Martin Glaberman

Letter to Discussion Bulletin

(November-December 2001)

From Discussion Bulletin, No.110, November-December 2001.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Oct. 18, 2001

Dear Discussion Bulletin,

I was intrigued by the discussion of my views and experience in Nos.108 and 109 of DB. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. It happens all the time. I do have a problem, however, with people misunderstanding and distorting my views and the facts.

Frank Girard says that I never found a group that I could support wholeheartedly. What is that supposed to mean? I joined the Young Peoples Socialist League when I was 13 years old because it was the only organization in my neighborhood. Girard thinks that made me a social democrat. I think, as little as I knew, that it didn’t make my any particular kind of socialist. As a teenager I studied Marx and listened to debates and discussions in the movement. The result was that I moved consistently to the left. I joined the Trotskyists when they joined the Socialist Party. In 1940 or 1941 I made contact with C.L.R.James and was convinced of the correctness of his analysis of Marxism. I supported that Tendency to this day, something like 60 years. The name of his organization changed because of splits and other vicissitudes. I was the last chairperson of his group (when it was called Facing Reality). When the group dissolved in 1970 I formed Bewick Editions in order to keep as much of the works of James in print as I could. If that is not supporting any group wholeheartedly, I plead guilty.

Girard says that the Johnson-Forest Tendency was Trotskyist when he read Correspondence occasionally in the mid-fifties. This was after we broke with Trotskyism. We rejected Trotsky’s theory of the vanguard party; we rejected his theory of permanent revolution; we rejected his analysis of the Soviet State, among other things. What in the world does Girard think Trotskyism is?

He also writes about my supposed “continued support for the UAW version of capitalist unionism.” That is pure invention. I would appreciate it if he let me know where he found quotes that indicated that.

Finally, Girard writes about “our class.” What is that supposed to mean? The category social class is flexible and changes with time. But it is an objective category based on how you makdVour living. It is not an ideological category based on what you think. I am a middle class intellectual who happens to be a revolutionary. What class does Girard belong to?

It seems that Frank Girard never had any great interest in or paid much attention to the James Tendency. That is fine with me. But then he should have avoided writing about it. Instead he produces what is essentially superficial and misinformed gossip.


Martin Glaberman


Last updated on 9.7.2004