WV Implicitly Accepts Our Critique of

Robertson’s ‘Vulgar Chauvinism’

On 12 June, we wrote a reply to a slanderous attack in the 6 June issue of Workers Vanguard (WV—newspaper of the Spartacist League/U.S.) which claimed that the International Bolshevik Tendency is opposed to independence for the Kurdish nation (see www.bolshevik.org). The 4 July issue of WV prints parts of our letter and an attempt to rationalise their pseudo-political smear. However, they delicately omit any comment on the letter’s postscript in which we suggested that if they wanted to find a genuine example of ‘self-satisfied great-power chauvinism’, they need look no further than their own supreme leader, James M. Robertson, who is on record obscenely referring to Kurds as ‘Turds’:

‘Robertson made this piggish remark in a 15 October 1978 speech to the SL’s New York branch in which he recounted how he had purged the leadership of the British Spartacist League. In the course of his talk, Robertson gently chided Reuben Samuels, the SL’s Middle East expert:
‘"Criticism of Reuben: the whole time, where was Reuben? He was off in the library, studying about the Turds for his class. Right? He wasn’t playing any role."
‘--International Discussion Bulletin, No. 10, Part 1, January 1979, "Run, run, run, run, run, run, run…chop," p. 60 (emphasis added)
‘This remark cannot be explained away as a "joke" or an "angular" political characterization. It is simply vulgar chauvinism, yet because it was spoken by the SL’s founder/leader, it was duly transcribed and reprinted in the group’s internal bulletin without comment or criticism. It is startling evidence that the SL’s political degeneration from Trotskyism to political banditry was well underway in 1978.’
--IBT letter to Workers Vanguard, 12 June

It is always best in writing polemics not to ascribe motivations or positions to one’s opponents that they may not hold. So we are prepared to give the SL the benefit of the doubt on this one, and interpret WV’s decision not to try to defend this particular obscenity by their lider maximo as an implicit acceptance of our critique. Of course it would be better if the SL leadership had the decency to explicitly repudiate this disgusting chauvinist remark, but embarrassed silence is at least preferable to attempting to brazen it out.

International Bolshevik Tendency
4 July 2003

Posted: 17 July 2003