Thursday, August 30, 2018

A wounded ego indeed

"Disruption and disrupters" is a real classic. Written by Arnold Petersen in 1935, it explains why every dissident member of the Socialist Labor Party must be purged from the ranks of the party faithful. Petersen must have been peculiarly apt at smoking out critics, since his tenure as National Secretary lasted from 1914 to 1969, arguably a world record of some sort. But then, the SLP was not an ordinary party, but (depending on who you believe) the only beacon of light in a mad world or...a bizarre political sect, a kind of fossil preserved from the political Precambrian. Indeed, the SLP might have been the original "Jehovah's Witnesses of the left".

Just as there is no legitimate reason to disagree with Jehovah, there is apparently no legitimate reason to disagree with the SLP and its National Secretary, either. All critics are "liars", "villains", "trouble-makers", "garbage", "out-and-out traitors" who simply have "a wounded ego" (ah, have we heard that one before!). Apart from the SLP, no true De Leonist organization can exist. The rest are "disruptive groups" and "scavenging outfits" who grow only as the dunghill grows. Apparently, they are also anarchists suffering from megalomania. Und so weiter, as Goethe would no doubt put it.

And no, I'm not particularly upset about any of it. I mean, A.P. is great fun! At one point, Petersen claims that everyone who criticizes the National Secretary (i.e. him) has an overdeveloped ego and underdeveloped mentality. Aye, every critic of Petersen is an anarchist in whom mental growth has been stunted and thus has the mentality of the savage or child.

Oh my. Megalomania or wounded ego, anyone?

Remember, this was written by the man who actually *liked* Joseph Stalin, and compared Stalin's Moscow show trials to his own fights against...disruption and disrupters! Until Stalin attacked Poland and Finland, that is, at which point the National Secretary disavowed him as an "international anarchist". I wonder if anyone in the CPUSA sent Old Joey a note about it? Probably not. I suppose Stalin didn't have a sense of humour.

Still, "Disruption and disrupters" do have a certain intrinsic interest, as an example of typical cultish mentality. I have already mentioned the charge, typical of gurus, that all critics simply have "a wounded ego". The pamphlet further states that one should never doubt the Party and its officers, that one should not respond to accusations except by calling the accuser a liar, that all expelled members should be shunned, and that all material from critics sent to the party should be sent back unopened. It's a well known fact that cultic groups consider groups with a similar program to their own to be their worst enemies. The pamphlet states this principle openly. All breakaway groups with a program similar to that of the SLP "should be treated as worse enemies than those who are in open opposition to the Party".

Stalin or Guru Abu Babu couldn't have said it better.


  1. Så AG must have been wrong. ;-) The last time I spoke to him he thought ttat the DeLeonites did not have had split and expulsions but that those who did not like it just left. He thought the same goes for Brittisk SPGB. And, to be fair, I have always thought that too.

  2. SPGB did have a few splits also, but I suspect their group was much more democratic and "soft" than the SLP. Ironically, SLP after Petersen´s death expelled his hard-line supporters...and then changed back to more dogmatic positions and expelled some of the reformers!