September 25, 2009

Missing Sully, Part 4--A Commie In-Joke

For Christmas of 1980, I sent Sully (the late David Irish Sullivan) a paperback book on the Rote Kapelle, the Red Orchestra, the Soviet spy ring in Nazi-occupied Europe. He responded with the best thank-you note I have ever received.

[Those FotM readers who may, by some quirk of fate, not have found themselves in the vanguard party of the US working class in the 1970s--and there were many to chose from at the time--will probably find what follows a bit difficult to connect with. For you, there is a brief explanatory note below the two images.]

[Click on images to view full size.]
Okay, as promised, a few points of orientation for those who weren't there or have spent the better part of the last four decades trying to forget that they were.

1. The group we were both in at the time, the unfortunately-named Revolutionary Workers Headquarters, had a couple hundred members and nalmost no leadership structure to speak of, let alone a Central Control Commission.

2. This snarky set of "letters" reflects Dave's (and the RWHq's) developing break with the kneejerk public defense of Stalin that had characterized the group we had split from, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and a broader break with the deeply dogmatic style of many of the organizations in the New Communist Movement.

3. Requests for further clarification requested will be addressed. Incidentally, Sully incorporated one literary and one historical reference into the piece


Anonymous said...

By 81 I wasn't around the headquarters anymore, but I can sure appreciate this.
Sad to say, I didn't catch the literary and historical references you mentioned. Dying for an explanation-- but I'll see you tomorrow.


Jesse said...

I LOLed @ "Laverne T. Bairiaty"

Anonymous said...

I may be the only relic from that period (and both of those organizations) who has the distinction of being able to truly say "I'm not responsible" for the racism, homophobia, or general weirdness in the RCP. I believe I'm the only elected delegate to the RCP's founding congress who can claim to have been in a coma at the time.

I like to think I have far more responsibility for weirdness in The Headquarters, as we called what we'd named the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters. The odd and strange sounding name reflected one of the secondary, but significant problems of the "New Communist Movement", the fact that we all "spoke Chinese." Obviously, very few of us actually spoke Chinese. What we really did was engage in CCP style polemics and try to phrase stuff the way we thought Chairman Mao might.