In “IG & Revolutionary Defeatism—‘A Blank Page’” (1917 No.28, 2006), we observed that when unable to explain an event that contradicts its political line, the Internationalist Group (IG) has a tendency to “pretend it did not happen—thus producing an example of what Mikhail Gorbachev used to disparage as a ‘blank page’.”
The 23 October 2010 shutdown of all ports in the San Francisco Bay Area to protest the racist cop murder of Oscar Grant is another example of this strange phenomenon. This important labor action was the last major event initiated by class-struggle militant Jack Heyman, who has since retired. For years the IG celebrated Heyman’s role in sparking class struggle on the docks, but this time they had no comment. We can only assume that the reason is that one of the union’s slogans was to “Jail the Killer Cop” who executed Grant. This wholly supportable demand was repudiated some years ago by the degenerated Spartacist League (SL). The IG is quite willing to criticize SL political deviations that occurred after Jan Norden and other IG leaders were purged from the group in 1996, but defends pretty much everything before that. Yet, as we noted:
“To defend previous political errors is to open the door for future ones. The IG has always been reluctant to seriously address the origins of the SL’s degeneration, which was qualitatively complete long before Norden et al. were unceremoniously driven out. Largely for reasons of personal prestige, the IG’s founders pretend that, prior to their own departure, the SL had an almost pristine political and organizational record.”
—1917 No.26, 2004
Unwilling either to defend or to distance itself from the SL’s brainless sectarian repudiation of the call to “Jail Killer Cops,” the IG has opted to ignore the most important labor action against racist capitalist injustice since the 1999 ILWU shutdown of U.S. West Coast ports in solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal (also initiated by Heyman).
On 25 February Mumia Abu-Jamal sent the following greeting to Jack Heyman’s retirement party.
Long Live John Africa! On a Move! Greetings to all assembled in honor of Jack Heyman, the longtime ILWU organizer and organizer for a half dozen other causes besides. Jack represents the best of the labor tradition, one not bounded by national borders or the other lines we create to keep us corralled into spaces approved by the state. I think the last time I saw him on the tube he was in London before about a million people protesting maybe the stupidest war in generations—Iraq. Jack knows, as do we all, that our borders are a lot like prison walls that keep us divided and isolated. So he spent a lot of time and a lot of energy with his sledgehammer knocking holes in the walls. Oh, by the way, I KNOW, I KNOW that Wisconsin has him chomping at the bit. Anyway, congratulations on his retirement and on a move. This is Mumia Abu-Jamal.