LRP summary by Matthew Richardson:

First thing I want to do is apologize for something. We advertised a debate, and we advertised a debate to ending imperialist war. A debate over the very future of humanity. And there’s been neither a debate nor much of a discussion of the issues at hand. I put five questions to the Spartacist League and they answered none of them.

One of the great minds of the Spartacist League, Len Meyers, asked a couple of devastating questions to me to see if I could answer them. Let me answer them. First, he said since Israel took all the Palestinians’ land, and therefore we call all Israel occupied territory, why don’t we call all U.S. occupied territory, right? OK, see if you can follow this one, Len. The Native Americans were almost totally wiped out by a genocide. As much as Israel would have liked to have achieved this against the Palestinians, they haven’t. Therefore, when I go home tonight and turn on the television and watch the news, I won’t expect to see Native Americans fighting the U.S. state, demanding all of the country back. Although I will expect Palestinians to be on the news tonight, like last night, and like tomorrow night, demanding that. Do you follow that?

OK, second. I was devastated. He said, show me where Trotsky said he was no longer an assimilationist. OK. It’s a book called On the Jewish Question, Len, and an article called “Interview with Jewish Correspondents in Mexico.” You can even get it on the internet, Len. I’m trying to help you in every way possible. The quote reads like this. “During my youth I rather leaned toward the prognosis that the Jews of different countries would be assimilated and that the Jewish question would thus disappear in a quasi-automatic fashion. The historical development of the last quarter of a century has not confirmed this perspective.” They ask him again, are you denying you’re an assimilationist? Yeah, he denied he’s an assimilationist.

OK, I’ve dealt with those two devastating questions. Let me dare you to do something else. First, the Spartacist League speaker’s first thing was to call us State Department socialists. Right? You filthy liar. Then they condemn us for being prepared to be in a joint struggle with Democrats, or a joint struggle with cops. And yet he’s sharing a stage with a State Department socialist.

Do you dare me – any Spartacist League member in the room – dare me to quote Trotsky calling for a united front with cops? Come on? Come on, somebody dare me. OK, I’ll dare myself. The name of the chief of the Berlin police, his name was Grzesinsky.

“Last year I wrote that in the struggle against fascism the Communists were duty-bound to come to a practical agreement not only with the devil and his grandmother, but even with Grzesinsky. This sentence made its way through the entire Stalinist world press. Was better proof needed of the `social fascism’ of the Left Opposition? Many comrades had warned me in advance: `They are going to seize on this phrase.’ I answered them, `It has been written so they will seize on it. Just let them seize upon this hot iron and burn their fingers. The blockheads must get their lesson.’” [“The Only Road,” in The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, cited in Workers Vanguard’s Fabrications,” Proletarian Revolution No. 60.]

Here comes the lesson. The Latino Officers Association was speaking on a platform, pretending to be against racist police brutality and pretending to be against the fascists. We said, revolutionaries would get on the same stage so they didn’t have free reign to tell these lies, but to fight them and expose them for being pro-police brutality, and thus feeding the fire of fascism. Trotsky’s position. Sectarian blockheads, there’s your lesson.

I got up here and said that in the most important class struggle in this city, transit workers could have shut down the city with a strike, and that the Spartacist League has more supporters in the union than us and did nothing for a strike. Not one, but two transit workers who support the Spartacist League got up here and they didn’t even call me a liar. Have some self-respect. You did nothing. Where’s your motion for a strike? [Laughter]

You think it’s funny. Workers could have shut down the city with a strike, and you laugh. I answer every question you ask me, provide all the quotes, provide all the resources, and you don’t answer a single question that I asked of you. Shame. Shame.

Stalinism has died. It’s collapsed. The Spartacist League will join it. The working class will rise up in struggle again, as it always has, it will, and it’s beginning to. And when it rises up in struggle, it will demand more than crumbs. It will demand more than scraps of their land back that were stolen by imperialism, they’ll demand all the land back. They will demand more than a “free lunch.” They will be bound to respect no rights of their oppressors. And when they rise up, the least that they can expect to find is a revolutionary leadership willing to fight for those demands. The Spartacist League has admitted that they’re not willing to fight for them. What the workers need is a revolutionary party leadership with a strategy that can win those demands. The Spartacist League is already out of the running for even being considered by any thinking person in the room.

I was talking about any thinking people in the room. When I first came into the Trotskyist movement, I would read articles by Trotsky entitled things like, “Learn to Think,” “For Those Prepared to Think,” and I thought to myself, God, that’s pretty harsh. I mean, everybody thinks, right? Yeah? I mean, some people think wrong things, some people think right things, but they think. Oh, how naïve was I. I hadn’t come across the Stalinoid semi-cults that act like parrots, that just chirp out pre-rehearsed stuff. I spoke for 30 minutes, the Spartacist League speaker spoke for 42 and didn’t listen to a word I said. He didn’t answer any of my questions. He said, “the LRP didn’t even address the Russian question, and we’re not surprised.” Goddamn it, I apologized before I began discussing the Russian question because I would have to take so long discussing it in order to address the Spartacist League.

So I address myself to those in the room prepared to think. Revolutionary Marxism has always taught that the working class is the only class that can overthrow capitalism. The Spartacists say that counterrevolutionary Stalinism can wipe out the working class, theoretically, and with a popular front with a monarch on top – Cambodia – can make a workers’ state. Hm. How many people in the room are thinking, hm? A light bulb should go off in a few people’s minds perhaps.

The Spartacist League, in order to maintain their political positions, has to become a mockery. A circus. An embarrassment upon Marxism, and reject its most fundamental principles. Again, I apologize that we advertised that this would be a debate, it hasn’t been. We didn’t mean to mislead people, we actually hoped the Spartacist League would engage us more and put up a fight, and try to answer our questions. We apologize for that. We hope that there are, as many as possible, thinking people in the room, committed to the class struggle, who care if an organization fights for a strike when a strike can be fought for. And I expect that we’ll be able to have some productive discussions on the real meaning of Marxism, how to really build a revolutionary party, and how to really overthrow imperialism. Thank you.