CHAPTER 6 "THE MANY THEORIES OF L. MARCUS": FROM THE SWP TO THE BIRTH OF THE "FIFTH INTERNATIONAL" [1959-1966]
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"On the L. document, I'm afraid I must confess that I too have not understood a word of Marx, Engels, Lenin or Trotsky if this is the ABC of Marxism. In fact, in rereading the document I thought of a cartoon that is a favorite of mine. Several workmen have just unwrapped a very large canvas and the art dealers are looking at it. In the middle of the large white canvas is a perfect black dot. And one of the art dealers is saying to the other one, "I don't care if he is the world's greatest painter, I still think he's kidding." This is the quality I carried away from reading the L. document."
Spartacist League leader James Robertson in a 9/23/65 discussion commenting on a LaRouche ("L") document entitled The Coming American Socialist Revolution.
The abject failure of LaRouche's winter 1958 grand vision for the SWP and his virtual banishment by a more or less united Political Committee seemingly sealed his fate. Yet in January 1959 (on New Year's Day to be exact), an event happened a thousand miles away from New York that radically changed the SWP and even gave LaRouche a new lease on life. On that day Fidel Castro took control of Havana.
THE CUBAN QUESTION AND THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
Che and Fidel Castro
In order to grasp the impact of Cuba on the SWP, it is necessary to locate the Cuban Revolution within the broader context of the Trotskyist movement. At the time of the Cuban Revolution, world Trotskyism still remained stalemated in a six-year long "great schism" over the issue of "Pabloism." Led by James Cannon, in 1953 the SWP broke off its previous alliance with the Paris-based Internationalist Secretariat of the Fourth International (IS) then led by Michel Pablo. Pablo's potential allies in the SWP (the Cochran/Clarke faction) were also expelled.1 The SWP then established the International Committee of the Fourth International (IC) with other anti-Pablo forces, They included Gerry Healy's then tiny British sect as well as a French groupuscule run by Pierre Lambert.
The Cuban Revolution or more accurately the Trotskyist movement's interpretation of it provided a key bridge between the IS and the SWP. The Cuban Revolution, after all, had taken place without support from Russia. The Cuban Communist Party, in fact, had actually dismissed Fidel Castro as an adventurist troublemaker. Cuba also proved a political godsend for the SWP which had been hemorrhaging party members throughout the 1950s. SWP leader Farrell Dobbs soon visited Cuba where he proudly wore a sugarcane-cutter's hat. Although the SWP did not found the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPFC), it soon became the single best organized component of the group precisely because the CPUSA still officially reflected the views of its Cuban counterpart. However, many CP members and sympathizers enthusiastically supported Castro. They now grudgingly worked inside the FPFC side by side with "the Trots."2
It now seemed increasingly possible not only that the IS and SWP could work out some form of reunification but that solidarity over Cuba could help heal at least some of the devastating divisions between the Trotskyists and some of the Soviet-allied Communist Parties. At least Murry Weiss a key "Regroupment" advocate thought so. Tim Wohlforth recalls that Weiss "could not contain his enthusiasm" for the events in Cuba. For Weiss,
In How the Workers League Decayed, LaRouche says much the same thing:
The proven success of FPFC was an indication of what the future might hold. The next step was for Weiss and other leading SWP members to begin serious reunification talks with Mandel's International Secretariat.
JIM AND TIM
There was just one problem with the SWP's new-found infatuation with Cuba. A group of SWP cadres found themselves in fundamental disagreement with the SWP's Fidelphilia. The group's two most important leaders Tim Wohlforth and James Robertson had been former members of Max Shachtman's Independent Socialist League (ISL). Although Robertson and Wohlforth supported the Cuban Revolution against outside interference from the United States, they also wanted to know, as Wohlforth put it, "Were we to be more than the defenders of Cuba and become its supporters, its advocates?"
As former Shachtmanites, they were particularly worried about the lack of democracy already in evidence in Cuba. In 1961, for example, the new Cuban government suppressed the tiny Trotskyist group there which had been in continual existence since the 1930s. Robertson and Wohlforth's "Minority Tendency"(MT) argued that the SWP should view the Cuban Revolution far more critically. Their own small clique, however, soon shattered following a bitter dispute between Wohlforth and Robertson. Robertson claimed that the SWP had ceased to be a truly revolutionary party and had now become both "liquidationist" and "centrist." Wohlforth, however, felt that the MT should remain inside the SWP as an internal faction despite all the odds against it succeeding.
In 1963, Robertson's new "Revolutionary Tendency" (RT) was formally expelled from the SWP. Robertson's clique took the vast majority of former members of the "Minority Tendency" with it while the few who remained with Wohlforth now renamed themselves the "Reorganized Minority Tendency." When Wohlforth's own tiny group was itself finally expelled from the SWP in September 1964, it had exactly nine members.
Yet both Robertson and Wohlforth shared a guardian angel of sorts in the rotund shape of Gerry Healy, leader of the British SLL. Starting in January 1961, Wohlforth began sending detailed letters to Healy (at times on a daily basis) reporting on factional developments inside the SWP. Wohlforth also sent Healy long theoretical pieces on the Cuban Revolution. Healy, however, never responded to a single theoretical document. Simply put, Healy cared little about the "Minority Tendency's" finely honed views on Cuba. What Healy quite passionately did care about was the proposed reunification between Mandel's IS and the SWP. Healy wanted to block reunification at all cost. In a document that the SLL sent to the SWP in January 1961, Healy even demanded that the clash with the Paris-based International Secretariat be intensified.
A key part of the negotiations between the SWP and IS involved a joint understanding on Cuba. By 1961 it was clear that both the IS and the SWP shared very similar views on Cuba. Knowing this, Healy decided to throw his support to any group that might block such a deal so he now began to aggressively encourage the SWP "Minority Tendency."
At a party convention in New York in July 1963, the SWP decided once and for all to carry out reunification. A new Trotskyist "Comintern" was formed and named the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. As soon as reunification was complete, Healy's SLL denounced the SWP for following the "Pabloite" path and severed all formal ties with the SWP.
In the fall of 1965, the SLL and Pierre Lambert's French Trotskyist group launched its own International Committee of the Fourth International. To increase its stature, Healy desperately needed some representation from America. Although Healy had been in intensive correspondence with Wohlforth since 1961, he decided he needed to court James Robertson's Revolutionary Tendency (RT). With some 60 members, the RT was far larger than Wohlforth's tiny gang of nine. Healy therefore demanded that Wohlforth immediately open "unity talks" with Robertson.
One of the unity talks between the Robertson and Wohlforth cliques was held on 5 August 1965. A brand new supporter of Wohlforth's American Committee for the Fourth International (ACFI), who had secretly although still not officially joined the ACFI tendency 1965 since he was still technically a member of the SWP accompanied Wohlforth to the talks.
His name was Lyndon LaRouche.
A MINORITY OF ONE
Tim Wohlforth first met "Lynn Marcus" when then-SWP member Wohlforth visited LaRouche's Central Park West apartment sometime in the late 1950s. In an article for In These Times (ITT), Wohlforth said that
Wohlforth further recalled that LaRouche did virtually nothing during the entire period between 1961 and 1964 when he and Robertson were opposing the SWP majority over Cuba. In a pamphlet entitled What Is Spartacist? Wohlforth writes that LaRouche
As for LaRouche, he reports in How the Workers League Decayed that Healy's objections to the SWP's new Cuba policy were strictly based on opportunist political considerations:
According to LaRouche:
LaRouche, however, at the time simply avoided discussing the Cuba imbroglio as Wohlforth recalled in his ITT piece,
FALL OF THE WEISS FACTION
According to Wohlforth, LaRouche's sole involvement with the SWP was as a member of a personal social clique around Murry Weiss. In fact, it actually was LaRouche's then-wife Janice who maintained a close personal tie to the Weiss circle. As for Weiss, in What Is Spartacist? Wohlforth comments:
The Weiss group found itself in a subterranean battle with "old guard" headed by Farrell Dobbs. Not surprisingly, these hardened veterans of the 1930s did not want to lose their prestige as well as their pensions and party salary that would come with an eventual dissolution of the SWP. Instead, they hoped to bring down Weiss even as they used his talents in both the FPFC and the realignment negotiations. Wohlforth recalls that after he became involved in the SWP's National Office, he slowly discovered
By 1963 the SWP's leadership strategy was clear. They wanted to get rid of both Wohlforth who for all practical purposes functioned as Healy's agent inside the SWP and Robertson since they threatened to wreck any possible chance to rejuvenate the SWP with their criticism of Cuba. On the other hand, they also knew that Weiss wanted to dissolve the SWP into some new social movement. The SWP leadership in response adopted a centrist strategy that would open up the organization to new alliances but still maintain the SWP's organizational integrity against the "liquidationist" Weiss.
Through the early 1960s, the SWP leadership marginalized both factions and replaced them new cadre directly loyal to the leadership. The clash between Weiss and the SWP's top leadership was particularly palpable inside the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA). At a 29-31 December 1961 YSA conference in Chicago, Wohlforth a former leader of the YSA recalls that not only was he isolated over his views on Cuba but also that
One new YSA leader, Barry Sheppard, later became a longtime SWP leader. In his memoir Sheppard discusses the Weiss network, which he also viewed as a personal clique with shady ties to James Cannon. Sheppard clearly disliked the Weiss network for trying to undermine Dobbs' leadership in a sneaky way.7
With Weiss's factional position clearly eroding and given Weiss' own "liquidationist" views it was only a matter of time before Weiss left the party. In What Is Spartacist? Wohlforth reports that
THE MISSING YEARS: 1961-1965
As I have shown, LaRouche was not a member of the SWP Old Guard, the Weiss faction or the Wohlforth/Robertson opposition. From 1961 on, he seems to have had absolutely nothing to say about the debates that raged inside the SWP. Curiously, however, LaRouche did claim that he tried to block an effort to "liquidate" the SWP that he says he learned about sometime in 1964 and which may have been linked to Weiss' larger plan. In a 9/8/83 internal NCLC memo ("The Soviet KGB Versus the ICLC"), LaRouche writes that in November 1964
The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation did enjoy ties to individuals like Isaac Deutscher, the British-based Trotskyist whose writings influenced Pablo. During this same period an American Trotskyist living in London named Ralph Schoenman managed the Bertrand Russell Foundation. The Bertrand Russell Foundation also came under attack by Gerry Healy's SLL, which argued that both the Foundation and the British Vietnam Solidarity Campaign accepted "Moscow's line of 'peace in Vietnam' in opposition to the call for clear-cut victory for the NLF."9
LYN AND TIM
On 24 September 1964, Tim Wohlforth's tiny ACFI published the first issue of Bulletin of International Socialism, a modest 16-page mimeographed newsletter that also functioned as the mouthpiece for the Healy/SLL-allied tendency in America. In How the Workers League Decayed, LaRouche recalls that:
(LaRouche's observation calls into question his earlier claim that someone inside the SWP had sent his winter 1958 theses to the SLL, which he said then adopted a "bowdlerized version" of it over the objections of Tom Kemp, the SLL's leading economist.11)
Whatever the exact sequence of events, sometime either in late 1964 or early 1965, LaRouche began holding a series of private talks with Wohlforth. We also know that on 5 August 1965, LaRouche attended at least one meeting of the "reunification" talks between Wohlforth's ACFI and James Robertson's RT/Spartacists. The gathering occurred a month before the last SWP national convention that LaRouche attended.12 In his article for In These Times, Wohlforth described what LaRouche was then like as a person:
Later, in his memoirs, Wohlforth recalled that
Wohlforth stated that LaRouche
Wohlforth further reports that LaRouche was "very much a believer in conspiracy theories. I, even in my most ultra-left days, was a bit of a skeptic. For LaRouche, even as a radical, ''the liberals were the main enemy."14
THE 1965 NEGOTIATIONS
LaRouche's discussions with Wohlforth and Robertson involved a document that he had prepared for the September 1965 SWP Convention outlining his views that was entitled The Coming American Socialist Revolution.15 In the Spartacist League publication Conversations with Wohlforth (Marxist Bulletin, No. 3), LaRouche's comments were also transcribed. (In the transcript, LaRouche is listed just as "L.")
LaRouche later continued:
Conversations with Wohlforth also contains Robertson's reaction to The Coming American Socialist Revolution. After reading it, Robertson commented:
On 23 September 1965 another member of the Robertson faction "Nelson" remarked: "The L. document might be characterized as left Freudian. If I wanted to be quite blunt, I would say it had a crackpot quality. . . . Comrades of the ACFI, if you are 99% in agreement with this document, as you stated before, then you are in bad shape."
Robertson also returned to the LaRouche's paper at that same gathering:
"THE MONTREAL CONCORDAT"
Kidding or not, LaRouche made some significant inroads with Wohlforth since in the 8/5/65 unification talks, Wohlforth says,
When LaRouche left the SWP in the late fall of 1965, he already had established a niche inside the ACFI, which he and Carol formally joined in January 1966.17 In How the Workers League Decayed, LaRouche reports that
In October 1965 when LaRouche was still technically a member of the SWP Gerry Healy flew to Montreal to try to jump start the "unity talks" between the ACFI and Robertson. Healy decided that one weekend he would meet with the ACFI leadership and the next weekend with Robertson's group. Wohlforth recalls:
In What Is Spartacist?, Wohlforth also recalled:
Wohlforth continues: "Marcus resisted this and in the end simply pulled out of the SWP without a serious struggle. He also refused to keep the struggle inside the SWP on a principled level sinking into personal analyses and attacks on sections of the leadership."
One interesting side effect of the meeting was LaRouche's introduction to Rosa Luxemburg's economic writings. In the foreword to Dialectical Economics, LaRouche ("Lyn Marcus") reports:
Although LaRouche remained critical of certain aspects of Luxemburg's views, he now made it clear that he considered her one of the best Marxist economist since Marx himself.
IN THE ACFI
By December 1965, LaRouche was writing articles for the ACFI's Bulletin of International Socialism. 19 In the 27 December 1965 issue of the Bulletin, there appears an article clearly written by LaRouche entitled "Bankers Slap Down LBJ: The Federal Reserve's Action and the Vietnam War Economy."20 In it, LaRouche warns of a potential crisis in the U.S. economy:
One of the more interesting articles LaRouche wrote during his short sojourn in the ACFI appeared in the 14 February 1966 issue of the Bulletin under the title "Tax Landlords, Not People! An Alternative to Lindsay's Anti-Labor Program." Here LaRouche claims: "From Wall Street's point of view, New York City is merely a money-farm, its people so much livestock, to be milked, shorn and flayed to the limits of long-suffering popular endurance." Yet what is most striking is the article's attempt to translate LaRouche's grand economic ideas into programmatic actions overtax policy which he sees as key to future radical organizing in an urban setting:
It was just this "practical" attempt that Wohlforth later mocked in his "Many Theories of L. Marcus" article published in the Bulletin on 16 December 1968.21 Here Wohlforth comments that after LaRouche left the formal Trotskyist movement in the summer of 1966, "he happily threw himself into the construction of a student intellectual circle which transforms the Transitional Program into liberal reformist tax proposals, denies Leninism on the question of the party, and refuses at any time to assess historically the question of the Fourth International."
THE LONDON DEBACLE
The convoluted courtship dance between the SLL, Wohlforth's ACFI, and Robertson's Spartacists took a new twist when Healy invited both Wohlforth and Robertson to an April 1966 unity meeting in London. (Wohlforth couldn't come for job reasons and sent a representative in his place.)22
The United States government knew about the conclave as well. A 12 February 1966 Department of State message concerning Wohlforth was sent to London that read:
(The identity of the informant remains unknown.)
In London Healy hoped to recruit a subservient Robertson into becoming the front man for the proposed new Healy-allied group in America. Robertson instead used the conference to critique parts of the SLL program including the idea that an imminent capitalist economic crisis was on the horizon. A now infuriated Healy (reports Wohlforth) "suddenly became aware that the Robertson group had a mind of its own and (to its credit) did not worship at the feet of the SLL." Healy immediately banned Robertson from attending the rest of the conference.24 Healy next sent a message to Wohlforth in New York ordering him to quit his job and begin building a new SLL-allied Trotskyist party in America without any tie to Robertson.
Now that it was clear that Wohlforth would be Healy's sole legate in America, LaRouche flew into high gear. In What Is Spartacist? Wohlforth says that:
On 9 May 1966, LaRouche resigned from the ACFI. A delighted Robertson wrote in the June-July 1966 publication Spartacist
(As we shall see later, LaRouche would have even less success in influencing Robertson than he had with Wohlforth.)
"THE MANY THEORIES OF L. MARCUS"
Two years after the split between LaRouche and the AFCI (now renamed the Workers League), Tim Wohlforth penned a lengthy polemic in the 16 December 1968 issue of the Workers League paper The Bulletin denouncing LaRouche. Entitled "The Many Theories of L. Marcus," it begins:
Wohlforth then mocks a paper by LaRouche modestly entitled "The History of Capitalism" that he submitted as an SDS Labor Committee document. Here LaRouche argues that there would be no "Third Stage" strategy of imperialism due to the "cretinism" of the capitalist class in general.25
Wohlforth argues that LaRouche's "Third Stage" theory always was wrong and that LaRouche's notion that the Vietnam War was really being fought so that Vietnam could become the "rice bowl" for India was so economically reductionist as to border on the absurd. Wohlforth particularly objected to the notion that in LaRouche's new imperialist model there would be no "primitive accumulation" in the Third World since, if anything, the capitalists actually had to introduce higher living standards. But to do this, Wohlforth claimed, would eliminate the entire concept of "super profits." Only the rise of the working class could stop imperialism; capitalism was incapable of carrying out a modernization policy in Southeast Asia.
Wohlforth next turns to what he labels Marcus's "most preposterous theory to date." This was the notion that the Nazis killed six million Jews out of a "rational economic policy of primitive accumulation" and that Nazi race theory was merely an excuse for a logical capitalist policy. In contrast, Wohlforth pointed out that the Nazis used millions of non-Jewish foreign workers as forced labor while they sent the Jews to death camps. In reality, the persecution of the Jews actually wasted German resources that could have been rationally used for the war effort.26
Wohlforth then attacked LaRouche as a hopeless "revisionist" since LaRouche put forward the demand for four million new productive jobs. This idea, however, was merely a "transitional program" inside capitalism itself. But how could there be a transitional program inside the existing capitalist system? "Marcus is clearly a man of another era. How happy he would have been in the old FDR Brain Trust." For Trotsky, radical demands can't be met by capitalists. Marcus was, therefore, really promoting "reform demands limited by the existing capitalist structure. In no way, then, does Marcus differ on this question" from other revisionists from the Second International's Karl Kautsky to the Fourth International's Ernst Mandel.
If anything, Marcus was even worse that the other revisionists with his call for an "orderly transition" to power by "using the capitalist corporate income-tax system for our own purposes in our own way." In Wohlforth's judgment: "Never before has a single man compressed into such a short statement so much revisionism." While Marcus holds out the path of "a peaceful road to power," real communists know that the core issue is class struggle and the forceful seizure of state power. Yet like both Khrushchev and Brezhnev, Marcus's concept of a "peaceful road to socialism" glides over this fundamental issue.
The Workers League leader next then turns to Marcus's wrong concept of "the Party." Wohlforth argues that Marcus's idea of organization is at the heart of his blunders. Wohlforth attacks him for only having a vague idea of a political vanguard party. Against LaRouche, Wohlforth argues that the Left needs a party that is "conscious, disciplined, yes, disciplined, particularly and harshly and cohesively disciplined. We are speaking of a Leninist Party." In contrast:
For Marcus, then, the party is really a "cadre grouping of revolutionary intellectuals" who win the workers over to their ideas. But this is a totally one-sided view since both Marx and Lenin built a real workers' party. When Marx worked with the League of the Just he didn't simply create a separate intellectual group apart from the workers. Not so LaRouche: "What disdain for the working class Marcus represents! In everything he writes, it comes through."
Finally, Marcus showed his true colors when he worked with Wohlforth in the ACFI. During all that time he argued for some form of unification with James Robertson's Spartacist sect. Wohlforth said Marcus did this so that he could develop his own base and not because he cared about the future of the Fourth International. Translated, what Wohlforth means is that LaRouche wanted to unify with Robertson so that the new U.S. grouping wouldn't be totally controlled by Gerry Healy.27
"WHILE WOHLFORTH WALKED ALONG THE PATH OF LENINISM"
As we have seen, the collapse of the April 1966 London "unity talks" between James Robertson and Gerry Healy also proved decisive in LaRouche's decision to abandon the ACFI and ally with Robertson. In What is Spartacist? Tim Wohlforth recalls: "the first major explosion with Marcus came on the eve of the April 1966 Conference when ACFI [at a meeting held on 20 March 1966] was forced to reject Robertson's draft document as a basis for an American resolution to submit to the conference." Robertson's draft was submitted some time before the 20 March conclave since Wohlforth then comments that LaRouche was "commissioned to work up an alternate draft for ACFI." However LaRouche's compromise draft also "was not found acceptable by the Coordinating Committee of the ACFI either."28
With the rejection of both Robertson and LaRouche's proposed unification documents and the debacle of the Robertson-Healy talks, it was now clear that the ACFI was to be exclusively a Gerry Healy franchise. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, LaRouche and Carol issued a resignation letter from the ACFI dated 9 May 1966. Ironically given his future history, LaRouche made it clear that his main reason for leaving the ACFI was the heavy-handed role that Healy had played in the movement.29 In What Is Spartacist?, Wohlforth quotes LaRouche as writing: "At the London Conference and in its sequel it became clear that the continued political hegemony of the SLL [Healy's Socialist Labour League] had become a decisive obstacle to the founding of a new international and an American Trotskyist movement at this juncture." Wohlforth then comments: "Marcus made no bones about it. He was breaking from the IC because of Healy's supposed organizational practices and not because of any political differences."30
For his part in his 9 May 1966 Resignation Statement, LaRouche begins: "While Wohlforth walked along the path of Leninism we walked with him. For that we have no regrets." It concluded: "We carry out the historic task of fusion with the Spartacist League."
IN AND OUT OF THE SPARTACIST LEAGUE
LaRouche's "historic task" fusion with the Spartacist League lasted seven weeks.
All seemed to go well at first. LaRouche had a front page article ("Battle for Asia") in the June-July 1966 issue of Spartacist while Carol became the journal's managing editor. An editorial in that same issue announcing that the ACFI was on the ropes could not resist noting that Wohlforth's position inside the ACFI "was aggravated by the latter political break with the ACFI's proclaimed theoretical leader, L. Marcus, at the same time."
Yet the Robertson-LaRouche alliance was built on sand. LaRouche, after all, had spent months trying to organize the ACFI out from under Gerry Healy's control. In so doing, he began more and more to envision implementing his own ideas for a new kind of radical party, ideas he originally outlined in a series of internal documents he wrote for the SWP's September 1965 National Conference.31 Here LaRouche endorses the idea that the new revolutionary party must be led by the "revolutionary intelligentsia," He returned to this theme in his 9 May 1966 ACFI Resignation Statement:
In July 1966 LaRouche and Robertson locked horns in a bitter fight ostensibly over economics. Their disagreements were not new. In the 1965 unity session talks documented in Conversations with Wohlforth, the LaRouche-ACFI theory about an impending capitalist crisis came under repeated sharp attack from Robertson's ally Shane Mage. Unlike LaRouche, Mage was a professionally trained Marxist economist. His 1963 PhD thesis from Columbia's Department of Economics was entitled "The Law of the Falling Tendency of the Rate of Profit: Its Place in the Marxian Theoretical System and Relevance to the United States." Mage then became an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
In the August-September 1966 issue of the ACFI's Bulletin that appeared after LaRouche's brief stint in the Spartacist League, and on the heels of Mage's own decision to quit the Spartacists, Wohlforth's ACFI could not resist noting that Mage "was brought into the joint unity discussions" by Robertson in 1965. "At this session" of the talks with Mage present, he
As Mage became more enraptured by the rise of the New Left and the counterculture, he now began arguing that the "working class was no longer a meaningful revolutionary force in the modern world. The Spartacist organization then asked Mage to resign which he promptly did."
With or without Shane Mage, however, it was clear that James Robertson was not about to endorse LaRouche's brand of catastrophe economics, which in turn was intimately linked to LaRouche's broader "political perspectives." Meanwhile LaRouche was intent on recruiting new acolytes into the ranks of the Spartacist League, who would follow his lead and not Robertson's. He viewed the opportunity to begin teaching a class on "elementary Marxist economics" at the newly formed Free University of New York (FUNY) just off Union Square as the perfect place to begin. LaRouche's first FUNY class took place sometime around 5 July 1966. At almost exactly this same time, LaRouche and Robertson had their final falling out. From What Is Spartacist?'.
During his final showdown with Robertson, LaRouche penned "The Question of Marxist Economics" on 14 July 1966 in which he argued:
CONCLUSION: THE BIRTH OF THE "FIFTH INTERNATIONAL"
On 24 July 1966, LaRouche announced his resignation from the Spartacist League in a letter that he also sent to the ACFI's Bulletin. In it, LaRouche proclaimed: "The tragic fact is that the 4th International has been destroyed by various currents of revisionism within it, Healy's included; the task now is to begin those urgent steps toward building a 5th!"
LaRouche had been thinking about how to build his own"5th International" for some time. Just a year earlier in the "Our Immediate Perspective" section of The Coming American Socialist Revolution, LaRouche outlined his strategy to target "intellectual youth" (or "Leninist 'boomers'"):
In the epilogue to The Coming American Socialist Revolution entitled "Cannonism in Perspective," LaRouche also writes:
In July 1966 the Smiling Man from a Dead Planet set out to build his new "Fifth International" with his first class on "elementary Marxist economics" at the Free University of New York on 14th Street, not far from his Morton Street home in the Village. After some two decades spent wandering in the desert of American Trotskyism, the pied piper was now finally free at last to strike up his own merry tune.35
1 In volume one of his memoirs The Party, SWP leader Barry Sheppard has a long but interesting footnote on the Cochran faction and the SWP in the early 1950s as well as on James Cannon's attempt to use Murry Weiss against Cochran. Sheppard writes that the Cochran group which had its trade union roots in the UAW by the early 1950s believed the SWP had been far too optimistic about independent radicalism. They instead wanted "an orientation toward existing left milieus, including the Stalinists. They held that the party was exaggerating its prospects elsewhere. The Cochran group traced this failure to the optimistic projections that the party had made during the postwar labor upsurge of the 1940s, when the party had recruited many hundreds of workers across the country."
2 This fact also helps explain why Lee Harvey Oswald when he attempted to get sponsorship from the FPFC allegedly had one photograph taken of himself holding the Militant and a rifle and another one of him holding The Daily Worker and a rifle.
3 Tim Wohlforth, The Prophet's Children, 99.
4 If Wohlforth's memory is correct and LaRouche was a consultant to the shoe industry, it suggests that LaRouche once again enjoyed some working relationship with his father.
5 Wohlforth, The Prophet's Children, 90.
6 Many of the new YSA leaders first had been recruited around support for Cuba and were protegees of Joseph Hansen, a former Trotsky bodyguard. My impression is that Hansen took a far tougher activist line against SWP dissident factions than did Dobbs.
7 Sheppard says that Weiss resigned from the SWP shortly after the 1965 convention, in part because he had suffered a very serious stroke and couldn't function at the same level as he had in the past.
8 Myra Tanner Weiss, the SWP candidate for Vice President in the November 1963 election, reportedly left the SWP completely a month later. However other reports say that Murry Weiss only left the SWP in the fall of 1965. My guess is that after his stroke Murry Weiss no longer played a leadership role in the SWP but that he remained a party member till after the 1965 convention.
9 See C. Lotz and P. Feldman, Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life, 248. Healy also believed that various "Pabloites" and Third Camp Trotskyists from groups like the International Socialists also had ties to the Bertrand Russell Foundation.
10 "Carol" was Carol Schnitzer (also known as Carol Larrabee). She was a high school and junior college math teacher from a radical trade unionist family. She and LaRouche lived together in the West Village in an apartment on Morton Street after LaRouche left his wife Janice.
11 LaRouche says that Tom Kemp the Socialist Labour League (Healy) economist who rejected the collapse thesis told LaRouche that his views were similar to those of Rosa Luxemburg. In her writings against the "revisionist" Eduard Bernstein in texts like Reform or Revolution?, for example, Luxemburg argued that the very things that Bernstein has pointed to as making a capitalist depression a thing of the past (such as the credit system) only aggregated the crisis. LaRouche says he first came to his theory of economic collapse not by reading Luxemburg but through his studies of the credit system and specific cases of capitalist bankruptcy while working as a business consultant in the mid-1950s. See Dialectical Economics, 232.
12 LaRouche also says he gave Wohlforth an internal "secret" SWP purge resolution so that it could be published in The Bulletin.
13 In These Times, 25 October-4 November 1986.
14 The italics are Wohlforth's. See The Prophet's Children, 130-35.
15 LaRouche apparently first showed the document to Robertson sometime in late July or early August 1965 since Robertson's comments are dated 5 August 1965.
16 LaRouche also picked up some useful phrases from his experiences at the unification talks. For example: LaRouche continually used the phrase "class for itself." In Conversations with Wohlforth there is a report on a conversation on 9/20/65 between LaRouche and Shane Mage. LaRouche was under attack for promoting the idea that the "united front" would help workers overcome "alienation" when Mage remarked:
From that moment on, LaRouche did just that.
In The SWP A Strangled Party, James Robertson writes about another future LaRouche buzzword, "hubris":
Later in the NCLC, LaRouche loved to boast that he had "committed the crime of hubris."
17 In The Party, Barry Sheppard writes about LaRouche: "He was expelled by the New York branch for being a member of Tim Wohlforth's Workers League. . . . Prior to his expulsion, I discussed this charge with LaRouche and he admitted being a member of the Workers League [actually then still known as the ACFI HH]. The expulsion seemed to be basically okay with him."
18 Wohlforth, The Prophet's Children, 138. LaRouche says he so annoyed Healy in Montreal that "the Central Committee of the SLL published a statement denouncing my political line in the weekly Newsletter."
19 I have only been able to track down a few issues from volume two when LaRouche was an active ACFI member.
20 Bulletin (Vol.2, No. 22).
21 Bulletin (Vol. 5, No. 8-9).
22 Wohlforth did plan on going but realized he would jeopardize his job situation if he did so he sent one of his lieutenants instead.
23 The report is cited in The Prophet's Children.
24 For Robertson's statement on the London conference at http: www.bolshevik.org/history/ICL...20Smashed.html .
25 Given the date of Wohlforth's article, LaRouche is most likely discussing the meaning of Nixon's triumph in the November 1968 elections. LaRouche viewed Nixon as a creation of the "National Association of Manufacturers" group of capitalist small timers and not the more sophisticated wing of international capital based in New York, which he associated with support for "Third Stage" policies.
26 From Dialectical Economics:
27 In his What Is Spartacist? series in the Workers League paper The Bulletin (June-August 1970) and later issued as a pamphlet, Wohlforth also stated:
It has to be added that the Workers League also became itself infamous for slanderous attacks on its foes.
28 Wohlforth's formal rejection of LaRouche's alternate draft for unification ("Some Comments on Perspectives for the Fused Movement Submitted by Tim Wohlforth") is dated 3 March 1966 and is quoted in What is Spartacist?.
29 Around this time, there was a significant scandal in the Trotskyist movement after some Healy goons in London physically assaulted a SLL critic named Ernest Tate. For more on Healy, see http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.UnityNow4.
30 In What Is Spartacist?, Wohlforth provides a long quote from a 17 April 1967 LaRouche polemic entitled "What Makes Tim Wohlforth Run?" that seems to have been inspired by the rejection of LaRouche's alternate draft reunification document. Wohlforth also cites an extremely long series of quotes from a 3 May 1966 letter from Gerry Healy to LaRouche following the collapse of the London talks. LaRouche and Carol resigned almost immediately after receiving Healy's letter.
31 Besides "The Coming American Revolution" and its long epilogue "Cannonism in Perspective," the texts include "The Fragmentation of World Trotskyism" (SWP Internal Discussion Bulletin Vol. 25, No. 14) written on 9 August 1965 and "Economics and Politics" written on 27 July 1965.
32 LaRouche quoted in the ACFI's Bulletin of International Socialism, Aug.-Sept. 1966. It is part two of a series entitled "Spartacist and the Intellectual in Retreat."
33 "The Coming American Socialist Revolution," 29.
34 "Cannonism in Perspective," xv-xvi.
35 In a 1988 version of his autobiography The Power of Reason, LaRouche says he first gave a 13 week class on Marxist economics at FUNY starting in April 1966. If true, he would have done so while an active member of the Spartacist League. Hence his first "independent" class without any Trotskyist affiliation would be the July class as this happened at the same time that he broke with the Spartacist League.
A detailed history of the very early Labor Committee from FUNY to the Committee on Independent Political Action (CIPA) to the group's key role in the Columbia Strike in New York as well as its early activities in Philadelphia can now be found in my new study How It All Began: The Origins and History of the National Caucus of Labor Committees in New York and Philadelphia (1966-1971) available at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.HIABcover on LaRouche Planet.