Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 20. September 3, 1968
fyson on gager
fyson on gager
Sir—We would here like to express our utter contempt of the form and content of Mr Gager's reply to our letter published in Salient of July 16th. It consists of nothing but gross distortions and half truths, and descends to outright self-contradiction.
For example: Mr Gager sees the word "Cuba". His mind flashes to "nationalism", so down it goes—the Fourth International supports nationalism, and we are nationalists! Later, Mr Gager realises that the letter is chiefly concerned with Latin America, so his mind starts off again—result: we are not interested in our own nation! It is a fact that the Spartacist League split from the Fourth International on this very issue of guerilla warfare. How then can a Spartacist pretend that this is not an important issue?
To proceed. The very first accusation is a half-truth. Mr Clarke rejects any implication that he was a Spartacist he certainly would never describe the American Spartacist League as "the American Trotskyist organisation".
Mr Gager calls us "Pabloites" in mimicry of the sentence in which we referred to Mr Gager's line as "Spartacist". Mr Gager knows perfectly well that, whereas he publicly proclaims himself a Spartacist, Pablo was expelled from the Fourth International. Mr Gager banks on the fact that the term "Pabloite" is unknown to all but a few in New Zealand. He may say that we are Pabloites a thousand times but this will not make us so. We deny now as we always have done any connection with Pablo. Mr Gager seems only to want to confuse the issue. His naming us as "Pabloites"—without attempting to show "that we ore such even though we say the opposite"—is downright dishonest. It is also a typically Stalinist tactic.
His next point—that we and the Fourth International have surrendered completely to the Castro line—is an outright lie.
Mr Gager fails completely to understand the idea of giving wholehearted support to all socialist tendencies, while at the same time maintaining forthright criticism. He is glued in his own sectarian, conceited position of never supporting anything unless it is "perfect". In this he is totally un-Marxist.
Gager's statement that we support "patriotic" revolutions, and the implication that we do not support socialist revolutions is a pernicious slander. It also reveals that Mr Gager has no balanced conception of proletarian internationalism. The right of national groups to fight for national selfdetermination against a foreign oppressor( e.g. Ukranians vs. Great Russian chauvinism) was upheld by Lenin and Trotsky.
The statement that the use of "guilt by association" is Stalinist and was repudiated by Trotsky, is typically false. See for example Trotsky in In Defence of Marxism(New Park publ., 1966, p. 137).
Trotsky used this method in exactly the same way as we did, when he criticised Schachtman for being too soft on the liberals—and fraternising with one Eugene Lyons, who spoke also at banquets of the White Guards.
Gager accuses us of using a dishonest polemical device against him. He infers that we were saying "your position may be called Trotskyist but objectively is Stalinist". This masks the truth, and we emphatically deny the charge. We reiterate that we said (a I your position is not Trotskyist, and (b) In practice your position is the same as that of the Stalinists in Latin America. To justify his position Mr Gager would have to point out how his position differs in practice from the Stalinists', or indeed to show that the Stalinist position is the correct one. He does neither.
That we are inactive, and afraid to claim we are Trotskyists except in relation to Spartacists, is simply not true and merits no further attention.
Our letter obviously does not state our policy in relations to issuess other than guerilla war and Spartacism. Mr Gager's childish inference from this, that we therefore have no policy distinct from the Stalinists in New Zealand, is also dishonest—he well knows that this is not the case.
In conclusion, we should like to make a clear that our feelings, in dredging through the slime of Mr Gager's reply, are similar to those expressed by Trotsky, Trotsk, when in The Permanent Revolution, he regretted having to pick through the mass of Stalinist falsifications in order to reject them and re-clarify the truth. Readers may feel that our method of reply is tedious; we agree, but we reaffirm that Mr Gager's position and methods must be exposed.
Mr Gager is quite prepared to treat a serious us subject frivolously—this throws light on the nature of his sincerity and the force of his arguments. His dishonest reply to our last letter reaffirms our belief that certain of his practical positions are undeniably Stalinist.
G. A. Fyson.
M. H. Fyson.
P.S.: Our attitude to guerrila warfare was clarified in an article on Che Guevara published in Salient.
P.P.S. 30 July: I have just read the second string of falsehoods concocted by the obscurantist in reply to our original letter. Most of the points raised are disposed of in the above.
Mr Gager accuses me of not having read am Trotsky. I do not wish to develop this childish dispute over this. However, it is clear that I have read enough of Trotsky and of Trotskyist publications to see that Mr Gager sides with the Stalinists as against those fighting for socialism in Latin America. He has not yet answered this point—G.A.F.