Rank & File Insurrection (Selected Quotes)
Expulsion Would Have Been More Appropriate
"Comrades, the SLUS is crossing the Rubicon. The time to act is now. In the ILWU, as Harry Bridges drove the union toward destruction, workers increasingly said he couldn’t stand to see the union outlive him. In a move to keep the lid on and preserve bureaucratic rule, Bridges lieutenants forcibly pensioned him off. If JR has the Harry Bridges syndrome and can’t stand to see the SL/iSt outlive its founder’s political life, then we propose to pension him off. But we don’t propose to let his lieutenants run and ruin the show. Throw them off the Central Committee, take the WV, the keys, the money and the building from their hands, and let them rejoin the ranks to rehabilitate themselves by putting in a few good years of yeoman’s service for the revolution."
Excerpted from "Stop The Liquidation Of The Trade Union Work! Break With The Robertson-Foster-Nelson Misleadership!" (1983) by the External Tendency of the international Spartacist tendency.
Rank & File Anger
CP [Communist Party] discipline simply stopped. You could do and say any damn thing you wanted and there was a tremendous backlog of grievances and resentments against the cadres, against the full-timers, the functionaries, (that was the term we used). I remember a meeting of the Roxbury branch where it became a ‘‘speak-bitterness’’ meeting. There had been a whole series of these, going on for months, and one night it got particularly rough. People were denouncing the leadership for suppression, for its bureaucratic attitudes, for its highhandedness, and so forth, and they get on the phone and they called these functionaries. By this time it’s about midnight and everybody’s really worked up—’’You get down here right now!’’ And these guys who had previously imposed themselves, according to their temperaments, more or less brutally—some of them more brutally, some of them less because they were basically nice guys, and some of them were really nasty—would have to do that. They would have to come down and they’d have to listen. They wouldn’t even talk sometimes, just listen to denunciation after denunciation for their rudeness, for their arbitrariness, for their lack of contact with reality, for their brutality to members.
Excerpted from " Interview With Geoff White (Part 1): From Stalinism to Trotskyism" 1917 # 7, Winter 1990. Discussing the situation in the CPUSA in the aftermath of the Kruschev's 1956 revelations.