise at the intensity of his exclamation, but, not wishing to lose his services and good company, I requested patience on his part, but it wasn't long before he found better ways to spend his Fridays, and I soon found myself short of help again. In retrospect, his statement could only have reflected a sore lack of confidence in what he had been espousing, perhaps for much of his life.
   After becoming depressed enough over the whole situation, I began to feel that somehow there should be
a campaign against A.P. within the Party. But I could not figure out how it would be possible to carry on a campaign on the basis of some dusty old books that perhaps only a tenth of the membership had ever read at all, never mind understood. I felt like I was one of only a very few within the Party who understood why the Party might have suffered considerably from the effects of having an evil genius at the helm, and I wondered how large a circle of allies I could muster to my new cause. As I talked up the subject among my fellow employees, I began to realize that few to none could be counted on.
   Few have been the times I have been sufficiently filled with the confidence that comes from being convinced of the righteousness of my ways to actually act or speak, but my suggestion during a
Section meeting for implementing a campaign against A.P. was met with what could only have been intended as a put-down, as one of the intellectuals answered my suggestion with "That would be undialectical!" Everyone beside myself seemed to enjoy that comment, as the room was filled with laughter. Not having understood dialectics at all at the time, I was perfectly silenced, and probably reacted by spending the next few weeks reading "Dialectics of Nature" by Engels. But, even after educating myself a bit, I don't think that I ever figured out what the intellectual might have intended, except to silence or humiliate me.
   Because that
Section meeting included some of the older Petersen loyalists, I concocted a plausible explanation to myself that 'the intellectuals would have been embarrassed to have endorsed a criticism of Petersen in the presence of loyalists'. So, I forgave them intellectually, but I remained indignant at being alone with my lack of fear, for I was tired of waiting for the revolution in the Party to begin. I was also convinced that even the Petersen loyalists, if they really were socialists, had to have been at least somewhat interested in the truth, and could sometimes be relied upon to rally behind it, but I might also have been a little naive by holding that opinion too strongly in that particular instance.
   Later on, in a private moment, one of the intellectuals advised me, if I
want to get anywhere in the Party: "You have to be a politician." I was shocked into silence by that statement, for I suspected "playing politics" meant little more than compromise of principle and betraying the lower classes in exchange for some small gain. His statement only intensified my disappointment in the intellectuals in whom I had earlier placed so much faith and admired so much. Later on, I tried to assure myself that what he had to have meant was that it would have been better to go slow with my ideas and try to diplomatically build up some interest in them, which may not have been bad advice at all.

The Sacred Cash Cow

   At some point around these events, one of the intellectuals explained to me in no uncertain terms that the older members out in the Sections were the bread and butter of the National Office because of the small but steady trickle of cash that flowed out of their pockets and into the Party coffers. I never before had any cause to be concerned with Party finances very much, since it was the NS and the NEC who held much of the responsibility for financial stability. Since I never had to go without a regular paycheck, I figured that they must have been doing their job well enough in that department. But, with my enlightenment on the issue of who really paid the bills, it became obvious that this steady trickle of money was very significant to some of my co-workers. From the context of their actions, or lack thereof, the necessity to keep the cash flowing in without interruption was perhaps considered a duty by this group. I then began to sense that the dirt that I was digging up about A.P. must have been apprehended with fear and loathing by those who could see where my research was leading to. Perhaps they had even seen a similar ugly scenario play itself out before. I began to feel a certain amount of pressure to lay off and let sleeping dogs lie.
   But, if I had my say, there was going to be some real fundamental re-education in the
Party, even if that meant a degree of rebellion by those who could not possibly change their minds in what they had believed for decades, and even if their rebellion against new ideas could have resulted in some degree of financial disruption. Since many of the NO workers were probably not much more financially independent than myself, the prospect of interminable financial disruption might have been too ugly for contemplation, in spite of the Party's $100,000 or $500,000 bank account that was rumored to exist. My notes conflicted on which figure was the actual one I had heard kicked about.
   What it all boiled down to was that no one wanted to have anything to do with anything that could have been considered a threat to their sacred cash cow. And sometimes even I was tempted to say, as all kinds of thoughts raced through my head in those intense times, "Cut me in on the profits, and I'll shut up, too." But, I was probably too afraid that they would have said "
Yes", and then where would I have been? How could I ever look at myself in the mirror again, after having sold out?

Startling Discoveries

   After brooding for a while about my isolation from the rest of the Party and the NO with respect to the A.P. problem, I began to wonder if something worse than his mistakes in the NEC Reports had occurred over the years. As I continued reading the NEC Reports and found myself getting bored with what was seeming to become repetitions of patterns of betrayals of the rank-and-file, I began to wish that I could find an area of research that would be more interesting, or could lead to more of a basis for convincing my Comrades of the necessity for action on the Petersen question. If I was going to get anywhere with my campaign against A.P., I was going to have to come up with something more substantial than simply finding fault with a historical record that few people would ever read again in the history of humankind.
   I wanted to pursue my
campaign against A.P. one way or another, and, for a while, I struggled with the question of what to do next. I knew that the matter had to be brought to some kind of a resolution, for I could not see myself wasting my life working for a Party that did not seem very concerned with its mistakes, but rather had glorified the memory of the person who was responsible for at least some of those mistakes. The position of the Party was, to me, like a person trying to keep clean while living in a garbage dump, but I still hadn't come to any grand conclusions about the effect A.P.'s evil genius might have had on what the Party stood for. No one in the Party would have been able to propagate fraud, I theorized, for it would have caused any wide-awake member to reject its author, but my continued curiosity about the true nature of A.P.'s legacy caused me to continue to wonder if some kind of grand fraud might have been perpetrated by him in some of the Party literature that he authored.
   I would have estimated that at least half of everything in the
Party's literature catalog had been written by A.P., and I prided myself at one time for having at least one copy of each. I didn't have the faintest idea at first where I might find the underpinnings of the Party's Socialist Industrial Unionism program in my collection, but after browsing for awhile, I finally came upon A.P.'s "Proletarian Democracy versus Dictatorships and Despotism" ("PD vs. D+D"). I remembered having skimmed it at a time when I was relatively new to the Party, but had not been very favorably impressed by it. But, on reading it anew, I noticed with great interest that it was one of the few works in Party literature that tried to explain the basis of the SIU program on a theoretical plane.
   What with my growing disillusionment with a good portion of
Party doctrine, and my having warmed to the studies of Lenin, Mao and other revolutionaries, it wasn't long before I adopted the firm conviction that one of the roles of the Party should be the conquest of state power, and by May of '76, I wasn't afraid to let even a conservative member with whom I corresponded know that. And yet, I remained so weak in theoretical matters that I could not have expounded on exactly how Lenin's theories conflicted with the SIU, with the exception that they looked pretty much opposed.
   So, at this point in my investigation, and with a great desire to find major flaws in A.P.'s literary efforts, I started reading "
PD vs. D+D" from the very first page with an extremely critical eye and almost immediately found a couple of things that stood out as blunders that I could attack. Those two blunders, only one of which I can remember, I thought would prove to my fellow members that A.P. was a charlatan who had to be exposed, and that hopefully the exposure of his blunders would cause the A.P. dragon to be slain.

The State Convention

   Having found what I thought was evidence of major blunders or fraud on the part of A.P. was a real trip for me, and I was so excited that I could barely sleep. In a way, it was too bad that I had to discover this on the eve of the Party's State Convention, and that I also didn't take the time to cool out and analyze my discoveries more carefully. With all of the excitement over my newly found discoveries and my fatigue, I arrived at the Convention in a less than fully functioning state of mind.
   But, what was the excitement all about? After becoming a socialist, I lived under the impression that
information alone could change the world (for, after all, information alone certainly changed me) and that the successful imparting of my treasure trove of socialist lore would change whoever heard it, who would then join me in changing the world. My subsequent discovery of so many problems in the Party helped to dampen that illusion considerably, so I found myself in dire need of a new dream to live for. Then, suddenly, there I was, in possession of information that could change 'not the world', but rather the Party, and the Party could change drastically if the information were allowed to surface. Having taken the time to analyze its mistakes, a changed Party could help change the world, I theorized.
   As my life evolved, I had uncovered more and more lies behind the way I had been controlled and enslaved from day one, and every lie that I discovered had made me angry. Suddenly, in my own allegedly revolutionary
Party, I thought I had the key to a whole system of lies, the whole reason why my Party would never do anything but fade away unless those lies were swept away, and I suddenly felt empowered in a sense, but to exercise that power in the wrong way, or maybe even in any way, could put me in danger, due to the threat to the property system that the exposure of those lies would initiate. The whole property system depended upon those lies to control the people, and without those lies, the system would collapse, so I theorized. I found myself in an unusual situation, as nothing I had ever done in my little life had even vaguely prepared me for these uncharted waters, and I was very excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.
   I imagined that there were forces, maybe within the
Party, and certainly outside the Party, that wanted to perpetuate the lies. I imagined that the Party had served the ruling class well for decades, keeping false doctrine alive, misleading my class into dead-end activities, frittering away the energies of the members, sympathizers and everyone else who had ever come into contact with them. Perhaps these forces even included the national security establishment. Suddenly, I felt like I had been working all along for the Feds, as though I could have summed up my whole Party career up to that point with the realization, "So, that's what I've been doing these past few years, working for the Feds." But there was never a paycheck from them, and I felt angered and cheated at the same time, like I'd been taken to the cleaners one more time. What's worse was that I never would have consciously worked for the Feds even if they paid me, unless I could have gotten into a position of trust and then use that position to sabotage them, to bring their walls and ceilings crashing down upon them, that executive committee of the ruling class. Such was the paranoid madness that I felt at that time, and nearly every police car that I saw caused me to fear that it might be coming for me. I barely found it possible to put the brakes on my imagination run amuck.
   Back to the
State Convention: During an open session, when members had chances to openly speak their minds, I finally got the nerve to stand up and recite my discoveries. There I was, in an unslept state of complete paranoia, convinced that I was probably in the company of government agents who were in on this conspiracy to bamboozle the honest, but rather naive and ill-educated membership. My only hope to escape assassination (for being the only one smart enough to figure this conspiracy out, and for being brave enough to want to educate my fellow members about it) was to announce my discoveries before as large a crowd of members as could be gathered, and this Convention filled the bill perfectly. If I were to be found dead shortly thereafter, members would have suspected that it was related to my discoveries and foul play would have been suspected. Then my premature death could be investigated, the responsible parties could be caught by some good detective work, and the revolution could continue. Maybe.
   Never before in my life had I been caught up in such intriguing circumstances, and I was not handling it very well. But, live and learn. This martyr was prepared to risk everything for the sake of the members, whom I believed were honest and worth fighting for. I introduced my arguments by claiming that my discoveries could explain the diminutive size of the
Party, and that A.P. had practiced gross deceit. Then someone interrupted me and told me not to attack a dead man who could not defend himself from the grave. (A.P. had died sometime in 1975.) Wishing that I could have just shut up and stopped right there, I hesitated, but realized that there was no turning back and continued on. I went on to state that, since the present NS had been the hand-picked successor of A.P., then his integrity was in question as well. Having thus dispensed with what should only have been conclusions to well reasoned arguments, I then proceeded to try to give the proof of my contentions, if only I could have remembered them.
   Well, my arguments totally fizzled. The first point I tried to make is forgotten by now, and the second point revolved around the definition of the term "
vanquished", which I didn't even bother to look up beforehand, so my second argument fizzled worse than the first. I had more arguments, but since I wasn't doing so well, I figured I'd better give up. By that time, the public humiliation I had feared for so long had descended upon me, so I sat down and tried to pretend nothing had happened. It wasn't so bad. I lived through it, in a physical sense.
   Back at work, it was an embarrassment to be there, especially the first day. I had the feeling that the other workers were looking at me to see if it was really me or if I had cracked altogether or what. Their silence was deafening. I felt as though I was condemned to perform flawlessly for a couple of decades before anyone would forget the strange scene I had provoked, and even then it would not be forgotten. The hardest part was when one of the
WP writers chewed me out for having attacked the National Secretary. I think I shrank a few inches. I knew I had messed up. Everyone else just pretended nothing happened, which was only slightly more bearable than being attacked.
   One thing that changed forever as a result of that incident was the dreaded loss of my precious status as a
trusted NO loyalist, even though the previous enjoyment of that status might have only been the result of my own self-delusion. But, after the State Convention, it was much more difficult to exist in the Party. I felt as though no one would ever trust me again, and that I would have no more allies or friends left in the Party. I tried by silent deed to convince everyone that everything was back to normal, but internally I knew things had changed forever and I began to feel much more like the spy for the labor movement (that I used to joke to myself and few others about being) who had infiltrated the Party in order to see if it was really the viable working class organization that it claimed to be.
   That incident was definitely a setback to my already meager level of credibility, to myself as well as to others, but, after a while, I got over it enough to continue on with my project of proving that A.P. was more than just '
an impeccably motivated upholder of Marxism and other things pure and wholesome who might have made an honest mistake on a rare occasion.' That incident did not shake me off my chassis so much that I was about to stray from my path of pursuing the truth about the Party, but I knew that in the future I would have to be much more careful and absolutely sure of the accuracy of my accusations. It might have been around then that I had an unforgettable dream or nightmare of being in an underground torture chamber with some friends, and in order to deliver us all out of that chamber safely, I had been chosen at random to perform a physical task of great accuracy similar to William Tell's; and if I failed, we would all have been killed.

"Proletarian Democracy versus Dictatorships and Despotism"

    After looking through "PD vs. D+D" for awhile, I finally got to the place ("Part II: PROLETARIAN DICTATORSHIP - INDUSTRIAL GOVERNMENT") that got down and dirty with socialist theory, and was replete with quotes from the founders of socialism. As to verifying whether A.P.'s theories were correct or not, I may not have known what to do about that, but I could look forward to looking up the supporting quotes that A.P. used in order to see whether or not they were used legitimately. That I could do and do well, I imagined, if only I could find the exact sources of the quotes. The only problem that I could foresee was that finding the quotes was going to take a lot of time and effort, in spite of my desire to immediately recapture my credibility by proving that I was right, and A.P. wrong.
   My immediate mission, therefore, was to try to check every quote from Marx, Engels, and Lenin that A.P. used to lend weight to his theoretical arguments. After my false start at the
State Convention, it was imperative that I show that A.P. had taken the quotes out of context, had misquoted, or otherwise did something mean and nasty to them to try to make them mean something other than what the founders of socialism had intended. I knew of no other way of refuting A.P.'s theories, because I knew that I was not a professional scholar or a theorist of any sort, so doing the legwork of looking up the quotes was the only possible way for me to begin to accomplish my goal.
   Conveniently enough, the books I had already accumulated were to be the major tools for this endeavor. With the
45 volumes of Lenin's Collected Works, I certainly had all of the Lenin that I would need for the task, but I had not yet bought any of the works of Marx and Engels that I was going to need, so it was off to the bookstore once again, this time for the three-volume Selected Works and the volume of Selected Correspondence that didn't look like much at first, but was packed with hundreds of pages of valuable information. As I began my work, I even remembered having said to myself when a relatively new member, "If I ever get the time, I would like to check out the quotes that A.P. used." Indeed, it was past time to take that task off the back burner.
   One problem that I did not anticipate was that I was still unprepared emotionally for what would happen when I did find my very first quote completely out of context. I was relieved and devastated at the same time to find that my deepest, darkest suspicions about the
Party were all of a sudden irrevocably verified. I checked and rechecked, but the conclusion was the same every time. I turned away from my labors in disgust and almost quit the Party right then and there. I must have cried at least half a bucket of tears of disappointment, and barely ate a thing the next day. I didn't go back to normal eating patterns for three days, and I believe that I lost over ten pounds, though, regrettably, not permanently.
   With so much of my life riding on the verification of whether A.P. had deliberately falsified
Marxism, and that the Party of which I was a member was spreading A.P.'s lies, the proof that I had found also caused me to withdraw socially. To me, it was a catastrophe of the greatest magnitude. It was an irrevocable confirmation of my worst suspicions of having completely wasted my time once again in my life, and, what was worse, I was also betraying my class, making the lives of others worse by my participation in Party work, by helping the Party distribute lies. Obviously, I was plagued with guilt, along with so many other negative emotions.
   The discovery of the dishonesty also threw me on the horns of a dilemma: whether to quit right away to avoid further dishonoring myself by associating with a basically dishonest
program, or to remain with the Party and try to work legally within it to force the issue to the Party's attention, and to split off the professional liars from what I felt to be a basically honest majority of members. After getting things into perspective for a few truly miserable days, I realized that it was not only worth the effort for the benefit of the honest members, but it was also financially mandatory that I remain in the Party to keep making my measly $3.50 per hour salary for a while longer. My finances were in pretty bad shape in those times because I had spent what little money I was making as though I was going to work for the Party forever, and as though I didn't have to worry about ever finding another job again. But, the guilt associated with staying on was impinging on my consciousness to the point where I was seriously considering quitting to solve that conflict. If California had been as generous about giving job-quitters unemployment compensation as freely as my home state in the Sixties, I might have quit the Party right then, but such was not my fate. Financial necessity ruled the day, and I continued working.
   I also realized that my tenure with the
Party was going to depend upon how my fellow Comrades reacted to my research. I could foresee a time when I might have to put aside my efforts and quit the Party if the others decided to ignore my efforts completely. If I were to discover a pack of lies that had to be exposed, but if my Comrades refused to do anything about them, I would then have to conclude that I would have to quit to avoid working for the lies for the rest of my life. I may not have been working directly for the Feds, but I was certainly still in the SLP, and I was in a position to help put an end to the Party's lies, and totally legally, so I thought.
   Though the illegal means of running off with the mailing list and informing the
WP readers directly of my dilemma tempted me, I knew that to indulge therein would mean total doom, were my involvement in underhanded matters to be discovered. Not wishing to spend the rest of my life in jail either, I elected to work legally within the Party until forced to quit by the Party's possible intransigence. I promised myself that, as long as I was working at the NO, I was going to save every dime I could so that I could someday be able to afford to spend a month or two without pay while I looked for another job. Just at that time, the radio happened to play the Jefferson Airplane tune whose first lines ran, "When the truth is shown to be lies, and all the joy within you dies, don't you want somebody to love?", and I felt like I finally understood what the lyrics meant, as though they had been written especially for the situation I was in.

   What follows is the analysis of the lies that I discovered in one small portion of A.P.'s pamphlet, a discovery that caused a lot of trauma:

(End Part A. Continued in Part B.)

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