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Prometheus Research Series 6 

Selected Speeches and Writings 
in Honor of Three Women Leaders 


International Communist League 
(Fourth Internationalist) 

Martha Phillips 

Susan Adams 

Elizabeth King Robertson 

I^ey" Prometheus Research Library 

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March 2007 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 

Selected Speeches and Writings 
in Honor of Three Women Leaders 


International Communist League 
(Fourth Internationalist) 

Martha Phillips 

Susan Adams 

Elizabeth King Robertson 

Prometheus Research Library 

New York, New York 

March 2007 

Cover: Prometheus graphic 
from a woodcut by Fritz Brosius 

ISBN 0-9633828-9-6 

Prometheus Research Series is published by 
Spartacist Publishing Co., Box 1377 GPO, New York, NY 10116 

Second Printing, July 2007 

Dedicated to the Comrades of the 

International Communist League 

(Fourth Internationalist) 

Farewell speech by James P. Cannon on 26 December 1943 

before beginning prison term on charges of "seditious conspiracy" 

for his opposition to U.S. imperialism in World War II. 

"Our party is built on correct ideas and is therefore indestructible. 
But, in addition to that, I believe there is in this party of ours an 
intangible power which reinforces the power of its ideas. That is 
the spirit of the party — its comradeship, its solidarity. You know 
the word comrade has been so long abused and so badly defiled 
by self-seekers and pretenders that honest people sometimes 
shrink from using the word any more. But in the movement that 
has been created under the inspiration of Trotsky, with his 
example always before us, the word comrade has acquired a new, 
fresh meaning that animates the members of our movement not 
only in their political work in the class struggle, but also in all 
their daily lives and associations with each other. It is not 
anymore, not with us, a formal and conventional word, but a 
bond of unity and solidarity. Our comrades are devoted to each 
other and trust each other. That is an intangible source of power 
that will yield great results in the days to come." 

— The Militant, 8 January 1944 

Graphic from /;/ Memoriam to the Fighters of the Proletarian Revolution. Who Died in 1917-1921 
RKP(b) CC Department for the Study of the History of the October Revolution and the RKP(b) (Moscow- Leningrad: Gosizdat, 1925) 

Table of Contents 

Introduction 4 

Martha Phillips 

In Honor of Our Slain Comrade Martha Phillips (Workers Vanguard No. 546, 6 March 1992) 8 

Remarks by Jim Robertson at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 22 February 1992 8 

Letter by Moscow Station of International Communist League, 22 February 1992 9 

Remarks by George Foster at New York Memorial Meeting, 23 February 1992 11 

Letter by Sam Hunt, 14 February 1992 13 

A Personal Appreciation of Martha by Liz Gordon, 15 February 1992 16 

Remarks by Alison Spencer at New York Memorial Meeting, 23 February 1992 19 

Remarks by Gene Herson at New York Memorial Meeting, 23 February 1992 21 

Remarks by Al Nelson at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 22 February 1992 22 

Remarks by Diana Coleman at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 22 February 1992 25 

Remarks by Jon Branche at Highgate Cemetery Memorial for Martha Phillips, 15 February 1992 27 

Remarks by Max Schiitz at Friedrichsfelde Monument Memorial for Martha Phillips, 

Berlin, 16 February 1992 29 

Tidewater Labor Black League Member's Message to New York Memorial for Martha Phillips, 

23 February 1992 29 

Some Memories of Martha by Ann Pearson [undated] 30 

Statement by Esteban Volkov, Grandson of Leon Trotsky: "Martha Phillips, a Revolutionary Hero," 

27 April 1992 32 

Statement of Split from Leninist Faction, 13 August 1972 33 

Susan Adams 

Susan Adams, 1948-2001 (Workers Vanguard No. 752, 16 February 2001) 40 

Remarks by Helene Brosius at New York Memorial Meeting, 3 March 2001 41 

Remarks by Bruce Anwar at New York Memorial Meeting, 3 March 2001 45 

Remarks by Tom Adams at New York Memorial Meeting, 3 March 2001 46 

Remarks by Francois Diacono at New York Memorial Meeting, 3 March 2001 47 

Remarks by Paul Costan at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 3 March 2001 48 

Remarks by Jan Blok at Berlin Memorial Meeting, 24 February 2001 49 

Remarks by Eibhlin McDonald at Paris Memorial for Susan, 3 March 2001 53 

Lega Trotskista d'ltalia Letter on Susan [undated] 54 

Letter by Herbert, Berlin, 24 February 2001 55 

Letter by Jeanne, Tokyo, 7 February 2001 57 

Remarks by Sam Kaehler at New York Memorial Meeting, 3 March 2001 58 

Application for Membership in the Spartacist League by Susan Adams, 15 December 1971 59 

Elizabeth King Robertson 

Elizabeth King Robertson, 1951-2005 (Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 59, Spring 2006) ... 66 

Remarks by George Foster at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 20 November 2005 68 

Remarks by Amy Rath at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 20 November 2005 71 

Remarks by Joseph Seymour at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 20 November 2005 73 

Remarks by Emily Turnbull at Bay Area Memorial Meeting, 20 November 2005 75 

Remarks by Amanda Cross at New York Memorial Meeting, 12 November 2005 77 

Letter by G. Bogle, 22 October 2005 78 

Letter to Lizzy by Laura, 10 October 2005 79 

Remarks by Lital Singer at New York Memorial Meeting, 12 November 2005 79 

Letter by Janis Gerrard, Berlin, 19 October 2005 80 

Letter from Sri Lankan Comrades, 9 November 2005 81 

Lizzy's Impact on Los Angeles by Kathy Finnegan on Behalf of the L.A. Local, 5 November 2005 81 

Tribute to Comrade Lizzy by Tokyo Comrades, 14 October 2005 82 

Application for Membership in the Spartacist League by Elizabeth King, 19 July 1974 83 


A Guide to Further Reading 88 


Martha Phillips, Susan Adams, and Elizabeth King 
Robertson were cherished comrades whose lives 
were tragically cut short when they were in their 
prime as revolutionary communist leaders. We remem- 
ber them in this Prometheus Research Series bul- 
letin because there is a great deal to be learned from 
their purposeful lives. Here, memory is a political 
act. Too often, eulogies tilt toward hagiographies, 
smoothing out foibles to elevate mortals to mytho- 
logical stature. Saints don't lead proletarian social- 
ist revolutions. Exceptional people dedicated to a 
political purpose do: people like Martha Phillips, 
Susan Adams, and Elizabeth King Robertson. 

This bulletin includes only a selection from the 
international outpouring of speeches and letters 
about Martha Phillips, Susan Adams, and Elizabeth 
Robertson. A guide to further reading about them, 
and to articles written by them, is included as an 

These three women were top cadre of the Inter- 
national Communist League (Fourth International- 
ist), i.e., the ICL. That they awakened to political 
consciousness through struggles against the Ameri- 
can imperialist war in Vietnam, the struggle for 
black freedom, and for women's rights is not in 
itself so unusual for women of their generation. 
What is remarkable and atypical of their generation, 
however, is that they remained steadfast in their 
commitment to proletarian revolution, long after 
most radicals of that era made peace with the capi- 
talist order and wrote off revolutionary politics as 
indiscretions of youth in heady times. 

What Friedrich Engels said at the funeral of 
his comrade Karl Marx ably describes what ani- 
mated Martha Phillips, Susan Adams, and Elizabeth 

"For Marx was above all else a revolutionist. His real mis- 
sion in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to 
the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state insti- 
tutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to 
the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was 
the first to make conscious of its own positions and its 
needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. 
Fighting was his element. " 

The chronicle presented here of the lives of 
these women, as told through tributes by their 
closest comrades, is also a powerful and anecdotal 
narrative of the political history of the Spartacist 
League/ICL at crucial turning points in world his- 
tory. All three women gave their utmost to build 

the Leninist-Trotskyist party necessary to lead the 
proletariat to victory. Our party's establishment of 
trade-union fractions, our international extension, 
founding of a youth organization, codifying Lenin- 
ist organizational norms, training new cadre, 
selecting and testing a leadership were in no small 
measure the work of these three women. 

The interrelation of the individual with objective 
forces in history is highlighted in the role these 
women played in the ICL's fight to defend and 
extend the October Revolution. Martha Phillips was 
a leader in the ICL's fight to reimplant the authen- 
tic history and program of Lenin and Trotsky's 
Bolshevik Party in the Soviet Union. Martha was 
murdered at her post in Moscow in February 1992. 
The ICL waged an international campaign to press 
for an investigation into this heinous crime, but it 
remains unsolved. 

Susan Adams, who played a leading role in the 
ICL's American section and then the French sec- 
tion, picked up the banner and continued the fight 
to build the nucleus of a Trotskyist party in Russia, 
after the capitalist counterrevolution had rolled 
back the gains of the October 1917 Russian Revo- 
lution. Trotsky described the Soviet Union under 
Stalinist rule as a degenerated workers state — 
despite the usurpation of political power by a 
bureaucracy, the economic benefits of collectiviza- 
tion of industry remained. The destruction of the 
Soviet Union was a huge blow to the international 
working class. Political consciousness was hurled 
back, while triumphant capitalist rulers push the lie 
that "communism is dead." Susan Adams' work is 
an affirmation that communism lives in the prole- 
tarian struggle against racist, capitalist exploitation 
around the world. 

Our own party was not immune to the reac- 
tionary pressures of the political period. Elizabeth 
Robertson played a leading role in our struggle 
to reconstruct a badly damaged party, including 
through extraordinary, unsparing examination of 
her own role — a capacity rarely seen in any walk 
of life. In pushing herself, when she was already 
very ill, Lizzy set an example for political account- 
ability of every party cadre. Her careful, thought- 
ful, well-researched work, codified in the ICL's 
international organizational rules and guidelines, is 
vital in the continual struggle to build a democratic- 
centralist international that Lenin and Trotsky 

would recognize as their own. 

An examination of the lives and work of Martha 
Phillips, Susan Adams, and Elizabeth Robertson is 
rich in political lessons for all our comrades, and 
especially the youth, who carry a special responsi- 
bility in the party-wide struggle for revolutionary 
continuity. Trotsky addressed his remarks to the 
youth when assessing the meaning of the loss of his 
comrade Kote Tsintsadze: 

"The Communist parties in the West have not yet 
brought up fighters of Tsintsadze's type. This is their 
besetting weakness, determined by historical reasons 
but nonetheless a weakness. The Left Opposition in the 
Western countries is not an exception in this respect and 
it must well take note of it. 

"Especially for the Opposition youth, the example of 
Tsintsadze can and should serve as a lesson. Tsintsadze 
was the living negation of any kind of political 

careerism, that is, the inclination to sacrifice principles, 
ideas, and tasks of the cause for personal ends. This 
does not in the least rule out justified revolutionary 
ambition. No, political ambition plays a very important 
part in the struggle. But the revolutionary begins where 
personal ambition is fully and wholly subordinated to 
the service of a great idea, voluntarily submitting to and 
merging with it. Flirtation with ideas or dilettante dab- 
bling with them for personal advantage is what 
Tsintsadze pitilessly condemned both through his life 
and his death. His was the ambition of unshakable revo- 
lutionary loyalty. It should serve as a lesson to the prole- 
tarian youth." 

— "At the Fresh Grave of Kote Tsintsadze," 
7 January 1931 
We believe Trotsky would have recognized these 
three women as comrades of the caliber of Kote 

— Prometheus Research Library Staff 

Workers Vanguard 

Martha Phillips 


In Honor of Our 
Slain Comrade Martha Phillips 

Our comrade Martha Phillips was murdered at her 
post in Moscow on February 9. A lifelong communist 
and senior cadre of the Spartacist League, Martha 
was only 43 years old at the time of her death. 

As a college student in Madison, Wisconsin, 
Martha was radicalized by the Vietnam War. She be- 
came a leader of a left opposition in the Socialist 
Workers Party and was instrumental in leading sev- 
eral of her comrades to fuse with the SL in Novem- 
ber 1972. 

Martha spent the bulk of her political life in the 
Bay Area. A single mother of a handicapped child 
whom she dearly loved, Martha overcame pressing 
personal problems to give her best as an outstand- 
ing professional revolutionist. Her personal compas- 
sion, rigorous intellect, and power as a party fight- 
er and public spokesman shaped our lives and work. 

An effective recruiter and party educator, Martha 

took a special interest in youth work. A lifelong 
fighter for women's liberation, she was passionate 
and thoughtful on all questions of special oppres- 
sion. Martha was a founder of the Bay Area Labor 
Black League and an active campaigner for the Par- 
tisan Defense Committee. She was our candidate in 
the 1983 elections for the Oakland City Council. 

Through enormous effort, Martha learned Rus- 
sian and got a job in Moscow teaching English. She 
led the International Communist League's fight to 
reimplant the revolutionary program of Lenin and 
Trotsky in the land of its birth. Standing on the front 
lines of the urgent fight against counterrevolution, 
Martha fought with confidence and courage to bring 
to the Soviet working people the internationalist 
program of the October Revolution of 1917. 

— reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 546, 
6 March 1992 

Remarks by Jim Robertson 
at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

22 February 1992 

I'm speaking because I'm going to be dealing 
with some hard matters. Somebody murdered her. 
And other comrades will fill out her qualities of 
personality and comradeship. 

When she first died, I reacted, I think like all of us, 
in thinking about her over the many years that I'd 
known her, and worked with her and cared for her. 
And then because I'm a consultant on our Russian 
work, and there was a problem even about getting 
an autopsy to prove that she was murdered, I got 
involved in the aftermath of Martha's death. And that 
did something to me that doesn't usually happen. 
When comrades die, I've got this uncontrollable feel- 
ing that they've just gone away and I won't see them 
anymore. But I've been made to realize that Martha 
not only died but was murdered. And one cannot do 
much from 7,000 miles away, but I've been attempt- 
ing to discharge my responsibilities in this regard. So 
this is the heavy stuff. 

Well, by way of background, after we sued the FBI 

in 1983 they swore that they were going to stay off 
our backs. Around 1981 the Wall Street Journal 
carried an editorial that said "We're going to get 
you" for objecting to Lech Walesa and Solidarnosc. 
Around the same time the leader of our German sec- 
tion was stabbed in the back with the intent to kill 
him by kill-crazed Afghan rightists in Frankfurt am 
Main. And nothing much else happened. But it 
appears that the American bourgeoisie is very tender 
toward the East, although I believe they're mainly in 
competition with the German capitalist class. 

Now this is just background. I have no links 
between what I've just said and the murder of Mar- 
tha Phillips. And I would remind everyone that, 
while history is not a conspiracy the way Henry 
Ford and the fascists think, that there are conspira- 
cies in history. So naturally in a very tender area of 
work, working not only in Moscow but in six other 
Soviet cities, she was in an exposed position. 

The personal appreciations that I have read that 


I thought best caught and covered the qualities of 
Martha Ann Phillips as a human being, a family 
member, a friend, a lover and a comrade, are con- 
tained in the appreciations that were written by 
Sam and by Liz, and I certainly recommend those. 
It was along those lines that I had intended to 
speak, rather than on these other subjects. 

Now, we have a small headquarters in Moscow 
station, and the person who lived there left the 
country for a while, and Martha who'd been quite 
ill had moved in there, and she was on the road to 
recovery, both according to her medical tests and 
her own subjective feelings. And it is only for that 
reason that when we heard that she was found 
peacefully dead we asked for an autopsy, simply 
because we did not understand if she was getting 
well why she might have died. We repeated that 
request, while the State Department told her family 
that Russians do messy autopsies and advised 
against it. However, the Moscow militia, the local 
police force, ultimately did perform an autopsy, 
which is normally a matter of routine, and found 
out that Martha had both been strangled and 
stabbed. It was murder. When it first became 
known that Martha had been murdered, the militia 
began, rather late, a criminal investigation — sealing 
the apartment, interrogating witnesses, etc. And 
the circumstances are really quite obscure to us. 
Comrades had been with her until 11 o'clock the 
night before. In the apartment, which had a room 
with an office in it, there was an unopened bot- 
tle of vodka. Comrades went back at 8 o'clock in 
the morning because there was a demonstration of 
some kind. Martha was still supposed to be too sick 
to participate in it, even though she very badly 

wanted to because she was feeling better. This bot- 
tle of vodka had been ripped open in an unusual 
way, unlike the way that you usually go about it. 
She was lying in bed apparently peacefully dead. 

And I do not have any basis now to speculate. 
It could have been somebody within our milieu 
for personal or provocateur reasons. We've had 
altercations with Pamyat. The Kuzbass region inde- 
pendent mine workers union is run straight out of 
Washington by a Russian fascist and the CIA; we 
intervened and got in their way [see "Soviet Min- 
ers Strike Amid Perestroika Turmoil," WV No. 522, 
15 March 1991]. There are many other possibilities. 
Moscow is hardly New York — that is, you don't get 
knifed in the street in Moscow, although increas- 
ingly with impoverishment you can get robbed. But 
this was not that kind of murder at all. And the 
plain truth is, we do not know. 

But we are pursuing this. Things like lawyers and 
private investigators are fairly anomalous in the 
past 40 or 50 years in the Soviet Union, but they do 
exist and we are employing them. We are seeking to 
work with the militia, on the assumption that they 
are not simply interested in a witchhunt against 
our organization. We've been politically extremely 
obtrusive because we are the Trotskyists, the peo- 
ple who are against Yeltsin and capitalist restora- 
tion. So this naturally makes one suspicious. But I 
urge the comrades not to drift over into paranoia. 
Let's get some more evidence first if we can. 

But I do know one thing, that is that Martha Phil- 
lips died at her post, doing what she wanted to do 
and what she was supposed to do in the effort to 
liberate the Russian and international working 
class. And that's the truth. 

Letter by Moscow Station 
of International Communist League 

Moscow, 22 February 1992 
Dear Comrades, 

On Wednesday 19 February, we went to the grave 
of Adolf Joffe at Novodevichy cemetery to hold a 
brief private memorial for Martha. We badly needed 
time together to say our goodbyes away from the 
incessant tension of the investigation and the persis- 
tent, necessary press of picking up the pieces of the 
work here and going forward. With us were Ludmilla 
who was interviewed in W&R and had been very spe- 
cial to Martha, and Ludmilla's husband. 

We had already tried to do this earlier in the 

week, immediately after the Sunday Lenin Museum 
demonstration, our first public intervention after 
Martha's death. We had to abort this when we came 
face to face with a demonstration, at the gates of 
Novodevichy, of the core of the Anpilov group with 
the fascists and monarchists of Nevzorov. We re- 
fused to enter Novodevichy to remember and honor 
Martha at a time that the hammer and sickle was fly- 
ing side by side with fascist flags. 

In the freezing cold we placed 20 red carnations 
at the base of Joffe's snow-covered headstone, one 
for each year Martha was a member of the iSt/ICL. 


Rachel then read from Isaac Deutscher's The Prophet 
Unarmed the description of 19 November 1927 
when, in his last public appearance in the Soviet 
Union, Trotsky led the funeral procession to bury his 
comrade. Joffe's grave site was a meaningful place to 
Martha. We reaffirmed by this action our apprecia- 
tion for Joffe's admonishment in his farewell let- 
ter to Trotsky, that he must never again waver or 
compromise, that he must stand "unbending and 
unyielding" for the rest of his life. And Trotsky did. 

We read the words Trotsky spoke then, that 
Joffe's life "should serve as a model to those who 
are left behind. The struggle goes on. Everyone 
remains at his post. Let nobody leave." 

Comrades spoke in turn of their memories of 
Martha, of working with her and learning, tremen- 
dously, from her, and emphasized what has been 
recognized throughout our International: that Mar- 
tha was out front running point in the struggle to 
forge the party to lead the Soviet workers political 
revolution which every day becomes more urgently 

Saying goodbye to Martha and her daily dose of 
difficulties, the absurd and the sublime, will be a 
longtime thing. Thinking of Martha's work here 
evokes many memories. Various types of people are 
drawn to our internationalism, but to put it into 
action, as Martha did, demanded very special 
qualities. She had a special combination of political 
sharpness and hardness along with a unique per- 
sonal "sympatichnaya" quality. 

She learned a new, hellishly difficult language. 
Among other things, Martha was responsible for 
our maintaining connections with contacts and cor- 
respondence with readers. There is little romanti- 
cism in a woman in her forties mailing out a dozen 
boxes in a Soviet post office — putting that Russian 
language to use — in order to threaten, plead and 
exhort the recalcitrant machine to distribute Trot- 
skyist literature across the Soviet Union. You really 
have to picture Hieronymus Bosch's panel of Hell 
to capture the bizarre absurdities Martha tangled 
with in carrying out such daily party tasks amid the 
ruins of Stalinism. As was often the case, by the 

time Martha got through cajoling and prodding, 
someone had become a friend, and was now some- 
how recruited to somehow helping the ICL send 
out a mailing, get a room, etc. That was a real tal- 
ent she had. No matter how much hell Martha went 
through to get things done, she always knew how 
to revel in laughter at the end of the day. 

That's one memory that's hard to accept as a 
memory and not a daily reality. But far more pre- 
cious a memory is her trembling indignation, her 
intolerance for blurring of political principle, and 
her ability to seize initiative when an opening 
showed itself. When Martha spoke to the Moscow 
Workers Congress, she had only begun to show 
what kind of a role she could have played further 
down the road. Maybe that was noticed by enemies 

To our contacts and recruits, Martha was not 
simply a representative of our program, she was an 
example of what a professional revolutionary is. 
After so many years of plodding in a Stalinist swamp 
of liars and political horsetraders, our contacts 
came closer to us because they wanted to be a little 
more like what they saw in Martha. Martha over- 
came many obstacles, personal as well, to be here, 
she was and now will always be a model for youth 
who want to take on the world. 

Martha sacrificed a lot to be here, and she felt it 
acutely. Comrades should know that she drew a 
great deal of joy in receiving your letters. 

It's a small example of the discrepancy between 
the means at our disposal and the tasks before us, 
but it's still felt: Martha, the communist fighter, 
really should have been buried with full military 
honors. Our comrade Martha was never one to 
bend or back down in the face of danger. We will 
not, we cannot, dishonor the example of Martha 
and do less. The cause that Martha led here will go 
forward: the comrades of Moscow Station are com- 
mitted that the Soviet section of the ICL will be 
forged. When the Soviet proletariat rises to its full 
height, they will remember Martha Phillips who 
came in the hour of danger and died at her post. 
Moscow Station, ICL 


Remarks by George Foster at New York Memorial Meeting 

23 February 1992 

We are here to honor our comrade and dear 
friend Martha Phillips who fell at her post in Moscow 
on 9 February 1992 fighting for the program of Lenin 
and Trotsky. This is a very heavy blow for the Inter- 
national Communist League, and her death is a very 
bitter one for our cadre. Martha was foully murdered 
under suspicious circumstances and there is, in addi- 
tion to our keenly felt grief, a deep anger in the party 
against whoever did this cowardly and dirty deed. 

Martha was a Trotskyist to the marrow of her 
bones and saw herself, very rightly, as standing in 
the tradition of pioneer American Trotskyist James 
P Cannon. She more than anyone was responsible 
for the efforts of the ICL to forge an embryonic 
Soviet section. That was her greatest contribution 
to the proletarian struggle, and one we are deter- 
mined to see through to its successful conclusion. 
The figure of Martha will live in the memory of the 
workers and youth who will take up the banner of 
proletarian emancipation, of revolutionary Marxist 
internationalism, and she will be remembered by 
future generations as one of those who reforged 
the party of Lenin and Trotsky in the land of its 
birth. That is her real legacy, and we will do her 
honor by carrying this task forward. 

I first met Martha in the fall of 1971 when I and 
two other comrades contacted her and her husband 
David following an antiwar demonstration in Wash- 
ington, D.C. They lived in a very poor area of the city 
near the Capitol building. Martha in particular cor- 
nered me and spent hours asking questions about 
the Near East, the 67 Arab-Israeli war and our attitude 
toward Israel and the Palestinians. She and David had 
been to Israel in 1969 and were repelled by the 
realities of the Zionist state, with its rampant anti- 
Arab racism and its deep-rooted male chauvinism. 

By the time I met her again, in February in Bos- 
ton, she and David were already firmly committed 
to the Spartacist League. As most of you know, the 
left wing of the Leninist Faction resigned from 
the SWP/YSA [Socialist Workers Party/Young Social- 
ist Alliance] in August 1972 and fused with the SL 
shortly afterwards. From that point onward Martha 
was one of the key cadres of the Spartacist League. 

I didn't see much of Martha over the next few 
years — she was in California and I was in Boston 
and New York. But somehow we became friends. 
Martha had a knack for making friends very quickly 
and rewarded her friends with a deep loyalty and 
warm and unselfish affection. 

Martha did a tour of duty in Los Angeles as a local 

organizer. As many of you are aware, organization was 
not her strong point, but she carried off the assign- 
ment with good humor and dedication. She certain- 
ly kept the branch active! In the summer of 1974 
she took a leave from the L.A. local to attend a Euro- 
pean summer camp organized by the international 
Spartacist tendency and played an important role in 
the discussions held there. It was at this camp that 
we presented and endorsed the "Declaration for the 
Organizing of an International Trotskyist Tendency." 

I moved to the Bay Area in May 1975 and over 
the next 16 years Martha became a truly close 
friend and one of the four comrades that were the 
core of our district leadership. 

How do you encapsulate this experience and con- 
vey a sense of this truly exceptional woman? I don't 
find it easy. I suppose what stands out most in 
my mind is Martha's passionate commitment to 
proletarian revolution, which was modulated and 
informed by a very fine intellect, and an absolutely 
infectious, acute and broad-gauged sense of humor. 
Martha cared. She hated all oppression and back- 
wardness, but especially racism in any manifestation. 

I think this shines through in her work in the Bay 
Area, in contacting and training youth, in her tire- 
less work in the PDC and her key role in the Bay 
Area LBL [Labor Black League for Social Defense]. 
In every area of party work she made her presence 
felt — and her energy was truly amazing for some- 
one not possessed of a robust constitution. The 
woman often ran on sheer willpower and had to be 
protected from herself. Through that sheer power 
of her will and her wholehearted commitment, 
Martha was, by no intent of her own, a role model 
for the younger comrades and especially women in 
the party. 

Other traits stand out. She was an avid student 
and teacher of Marxism. When she would get a day 
off, which wasn't often, she would frequently go to 
one of the local libraries or the Hoover Institution 
at Stanford, to prowl through the stacks looking for 
archival material on the history of the communist 
movement. She pushed very hard for educational 
work, internally as well as externally. Some of the 
classes she gave were very powerful and I hope that 
these can find their way into print. Martha was one 
of the most compulsively political people I've 
known — but she had not a shred of pedantry or 
snobbery about her. She hated the cant and hypoc- 
risy of academia with a passion. 

Certainly her early factional experience fighting 


for Trotskyism in the reformist SWP gave her an 
unerring ability to spot and skewer all the myriad 
varieties of reformist and centrist phonies pretend- 
ing to be Trotskyists. Martha excelled at "oppo- 
nents work" and just got better as time went by. 

Martha was also a very powerful public speaker 
and agitator, one of the few comrades who had the 
flair to be a real mass leader. And she put this talent 
to use whenever she could. 

In fact, especially in the early days, her appetite 
to launch a campaign at the drop of a hat over 
some incident that outraged her keen sense of jus- 
tice led her to a lot of sharp conflicts with the rest 
of us. I can still see her coming into the office fum- 
ing over some new reactionary atrocity, and launch- 
ing into a breathless 20-minute exposition laying 
out how we had to go on a full mobilization to 
combat this outrage. Trembling with anger, her fists 
clenched, she would brook no opposition. Usually 
it took a while to sort out, but she was right often 
enough that comrades listened carefully. 

Along with this fierce determination went an 
equally remarkable sense of humor. Martha had a 
knack for getting into and surviving more unlikely 
and madcap misadventures and escapades in a year 
than most people would in a decade. Martha was a 
very adventurous person. I remember strongly advis- 
ing her not to go camping on Mount St. Helens just 
a few days before it erupted. 

But episodes of humor aside, she did not have 
an easy life. From an early age she was a real rebel 
who scoffed at the reactionary conventions of bour- 
geois society, rejecting a comfortable middle-class 
existence to throw her lot in with the working class. 
She turned her back on acting though she was 
extremely talented and had every chance of pursu- 
ing a serious career in the theater. She was the 
mother of a handicapped child, often having to 
cope alone with the enormous difficulties of seeing 
that he had the best care she could obtain. She 
loved her son Lael very deeply, and shared in his 
triumphs and also suffered his pains. 

In her thirties she entered a difficult apprentice- 
ship in the printing trades. She became a journey- 
man, but only by fighting tooth and nail against 
squeezing bosses and also a goodly number of back- 
ward male-chauvinist coworkers who resented 
a woman working in a "man's trade." In the end Mar- 
tha not only persevered, but came to be a respected 
worker, indispensable because she alone was able to 
master some of the very complex computer codes 
used by the newest machines in her shop. 

In September of 1987 she began studying Rus- 
sian. Some of us were not sanguine about her 
chances to make significant progress. But she sur- 

prised everyone. Through sheer will she mastered 
enough Russian to study in the USSR. There, 
despite very difficult conditions and a heavy sched- 
ule of political activity, she passed her courses bril- 
liantly and was able to obtain a job as a teacher. 

Martha certainly had her foibles as we all do, but 
they were the matrix called personality that high- 
lighted her very real and rare talents as a pro- 
fessional revolutionary. I really hope we made her 
life a little easier with our company and friendship. 
She certainly brought a lot of light and laughter 
into ours. 

She went into her assignment in the USSR with 
her eyes wide open and at great personal sacrifice, 
because she knew it was important to the workers 
of the world. It was very clear to her and to all of us 
that the homeland of the October Revolution is in 
mortal danger. I remember the two of us bitterly 
joking that maybe she could sell her story to the 
bourgeois press — the only Jew on the entire planet 
emigrating to the USSR in 1991. 

But I also remember an account of how her inter- 
vention wrecked a Grantite meeting in Moscow. Here 
was Moscow, in the grip of a galloping attempt to 
consolidate a counterrevolutionary capitalist regime. 
And here were these trade-union cretins blathering 
along in a sub-economist vein, when Martha gets up 
and directly counterposes the need to smash the 
Yeltsin-Bush counterrevolution, pointing out that 
these selfsame economists stood with Yeltsin on 
the August barricades. It brought the house down. 
Things look different from Moscow than from a 
Labour Party constituency club in London. 

Martha was well aware of the dangers she faced. 
But I think she would feel a bit like Martin Luther, 
who said: "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise." 
More dialectically, Engels remarked, "Freedom is 
the recognition of necessity." 

As L. D. Trotsky noted in "At the Fresh Grave of 
Kote Tsintsadze," 7 January 1931: 

"It took altogether extraordinary conditions like czar- 
ism, illegality, prison, and deportation, many years of 
struggle against the Mensheviks, and especially the expe- 
rience of three revolutions to produce fighters like Kote 

"The Communist parties in the West have not yet 
brought up fighters of Tsintsadze's type. This is their 
besetting weakness, determined by historical reasons 
but nonetheless a weakness. The Left Opposition in the 
Western countries is not an exception in this respect and 
it must well take note of it." 

Over two decades of experience has indeed revealed 
no lack of weak or accidental elements drawn tem- 
porarily to our tendency. But Martha Phillips was 
not one of these. I believe she was made of the 
same red cloth as Kote Tsintsadze. 


Letter by Sam Hunt 

14 February 1992 

A comrade of the International Communist 
League for many years, in the U.S., Japan, and 
South Africa. Sam Hunt died on 2 June 2006. An 
obituary is printed in Workers Vanguard No. 873, 
7 July 2006. 

Dear Comrades, 

Once again we are faced with the heart-wrenching 
experience of losing a comrade, in this case Martha, 
my oldest political and personal friend and someone 
who was irreplaceably near and dear to me. As 
painful as this must be we need to remember our 
comrades' lives and work; both personally and 
politically Martha was one of a kind, and I still find 
it hard to believe that she is gone. Life has its cruel 
moments, and this is one of them, excruciatingly so. 
If I had to put a title on this letter I would call it 
"From Madison to Moscow" because that would 
politically encapsulate Martha's all too short life. 

I first met Martha in the spring of 1970 when we 
both joined the YSA [Young Socialist Alliance] in 
Madison, Wisconsin. The central issue of the day, but 
by no means the only one, was the Vietnam War. 
Martha was a student at the University of Wisconsin, 
21 or 22 years old, and just as beautiful and vivacious 
as we all knew her, but even more so in her youth. 
I was told that she was an aspiring actress, was quite 
good, but gave this up to be a communist, and hav- 
ing made this decision I don't think she ever looked 
back. I've always remembered her as very serious, 
dedicated and an extremely hard worker. I believe 
that Martha, and a few others like myself, took the 
SWP of 1970 as good coin, i.e., this was still the party 
of Cannon and the Russian Revolution. Well, we 
were in for a rude awakening, but threw ourselves 
into the work. Madison was a political hot spot at the 
time and there were countless rallies, marches, sit- 
ins, leafleting of induction centers and zillions of 
organizing meetings to attend. The internal life of 
the YSA was just as fast-paced and Martha, to no 
one's surprise, was in the thick of all this activity. 

At first we believed our party elders (not so old — 
the Barnes generation). And the reformist, social- 
patriotic line of the "peaceful/legal" SWP was given 
a leftist veneer by the cynical Mandelite types that led 
the local organization in Madison. Our party head- 
quarters, the Che Guevara Movement Center on 
Gilman Street, was certainly a radical-looking place. 
Pictures of Fidel and Che and posters on the Mid- 
dle East, with slogans something like "Revolution 
until Death," were far more prominent than por- 

traits of Lenin and Trotsky. But there was an excel- 
lent selection of basic Marxist works available. 
Believing this was a proletarian revolutionary party, 
the more serious younger members set about the 
task of educating ourselves in the Marxist classics. 
Martha was devouring Lenin and Trotsky at the time 
and 1 remember the first educational I heard her give 
was on Lenin's 1916 work Imperialism, and she had 
been a member probably not much more than six 
months. She was a very smart woman! 

The outpouring of opposition to U.S. imperial- 
ism's dirty, genocidal war against the Vietnamese 
was quite massive, as older comrades know. In the 
student enclave of Madison, the SWP-led pop-front 
demos would draw 20,000, 30,000 or even 50,000 
people on occasion. The leftist youth, like Martha, 
would argue that these demonstrations must be 
"peaceful and legal" because we were for prole- 
tarian revolution and the job of the antiwar move- 
ment was not to trash parking meters, but rather to 
organize the social power of the proletariat that 
could shut down the war machine. This was the 
theme of public speeches we gave at the time. We 
were enmeshed in the popular front, for sure, but 
we were trying to give a Mandelite left face to this 
work. OK — the Red University — well, we took a 
building on the Madison campus after Nixon began 
bombing North Vietnam again — our tactics were 
based on the Flint sit-down strike. A diversion was 
created to draw the cops away from our main tar- 
get and then we moved in. 

Another example: the feminist movement was in 
full swing and a group called "Women's Action 
Movement" (WAM) was organized. It was male- 
exclusionist, as the SWP was capitulating all the way 
to bourgeois feminism (and so was Mandel), but the 
leftists in the branch tried once again to push as radi- 
cal a line as possible. The SWP's line at that time was 
for the "right to choose" but this WAM group had 
regular educationals where YSA speakers gave pres- 
entations on topics such as Engels' The Origin of the 
Family, Private Property, and the State and we 
fought for free 24-hour child care and free abortion 
on demand. The YSA were central leaders in the 
Madison women's movement, and I believe the two 
main leaders of this work were Martha Q., the wife 
of the major Madison SWP leader Pat Q., and the 
young firebrand, Martha Phillips. 

By this time (and we're talking here about 
months, not years) Martha was on the local execu- 
tive committee. David, Martha's husband at the time, 


and Ruth (my first wife) and Martha and I were part 
of the younger members coming forward, and the 
four of us became close friends, and at various times, 
served on the Madison YSA exec. The internal politi- 
cal life was tumultuous, numerous fights broke out 
but politically, few were clarifying. That's not to say 
there were not some principled positions taken. I 
remember one fight in particular that Martha played 
a strong role in. In one of the feminist demonstra- 
tions at that time a number of YSA women were glee- 
fully chanting, along with the pro-NOW types, 
"Power to the Sisters, Take It from the Misters!" and 
we had a no-holds-barred fight about this inside 
the Madison YSA. Martha, along with others, fought 
tooth and nail that this chant was a fundamental 
departure from the Marxist understanding that the 
divisions in capitalist society are along class, not 
sex lines. 

We worked our asses off, but it was for the wrong 
program; the Mandelite left veneer was not the road 
to revolution. At first we were drawn to the Prole- 
tarian Orientation Tendency (POT), which simply 
said we should take the SWP's reformist program 
and take it to the workers. And we first thought: 
"Well, that sounds good. If we're a party of the 
American proletariat how come there's no workers 
in the party? How come we don't do factory sales?" 

But that wasn't the point. The problem with the 
SWP was its program, not its orientation. The SWP 
would later bring its reformist program into the 
unions under the guise of "talking socialism." The 
POT not only refused to fight the pop-front line 
on the Vietnam War, but also agreed with the SWP 
majority on the question of black nationalism and 

I think the Vietnam War was the issue that we had 
to break through on — fighting for a class line on the 
Vietnam War — how "our boys" were the Vietnamese. 
One of the greatest moments of my life, and I'm sure 
for Martha, was to see the CIA clinging to the chop- 
pers being airlifted out of Saigon. 

We came to the understanding that it was the 
program of the SWP that was wrong. We were in the 
wrong organization. We wanted to fight; these peo- 
ple were in the way 

It was this emerging fight, against the reformist 
program of the SWP, where Martha really came for- 
ward as a political leader. The Madison YSA was 
never allowed to become an SWP party branch (we 
were always in hot water with the N.O.) and to con- 
tinue the internal fight we had to move to cities with 
a party organization. So we packed up and went; 
Martha and Dave moved to D.C. and I wound up 
in Milwaukee. She became a central leader of this 
faction from its inception, and along with David 

at that time, became the hard Leninist pole. 

The Leninist Faction was a clear line of demarca- 
tion between the Mandelites (Martha was always 
fond of calling them pint-sized Kautskyites) and 
those elements that were looking for a genuine Len- 
inist/Trotskyist program. Having broken from the 
Mandelite "orientation" line we realized the entire 
SWP program, not just on the Vietnam War line, but 
the entire range of Pabloite capitulations, had to be 
fought. The LF was far from being a homogeneous 
political tendency, but its declaration statement was 
a fine document. But getting the faction to live up to 
this document was another fight. Barbara G. was seen 
as one of the central leaders of the faction within 
the SWP, but she soon pulled back from the revolu- 
tionary implications of our founding statement. Mar- 
tha quickly surpassed her as a political leader in the 
fight she led to get the LF to fuse with the SL. About 
one-third of the faction eventually did. Martha 
understood what the fight of the [1963] Revolution- 
ary Tendency meant. We were not the first opposi- 
tionists in the SWP to come down the road. It was 
really important to understand history. So in the 
middle of a raging faction fight in the middle of a 
war, Martha was hitting the books. Because she 
understood, I think David did too, that the real fight 
was that the Leninist Faction had to fuse with the 
Spartacist League, because the Spartacist League was 
the fight of '63, and we basically stood on the docu- 
ments of the RT 

The faction wavered — but Martha never did, and 
she provided a lot of leadership to a lot of comrades 
from the Leninist Faction. This shaped Martha and 
steeled her. So when Martha came into this party, she 
was not a new member. She was a cadre. 

I want to stress the political impact the Vietnam 
War had on Martha, and why it was no accident that 
she went to Moscow. She was a central component 
of a faction fight where one of the most important 
issues was defense of the Vietnamese deformed 
workers state in the North and the fight for a social 
revolution in the South. The popular front at that 
time was trying to prevent a defeat of U.S. imperi- 
alism — they were trying to bail out U.S. imperialism. 
The SWP at that time was tailing the defeatist wing 
of the bourgeoisie. It was the Russian question 
posed in a very different way, in a different histori- 
cal period. That's what we were won to. 

The Vietnamese were the underdogs, and their 
heroism and tenacity gained a lot of respect among 
the newly radicalized leftists the 1960s produced 
internationally. But for the bourgeoisie it was a war 
against Communism, and our state-capitalist and 
social-democratic opponents hated the Vietnamese 
as much as the Russians. The problem was the Viet 


Cong were popular (like Che and Fidel were), as 
opposed to the staid Stalinists in the Kremlin. So 
the state-eapitalist social democrats, not wanting to 
be left out in the cold and leave the field open to 
the reds, declared the Vietnam War to be one of 
national liberation. Stalinists echoed this same line 
in their own "peaceful coexistence" style, or gave 
uncritical political support to the Hanoi Stalinists. 
Your Heinz 57-variety liberals were into pacifism 
(to be turned against the Vietnamese later a la Jane 
Fonda). A liberal section of the bourgeoisie, breath- 
ing a sigh of relief after the crushing of the Indone- 
sian CP on the one hand, but cowering after the 
Viet Cong's impressive Tet Offensive on the other, 
took a defeatist position on the war, worried about 
the social explosions at home. This all spelled Pop 
Front and a big one — the social pressure against 
taking a class line on the Vietnam War was quite 
strong. The fake left were wrapping themselves in 
all kinds of radical phraseology, but "Military Vic- 
tory to the NLF"; and "All Indochina Must Go Com- 
munist" — never! And in the fight against this crap 
Martha never flinched. Martha died in Moscow 
fighting for the same program she was won to, the 
program she defended against the renegades and 
fake-leftists in the 1960s who refused to stand with 
the Vietnamese workers and peasants against their 
own bourgeoisie. 

So many comrades are familiar with Marthas 
work in the SL/U.S. The tremendous will, indefati- 
gable spirit, personal dedication and unbelievable 
enthusiasm for the work that I saw from the time I 
first met her only deepened as the years went by. 
She was vintage wine who got better with age. I 
don't know how many locals she was in, but I think 
Martha was virtually everywhere and knew every- 
body. Martha was the kind of comrade who, despite 
personal hardships, would pull up stakes and go 
anywhere the party needed her. She was not a com- 
plainer. Her style was to motivate and inspire and 
made the people around her better for having 
known and worked with her. For the comrades 
who knew and loved her, her loss is a devastating 
blow that words cannot convey. For the younger or 
newer comrades who didn't know her, they've 
been brutally cheated. 

I'm sure there are endless and wonderful stories 
about her. She would go anywhere or do anything 
to build this party — she was intensely party-loyal. I 
remember we had an outside shot at a few YSAers 
in Seattle and it was Martha, along with Jeff, who 
up and went. When this situation fizzled (they 
turned out to be creeps) she came back to the Bay 
Area and just picked up where she left off. I felt 
pretty bad about this because I had met them pre- 

viously and was wondering if I'd really been off the 
mark. But Martha just laughed that idea off and said 
you can't win them all and sometimes, as Cannon 
would say, we have to crawl on our bellies through 
the mud to build the Fourth International. She was 
deeply committed to the revolutionary heritage of 
Cannon's SWP and would have gone anywhere to 
thwart those usurpers who today trample on that 
once-proud tradition. 

Martha was not superwoman; she had her 
human frailties, and like all of us had her ups and 
downs. Yet she always possessed that inner courage 
to pick her herself up, dust herself off and jump 
back into the fray. Her years in the SL sharpened 
her political acumen and she did aggressive public- 
work (her election campaign for Oakland City 
Council) and also made important literary contri- 
butions to our work. One of my favorites was the 
work she did, forum and article, on Harriet Tub- 
man. On the Russian question Martha was very 
strong. She was a leader of a faction fight on this 
question and she always knew the stakes. So after 
fighting many years to build the party in the belly of 
the imperialist monster when duty called to go to 
the Soviet Union, she volunteered after seriously 
preparing herself for this work. But "volunteer" is 
to put it mildly. She was bound and determined to 
go and help rebuild Lenin's party, and we would 
have had to chain her down to stop her. 

So Martha's political career began in Madison 
and ended much too soon and tragically in Mos- 
cow. But this is where Martha wanted to be. We 
were very close friends for 22 years but lived in the 
same city (Madison and the Bay Area) for only 
about six or seven of them. But that never bothered 
us. We were very happy to be in the same party 
fighting for the same program. I remember many 
times we would go drinking together in a bar in 
Japan Town in San Francisco. She was working her 
tail off learning Russian and Jeanne and I had 
started Japanese classes. On bar napkins we would 
try to write the Russian and Japanese alphabets, 
while sharing our hopes to do political work in 
new countries. And we were plotting to some day 
go drinking together in Vladivostok. After she went 
to Moscow to live, Jeanne talked to her one time 
over a really crazy phone connection, but around 
New Year's we both got to talk to her on a decent 
phone connection and she was her usual bubbly, 
warm and enthusiastic self. And this was in the 
middle of a harsh Russian winter, made unbear- 
able by the ravages of counterrevolutionary forces 
that are immiserating the Soviet people. Did 
Martha complain? Hell no! Yeah, times are tough — 
but we're meeting interesting people, recruiting, 


working with Victor, thrilled to have Rachel when 
she can come, and eagerly waiting for Kate and 
George C.'s visit. 

There are many, many things I haven't said and a 
single person couldn't remember all there is to. 
We'll have to do that collectively because that's how 
we operate. This world is a much darker, cruder, 
and certainly more lonely place without her. She 
was an immensely warm-hearted and generous 
woman with a hilarious sense of humor. She deeply 
loved her son Lael and she was powerfully loyal to 
this party and her comrades. Martha was high on 
life and lived it fully — it should have gone on a lot 
longer. The proletariat has a long memory and Mar- 

tha, along with our other fallen comrades, will not 
be forgotten. I understand that her body will be 
sent back to Denver — well, her family loved her 
too. But I believe her heart and spirit will remain in 
Moscow, somewhere near the Kremlin Wall with 
Big Bill Haywood and John Reed. 

Martha was very generous, warm-hearted. She 
knew how to be a friend. And through all her per- 
sonal problems, she always struggled and fought 
back and always came forward when it was needed. 
See, I think with Martha there was really no separa- 
tion, personal from political life; it was inter- 
meshed. And she represented a lot about what it 
means to be a communist. 

A Personal Appreciation of Martha by Liz Gordon 

15 February 1992 

I first met Martha when some Spartacist comrades 
from New York went down to meet several contacts 
who were leftist members of the SWP in Washington, 
D.C. Jim R. at least was involved in this meeting and 
possibly Reuben or someone else as well. We met 
David and Martha Phillips and Paul K, as far as I can 
remember, who were involved in the Proletarian 
Orientation/Leninist Faction oppositional activity 
inside the SWP In the course of our subsequent 
work together, conducted mostly at least on my part 
through written correspondence, the SL won several 
additional comrades from the LF. 

Like other groupings won out of the heterogene- 
ous New Left radical upsurge, these comrades were 
part of the regroupments and recruitment which 
made possible the founding of serious youth work 
and the associated tasks of the "transformation" of 
the party in this period. In addition, the LF regroup- 
ment was a breakthrough particularly in regard to 
becoming a pole of attraction for dissidents in the 
SWP/YSA and in challenging the claims still made 
by the SWP at the time to represent Trotskyism in 
this country. The SWP, as leader of the right wing of 
the antiwar movement in this turbulent period, 
generated a series of left-wing oppositions during 
this period, opening with the initial coalescence 
around the document "For a Proletarian Orienta- 
tion" (1971) and effectively ending with the mass 
expulsion of the IT [Internationalist Tendency]. 
While the bulk of these layers were eventually cap- 
tured and frittered away by Ernest Mandel, we also 
got our piece. The LF regroupment was our first 
significant accretion of cadres from the SWP/USec, 

and laid a basis for future regroupments. 

What I remember from that trip to Washington is 
the strong impression Martha made on me. She 
talked to me about everything from having once 
lived in New York seeking a career on the stage 
to being in Madison and joining the SWP I liked 
her enormously for her honesty and openness as 
well as her intelligence. I was especially moved by 
her calmly indignant account of her struggles as 
the mother of a handicapped child to wrest from 
the various heartless bureaucracies a recognition of 
Lael's problems and to get help for him. 

Martha and I were friends from our first meeting, 
though mostly by long distance. She was tremen- 
dously warm-hearted and made friends throughout 
the party at all times in her life. She was very senti- 
mental about comrades she had known for a long 
time but was also very interested in and supportive 
of younger comrades, and she took a constant 
interest in the party's youth work. Spending an 
evening with Martha was always a warm experience 
and also an exciting political time. Martha was 
political down to her fingertips, and though her 
convictions were deeply, passionately held she was 
usually very clear in her thinking and articulate in 
expression. I especially valued her insights into the 
question of women's oppression and her interest 
in and knowledge of the history of the Trotskyist 
movement. As a party leader, educator and spokes- 
man, and as a thoughtful partisan of women's lib- 
eration, Martha was a role model for many female 
comrades, but she also numbered many senior 
comrades of the male persuasion among her most 


cherished friends and drinking buddies. 

Martha was probably the only person to spill 
orange juice all over Jim's carpet and live to tell 
the tale. 1 wasn't present when it happened but I 
remember the story the way she told it. Martha was 
always somewhat intimidated by Jim's passion for 
cleanliness and order. She always tried to be spe- 
cially careful in Jim's home because she knew she 
was clumsy when she wasn't paying attention. One 
day the unthinkable happened, a whole glass of 
stickiness all over. She was aghast. But Jim just said, 
"Oh Martha, now look what you've done." She took 
this unexpectedly restrained response as a demon- 
stration of his love, which of course it was. 

Martha may have had more friends in the party 
than anyone else. The comrades in the center 
responsible for making up the weekly courier pack- 
age for Moscow were sometimes embarrassed on 
behalf of other comrades there at the number of 
letters being forwarded to Martha from all points 
on the globe. Typically there would be personal 
mail for Martha from the Bay Area and New York 
and maybe from Tokyo or Paris, and also from her 
family in Denver, and we would mutter to each 
other, "We've got to get Irene to write to her 

Martha loved California though like most com- 
rades there she didn't get to partake very often of 
the scenery. Many of my own memories of Martha 
are of an afternoon spent together at some scenic 
spot she thought I would like. Driving some of the 
world's worst cars (and being always one of the 
world's worst drivers), we would go off with Jeff to 
a piece of beach or to Golden Gate Park or the Cliff 
House for drinks with a few comrades. 

Warm heart notwithstanding, Martha was tough, 
as legions of our opponents well know to their 
discomfort. One of my favorite stories about her 
is unfortunately very third-hand and involves our 
intervention into the Leninist Faction convention 
held in the Midwest. Martha was the one on the 
phones. At one point she called Jim and said they 
were getting a lot of Spart-baiting and demands to 
know if they had carnal knowledge of the SL. Jim 
gave her some good advice and she gulped and 
agreed. Then she got up at the meeting and pro- 
posed: "If you want to know about the Spartacist 
League, by all means, but why take my word for 
it, let's get it from the horse's mouth. I move that 
we invite Jim Robertson to this convention to 
answer all our questions about the politics of the 
SL!" The motion did not carry but the proposal 
must have impressed some elements, and we did 
finally win over several additional supporters. I hope 
Jim remembers this story too. 

I also recall that when Martha sent the telegram 
conveying the resignation of our supporters to the 
SWP/YSA, she ended up having a nice political dis- 
cussion with the Western Union operator who took 
the statement down over the telephone. 

I also remember Martha at the November 27 
Labor/Black Mobilization in 1982. She was on the 
front lines. Comrades will recall how the individual 
initiative of comrades was key to taking advantage of 
the situation we had created, which had brought out 
so many black unionists and youth who really 
wanted to stop the KJan and were prepared to try to 
do it. Having prepared as best we could by arrang- 
ing for marshals in advance and pulling in a lot 
more on the spot, especially groups of experienced 
union guys who had worked together in a disci- 
plined fashion in their own struggles, there was still 
a big role for spontaneity. As the mass of people 
spread out behind the barricades many-deep behind 
the line of marshals, there was one section of the line 
where a lot of big and determined-looking guys had 
congregated, by people looking around them and 
just finding that section of the line that really looked 
like the participants meant business. Martha, a small 
woman, was not a marshal but she looked at the 
demo and saw where the hot spot was shaping up 
to be. She asked for and got permission from some 
appropriate party authority on the spot to get her- 
self a piece of the action. Looking at the line of pro- 
testers, and maybe especially at that part of it, some- 
one in authority decided it would not be the better 
part of valor to try and march the Klansmen past the 
reception that was waiting for them. The rest is his- 
tory, and Martha was right there. 

Martha made mistakes in the party sometimes, 
and she had been likened to Rosa Luxemburg in 
that "An eagle may fly as low as a chicken, but a 
chicken can never fly as high as an eagle." Many 
comrades have written movingly about their own 
intersections with some of Martha's many achieve- 
ments as a party leader and a very effective commu- 
nist activist, how she inspired and taught others. 
But it also says a lot about her that among her 
dearest companions in the Bay Area, where she 
spent most of her political life, were senior cadres 
like Al, George and Joan, and JR and the gang — 
people who she particularly valued for helping her 
by fighting with her when she needed it. Her 
friendships were very important to her and she 
missed many comrades acutely when she left the 
Bay Area. 

Martha worked in a printshop for many years. 
She was well aware that if she let the bosses take 
advantage of her this would be used to attack the 
conditions of other workers as well. She left her 


last job in the Bay Area after an altercation with 
management in which she acquitted herself ad- 
mirably and which she wrote up amusingly for com- 
rades to read. 

That she left the Bay Area and went off to take up 
the challenge of fighting to reimplant Trotskyism in 
the Soviet Union was typical of Martha's courage. 
With the determination that had led her to follow 
her allegiance to Trotskyism through a factional 
struggle inside the SWP and inside the Leninist Fac- 
tion, Martha chose to rip up her personal life by 
volunteering to move thousands of miles away to a 
foreign city facing hard times and possible big 
struggles. She was not daunted by the huge obsta- 
cles of finding work to support herself while mas- 
tering a foreign language, the loneliness and isola- 
tion, the magnitude of the political tasks at hand. 
She was not starry-eyed about it. During an after- 
noon we spent together when she passed through 
New York on her way there the last time, she was 
eloquent about the pervasive social backwardness 
on the woman question in the SU, about the con- 
stant slights and the incomprehension of the idea 
of a woman being a political leader. This had to be 
fought against constantly even among our own 
contacts; one means the comrades had devised was 
to introduce Martha as "the representative of the 
ICL." She also spoke about her uneasiness as a Jew- 
ish woman at a time of rising anti-Semitism in the 
Soviet Union. 

Martha's stories of some of the practical obstacles 
to functioning in Moscow were quite entertaining. 
One I recall in particular from her first trip was 
how we needed to do a modest mailing to contacts 
in the middle of one of the incomprehensible 
shortages which mark daily life there. Martha goes 
into a store. "Do you have any envelopes?" "No, 
don't you know there are no envelopes in Moscow?" 
Finally, she finds a store with envelopes. "Yes, we 
have envelopes!" "Great, may I have fifty envelopes 
please?" "Fifty envelopes? What could you possibly 
need fifty envelopes for? Don't you know there's 
an envelope shortage?" "Well may I have twenty?" 
"Twenty? What do you want with twenty?" Eventu- 
ally you get five, then you start over. 

Martha confronted the obstacles and did brilli- 
antly. During her first trip there, she lived in a small 
dormitory room and studied Russian at a challeng- 
ingly advanced level. Despite her political activities 
and despite being twice the age of the other stu- 
dents, she aced the course and came away with 
high recommendations. She went back as a teacher 
of English and I have no doubt she was a good 
one. She enjoyed her students and wrote about 
them in her letters home, that they were bright and 

well-educated to start out with and highly moti- 
vated to learn. 

In a letter written January 22, Martha described 
discussions in her classes: "Today at school talked 
to two classes about what their impressions were of 
life here now. It was interesting to see the shift in 
opinions. These are the kids at the special school 
who are pretty privileged. There were a couple of 
hard anti-communists but the bulk of kids (they're 
15) thought things were getting worse and several 
thought there would be big demonstrations here 
soon. Several told stories of people protesting in 
their neighborhoods at milk stores or bakeries and 
how it forced the stores on the spot to lower prices 
or how they hauled out the bread that was being 
hoarded in the back and put it on sale." 

I very much appreciated the comments Martha 
sent in for the discussion at the last party plenum, 
which centered on "revolutionary optimism" and 
the need to combine a clear-eyed view of all the bad 
things going on with the understanding that the 
counterrevolutionaries had not yet had the confi- 
dence to directly confront the working class and 
push through the consequences of their unchal- 
lenged victory over the half-hearted "coup." Her 
observations have had a real impact on our discus- 
sions, and we have also been inspired by her exam- 
ple, along with that of the other comrades who 
have faced the hardships and the dangers none of 
us fully realized of conducting this crucial work in 
the Soviet Union. As our senior cadre in Moscow 
Martha was functioning as our organizer there 
although everyone knew that organizing was not 
her strong suit. She also took real pride in having 
managed to master enough Russian to be a trans- 
lator in a pinch, like when Victor was out of town. 
In her January 22 letter to me she said, "The main 
thing here is endurance — or as Trotsky put it — 

Martha's warm relationship with Lael was a con- 
stant in her life despite all the geographical vicissi- 
tudes. From the time that he was very small, she 
always thought he was a sweet child who would 
grow up to be a good person. I was always afraid 
that, out of the enormous frustration he visibly felt 
as a small boy when he so obviously wanted to 
express himself and couldn't do it, he could turn 
out a very angry young man, but Martha was sure 
he would come through it all. She missed him very 
much during the years he lived with her parents, 
where he benefited enormously from the time 
Martha's mother took with him and her expertise in 
the field of special education, and she agonized 
over her parents' charge of not being a "good 
mother" to him because of her constant political 


involvement, but there was always a tremendously 
warm relationship between Martha and Lael. Her 
pride in his achievements, in his having learned to 
read and being able to get a job, was enormous and 

she thought he had grown up to be a very sweet 
and very together person. I hope that he is able to 
share our pride in her achievements which have so 
greatly enriched our party and our lives. 

Remarks by Alison Spencer at New York 
Memorial Meeting 

23 February 1992 

Comrades, we've lost one of our best. Martha 
Phillips, a senior cadre of our International, a 
woman remarkable for her personal compassion, 
friendship, intelligence, and utter devotion to what 
we are about — the triumph of the working class 
internationally — has been ripped away from us, 
and the life she lived so fully, through a brutal act 
of murder. On top of our grief and shock — and 
rage — we face the agony of not knowing who killed 
Martha or why. A huge political blow to us and the 
fledgling, critical new Moscow station of the ICL 
she forged. The murder of Martha Phillips is a big 
chill that can't but remind our Soviet audience of 
the bloody repression faced by a previous genera- 
tion of Trotskyists. But Martha saw a situation ripe 
with opportunity to build an authentic Leninist- 
Trotskyist party, an opportunity to bring the Soviet 
working people back to political power. 

Martha was radicalized in the New Left — in strug- 
gle against the Vietnam War and in the women's 
movement. Looking for a way to radically change 
this society, she rapidly made her way to the Old 
Left, joining what she thought was Cannons party 
when she signed up with the SWP's youth group in 
the spring of 1970 in Madison. As Martha discov- 
ered, the SWP was no longer a revolutionary party, 
its appetite and eventually its program was refor- 
mist — building liberal pop-front coalitions and sup- 
pressing revolutionary politics to woo Democratic 
Party "doves." 

Martha and her then-companion David Phillips 
actively began seeking out alternatives. They were 
already to the left of the Proletarian Orientation 
Tendency in the SWP, which rejected program as 
primary and saw the problems with the SWP as 
reducible to the absence of a working-class concen- 
tration. They were at the time the most left-wing 
members of a new opposition called the Leninist 

A central issue in the split within the Leninist 
Faction was a roaring fight over the Leninist princi- 

ple of democratic centralism, and I think that gives 
a glimpse into how Martha was steeled. Many com- 
rades have likened Martha to Rosa Luxemburg — 
not only for the obvious similarities that they were 
both women, communists, and Jewish, but also for 
Martha's intelligence and devotion. Like Rosa she 
soared with the eagles... and, rarely, flew low with 
the chickens. Like most of us, Martha learned from 
the school of hard knocks. Unlike most, she was 
unusually good-natured about subordinating her 
ego to a communist collective and corrective, and I 
think it comes in part from fighting her way to the 
SL over the principle of democratic centralism. 

Here's a very small but revealing example, not of 
a programmatic difference but simply how Martha 
handled criticism. Among the party work Martha 
enjoyed most was her careful and valuable archival 
research as the West Coast representative of the 
Prometheus Research Library. She made many trips 
to Hoover and was assisting in gathering material 
on the early CLA. She gave a class in the Bay Area 
in 1988 — her information was partial, her assess- 
ments somewhat off — and she was heckled by Jim 
most of the way through it. She wrote a letter to 
Emily explaining, "Actually Jim's heckling was the 
best (and funniest) pan of the class. The worst was 
that I barely mentioned the key fights of the period 
or J.P Cannon. Not good. Pat Quinn, much to his 
chagrin, trained David, Sam, and me as Cannonites 
in 1970-71, which is why we were able to find the 
way to the SL. If you lose the centrality of Cannon 
as the leading revolutionary figure in the maze of 
the cast of characters in the history of American 
Trotskyism, for sure you come to a bad end. Any- 
way, one of these days, having better digested and 
organized the material, I'll give the class again." 
That's how she was — she'd just pick herself up and 
dust herself off and go on. 

The recruitment of cadres like Martha through 
revolutionary regroupments — splits and fusions 
with leftward-moving tendencies — enabled the SL 


to carry out a transformation to a stable propa- 
ganda group with a consistent presence in a few 
key industries and intervening among students. 
From the start, Martha led our youth work, directly 
as one of our best campus activists and public 
spokesmen, and as party rep to many youth locals 
and campus fractions. She also made herself the 
unofficial party rep to a lot of youth around the 
country who were lucky enough to be politically 
adopted by her. She took an interest in us, and 
her patience, prodding, pedagogy, and sometimes 
pummeling is a big part of why many of us are still 
in this room today. 

One of her first political battles for the youth — 
and within the youth — was fighting a witchhunt of 
the RCY [Revolutionary Communist Youth] at SF 
City College in 1972. For her success in winning a 
fight for our legality through building a genuine 
united-front committee that included the YSA and 
even liberals like the ACLU, Martha was trashed at 
the RCY's Second National Conference in 1972 for 

This fight took place just two days before the 
party National Conference where Martha and the 
other LF comrades formally fused with the Sparta- 
cist League. Until the interventions of the party 
delegation, the whole conference was against 
Martha — and Martha held her own. On the scale of 
her accomplishments this may seem like small 
potatoes, but it was a seminal fight for the youth 
org and Martha led it, correcting a left-sectarian 
bulge on the united front and defense work. Out of 
this fight came Young Communist Bulletin No. 3, 
still our main programmatic document on the 
united-front tactic. Also, out of this fight Martha 
won her first seat on the party's Central Committee 
as a representative from the youth org. Two years 
later she was elected to the Central Committee in 
her own right. 

Martha's strength of character and political integ- 
rity were among the reasons she was appointed 
the convener of the Logan trial body at our first 
International Conference in 1979. A comrade from 
Dublin, who did not know Martha personally, wrote 
a moving testimonial based on what he saw at that 

Martha had quite a bit to do with our 1977 
fusion with the Red Flag Union, the most left-wing 
expression of the gay liberation movement on the 
West Coast. Martha's experience as a faction fighter 
was instrumental in forcing the RFU to debate the 
central programmatic question, the class nature of 
the Soviet state — resulting in a sharp political split 
within that organization and a fusion between the 
RFU majority and the Spartacist League. 

Martha first visited the Soviet Union in the spring 
of 1987. Later that fall we toured the Chicago 
branch together and Martha gave a forum com- 
memorating the 70th anniversary of the Russian 
Revolution. After years of confronting base bigotry 
in this country, she was in high spirits and filled her 
talk with tales of how she and her companion Jeff, 
a black American, were welcomed in the Soviet 
Union. It was like a chapter from Claude McKay's 
book come to life. Martha said it was painful for 
them to get back on the plane and return to this 
racist hellhole. 

Over drinks after the forum she told me in all 
seriousness that she was going to move to the 
Soviet Union. My pragmatic objections — "Martha, 
you're broke... what will you do for a job... you 
don't even speak the language" — could not and did 
not dampen her enthusiasm. She began intensive 
study of the Russian language that fall and in Sep- 
tember of 1990 she moved to the Soviet Union for 
three months, enrolling in an intensive language 
course, which she aced. In May of 1991 she found 
work as a teacher and moved to Moscow. Her let- 
ters home informed us of what six years of 
Gorbachev's perestroika had wrought — not least 
for women, Jews, and other minorities. 

Martha's favorite political book was Lenin's The 
State and Revolution, a manual for the working- 
class seizure of power. She always wanted to be 
able to read it in the original Russian. She did. And 
her first public presentation in Russian was a con- 
tact class on The State and Revolution — an accom- 
plishment Martha was most proud of. 

Here are some excerpts from her letters from the 
Soviet Union: 

14 September 1990: "[Trotsky's] point that the 
bureaucracy's international betrayals are matched 
by their (even worse?) humiliating treatment of 
their 'own' people has a daily reality here.... The 
constant, unpredictable shortages create constant 
tension: will there be meat or tobacco or milk 
or eggs or bread? Maybe yes, maybe no.... The 
uncertainty keeps people constantly off balance; 
everyone becomes a rude, pushing scavenger.... 
The only thing I could compare it to was the physi- 
cal nervousness after an earthquake — waiting for 
the aftershocks." 

5 June 1991: "Even when we tell politicos here 
on what passes for the left that a healthy majority of 
our leadership in the SL/U.S. and International are 
women, these guys think it's some kind of joke or 
tokenism... Lenin said on the second anniversary 
of the Russian Revolution that if the revolution had 
done nothing more than improve the status of 
working women it was proven worthwhile. Well, to 


put that in reverse, if Stalinism had done nothing 
more than to turn women, homosexuals, Jews, 
national minorities, back into less than human 
beings — how deeply it deserves to be 'superseded.' 
It makes you burn with anger at what they've 

I'd like to give Martha the last word here, con- 
cluding with her words from a letter in January 
1991. With crystal clarity of thought and iron deter- 
mination, Martha spelled out the opportunities and 
tasks which she dedicated herself to. We will honor 
her by persisting and furthering the work she 

"The truth is that my stay [in the Soviet Union] gave me 
more confidence not in the veracity of our program 
(which I've agreed with for a lot of years) but in our 
ability to win. In a society in severe crisis as the SU is 
today, all political tendencies will get their cut — includ- 

ing Bolshevism/Spartacism. With a consistent presence 
to talk to the people who like our journal, we will gel .1 
certain number of people. How many depends on how 
smart or stupid we play it and how much of a time 
period we have to work in. 

"There is no middle road. When the main ideological 
cohesion has cracked, simple repression is not a solu- 
tion. It's either bloody counterrevolution (how else will 
they get the workers to work?) or Trotskyism. 

"Our problem is to win Soviet working people (and the 
small layer of the intelligentsia who will come over) to 
genuine internationalism (which means Soviet defens- 
ism at the highest level). That means breaking through 
the ideological defeatism that is at the core of Stalinism. 
Leninist norms of functioning, the tribune of the 
people' conception, democratic centralism — all of these 
are now and will be in the future critical and difficult 
fights. In a society built on lies it will be no small thing 
to build a party where comrades can fearlessly and 
simply tell the truth, internally and to the world." 

Remarks by Gene Herson at New York Memorial Meeting 

23 February 1992 

I worked with Martha briefly in the Soviet Union. 
She struggled, often in isolation, under some of the 
worst physical, social and political conditions any 
member of our International, with the exception of 
probably the Sri Lanka comrades, had ever had to 
put up with. She lived in a tiny squalid dorm room 
with terrible lighting, a desk that was too low to be 
able to sit at with a chair, and too high to be able to 
sit and work at with a pillow. A toilet bowl that was 
cracked and stained and continuously flowing with 
water. A bed that was already uncomfortably lumpy, 
which she added to with huge boxes of litera- 
ture that kept arriving mysteriously in the middle 
of the night. And the lights, the elevators, the hot 
water, the heating, were constantly failing. Then 
there were the long food lines and the pre-dawn 
and late-night trips to the central telegraph office 
to wait for six hours, very often with a total fail- 
ure of communications, to make urgent commu- 
nications about political developments that were 
taking place. 

In the meantime she was surrounded by her fel- 
low students who she described as George Bush 
clones, Ivy League snobs, joint-venture aspirants, 
spooks in training, and anti-communist creeps. And 
yet at the same time, she wrote in one of her letters, 
life is hard but I'd stay longer if I could. At the same 
time, with all of her political activity, she ended up 
getting top grades, so that she could come back 

and continue under those conditions to fight for 
our program. 

And she was at the same time constantly abused 
and frustrated in her social and political interac- 
tions. Because she was a communist, Trotskyist, a 
woman, and a Jew. And she worked under these 
conditions. And it was bad, but it was not surpris- 
ing that she had to deal with these problems with 
non-political people, but she even had to deal with 
these things with people who were supposed to 
be political, and who were supposed to be our con- 
tacts. People who would just mumble things, 
because she was "just" a woman, right, she was 
supposed to be stupid. You don't know how enrag- 
ing that is. And even sympathetic friends, people 
who cared for her, were patronizing when she 
started to talk politics. 

So she was a woman and she was not to be taken 
seriously and that's a hard fact of life politically 
in the Soviet Union. And yet when she got on the 
podium in front of the Moscow Workers Conference, 
they listened. 

While some of us were at the independent min- 
ers conference in Donetsk, Martha was trying to 
single-handedly get into the Kremlin, where there 
was a Russian trade-union conference going on. 
She showed up the first day. This is just typical of 
Martha. She shows up the first day, so some soldier 
guard shows up and says, "What do you want, you 


can't go in." So she says, "special circumstances." 
She held out her publication, the first Spartacist 
Bulletin in Russian. "Oh, Spartacist, yes, well, come 
back tomorrow." So she came back the next day, 
there was a plainclothes guy, "Oh yes, Spartacist, 
you still can't come in. But I'll take one of those." 

She says, "That'll be 50 kopeks." So the guy reaches 
in his pocket to take out 50 kopeks. Next thing 
there's a line of the trade unionists arriving and 
she's selling on the Troitsky Bridge, entering the 
Kremlin, she's selling our Russian Spartacist Bulle- 
tin to the trade unionists as they arrive. 

Remarks by Al Nelson at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

22 February 1992 

Martha Phillips has been one of my closest and 
dearest friends for almost 20 years. The awful news 
of her death was staggering and unbearably pain- 
ful. It still is. Then we learned that she died not of 
some medical anomaly but as a result of a bru- 
tal and hideous murder, and then our pain was 
infused with rage and bitterness. Her life was stolen 
from her and from her comrades and friends and 
family. We know not by whom. But now our Martha 
is no more. 

Despite our pain and our anger it is our duty 
today to honor the life of our fallen comrade, a life 
Martha singlemindedly devoted to the goal of inter- 
national socialist revolution. 

Since her death there has been an outpouring of 
letters and statements from all over the world by 
comrades who knew her as a friend or for whom 
Martha was a teacher and role model. 

She was a highly respected senior cadre of our 
party and probably our most prominent woman 

Martha was a remarkable woman who rebelled 
against all aspects of bourgeois society and became 
a communist. Her convictions were deep and pow- 
erful, and she possessed a keen intelligence com- 
bined with a tremendous strength of character and 
an iron determination to do with her life what she 
wanted to do, no matter what obstacles were 
placed in her way. But she was also a very warm, 
sensitive, loving and generous person, with a quick 
and often wicked sense of humor, who tried her 
best to live life to the fullest. For her, a day off was 
not to be wasted cleaning house or doing the 
laundry, but was a time to enjoy life a little at a 
museum or picnic on the beach or a drive up to the 
Russian River in one of her terrible cars. And 
through all the vicissitudes of her personal life — 
and there were plenty — the one constant was her 
son Lael, whom she dearly loved. 

Her convictions and determination became 
apparent in the political course she followed. She 

was a woman and a Jew and part of that generation 
that was outraged by the imperialist slaughter in 
Vietnam. Having experienced anti-Semitism even as 
a young girl, she was briefly drawn to left Zionism. 
In 1969, she and her former husband David spent 
some time on a kibbutz in Israel, but soon left dis- 
illusioned and repelled by the treatment of women. 
In April of 1970, at the age of 22, Martha had her 
son Lael. That was also the period of the U.S. inva- 
sion of Cambodia and the shooting down of stu- 
dents at Kent State by the National Guard, events 
that electrified the whole country. Seeking a revo- 
lutionary solution to imperialist war, women's 
oppression, racism, and anti-Semitism, Martha and 
David joined the youth organization of the Socialist 
Workers Party in Madison, Wisconsin in the spring 
of 1970 where Martha became heavily involved and 
prominent in the antiwar and women's move- 
ments. Here is where she also met her old friend 
Sam Hunt. 

This was the once-Trotskyist SWP that the Revo- 
lutionary Tendency, the forebear of the Spartacist 
League, had been expelled from in 1963-64. By the 
time Martha, Dave, and Sam became members it 
had become thoroughly reformist, with a strategy 
of cross-class popular-front coalitions with liberal 
Democrats in all aspects of its work. A pseudo-left- 
wing local leadership tried to paper over differ- 
ences, but by a year later Martha and Dave were 
consciously seeking out other left oppositionists 
within the SWP in order to wage a struggle against 
its reformist politics. As best as we can reconstruct, 
our paths first crossed politically in late 1971 in 
Cleveland at an antiwar conference. I recall a clan- 
destine meeting on the upper floor of a bus termi- 
nal where comrade Seymour and I first met Martha 
and Dave. They were then the most left-wing mem- 
bers of an opposition group just forming called the 
Leninist Faction, and had sought us out to discuss 
politics and buy literature. Through examining the 
documents of our faction fight in the SWP nearly 


ten years before, they found the theoretical and 
programmatic explanations of the origins of the 
SWF's reformism, and by January 1972 they were 
working as Spartacist supporters within their fac- 
tion, seeking to win other left-wingers from the 
SWP to our revolutionary Trotskyist program. For 
the next nine months they led a political fight cul- 
minating in a very clear political split that brought 
six comrades into a fusion with the Spartacist 
League. Two months later, four more comrades 
came over, including Sam Hunt. Still more came 
over later as the Leninist Faction spun out of the 
SWP This was our first big breakthrough in the SWP 
and very important internationally. For it was our 
goal to recruit the best elements out of the SWP 
and their cothinkers internationally and to seize 
the banner of Trotskyism from them. 

In June 1972 there was a quintessential commu- 
nication from Martha to the SL Political Bureau. 
They had been sent the minutes of the PB meet- 
ing of 9 January 1972, which stated, point 4: "SWP 
Left Opposition: Dave P. of the Washington, D.C. 
PO wants to work closely with us in a disciplined 
way. His wife is close to us...." Martha proceeded to 
sharply call us to order, saying that in the Bolshevik 
movement "we refer to people by their names, not 
some title dictated by bourgeois legality!" Ouch! 
Boy, was she pissed off. Needless to say the minutes 
were corrected, and so were we. 

The acquisition of politically experienced cadre 
from this fusion and an earlier fusion with the [ex- 
Stalinist] Communist Working Collective, plus the 
recruitment of the East Oakland Women in the Bay 
Area, gave us the opportunity to greatly expand 
our West Coast organization. I transferred out here 
then in 1972, and so did Martha and Dave. In a let- 
ter to Sam she said, "Shortly after Ashtabula and 
resigning from the SWP, we gave away the bulk of 
our possessions, packed our books, documents 
and clothes, and flew to San Francisco, landing in 
the SF airport with $3.00." 

Thus began for me a political collaboration and 
personal friendship that was to last until her death 
two weeks ago. Along with comrades George Foster, 
Joan Parker, and myself, Martha soon became one of 
the central political leaders of our work on the West 
Coast of North America, which historically ranges 
from San Diego to Vancouver, Canada. She was party 
organizer of the Bay Area and Los Angeles locals, the 
head of our work in the women's movement, the 
organizer of numerous political, defense, and elec- 
tion campaigns, a candidate herself for city coun- 
cil in Oakland, and a founding leader of the Labor 
Black League. In various capacities she has been 
a part of our youth work throughout this entire 

18-year period, typically in later years as the senior 
party member in charge of politically supervising, 
educating, and training the new youth recruits. In 
this youth work she was exceedingly patient and 
thorough, but she also taught them how to fight. She- 
was an excellent public speaker and agitator. She 
went on to become a member of the Central Com- 
mittee of the SL/U.S. and of the International Execu- 
tive Committee. 

But the work she got the most satisfaction from 
was Marxist education and studying the history 
of the American Trotskyist movement. She really 
enjoyed doing local archival work for the Pro- 
metheus Research Library, for example doing 
research on the history of the Cannon-Foster fac- 
tion in the CPUSA of the 1920s. She understood 
that the greater our knowledge of past struggles, 
the more prepared we were for new ones. 

This reflected Marthas unusual appreciation for 
political continuity, and she liked the idea that she 
was one of the links in an unbroken chain that goes 
back through the Socialist Workers Party of James P 
Cannon to the early Communist Party and the 
Comintern of Lenin and Trotsky, back through the 
Bolshevik Party of Lenin and then through Plekha- 
nov to Marx and Engels and the Communist Mani- 
festo of 1848. 

When we spoke of the revolutionary party as the 
memory of the working class, it was this program- 
matic continuity that was the link. But the ideas 
and program of Marxism are carried by individuals 
organized in a political party. 

So when Cannon said in 1939, "We are the party 
of the Russian Revolution," Martha Phillips knew 
exactly what that meant. Injury 1973, while she was 
at her parents' home in Denver recovering from a 
very serious illness, she wrote a letter to a comrade 
in which she said, "I have been having a wonderful 
time reading Trotsky's History of the Russian Revo- 
lution — literally savoring every page. In my half- 
feverish state I felt almost as if I am living it again." 
And further, "But most of all I feel recharged with the 
incredible energy of the revolutionary Russian pro- 
letariat and the Bolsheviks' struggle to lead. And I 
feel very proud too, reading that book, to see how 
clearly the SL is the continuation of that history." 

But like all of us Martha had her foibles and 
insecurities as well, and her ability to summon up 
the will to keep going in spite of life's many difficul- 
ties testified to the strength of her character. While 
reading over some of her letters to Liz Gordon I 
came across a passage that gives some insight into 
the origins of that strong character. A little back- 
ground is required to place her letter in context. 
Between August 1973 and September 1974 Martha 


was organizer of the newly founded L.A. local. Hav- 
ing separated earlier from her husband David she 
moved to L.A. with her son Lael, who was handi- 
capped. She was anxious but looking forward to her 
first independent command. It was a difficult and 
lonely year, living poorly on welfare, while learning 
the ropes of assembling a local leadership and build- 
ing a functional party local. Yet in spite of every- 
thing she did a fine job and was feeling justifiably 
proud when she went to a National Conference in 
August 1974. So she was stunned and hurt when the 
rest of the L.A. leadership suddenly turned on her 
and opposed her nomination as a full member of the 
Central Committee. It was pretty nasty, but typically 
Martha struggled to get by the hurt and draw politi- 
cal lessons from the experience. But the experience 
had shaken her and she wrote Liz: 

"Then back in L.A. I spent a day feeling somewhat 
overwhelmed and also feeling personally hurt by the 
events. It was pretty similar to how I felt when I was a 
child and we moved so many times, and each time we 
moved, I'd always be the new kid,' younger and smaller 
and, until I learned better, would use too many big 
words, and sometimes there'd be real anti-Semitism, as 
I'd be the only Jewish kid, but mainly I studied and read 
too much, and was awfully easy to tease. I would be in a 
new school, and would think that I had finally been 
accepted' and then something would happen, and I 
would know that they still thought I was weird.' And 
after a while I decided I was different' and maybe that 
wasn't so bad. Maybe I told you this, but in the yearbook 
in '65 when I graduated from Scarsdale High School 
there are pages and pages of girls with fancy smooth 
flips, and then you get to this rather funny picture of me, 
absolutely serious, looking straight at the camera rather 
defiantly — with long curly hair that had not been 
combed in days. I refused to list my activities' so they 
just put my name, and they couldn't think of anything 
else so they put as a quote, As for me I go my own way.' 
I wasn't political for several years after that, but even as 
a small child I can remember hating and despising bour- 
geois society. 

"I can't tell you what all that really has to do with the 
slate fight, nothing on a rational level, but I felt like that 
same vulnerable little girl." 

I thought the whole section was very revealing. 
The loneliness and bigotry did not break the spirit 
of this little girl who "studied and read too much," 
but instead toughened her and made her defiant 
and proud of her heritage and intellectual capac- 
ities, producing an intelligent and independent- 
minded young woman capable of going her own 
way. And if, in her own words, she tended to ago- 
nize over her mistakes, it was not in an egotistical 
or self-indulgent manner. Rather she wanted to 
learn from her mistakes in order to become more 
competent as a party leader, to strengthen the party 
and make it more effective in the fight against all 
forms of oppression. 

Martha was certainly a fighter, but in spite of 
her strong will the realities of her material and 
social existence sometimes were overwhelming. In 
another letter she wrote, "From the time he was 
born I always told myself, it's not going to stop me 
from doing the things I want to do, I'll just keep 
going. So we dragged Lael across country in endless 
Greyhound buses, and I marched in so many dem- 
onstrations with a child on one hip and leaflets in 
the other hand. But it is very wearing and sometimes 
I feel all my energy drained out of me." I remember 
her fighting like a tiger with various school adminis- 
trations and petty bureaucrats to get Lael into the 
right schools with the special programs he needed. 
She was always proud of Lael's accomplishments. 

So Martha's life was seldom easy and she was 
often unhappy. But like Rosa Luxemburg, Martha 
Phillips was above all a revolutionist, and no matter 
what "banalities of daily life" were dragging her 
down at some particular moment, when she was 
required to act politically to be a fighter and a lead- 
er, then it was as though some inner switch was 
turned on and she could become entirely focused 
politically, bringing to bear that keen intelligence 
and iron determination. This was the real Martha 
Phillips, who like Rosa Luxemburg was an eagle. 


Remarks by Diana Coleman at Bay Area 
Memorial Meeting 

22 February 1992 

Martha was my friend, comrade, and mentor for 
20 years. I first met Martha in 1972. I had just 
joined the Spartacist League with my gang, the East 
Oakland Women, and within a month or so Martha 
came to the Bay Area to be the youth organizer. I 
liked Martha from the first. I was impressed with 
the depth of her Marxist education, something 
which I certainly hadn't gotten in the New Left 
circles in which I hung out. And I admired her as 
a speaker and an activist and a communist woman 

To Martha, the revolutionary continuity really was 
important, you know, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Cannon. 
She was a real Cannonite. I always think of Cannon's 
speeches on the Russian question, where he says, 
"The Russian Bolsheviks on November 7, 1917, once 
and for all, took the question of the workers' revo- 
lution out of the realm of abstraction and gave it 
flesh and blood reality. ... 'Who touches the Russian 
question touches a revolution.' Therefore, be seri- 
ous about it. Don't play with it." 

Well, it was a flesh and blood reality to Martha, 
all the way down to her bones. No one who knew 
her was surprised that she learned Russian or 
went to the Soviet Union to build the party and 
be on the front lines in the fight against capitalist 

Like Cannon, she hated the people who Cannon 
called the waverers, backsliders, capitulators to the 
pressure of the world bourgeoisie, who had given 
up on the Soviet Union before the decisive battles 
had been fought. 

It's very difficult for me to say what Martha 
meant to me. She was a constant in my life for two 
decades. She was a harsh critic and a good friend. I 
remember she called me up after some fight in the 
union work we were doing, and said, "Diana, you 
must read this section from The Struggle for a Pro- 
letarian Party." Well, I could find it for you today 
in a minute. 

So you read what she recommended. And you 
remembered her criticisms. 

And all of these criticisms were delivered with 
such an evident concern that you learn something 
from it. I remember she used to tell me, she must 
have told me this about 20 times, she said, "You 
have to put your political mistakes in perspective. 
After all, what you have done is not as bad as what 
the Communists did in Germany in 1923" 

And Martha agonized a lot over her own failures 

and mistakes, over many glasses of wine. But what 
I admired was that she picked herself up, read 
some books, and moved on. And 1 would say the 
mistakes grew less frequent over time, actually. She 
tried, with some success I think, to put into prac- 
tice a recommendation that Jim had given her, 
which was that she should worry less about the 
mistakes she'd already made and more about the 
mistakes she was going to make. She tried to do 
that. She succeeded at that. 

Besides her passion for education, knowledge, 
internal education, she had a revolutionary audacity 
which I admired. I think if you look at the dis- 
play back there, "Martha vs. the Mayor" [WNo. 327, 
8 April 1983], you will see Lionel Wilson, who had 
the podium, the gavel, was the mayor of Oakland, 
trying to shut Martha up. But he just had no chance. 
I mean, he lost it. Martha was going to say what 
she was going to say about the interests of the work- 
ing class. 

I know I was impressed, it must have been right 
in 1972, when I first met Martha. We went to San 
Francisco State to set up a lit table and she had 
Lael. Lael was a baby, he was with us, and we had 
the requisite 50 pounds of lit for any campus lit 
table, the banner, the table, and being San Fran- 
cisco State of course, we were parked about a mile 
from where we were going to set up. I was some- 
what daunted by all of this, so Martha said, "Well, 
we'll leave everything here, we'll just take Lael and 
go on campus and scope it out." So we do this, and 
I was trying to figure out how we were going to do 
this, and she goes up to the woman at the SWP 
table and smiles her very charming and beautiful 
smile and says, "You wouldn't mind holding my 
baby for a moment, would you?" So the woman 
says, "No, honey, no problem." So we leave Lael 
with this SWPer, go and get all of the lit, the table, 
set up right next to the SWR Martha gives her a lec- 
ture on Pabloism. She was so mad. It's lucky she 
didn't throw Lael at us. But I was impressed. I 
thought, boy, this is the way to operate. 

Martha was an intensely focused person. She 
had a tight list of priorities in her life. Number one 
was politics. And that was always first and foremost, 
number one: politics in command. Number two 
was a joy in life in the here and now with the peo- 
ple she cared about. And everything else, really, far, 
far distant third. All those things that people worry 
about: money, things, paying the rent, doing the 


laundry, all of this mundane stuff, she didn't think 
too much about it really. 

And she had a lot of day-to-day troubles. There 
are endless Martha stories. The apartments she was 
thrown out of, the jobs she was fired from. Muni 
buses were always bumping into her car. Getting 
through the apprenticeship and keeping these 
printing jobs. That was a constant struggle, in a 
situation where the workforce really was under 
attack. And, as comrades have mentioned, Martha 
had a fine talent, also, for getting into trouble. I 
remember sitting around with Kathy and George 
Foster and Martha, and Martha's explaining to us 
about the job she's just been fired from. She said, 
"Well, you know, the boss wanted me to do some- 
thing. It was against the union contract, you know, 
I read him a few relevant sections from the union 
contract, and then I got fired." So there's like dead 
silence, and Martha says, "I don't know why you're 
all looking at me like this. 1 don't think I did any- 
thing provocative. I read him some passages from 
the union contract." So finally Foster says, "Well, 
Martha, I mean, you'd only been working there 
three days. I mean, you could have kept your mouth 
shut for a week." But that was not Martha's forte, 
keeping her mouth shut. 

But she managed to rise above all these troubles 
with a sense of political purpose, commitment, and 
a sense of humor which never ceased to amaze me. 
I think a lesser mortal would have been daunted by 
the things she faced in her life. And Martha loved 
life. She was a vibrant, alive person. One of the 
most alive people I've ever met. That's why it's so 
hard to believe that she's dead. And that she's not 
coming back. And I would like to say that all those 
things that the Moral Majority tells us that we're not 
supposed to do, and not supposed to enjoy, Martha 
did all of them, as much as possible. She packed as 
much living into her life as she could. And a good 
thing too. I can only hope for a suitable retribution 
against those who cut her life so short. 

Martha told me, and a couple of other people as 

well, before she went to the Soviet Union the last 
time, a story about one of her trips back to Denver. 
She said that all her family, for some reason, were 
going around the room talking about what they 
should have done in their life or what regrets they 
had and so on. And people said various things. And 
then they got to Martha and someone turned to her 
and said, "Well, I suppose you've done exactly what 
you wanted with your life." And she said, "That's 
right, I have." She said, "It would have been nice if 
I had a little more money, it would have made life a 
little easier, but that's right, I have done what I 
wanted with my life." And you know, I think of that 
with some satisfaction. 

I'd like to read a quote. Martha loved quotes 
from Trotsky. No important meeting was done with- 
out an appropriate quote from Trotsky. Actually I 
recommend this to comrades; it's Trotsky's speech 
on the founding of the Fourth International, where 
he talks very powerfully about the revolutionary 
martyrs, but also about the determination and 
revolutionary optimism necessary to go on: 

"Our party demands each of us totally and completely. 
Let the philistines hunt their own individuality in empty 
space. For a revolutionary to give himself entirely to the 
party signifies finding himself. Yes, our party takes each 
one of us wholly. But in return it gives to every one of us 
the highest happiness: the consciousness that one par- 
ticipates in the building of a better future, that one car- 
ries on his shoulders a particle of the fate of mankind, 
and that one's life will not have been lived in vain." 

Well, Martha's life was not lived in vain. She lived 
a life that she wanted in the service of the interna- 
tional proletarian revolution. She knew she faced 
dangers in the Soviet Union. She spoke about it to 
several comrades before she left. But she went 
ahead anyhow. And, you know, that's what we have 
to do. Although made poorer by the loss of Martha, 
we have to go forward as well. And as Trotsky says 
in this same article, "The program of the Fourth 
International will become the guide of millions and 
those revolutionary millions will know how to 
storm earth and heaven." 


Remarks by Jon Branche at Highgate Cemetery Memorial 

for Martha Phillips 

15 February 1992 

Comrades and friends: 

We are gathered here today to honor Martha Phil- 
lips, who died in Moscow on the front lines in the 
urgent fight against counterrevolution in the Soviet 
Union. In her work there, on the numerous occa- 
sions she was asked why the International Commu- 
nist League was in the USSR, Martha explained that 
the Soviet Union was the birthplace of our commu- 
nist program, that the Russian Revolution in fact 
belonged to the workers of the whole world, and 
that we were coming home to fight to defend the 
gains of the October Revolution. For us Trotskyists 
the Soviet Union has never been a foreign country 
and we can say truthfully that Martha died in her 

As a young woman 20 years ago Martha joined 
the Spartacist League of the U.S. She had previously 
been a member of the SWP, which at one time had 
been a revolutionary Trotskyist party but had aban- 
doned its Leninist principles. Martha was a passion- 
ate enthusiast for the great leader of American Trot- 
skyism, James Cannon, and no matter where she 
was — whether training youth in San Francisco or 
fighting for our program in the Soviet Union — 
Martha sought to impart Cannon's heritage. She 
quickly learned what Cannon meant when he said 
we were the party of the Russian Revolution. Many 
years before she set foot in the USSR, Martha was 
advising fellow comrades transferring to Detroit 
that they were moving to the American Vyborg, 
referring to the section of Petrograd where the 
most class-conscious proletariat was concentrated! 

It was Cannon who fought to preserve our pro- 
gram of unconditional defense of the Soviet Union 
against the waverers and backsliders of his time. 
For Cannon the Russian question was the question 
of revolution, and the attitude taken towards the 
Soviet state was the decisive criterion separating the 
genuine revolutionary tendency from all shades of 
Menshevism, social democracy, centrism, and Stalin- 
ism. As he noted, all those groups that turned their 
backs on the first workers state became reconciled 
in one form or another to bourgeois democracy. 

Cannon said: "We are not disinterested observers 
and commentators. We do not examine the Russian 
revolution and what remains of its great conquests 
as though it were a bug under a glass. We have an 
interest! We take part in the fight! At each stage 
in the development of the Soviet Union, its advances 
and its degeneration, we seek the basis for revolu- 

tionary action. We want to advance the world revo- 
lution, overthrow capitalism, establish socialism." 

Martha was such a proletarian fighter, who 
understood that you had to struggle in order to 
change the world. It is such a person who always has 
formed the backbone of a revolutionary organiza- 
tion. Martha had nothing but contempt for those 
who bought the bourgeoisie's line that "communism 
is dead" — she mocked not only our open social- 
democratic opponents but all those who prema- 
turely wanted to bury the Soviet Union. She believed 
passionately with Cannon that the worst kind of 
capitulator was the one who surrendered a position 
before it was lost or who capitulated before the deci- 
sive battle. In a letter she wrote from Moscow last 
October she referred to Cannon's fight against the 
Goldman-Morrow fainthearts, who in the context of 
the American imperialist victory in World War II 
became reconciled to bourgeois democracy. Martha 
wrote: "Perhaps one could make an empirical argu- 
ment that Morrow and Goldman's pessimistic analy- 
sis was closer to what became the reality; neverthe- 
less we proudly endorse the revolutionary optimism 
and working-class centrality of Cannon's theses. 
Goldman/Morrow's prognosis was liquidationist, as 
they went on to demonstrate. It is similarly danger- 
ous to view the Soviet Union through the lens of the 
bitter defeat in East Germany." 

Trotsky once said that all genuine revolutionar- 
ies live for the future; that is, they refuse to sacrifice 
principle for temporary expedient. Martha refused 
to allow herself to be daunted by the temporary set- 
backs of today or yesterday. When asked by skeptics 
how many members we had, she always replied: "A 
few less than Lenin had at the time of Zimmer- 
wald." She often made the point that at the time of 
the February Revolution in Russia the Mensheviks 
had larger numbers, more writers, etc. But Lenin 
had a hard cadre trained in a revolutionary pro- 
gram. This is what made the difference. For her 
entire political life Martha was first and foremost a 
party person from head to toe, understanding that 
it was the subjective element that was indis- 
pensable to proletarian victory. Thus, she was par- 
ticularly contemptuous of political cowards and 

Martha did not have an easy personal life, and was 
charged with bringing up a handicapped son. But 
she never allowed personal difficulties to destroy 
her political work. Entering her middle age, Martha 


began the difficult task of learning Russian from 
scratch. She regarded developments in the Soviet 
Union as "our chance" and wanted to be on the front 
lines. To come to Moscow she endured a painful 
separation from her son and family, and at times 
she was acutely lonely in the Soviet Union. She 
got a job in a Soviet school as a teacher and was 
assigned an apartment on the outskirts of the city. 
Her Soviet friends were often astounded that any 
foreigner would live like that. Undoubtedly Martha 
could have found an easier way to survive there, 
but she wanted to get a better sense of how the 
Soviets lived. 

Martha was a powerful speaker with multiple 
talents. She could inspire a large crowd with a vision 
of proletarian internationalism, as she did last 
summer at a meeting of several hundred worker 
communists in Moscow reported by Workers Van- 
guard. She was equally devastating as a polemicist 
when she went up against some social traitor; it was 
her intervention against the Militant Tendency that 
Workers Hammer covered in our current issue. And 
the interview with Soviet women in Women and 
Revolution is testimony to Martha's conviction that 
a Leninist party must be a tribune of the people. Mar- 
tha was the antithesis of the stuffed shirt, tea-sipping 
teetotalers, chauvinists and Methodist moralists that 
dominate the British Labour Party. Martha was 
among a layer of women leaders in our party, a 

member of the Central Committee of the SL/U.S. for 
many years. When I worked with her in Moscow, 
almost every day she attracted one or two women 
contacts who saw her as an authoritative spokesman 
for our politics. 

It is fitting today to recall the other comrades 
who gave their lives to fight for the program of 
Trotskyism in the Soviet Union, from the Ameri- 
can seamen in WWII who volunteered for the Mur- 
mansk run so they could achieve contact with 
Soviet workers and soldiers, to the Left Opposition 
in the Soviet Union who maintained the continuity 
of Bolshevism-Leninism under the most arduous 
circumstances. We recall the example of the Trot- 
skyists in the prison camps of frozen Vorkuta, who 
at the time of Hitler's invasion volunteered to fight 
in the Red Army. When this was refused, these revo- 
lutionaries did what they could for the Soviet war 
effort, relinquishing certain of their rights and 
agreeing to the extension of the working day to 12 
hours. Despite the hideous atrocities of Stalin, 
these Trotskyists were not demoralized. They never 
gave up on the Soviet Union. 

We remain the party of the Russian Revolution. 
That was the banner that Martha Phillips fought 
under, and that is the banner that we will continue 
to fight under. Forward to a Soviet section of the 
reforged Fourth International! Forward to a world 
socialist order! 


Remarks by Max Schutz at Friedrichsfelde Monument 
Memorial for Martha Phillips, Berlin 

16 February 1992 

Here before the monuments to Rosa Luxemburg 
and Karl Liebknecht, it is indeed fitting that we 
honor our comrade Martha Phillips. With Lenin, 
when we honor the Three L's, we honor all com- 
rades who died at their posts fighting for a commu- 
nist future. Here I must add that had she known 
last week that these monuments had been dese- 
crated she would have shared our outrage. She 
would have wanted to be in the forefront to clean 
away not only that Nazi filth but its perpetrators. 

I was fortunate to know Martha as she fought her 
way to Spartacism in the SWP In so many ways her 
own political struggle replicated the origins of our 
own tendency. Like the Revolutionary 7 Tendency of 
the previous decade, Martha fought for a prole- 
tarian, revolutionary perspective, but in a party 
which as it entered the 1970s had degenerated 
much further. Nevertheless there still existed in the 
SWP a generation of Cannon's collaborators who 
had not forgotten everything. She returned to the 
James R Cannon who was Trotsky's closest collabo- 
rator, the author of The Struggle for a Proletarian 

With her intellectual tenacity and honesty all 
along the line, she soon went beyond the partial 
approximation to that school of Cannon repre- 
sented by the Proletarian Orientation Tendency 
and rejected the impressionistic and fleeting left 

posturing of the Mandelites. Further, she had 
another quality which was foreign to these cur- 
rents: a profound class hatred of all forms of social 
oppression and a sense of the party as a Leninist 
tribune of the people. 

Through her study of the Marxist classics, careful 
study and documentation of the disputes within 
the Marxist movement, Martha enriched not only 
the PRL but many areas of our work. This helped 
deepen her firm theoretical and programmatic 
anchoring. Her whole political life could be said to 
be preparation for her last assignment and a repu- 
diation of impressionism and defeatism in the face 
of recent developments in East Europe and the 
Soviet Union. She saw not only the dangers but a 
powerful confirmation of the Trotskyist program. 
She saw challenge and opportunity to rebuild the 
party of the Russian Revolution in the land of Octo- 
ber. She became part of that unbroken chain, the 
continuity with the Three L's. 

One cannot help but remember with bitterness, 
especially here, that like Liebknecht and like Lux- 
emburg, a Jewish woman communist, Martha was 
murdered at the height of her political effective- 
ness. We have been robbed of a valued comrade 
and warm friend. That deepens our determination 
to honor her by carrying forward the work to which 
she dedicated her life. 

Tidewater Labor Black League Member's Message to 
New York Memorial for Martha Phillips 

23 February 1992 

Concerning the death and tremendous loss of 
Martha Phillips. Takes me back to the time I was 
alone and no body or an organization to function 
with in a way to benefit the working people of 
the world. I am with all of you, but at this one 
moment I am alone with myself for Martha will no 
longer be among us. 

Staying home could have been her choice, but 
she was needed in Moscow. 

A professional revolutionary is like an artist; has 
to do what must be done. 

Words spoken never die, but it is the person who 
speaks the words and Martha is no longer with us. 
Her words and work must not die.... 


Martha's work must continue us on the road of 
Lenin and Trotsky and against counterrevolution. 


Some Memories of Martha by Ann Pearson 


It's so hard to reckon with Martha being dead 
that I'm hoping putting some things on paper will 
help. It was only reading the chronology of 
Martha's life that I realized I must have been the 
first SLer to meet her. It was May 1971, when 
Reuben and I were touring the Midwest. We arrived 
in Madison on a Sunday afternoon, and discovered 
the SWP was holding a regional educational on 
campus. We were just in time for the afternoon 
"workshops," one on the antiwar movement which 
Reuben went to intervene in, and one on the 
woman question which I went to. Martha was chair- 
ing the woman question workshop, with a panel 
of herself, another local comrade, and national 
honcho Hedda Garza. Martha and the other local 
comrade each gave short presentations, and Hedda 
the main one. It was quite a shock to hear the SWP 
sound both as impassioned and as orthodox as 
they did at this workshop. Despite the SWP's 
capitulation to feminism and pop frontism, there 
was very little to argue with in the presentations, a 
most unusual occurrence. There were a couple of 
Workers Leaguers, a few ISers, and a smattering 
of other OROs [Ostensibly Revolutionary Organiza- 
tions] in the crowd of about 40 at this workshop, 
and I decided to hold my fire till some of them had 
spoken. But when Martha opened the floor for dis- 
cussion, no hands went up. After a minute or two 
of Martha's cajoling everyone to speak, there were 
still no takers. So I got to say, "Well, since no one 
else has anything to say, I have a few notes here," 
and launch into a ten-minute intervention. A lot of 
my examples of the SWP's betrayals were what I 
knew best, things they'd done in Texas, like lead- 
ing a march to the capitol for the express purpose 
of lobbying legislators in their offices. Martha was 
shocked to hear her organization accused of such 
things, which were obviously very distressing news 
to her. She didn't try any of the usual bureaucratic 
methods of controlling the discussion, so I had a 
great time being the focus of the whole discussion. 
Hedda Garza finally had to pull their chestnuts out 
of the fire by saying they'd repudiate such things if 
their organization ever did them. I even made her 
say they'd repudiate them in print. For Hedda, it 
was covering ass, but with Martha it was clear she 
was really taken aback and actually didn't know the 
kinds of things the SWP was doing around the 
country. Pat Quinn had really recruited a lot of peo- 
ple there to something far to the SWP's left. A few 
years later, I asked her if she remembered this 

workshop, and she said that she had really not 
believed most of what I'd said, and it wasn't till 
much later she recognized it must have been true. 
It had been the first time she'd heard anyone criti- 
cize the SWP from the left. When I asked her about 
it, she'd been in the SL for a couple of years already, 
but she was very apologetic, as if she somehow 
should have reacted quicker to chuck the SWP It 
was really kind of a typical Martha response, funny 
and ironic because of all those who did chuck the 
SWP, Martha always reacted the fastest, hardest and 
most thoroughly. It took her own fight to lead a lot 
of other comrades out of the SWP She always did 
set impossibly high standards for herself! 

For those who're trying to piece it all together, I 
don't recall all the ins and outs of our encounter- 
ing Martha again, but Reuben and I had already met 
Paul K. in Tampa in March 1971, long before the LF 
fight began, when there was a much more tepid 
fight that had resulted in the Tampa local being 
broken up and sent to farflung points. We knew he 
was going to Washington, and met some more peo- 
ple in and around the YSA in Washington in April 
1971 on the D.C. stop of our southern tour. After a 
week in New York, we went back to visit them 
before resuming going through the South and Mid- 
west. Peggy W knew them, a guy from France and 
his wife, and another guy who eventually became 
Paul K.'s roommate, I think. We still had something 
going with these guys in July 1971. I remember 
sitting in the NPAC conference session on Satur- 
day morning after our comrades were viciously 
attacked the night before. Most of the comrades 
were still being excluded by the SWP's huge goon 
squad, only a few of us allowed inside who they 
couldn't pinpoint as having been there the night 
before. They could hardly keep order inside the 
conference and had the stage ringed with goons, 
including Paul and the other guys we were talking 
with; I kept glancing at these guys, occasionally 
catching their eyes, and wondering how weird 
and uncomfortable they must feel. It must have 
been partly through these connections that we 
met up with Martha again, and the spectacle of 
that NPAC conference would certainly have had an 
impact on her. 

I still feel very bad about the hard time I and the 
L.A. leadership gave Martha. It really was an impos- 
sible situation for her. It was a very competitive, 
almost all-female leadership, in a local where 
except for two established couples, all the women 


were quite a bit older than the men. Although it's 
true that her forte was not organizing, she had so 
much operating against her that it wasn't a fair test. 
She was alone, very broke, living in horrible condi- 
tions with too many other comrades, and didn't 
have enough childcare. To top it all off, there was 
the office move, where the L.A. local was evicted 
from its office, which was also her own home. We 
had to get the landlord to consent to us staying a 
few extra days, so Martha was supposed to tactfully 
negotiate it with him. When he refused, it all finally 
got to Martha, and she completely lost it, screaming 
at him that he was a cockroach capitalist, a lowlife 
moneygrubber, etc. She was very articulate on the 
subject! But it was for sure the least tactful 
approach you could ever make to a landlord. Look- 
ing back at it, I think the landlord could tell she was 
really at the end of her rope, as he backed off and 
didn't bug her anymore. In the final analysis, she 
got more sympathy from him than from us. I always 
assumed that someday as old ladies we'd sit around 
drinking and reminiscing, and I'd be able to tell her 
how sorry I am. Never put off till tomorrow... 

I appreciated Sue and William's letter very much, 
and I hope Sue won't mind my telling something 
about her and Martha that somehow captures Mar- 
tha for me, and what a collaborative relationship is 
supposed to be. During the RCY conference in fall 
of 1972, Sue stayed at my apartment. One morning 
she was telling a close friend that it had been a 

really tough time for her learning to be B.A. organ- 
izer. Every morning she woke up and started think- 
ing about what to do, and burst into tears. Then 
she'd call Martha, and Martha would talk with her 
about priorities, and pretty soon everything would 
be all laid out for her, she'd know what to do 
and it wouldn't seem so overwhelming. So that 
was the kind of training that Martha gave, even as a 
pretty new comrade herself, and it had pretty good 

It's hard to stem the flow of recollections — tiny 
Martha wearing awful, gigantic platform shoes, 
marching up to Bert Corona and every CP bigwig 
she could find, baiting them and teasing them like 
a terrier until they'd lose it and spill some info 
we wanted in the process — how many times that 
happened I lost count of. Martha making an impas- 
sioned speech to the British miners strike support 
demo we'd called, then out of the blue saying 
And now we'll sing the Internationale"... and hand- 
ing the bullhorn to me to lead it. We laughed for 
hours at how our voices all cracked, and mine was 
amplified. Martha at the beach laughing. Martha 
interrupting a discussion to exclaim "Oh, Laelly" and 
him rushing into her arms giggling. Martha at a con- 
ference, her glasses slipping down her nose, so mad 
her voice wavers and crackles, hammering away. 

We have been robbed. 
Ann P 


Statement by Esteban Volkov, Grandson of Leon Trotsky 
"Martha Phillips, a Revolutionary Hero" 

27 April 1992 

On Monday, 27 April 1992, the International 
Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) 
held a press conference at the Leon Trotsky 
Museum in Coyoacdn, Mexico City. The confer- 
ence was called to announce the international 
campaign of demonstrations by the ICI demand- 
ing a serious investigation of the murder of our 
comrade Martha Phillips in Moscow on Febru- 
ary 9, and opposing the Yeltsin/Bush drive to 
restore capitalism to the Soviet Union, homeland 
of the Bolshevik October Revolution. The Trotsky 
Museum is at the house where Lenin's comrade 
in arms spent the last years of his exile, and 
where he was cut down in August 1940 by a Sta- 
linist assassin. Speaking at the press conference 
was Esteban (Seva) Volkov, Trotsky's grandson. 
We print here excerpts from his statement. 

In meeting in this place, we do so precisely to 
add the name of Martha Phillips to the long list of 
Trotskyist revolutionaries who have fallen in the 
struggle to defend the working class, at the hands 
both of their enemies of the Stalinist bureaucracy 
and of the reactionary capitalist groups. We wish to 
add the name of Martha Phillips to the long list of 
fallen revolutionary heroes, a list that is headed by 
the great revolutionary and Marxist Leon Trotsky, 
who initiated this struggle in 1923 when the whole 
process began of betrayal and moving away from 
the October Revolution which today is reaching its 
final stage, that of the return to capitalism. 

It is worth mentioning that more than half a cen- 
tury ago, Leon Trotsky, with startling clarity, pre- 
dicted the historical course which the Russian 
bureaucracy would follow and whose final stage 

would be precisely the return to private property. 
What we are witnessing is the attempt by the 
bureaucracy, a bureaucracy descended from that of 
Stalin, neo-Stalinist so to speak, which now wants to 
give the coup de grace to what was socialism and 
write the final chapter of this betrayal of the October 
Revolution. Trotsky, in The Crimes of Stalin, which 
was written more or less at the same time as The 
Revolution Betrayed, predicted that the new sectors 
of the bureaucracy would renounce Stalin, would go 
so far as to accuse Stalin and Trotsky of having the 
same ideology and political culture and of using the 
same methods. All that has come true to the letter. 
He saw the regression to the capitalist system, to pri- 
vate property, as the alternative in case the masses, 
the Soviet working class, were not able to reconquer 
power, to carry out the political revolution. 

Thus he posed it not as a predetermined end but 
as an alternative. Either the working class recon- 
quers power and returns to the road of the October 
Revolution, of Marxism, or else the bureaucracy 
would end up totally burying what was the October 
Revolution and re-establishing the capitalist system. 
And that is what we are seeing. 

I want to reiterate again our admiration for this 
revolutionary who fell in the struggle. We still can- 
not say clearly the circumstances in which she was 
murdered, but from what it appears, there are 
many elements which suggest that it was a political 
crime of reprisal against the Spartacist group, 
which only days before carried out a demonstration 
against Yeltsin. And the actions of the Russian mili- 
tia, of the police, leave a lot to be desired and raise 
many doubts. 


Statement of Split from Leninist Faction 

[Declaration of the pro-Spartacist League fusion caucus, read by Martha Phillips to the 
closing session of the Leninist Faction Convention, Ashtabula, Sunday, 13 August 1972] 


In Comrade Barbara G.'s document on Demo- 
cratic Centralism, she correctly presents Lenin's 
position that "A faction, if it is a principled faction, 
cannot contain in itself diametrically opposite 
views on the most important questions facing the 

Comrades, this Ashtabula Conference has only 
been the culmination of long, hard months of strug- 
gle. We have consistently fought for a fusion course 
with the Spartacist League. The very first time that 
Paul and myself met with the Boston comrades we 
asserted that we had a fusion perspective with the 
Spartacist League. It has become clear that the lead- 
ership of the Leninist Faction has now made a con- 
scious choice for a de facto independent existence, 
that is in reality a course counterposed to a fusion 
with the Spartacist League. 

It is usual that organizations do not recognize 
their own degeneration. Certainly the majority of 
the Socialist Workers Party could not imagine that 
their decision that Cuba was a (healthy) workers' 
state signified their degeneration. But it is not just 
that a party makes a theoretical or organizational 
error, but justifies it. With the decision against the 
Trotskyist position on democratic centralism the 
faction has embarked on a course that will lead to 
the rapid degeneration of the grouping. 

This conference marks a crossroads between 
those that will go forward with a revolutionary pro- 
gram with an unambiguous fusion perspective with 
the Spartacist League on the basis of the politics of 
the Statement of Faction, and those that will vacil- 

late, flounder, and go down in the current. 

Comrades, we are living in serious times. The 
political future of thirty would-be revolutionaries 
is an extremely serious matter. For this reason, 
we feel that the only principled thing to do is to 
pose a clear alternative: either a direct fusion per- 
spective with the Spartacist League or what will 
be an independent existence with no regroupment 

On the basis of fundamental political differences, 
we announce our separation from the Leninist 
Faction and state our intention to pursue a fusion 
perspective with the Spartacist League — the only 
revolutionary organization in the United States. Such 
a course must follow from the politics presented in 
the Declaration of Faction of May 15, 1972. 

Comrades, many harsh words have been stated 
here today. We remind you that such matters were 
concerned with political, not personal characteriza- 
tions. Because of this, despite our disputes, differ- 
ences, and polemics, we hope to be able to reunify 
with you in the future on a higher plane to resume 
a common struggle for the international socialist 

We call on all of the comrades of the Leninist Fac- 
tion who agree with us on this course to meet in 
caucus with us at this time in order to discuss our 
future perspectives. 
Paul A. 
David P 
Martha R 
Ron R 

Our Comrade 

Martha Phillips 

Young Spartacus 




Workers Vanguard 
Workers Vanguard 

Spartacist-initiated anti-ROTC campaign 
at UC Berkeley, May 1975. 

Martha speaking at Red Flag Union 
conference, Los Angeles, June 1977. 


You Can't Fight 
Reagan with 
Democrats — 
For Mass Strike 
Action to Bring 
Down Reagan! 

Build a Workers Party 


Campaigning for Oakland City Council, April 1983. 

Workers Vanguard 

Women and Revolution 

i the Revolutionary vanguard 
of the Civil War 

J V 


Harriet Tubman: 
Fighter for Black Freedom 


Soviet Women Combat Pilots 
Fought Nazi Germany 

The Story of the 
Night Witches 

Interview with Soviet Women 

Martha frequently wrote for and contributed to Women and Revolution. She conducted "Interview 
with Soviet Women" in Russian. 



! $&•• #■& : ; 

Martha at the grave of Adolf 
Joffe, a leader of 1917 
Russian Revolution and a 
Trotskyist Left Oppositionist. 

Martha with her son Lael. 

Workers Vanguard 

Martha addressing 700 delegates and distributing 
ICL literature at July 1991 Moscow Workers 

Spartacist photos 


Memorial tribute to Martha in 
Russian-language Spartacist Bulletin. 

Worldwide ICL protests demanded a serious 
investigation into murder of Martha Phillips. 
Belowr London, 30 April 1992. 

MapTa (pMMiimc 

■ SPARTAC)5t| | 

I"— "^ ■ T g BT IJ ' -■■I 

Workers Hammer photos 

Highgate Cemetery, London, 15 February 1992: Comrades and friends laid wreath in memory of 
Martha Phillips at grave of Karl Marx. 


Susan Adams 


Susan Adams 


Our comrade Susan Adams died at home on the 
morning of February 6 after a two-year struggle with 
cancer. In her 30 years as a communist cadre, Susan 
served on many of the battle fronts of our interna- 
tional party. There is hardly a section of the Inter- 
national Communist League or an area of our work 
which did not benefit directly from her politi- 
cal counsel and from her exceptional talents as a 
teacher and trainer of a new generation of proletar- 
ian leaders. She continued to carry out vital work 
as a member of the leading committees of the Spar- 
tacist League/U.S. and the ICL until her death. We 
salute her memory and share in the pain and loss of 
her longtime companion and comrade, Francois, her 
family and her many comrades and friends around 
the world. 

Like thousands of youth, Susan was propelled into 
political activism in the mid-1960s by the civil rights 
movement, the growing opposition to the Vietnam 
War and the near-revolutionary upheaval in France in 
May 1968. She vehemently rejected the mysticism and 
hypocritical moralism of her Catholic background 
and struggled against the internalized oppression that 
it caused. While at the University of California in San 
Diego, she joined Students for a Democratic Society 
(SDS) and was drawn to the pro-working-class wing 
led by the left-Stalinist Progressive Labor Party. Susan 
was won to Trotskyism as she began working with the 
SL-led Revolutionary Marxist Caucus of SDS in 1970 
after moving to the State University of New York in 
Stony Brook. Having moved back to California, 
she became a member of the Spartacist League in 
December 1971. Within months, she was elected 
organizer of our rapidly growing Bay Area local com- 
mittee, helping to integrate new recruits from a vari- 
ety of political tendencies. 

When we moved to set up a branch in the "Motor 
City," Detroit, in early 1973, Susan was chosen to 
lead it. She proudly described this center of the 
black industrial working class as the Vyborg of the 
American proletariat, in reference to the militant 
proletarian stronghold of Bolshevism in Petrograd 
on the eve of the Russian Revolution. She was 
aggressive in ensuring that our Trotskyist propagan- 
da penetrated the combative proletariat in the auto 
plants, often taking a direct hand in writing, mimeo- 
graphing and distributing our first leaflets. Susan 
saw to it that the local carried out a program of 

intensive Marxist internal education and that the 
industrial comrades, who were working 50 hours or 
more on swing shift on the assembly lines, got their 
share of polemical combat doing campus work. 

After little more than a year in Detroit, Susan 
moved to New York to be the central leader of our 
national youth organization, the Spartacus Youth 
League. As always, she took on this task with energy 
and political determination, frequently touring the 
locals, initiating or directing local and national 
SYL campaigns, overseeing the publication of a 
high-level monthly press, Young Spartacus, with an 
emphasis on Marxist education and polemics. 

In 1976, as the Spartacist tendency began to gain 
small footholds in Europe, Susan took on another 
crucial area of party work, this time for our Interna- 
tional Secretariat. Stationed mainly in Paris, she 
became the central leader of our work in Europe, and 
Paris became one of three main political centers of 
our International. Until 1992, Susan was the principal 
leader of the Ligue Trotskyste de France. She was cen- 
trally involved in the debates and discussions under- 
taken in the LTF and the International to hammer out 
our strategy and tactics in this international center of 
ostensible Trotskyism, particularly in response to the 
resurgence of the popular front in the form of the 
"Union of the Left" in the late 1970s and early '80s. 
Determined to implant the Cannonist understanding 
of party building and Bolshevik norms of function- 
ing which were largely alien to European cadre, she 
worked closely with often inexperienced leaderships 
in the European sections, getting them to seize on 
opportunities for building the party, to carry through 
regroupments with leftward-moving elements of op- 
ponent organizations and to combat the incessant 
pressures of French parochialism, British Labourism, 
resurgent German nationalism, and so on. 

In July 1994, helping to redirect the work of the 
ICL in a genuinely new and difficult period signaled 
by capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union, 
Susan wrote a letter to the International Secretariat: 
"The main task of the IS. is the production of the appro- 
priate, necessary and urgent literary propaganda, 
quadrilingually and in part pentalingually i.e., also in 
Russian, mainly in the Spartacists.... Publishing propa- 
ganda presumably gives political direction; it creates the 
scaffolding inside which the sections construct their 
work, in the spirit that Lenin developed in What Is To 
Be Done?" 



When the incipient proletarian political revolu- 
tion erupted in East Germany in the fall of 1989, 
Susan of course threw herself into guiding and push- 
ing forward our Trotskyist intervention, playing a 
major role in building the united-front mobilization 
we initiated to protest the fascist desecration of a 
Soviet war memorial, which drew 250,000 people to 
East Berlin's Treptow Park on 3.|anuary 1990. 

In 1992, when the LTF leadership itself suc- 
cumbed to the same pressures Susan had seen so 
clearly and fought so well elsewhere, there was 
a sharp political fight at an ICL conference. Susan 
sought to assimilate the political lessons of the fight 
and only a few months later accepted the difficult 
assignment of heading up our small ICL station in 
Moscow, taking up the work of our comrade Martha 
Phillips who had been murdered at her post there 
earlier that year. Working in a situation where there 
was little room for mistakes, our Moscow group 
fought to reimplant Bolshevism in the face of the 
devastation of capitalist counterrevolution and of 
the retrograde Stalinist-derived chauvinists of the 
"red-brown" coalition. 

Although foreign languages did not come easily, 
Susan embarked on learning Russian with the same 
discipline and resolution that she had applied to 
studying French. The combination of limited party 
resources and the overwhelmingly negative objec- 
tive situation in the former Soviet Union ultimately 
forced us to abandon an organized presence in 
Moscow. To her last days, Susan would speak fondly 
of her "Moscow boys," as she called the young mem- 
bers from various countries, among them recent 
recruits from the former DDR, who had volunteered 
for this arduous and dangerous assignment and 
who received their shaping as Leninist cadre under 
Susan's tutelage. 

After nearly 20 years of overseas assignments, 
Susan returned to the U.S. to work in the central 
party administration, directing her energies partic- 

ularly on working with a new layer of youth recruits 
in New York and nationally. Seeking to capitalize on 
our very successful anti-Klan mobilization in Octo- 
ber 1999, Susan addressed the New York Spartacist 
branch, of which she was political chairman: 

This demonstration really does put into context the last 
decade, when there wasn't very much going on. In the 
last couple of years, there have been many struggles in 
the party. We have sought to grind off the rust in the 
party and prepare ourselves for exactly the kind of situ- 
ation that I think our party responded to very well this 
month. And now the question is the follow-up. In short, 
the whole point here is: this is what we live for, this is 
what we prepare for, and now we're in it and we must 
take advantage of it in the maximum political way." 

During this period she also devoted much of her 
waning energy to preparing her public presenta- 
tion on "Women and the French Revolution" and 
expanding it for publication. Even while home- 
bound in her last few days, she was involved in 
helping select graphics for the layout. Several of 
her other projects remain to be completed, includ- 
ing an index for the first bound volume of French- 
language Spartacist. 

Susan's beauty and graciousness struck all who 
met her. She solicited and listened intently to the 
opinions of the newest youth member no less than 
those of the most senior party cadre, arguing with 
them openly when she disagreed. Her intellectual 
curiosity was intense and many of us fondly remem- 
ber sharing a book-shopping expedition, a novel, a 
Shostakovich symphony, an art exhibit or a play with 
Susan in whatever city of the world we found our- 
selves. Her critical-mindedness, integrity and revolu- 
tionary determination serve as an inspiration to us 
all as we go forward to realize the task to which 
she dedicated her life, the reforging of a Trotskyist 
Fourth International and the achievement of com- 
munism worldwide. 

— reprinted from Workers Vanguard 
No. 752, 16 February 2001 

Remarks by Helene Brosius at New York Memorial Meeting 

3 March 2001 

A few weeks ago, at the end of a tough day of 
doctors and decisions, Susan looked up and said to 
me: "After all, I've done everything I wanted to do in 
my life." And as much as it made me want to hold her 
and not let her go, I also knew that what she said had 
truth to it. Susan was a Marxist revolutionary to her 
bones, single-mindedly driven to build a revolution- 
ary proletarian party, to reforge the Fourth Interna- 

tional. She wanted simply to be a communist. And 
that she was — until her last breath. 

She was born in Chicago but she was a California 
girl. When she was 28 and stayed in Europe as an 
international rep for the party for the first time, she 
wrote to me: 

"We just got back from Arcachon this afternoon. It's 
lovely there. So much like the Pacific coast I could hardly 


believe it. But it made me feel at home. We had some 
sun, though not enough, and ocean waves and a huge 
dune and we ate and slept like it was our last week." 

Susan's father, Angelo Adams — Ange — came from 
Greece at age four and made a good life here. He 
wanted to have the best for his family — Betty and the 
five kids. Sue was the oldest, then Mark, Joni, Tom, 
and Marian, who have all come today The break 
with her family was difficult all the way around and 
it didn't even begin to heal until much later. 

Sue's rejection of Catholicism was conscious, 
vehement, and finally political. She wrote an excep- 
tional article for our journal Women and Revolu- 
tion called "The Cult of the Virgin Mary'' in 1977, at 
the time of "born again" president Jimmy Carter's 
election victory. "Marxists find contemporary relig- 
ion," she wrote, "an odious thing." 

"We understand, however, that what sustains religious 
affiliation in the scientific age is not so much intellectual 
conviction as social oppression. Thus, while the anti- 
clerical spirit which animates Voltaire's earnest wish that 
the last king... be strangled with the entrails of the last 
priest' may be sincere and even justified, such a 'war 
against god' does not transcend petty-bourgeois ideal- 
ism. Religion will disappear only when the society which 
creates the need for it is destroyed." 

To her chagrin, her understanding did not — all at 
once — release the grip that a Catholic upbringing 
had on her own psychology. This was a lifelong effort. 

Sue well understood that religion also served as 
an instrument for the oppression of women. She 
was a thoughtful, fervent partisan of women's liber- 
ation, understanding that it will come about only 
as a result of socialist revolution. It is fitting that a 
last contribution of hers is the wonderful talk on 
"Women and the French Revolution." This was a 
several years' labor of love for Sue. In 1994, she 
wrote of this work to a fellow member of the W&R 
editorial board: "At a time when the bourgeoisies of 
the world attack the Enlightenment, it has been 
quite literally a real pleasure to read of the hope in 
rationality and human progress of this period." 

Susan's liberal arts education actually did include 
a good dose of science and math, but in these and 
technical matters in general she always seemed at a 
bit of a loss. What did stick was an appetite for and 
range of knowledge of literature — especially Euro- 
pean literature — which was wonderfully intertwined 
with her understanding of European history. This 
was the foundation upon which she developed as an 
exceptional Marxist intellectual. 

It was the '60s, and like thousands of kids she 
was turning hard against the manifest injustices of 
racist American imperialism. At UC San Diego she 
threw herself into New Left politics and the new 
SDS chapter. But unlike many New Leftists, she 
started to study. She devoured Marx and Lenin and 

was drawn to the pro-working-class wing of SDS 
led by the Maoist Progressive Labor Party. She actu- 
ally managed to graduate, despite an arrest that 
year for sitting in at the chancellor's office — and 
she went off to Stony Brook on Long Island for 
graduate school. It seems that no sooner had she 
arrived there than she broke from PL and started 
working with Spartacist in the Revolutionary Marx- 
ist Caucus of SDS. 

I wouldn't say she was too smart for PL — because 
they had some intelligent people. Nor is it exactly 
true, as her mentor in PL evidently told her when she 
was leaving, that she "always read too many books." 
I think it was that she really considered and 
absorbed what she read. In her application for SL 
membership she wrote that she was drawn to our 
"consistency with the principles of Marx, Lenin and 
Trotsky" as opposed to the "at times reactionary Sta- 
linoid politics of PL." 

Her New Left origins poked through from time to 
time. Her father, Ange, the successful banker, was 
being prosecuted in the early '70s. Sue was in a real 
quandary — support her father, the class enemy? As 
she put it, Jim "kicked my ass, so to speak." Her 
memory was that he said something like: "What's 
wrong with you, girl? That's your father. Can't you 
see he's being prosecuted for things that everyone 
does and probably because he's Greek. Get yourself 
out there to his trial before it's over." She did. She 
was always grateful for Jim's advice. 

Only three months after joining the Spartacist 
youth group in 1971, Susan had a chance to display 
the courage which turned out to be so characteris- 
tic of her. We had been bloodily ejected from an anti- 
Vietnam War conference of NPAC, led by the Social- 
ist Workers Party. As comrade Al Nelson described it 
recently, "It was the most protracted violence I have 
ever witnessed in the workers movement. Seymour 
had his nose broken; I had bald spots on my head 
where tufts of hair had been torn out." The next day, 
Susan volunteered to be a mole, to elude the mas- 
sive SWP goon squad stationed there to exclude 
known or suspected "disrupters" and to report back 
what was being said in the aftermath of this sav- 
age exclusion. Al wrote: "We met a couple of blocks 
away and discussed her assignment and its dangers. 
I remember being extremely impressed with how 
calm and determined and brave she was." 

The summer of '71 Susan moved to the Bay Area, 
which is where I first met her. I was pleased to 
endorse her application for membership in the SL 
in December 1971. And when I left for New York 
the following summer there was no question in 
my mind that Susan was the comrade to take over 
as Bay Area organizer, though there were other 


comrades who had more experience than she did. 

In the next years, as new opportunities arose for 
the party, Susan was the clear choice for one difficult 
and critical assignment after another. She taught, 
expected, and inspired the utmost professional- 
ism. She was uncommonly able at locating and 
resisting the poison of subjectivity in herself and 
other comrades. But perhaps most valuable was her 
unbending drive for programmatic clarity. Not that 
she was immune to the ambient pressures in her 
political work, but she was fearless in her determi- 
nation to arrive at and deepen the party's under- 
standing of them. Even when — and maybe espe- 
cially when — there was a disaster that she'd been 
party to. 

Thus, more often than not, Sue was sent to the 
front lines of our party work. After just over a year 
in the party, in February 1973, she was picked to be 
founding organizer of the Detroit branch. Unfortu- 
nately, it was the eve of an economic downturn and 
the collapse of the auto industry in Detroit. But 
that local was a major step for our organization. In 
summer '74, she came to New York to head up the 
national youth organization, the Spartacus Youth 
League, which was growing rapidly and, with many 
difficulties, taking on independent organizational 
reality for the first time. 

In 1976, she was off to Europe as an interna- 
tional rep. France, the world center of the ostensibly 
Trotskyist organizations, was the jumping-off point 
for our European work and, other than Australia, 
our first international foothold. The job required 
constant travel around Europe, wide knowledge of 
the left and workers movement throughout the area, 
vigilance for opportunities, patience and care in 
cadre development. 

After spending a year in New York in '78-79 as 
our international secretary, it was off to Europe 
again, this time as a central leader of the French 
section (to the surprise of our French comrades, 
a few of whom would have preferred to eat in 
McDonald's every night rather than have an Ameri- 
can woman leading their section) . For the next ten 
years, she was our central cadre in Europe. In 1989- 
90, she played a leading role when the Interna- 
tional poured its energies and resources into the 
potential political revolution in East Germany 

In 1992, just weeks after a gut-wrenching fight 
with the French leadership, which of course 
included her, at an international conference, Susan 
took on one of the most important and difficult 
assignments there has ever been in our organiza- 
tion — the work of reimplanting Bolshevism in the 
land of October, our Moscow Station. Our comrade 
Martha Phillips had been murdered in Moscow ear- 

lier that year. Moscow was a dizzying whirlwind of 
archival, opponents, campus, labor, and educational 
work. A prime achievement of Moscow Station was 
the publication of Trotsky's The Third International 
After Lenin in Russian and its distribution. In 1995, 
she returned to the center in New York after a 20- 
year absence from the country, and took on a full 
range of duties in the leading committees of the 
International and the American section. 

Sue's life is a thread running through the history 
of our party. In the mid '70s, Sue forged a powerful 
national youth leadership. But after the heady days 
of the New Left, the mid '70s slumped pretty fast 
into quiescence. Coming out of the '60s, Sue had 
an appreciation, at times surely tinged with moral- 
ism, for the value of that kind of struggle. In a 1975 
national report, she deplored the callowness of the 
recruits, their 

"lack of depth which comes from the binocular vision of 
having once been Maoists or Stalinists or even New Left- 
ists. Trotskyism seems self-evident to too many of our 
young comrades and commitment to being a revolutionary 
has meant for them commitment to going to meetings, 
reading books, debating opponents and giving up dope. As 
wretched as the New Left was, one understood that becom- 
ing a radical meant risking jail, fights with the cops, etc. (or 
at least risking suspension from school!). And as rotten 
and misleading as were the ideologies of Che, Cleaver and 
Malcolm X, becoming part of a movement of which they 
were the heroes involved a level of commitment which our 
young comrades have not had to consider." 

A good dose of political education was needed, she 
concluded, and "some good and hard political fights 
this year." 

In this period, Susan worked on the article "Rape 
and Bourgeois Justice," a polemic against the liberal, 
New Left, and feminist views of capitalist class injus- 
tice. "Rape and Bourgeois Justice" still stands as a guid- 
ing statement for us on the intersection of sex, race, 
and class in this capitalist society. Collaboration on this 
article further cemented a lifelong working relation- 
ship with Jim Robertson, a personal and political tie as 
formative and consequential as any in her life. 

Sue found her assignment to international work 
in Europe in 1976 a tremendous challenge — terrify- 
ing and exhilarating at the same time. From a '76 
letter to me: 

"France is very exciting and interesting these days. I 
can't help it, I like it when the whole world seems polit- 
ical and the issues are urgently enough felt by people 
that they stand around in knots and argue and scream at 
each other into the night." 

It was, as she wrote, "the classical time of swim- 
ming against the stream.... The popular front is on 
the road to power through the elections, drawing 
everyone else in its wake." 

Susan was of course a bit of a workaholic, diligent 


and sometimes earnest to a fault, though she 
learned to measure that a bit. Languages really did 
not come easily to her. She developed a fine com- 
mand of French. But her ear wasn't very good so 
her pronunciation was poor, which was an obstacle 
when dealing with snobs. She started intensive 
study as soon as she got there, and ten years later 
she was still working on her French. Later she stud- 
ied German and, when she went to Moscow, she 
studied Russian four to five hours a day at the 
beginning despite the manic pace of the political 
work there. 

Sue had an impressive mastery of the basic Marx- 
ist texts — Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Cannon — 
and a prodigious memory for what she read. She 
also knew our press and internal documents thor- 
oughly. She used the literature like a precision 
instrument, pulling out exactly the right tool for 
the job. When she ran into French parochialism, 
an enduring weakness of the French left, including 
the so-called Trotskyists, she wielded the weapon 
of founding American Trotskyist leader James P. 

In 1983, she was delighted to succeed in bring- 
ing out a speech by Cannon upon his return from 
a quite unrewarding assignment in France in 1939. 
This was a two-edged sword in the struggle against 
our political opponents and for our French sec- 
tion. The fact alone of publishing Cannon was a 
polemic against the deeply held belief on the French 
left that nothing useful could derive from America. 
Susan wrote in the introduction to the Cannon 

"Given the program, the construction of the leading 
cadres is the key to the construction of revolutionary 
parties; and the former requires an even higher degree 
of consciousness and a more deliberate design than the 

Cadre development and particular attention to 
the youth was a hallmark of her work, on which she 
brought to bear her wide-ranging intellectual store- 
house. You'd often find her using lessons she'd 
learned — or wrestled with — when she gave advice 
to others. 

She went as our rep to a five-day academic con- 
ference on Trotsky in Wuppertal, Germany, just 
after the disastrous 1990 East German elections 
which ushered in counterrevolution there. All the 
big-shot Trotskyist pretenders were there — from 
Mandel and Broue to Michel Pablo. To their horror, 
she always introduced herself as a professional rev- 
olutionary. There was a group of Gorbachevite 
Soviet academics who were poking their heads up 
out of the glasnost opening. Everyone worth any- 
thing was talking about the 1923-24 period of the 
Soviet Union, which we also were critically examin- 

ing in light of some new documentation that had 
emerged from the Soviet archives. Broue had just 
published his Trotsky biography, which we were 

She wrote a wonderful report, and you could tell 
how charmingly and fruitfully she worked over the 
lot of them. Some of those pretentious academics 
must have walked away from a nice lunch only to 
look down and see the knife in their stomachs. She 
drove Mandel into a sputtering frenzy, at a lunch 
in front of a bevy of fawning young social demo- 
crats, over his uncritical printing of an article in 
praise of the Estonian Forest Brothers, Baltic fas- 
cists who fought with the Nazi Wehrmacht against 
the Red Army. 

She was also our reporter at the trial of Nazi SS 
butcher Klaus Barbie in Lyon in 1987. We printed 
her reporter's notebook in WV and Le Bolchevik. 
In one sentence, Sue summed up the politics of 
the trial: 

"Barbie's smiling grimace is a smile of contempt: he can 
beat the French state court simply by following its own 
rules, since he is willing to say the equivalent of what 
French rulers have believed for more than a century: 
better Hitler than a workers commune (soviet) in Paris." 

Susan is rightly widely admired for her persis- 
tence in fighting for programmatic precision. The 
purpose was always to get it right — not to win an 
argument — because the parly's line really matters. 
She sparked a rich internal discussion in late '96 
about the slogan "U.S. Bases Out of Japan," which 
was raised in our Japanese propaganda protesting 
the U.S. bombing of Iraq. After a couple of months 
of political exchanges internationally, we arrived at 
a much more nuanced and precise appreciation of 
how most effectively to express our opposition to 
the U.S. imperialist military in various contexts in 
this post-Soviet world. 

After the French section succumbed to multiple 
pressures in '92, especially the collapse of Stalin- 
ism, she never stopped trying to sort out what 
had gone wrong. When she returned to France in 
'95 to help get the section straight around the big 
strikes there, she was able to lead again, having her- 
self worked through a lot of the prior history and 
gained a measure of understanding. 

Susan and Frangois were a remarkable love 
match. When she got ill, Susan called him her 
"great hero." He treated her with unfailing tender- 
ness. In '95 she wrote to her cousin Cathy about 
her coming marriage: "Who knows what the future 
holds, or how long we'll be together, but I wouldn't 
have traded this for anything." 

I have to add one story here from a long- 
time sympathizer in Germany because it so captures 
a part of Sue. This was in the mid '70s: "She also had 


a fine low-key sense of humor: I remember a female 
comrade asking Susan where she got her clothes 
(since Susan could be elegant in anything), and 
Susan answered Salvation Army' When the comrade 
expressed surprise, Susan shrugged and smiled and 
said, "Wfell, Parisian Salvation Army'." 

Susan wished to be cremated. Trotsky wrote in 
Problems of Everyday Life, cremation is "a power- 
ful weapon. ..for anti-church and anti-religious 
propaganda." So it was, as Francois pointed out, 
her last act of propaganda. Personally, I find a 

fitting conclusion in Trotsky's description of his 
friend and comrade-in-arms Adolf Joffe: 

"Joffe was a man of great intellectual ardor, very genial 
in all personal relations, and unswervingly loyal to the 
cause.... The personal bravery of this very sick man was 
really magnificent... He was a good speaker, thoughtful 
and earnest in appeal, and he showed the same qualities 
as a writer. In everything he did, he paid the most exact- 
ing attention to detail — a quality that not many revolu- 
tionaries have... For a great many years I was bound to 
him more closely than any one else. His loyalty to friend- 
ship as well as to principle was unequaled." 

Remarks by Bruce Anwar at New York Memorial Meeting 

3 March 2001 

Susan introduced Cannonism in France. There 
are so many ways to show what that means, I can 
only scratch the surface. One thing was her meticu- 
lous attention to organizing down to the slightest 
detail, which was such a break with the organ- 
izational sloppiness that's rampant in the French 
left, going all the way back to Trotsky's time. Just 
one example: the contingent we formed in the dem- 
onstration that took place when Reagan came to 
Europe in 1982. Mitterrand had been in power for 
one year, acting as the spearhead in Europe of the 
anti-Soviet Cold War hysteria. The French left called 
a demonstration against Reagan, but they were 
wallowing in anti-American chauvinism as a way 
of prettifying French imperialism and the popular 
front in power. 

The LTF carried a banner: "Reagan and Mitter- 
rand: Anti-Soviet Warmongers." To prepare the con- 
tingent, Susan took the entire party out to a field 
near Rouen where we practiced marching in mili- 
tary formation so that every comrade would know 
his place in the contingent. That was one very 
impressive contingent and it greatly increased our 
impact on the left. 

It also illustrated another point: Susan fought 
constantly to break out of what we called the 
"historical impasse": the fact that we were never 
more than a few dozen in a country of three self- 
proclaimed Trotskyist groups, each with several thou- 
sand members. In demonstrations, it was accepted 
practice — enforced by the Stalinist goons — that 
their contingent marched in the front — it was 
supposed to be "their" demonstration — the mass of 
workers would march behind them, and the 
smaller left groups would bring up the rear. And 
the LCR goons copied the Stalinists, trying to make 
sure that the smaller groups marched behind them, 
way at the back. But not us, at least not when we 

could help it. I generally headed up our security 
team, and Susan would invariably be at my side — 
you know, roughly half my size — pushing me on to 
be more aggressive at opening a road to get our 
contingent into the demonstration. 

Susan had a very special tactical sense, an intuitive 
feel for seizing opportunities to extend the LTF's 
influence and weight. There are so many examples. 
One of the best is the December 11, 1980 anti-fascist 
demonstration in Rouen that really put us on the 
map in that city. 

The fascists had been staging a series of provoca- 
tions against our comrades, who were doing a 
weekly sale of Le Bolchevik at the train station. 
Susan proposed that we try to organize a worker- 
centered demonstration against the fascists. (This 
was well before the 1982 labor/black mobilization 
against the Klan in Washington, DC.) That dem- 
onstration in Rouen was spectacularly successful, 
about 400 people, heavily working-class, which in 
that city was comparable in size to the annual May 
Day demonstration. But the demonstration only 
happened because of about three weeks of con- 
stant political struggle, that Susan orchestrated, 
against our political opponents on the left, espe- 
cially the LCR, who used every maneuver in the 
book to try to sabotage the demonstration in the 
name of "free speech for the fascists." In the up- 
shot, two days after the demonstration, Jaruzelski 
staged a countercoup in Poland to spike the pro- 
capitalist power drive by Solidarnos'c, and some of 
the same groups that had marched with us against 
the fascists were now marching with the far right in 
solidarity with Solidarnos'c and capitalist counter- 
revolution in Poland. But many of those who had 
worked with us to build that demonstration joined 
the party, and that surge of recruitment led to the 
establishment of the Rouen local. 


Finally, I want to mention the fight that Susan 
carried out from the start against this "star con- 
ception" of leaders that is so prevalent on the 
French left. She fought against the prima donnas 
who thought that they alone embodied the leader- 
ship, but also against those who stepped back from 

taking responsibility and saw her as the "star" 
who should do it all. Susan didn't pretend that she 
was developing something new and original, just 
applying the experience of Lenin, Trotsky, Cannon, 
and the founding cadres of our tendency, "just" 
doing that. 

Remarks by Tom Adams at New York Memorial Meeting 

3 March 2001 

Calm, determined and brave. I like those words, 
that's kind of what I wanted to talk about. When 
Susan called around to the family late, late one 
night last January to tell us that the cancer was back 
and she wasn't going to make it after all, she said 
something to me that I admit at the time I pretty 
much dismissed as false bravado. But now we've all 
gone through these last 12 months with her and 
watched her die and now I know it was far from 
false bravado when she said, "Ah hell, dying young 
isn't the worst thing in the world." I think that all 
of us unite today under the, I guess revolutionary, 
slogan, "We love Susan!" 

Ever since I sat there on that snowy February 6th 
and held her hand and shared some of her brave 
final breaths, I've been pondering those words, 
"dying young isn't the worst thing in the world." 
Over the last four weeks of grieving, I think I've fig- 
ured out some of what she meant anyway. What 
would Sue consider the worst thing in the world? 
Well, it started becoming obvious to her family, I 
think, late in the '60s when we lived across the 
street from the University of California in San 
Diego. Perhaps a location decision that my parents 
regretted eventually. It made it awfully easy to get 
to SDS chapter meetings, and I think the cigarette 
vending machines were how I learned to smoke. 
She headed off to demonstrations up and down the 
state and got herself jailed for occupying an admin- 
istration building to protest the war — a very earth- 
shaking event in our family, of course, where the 
Greek immigrant father had to go face his daughter 
on the other side of the bars and bail her out. 

And it got even more intense the week before 
graduation when George Winne self-immolated in 
the quad to protest the war. Susan at that point 
refused to take part in the graduation ceremony, or 
at least she did until her mother Betty took her 
aside and gently explained to her, "Your father has 
been working his fanny off for twenty years in order 
to see his oldest daughter graduate from college, so 
I think that you better show up." So she graduated. 

And I'll never forget the defiant look on her face 
as she strode across, grabbed her diploma quickly, 
and sailed across the stage with her head in the air 
and refused to shake the bloodstained hands of the 
board of regents representatives there that day. I'm 
sure some of you remember the despicable Rea- 
ganaut Clark Kerr; he looked shocked. 

Around the family dinner table in those days Sue 
was doing a lot of what I'm sure you were doing in 
those days, which was serving notice to your fami- 
lies that times were very definitely changing. Her 
father, as many of you know, was an immigrant 
from a tiny village in Greece, a World War II vet, 
product of the GI Bill. Her mother was an immi- 
grant too in a sense, who with her single mother in 
the 1920s moved north from Arkansas to Missouri 
to Chicago to follow the American Dream, as many 
people did. Mom of course was in many ways a role 
model, especially for the girls in the family. And she 
went charging over the years through basically 
every door of opportunity that the sexist society of 
the time was slowly opening and taught her daugh- 
ters to enjoy themselves kicking open more doors. 

Although Ange would always claim to be descend- 
ed from Alexander the Great, Socrates was more of 
his spiritual ancestor. They wanted to raise a bunch 
of kids, strangely enough, who would think for 
themselves and challenge assumptions and distrust 
the common wisdom. They certainly convinced 
Susan, I think, that one of the worst things in life 
would be to ever take anything on faith. I think 
another thing worse than dying young for Susan 
would have been to ever violate Socrates' famous 
dictum, "The unexamined life is not worth living." 
The unexamined life, of course, would be that of the 
distracted conventional life that most people lead 
without thinking about it. 

So all those things would be bad — the unexamined 
life, blind faith. But what would Sue consider the 
worst thing in the world? I think it's pretty obvious 
to everybody in this room. To know that the world 
needed to change but not do anything about it. 


Remarks by Francois Diacono 
at New York Memorial Meeting 

3 March 2001 

Susan went as peacefully as she could. She was 
very afraid of the suffering that she might endure, 
and she did not go through the worst of her fears. 
She passed her last day listening to some beautiful 
Mozart arias. And she was also so happy to have so 
many people, comrades and family, visit her. 

I really wanted to mention her sense of beauty. 
She was always saying that when she became politi- 
cal many things came together — politics, sex, music, 
painting. She said there was Catholicism and religion 
one way, and sex and many other things including 
politics the other — and she knew exactly where she 
was going. Part of her becoming political and becom- 
ing a political leader was struggling against all these 
conservative psychological things. She used to tell 
me a lot, "There's no way that you can approach 
political problems and think about them if you let 
your psyche intervene." 

She was always finding projects. She always 
amazed me with the energy that she had. When 
we'd come back home at 11 o'clock after a full day 
at work, she would say, "Well, why don't we do the 
three following things next?" She wrote in her 
diary, "I feel like I must finish my projects and then 
have more.'" 

One that we completed and WV put so much 
work into was "Women and the French Revolution." 
I want to try to explain where that came from. That 
was part of her attachment to fighting for women's 
liberation. Throughout her years in France, she did 
a tremendous job at training especially young 
women cadres in fighting against the political prev- 
alence of society which says that they are maybe 
good for this and that but not good for thinking 
because that's a man's thing. She was always ham- 
mering Spartacism against parochialism and male 
piggishness. When we expelled a comrade in the 
early '80s because he was beating his wife, none 
of the political opponents in France could believe 
that. They were saying, "Well, all right, he was beat- 
ing his wife. But what was the real reason he was 
expelled, what's the political reason?" That's how 
piggish they were. 

Another project that she had is the indexing of 
the first volume of French Spartacist, which was 
very important to her. It's part of the training of a 

new generation of communist cadre and also part 
of our continuity. One thing that she was very 
proud of was being part of a generation of cadre 
that was trained in direct collaboration with com- 
rade Jim, who himself was trained in the SWP and 
by James Cannon, and this is our continuity with 
Trotsky and the Bolsheviks. She was very proud 
and always very conscious of passing this experi- 
ence to a younger generation. 

That also goes with her way of doing politics. 
Politics is nothing spontaneous. It's hard work, it's 
conscious, it requires thought and thoroughness in 
everything. I found a nice quote in her diary where 
she says, "An insight must have words and that is 
where the time comes in. So, it's just not: voilar It 
was part of her training and also her inspiration of 
young communists. A small story that for me illus- 
trates that: When I was a young member in the 
Paris office and was putting a glass in the sink, she 
was passing through the kitchen and she said, "I'm 
glad. I see that you're going to wash this glass." 
Being a young male, I'm not sure I would have. 
Anyway, the point is that I don't think I ever left a 
mess in any office that I worked in after that. 

The last thing that I wanted to mention is how 
much she loved her father. One story that she 
told me about him which she was very proud 
of: it was the beginning of the '60s and they were 
watching TY watching a civil rights protest. Her 
dad was a really conservative guy, I think. Never- 
theless, he turned to say, "If my kids were pre- 
vented from going to school because of their ethnic- 
ity or color, I'd be out there with those guys in the 

Finally, I just wanted to let everybody know that 
we had a little ceremony to disperse Susan's ashes. 
She wanted it to be done facing Ellis Island, which 
was the symbol for her of coming from a family of 
Greek immigrants from her dad's side. And it also 
faces the ocean; she said it's between Europe and 
America, the two places where she spent the two 
parts of her life. 

She wrote, "If you are a revolutionary you really 
do spend all your life preparing to make a revolu- 
tion." That's just what you do, and that's just what 
she did. 


Remarks by Paul Costan at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

3 March 2001 

I was fortunate to know and work with Susan 
Adams in that relatively brief but intense period 
when she was the founding organizer of the Detroit 
local. We were a couple of dozen, enthusiastic but 
overwhelmingly new to the party, drawn from 
many points on the political map, but primarily the 
New Left. We were from all over the country, and I 
don't think there was a single comrade who had 
even visited Detroit previously. 

Within a week or two of arriving in town, half of 
us were working 50, 60, even more hours a week 
in the plants — and there are few jobs as successful 
as auto assembly in isolating some major muscle 
groups and making them scream. The city was still 
a seething cauldron in the aftermath of the '67 
ghetto rebellion. The current racist outrage was a 
cop unit that specialized in street executions of 
dozens of black youth. Their commanding officer 
was running for mayor against a black ex-Stalinist 
Democrat while the bourgeoisie nervously debated 
this emerging strategy for political control of the 
northern industrial centers. And the city and plants 
were crawling with ostensible revolutionaries, 
almost all of whom had been there longer than 
we, many of whose organizations — two brands of 
Shachtmanites, Spark, CLP — had made the city 
their national center, not to mention the half dozen 
or so decomposition products of earlier Trotskyist 
work that existed solely in the Motor City. 

It was Sue A. who organized and led our inter- 
vention into this tempest. I was astounded to read 
in the WV memorial that she had barely a year 
in the party herself. Of course she didn't do it 
alone — yet she was the organizational glue, and for 
at least a year the senior political leader. Susan was 
a rock — amidst the seemingly daily turmoil that was 
the Detroit local, I never once saw her get flus- 
tered. She had a unique ability to combine a sense 
of perspective and political focus with a seemingly 
infinite capacity for detail — her reports are a won- 
derful testament in this regard. I remember her 
"Greetings from the Vyborg of the North American 
proletariat" salutation referred to in WV — I believe 
at the first national conference, or perhaps active 
workers conference, following the formation of 

the local. Vyborg, and the River Rouge complex as 
our Putilov — these were among the regular and 
purposeful reminders that Susan used to keep us 
focused on our immediate goal, the formation of 
Bolshevik fractions in a critical industry. 

Detroit exerted powerful deforming pressures 
on young communists — the depoliticizing tedium 
and exhaustion of factory labor, a truly ubiquitous 
and heavily social-democratic labor bureaucracy 
that had its fingers in everything, and a plethora of 
reformist, centrist, and nationalist opponents. 
Susan led the local in fashioning an educational 
program centered on the Russian Revolution and 
party history as a corrective to these pressures, and 
implemented a program of regular campus work in 
Ann Arbor for the industrialized youth, and yet 
more educationals on the OROs. She also sought to 
raise our level of literacy and culture, not an easy 
task in a city that, for example, has a beautiful 
library with original Rivera murals — but no books. 
I think it was Susan who added some Brecht works 
to the local reading list; I know she certainly took 
great pleasure in the discussions about them. She 
led our trips to the Detroit Institute of Art for the 
rare decent cinema in town, and made sure to 
inject readings from Their Morals and Ours into 
our frequent discussions of issues of communist 
morality in everyday life. 

Susan was a fundamentally compassionate per- 
son. Living as we did, in closer proximity than 
you will normally experience short of barracks 
life, knowing no one in the city other than our- 
selves, and depending on each other for virtu- 
ally everything, our personal lives were far more 
intertwined than the norm. Even though she was 
barely a few years older than the youngest of 
us, her maturity and stability were such that she 
was frequently sought out for personal solace, 
which she gave freely to all who were at least 
half-deserving. She sought the best from people 
politically, encouraged the shy and prodded the 
tardy — to improve them, and to strengthen the 
party. And she imbued daily work with a sense of 
revolutionary optimism that was infectious. She has 
died far too young. 


Remarks by Jan Blok at Berlin Memorial Meeting 

24 February 2001 


It was already reported how Susan took a special 
interest in training young members to become 
party leaders. I hope to be able to inspire comrades 
here, especially the younger ones, to live and fight 
like Susan. For the benefit of the younger com- 
rades, I expand a little bit to give you a sense of the 
situation in the former Soviet Union after capitalist 

Susan came to Moscow in December 1992 to 
lead the work of ICL comrades who were stationed 
there. This was a few months after our comrade 
Martha Phillips, who led Moscow Station before, 
was cold-bloodedly murdered. We have a picture 
here of Martha, standing at the grave of Adolf Joffe, 
a close comrade of Trotsky who managed to con- 
vince Trotsky to stand hard and fight for his beliefs, 
like Lenin did. The dangerous work in the former 
Soviet Union gave little room for mistakes and 
Susan was keenly aware of this. For her, the best 
way of avoiding mistakes and learning from them 
was to forge the Moscow comrades into a closely 
collaborating collective and to make sure that com- 
rades had a strong understanding of our program. 

When Susan arrived she threw herself into an 
intensive study of the Russian language, which was 
difficult for her. Before she came to Moscow she 
led the work of our French section. At our Second 
International Conference in 1992, there was a 
sharp political fight with the leadership of the LTF 
Unlike some comrades who withdrew or even quit 
our party, Sue did everything to assimilate the les- 
sons of this fight. Next to her studies of Russian 
history, she intensively occupied herself with the 
revolutionary history of France. Her educational on 
women in the French Revolution which is printed 
in the current Workers Vanguard is but one result 
of her thorough work. 

When you read about events in the past, you 
tend to accept that this and that happened, history 
took one or the other course, and we intervened 
in a certain way If you live through these events 
yourself, this is very different. The facts are not as 
obvious as in hindsight. As Trotskyists we always 
defended the Soviet Union and the deformed work- 
ers states against counterrevolution from within or 
without. When there was an opportunity to fight 
for political proletarian revolution, we did that with 
all the forces at our disposal in the DDR. And Susan 
was in the front lines of this battle. But none of us 
had lived through a counterrevolution before 1990. 

And the problems we were confronted with were 

In Russia, between April and October 1993, 
there was a heavy crisis between the parliament, 
that still called itself Supreme Soviet, and President 
Yeltsin, that puppet of the imperialists who bru- 
tally tried to implement the austerity measures dic- 
tated by the IMF against the Soviet working class. In 
October 1993 Yeltsin moved with tanks against the 
Moscow White House, which was the seat of the 
parliament. There sat the same bandits who fought 
together with Yeltsin for the destruction of the 
Soviet Union — the first workers state in the world. 
They wanted to maintain some of the state industry 
of the former Soviet Union in order to become 
themselves the owners of it, while Yeltsin wanted to 
destroy this industry. 

The initial impulse of several Moscow comrades 
— myself included — was to stand beside the events. 
We thought that in a fight between two factions of 
the Russian capitalist class we don't take a side and 
that's it. But Susan kept underscoring: "Comrades, 
how often do you see a situation where two fac- 
tions of the bourgeoisie shoot at each other? The 
Russian bourgeoisie is extremely unstable. This is a 
good situation for the working class. We have an 
interest in maintaining the Soviet industry. The 
workers must be mobilized in their own interests 
to defeat Yeltsin. Once they do that, they will easily 
clean up the rabble at the White House!" In the hot 
October days of 1993 we had a public forum. I 
think that the subject we wanted to discuss was 
some event during the Cold War. Susan gave the 
presentation that day and she started: "It would be 
the antithesis to Marxism if we were not to address 
today's situation. Marxism is first and foremost a 
guide to action. Today's situation in Russia provides 
plenty of opportunity for the action of the working 
class. We must discuss how to get there." 

Yeltsin won the fight and for months the Moscow 
White House was a bombed and burnt-out ruin. 
Many Moscow workers were shocked at what the 
capitalist Yeltsin regime was capable of. Yeltsin's 
journalists lied that just a few people got killed. We 
saw it ourselves on TV, heaps of corpses piled up at 
the White House. I had known pictures like that 
only from documentaries about the crimes of the 
Nazi Wehrmacht in the Soviet Union. Then Yeltsin 
claimed that the Chechen mafia is responsible for 
the public disorder. There were massive police 
pogroms in Moscow in October 1993. If you were 


darker-skinned or had dark hair you would get 
stopped by cops with automatic rifles who would 
check your identity. If one couldn't provide papers 
to stay legally in Moscow, these poor people were 
kept hostage in stadiums and later deported to the 
Caucasus. Many got their gold teeth kicked out. I 
once saw that only 300 meters away from our 
public office. We were all very nervous in those 
days. One of the things Susan made sure is that we 
all have our papers on us, call each other in the 
evenings and mornings, and make sure that noth- 
ing happened to us. 

No doubt that the working class of the ex-Soviet 
Union was extremely intimidated. Our sales at the 
huge Moscow factories dropped from up to 400 
pieces of literature to a dozen papers. One day a 
comrade and I went to one of our regular sales. 
There was a note at the gate: "The factory is closed 
until further notice." So the working class became 
very passive in 1993. Huge parts didn't even exist 
anymore because they were robbed of their cohe- 
sion in industrial enterprises. Our own perspec- 
tives in the former Soviet Union became more lim- 
ited. We could not hope for many new members in 
the wake of the counterrevolution and the recent 
defeat. Sue told us then: "Nobody promised that 
we would make the revolution. But there's a lot of 
things for us to do in order to prepare for new rev- 
olutions and lay the basis for the next generation of 
revolutionary leaders so that they can draw the 
lessons of the class struggle." 

Susan urged us to read Rakovsky's letter to 
Valentinov which is also known under the title "The 
Professional Dangers' of Power." It's here on dis- 
play. Rakovsky was next to Trotsky the main leader 
of the Left Opposition in the USSR, and he wrote 
said letter in 1928, four years after the Soviet Ther- 
midor and just after the defeat of the Chinese Rev- 
olution in 1927 which was prepared by Stalin. 
Rakovsky pointed out that the working class goes 
through difficult times, but the Left Opposition 
won't stop fighting for the mobilization of the 
working class to achieve communism. For this, the 
lessons of the degeneration of the Russian Revolu- 
tion must be drawn to train future generations of 
proletarian leaders. Rakovsky's letter was the basis 
of Trotsky's book The Revolution Betrayed, which 
to this day is still the best analysis of the Stalinist 
betrayal of the October Revolution. 

Susan never gave up seeing in the working class 
the key instrument to fight for a socialist society in 
the epoch of imperialism. In 1994 she led the two 
handfuls of Moscow comrades to work with elan 
on the publication of The Third International 
After Lenin. The cadre of the international Trotsky- 

ist movement in the late '20s and '30s based them- 
selves programmatically on this key document. 
Before 1994 it was not available in the Soviet 
Union. So, we made this text available all over the 
former Soviet Union. We distributed 25,000 copies 
to bookstores, newspaper kiosks, and libraries 
from Vladivostok and Irkutsk in Siberia, over the 
miners' towns Vorkuta in the north of Russia and 
Rostov in the south, but also to the Ukraine, 
Byelorussia, and the former Baltic republics. 

Susan also urged us to publish our position on 
Afghanistan in Russian. In 1994 we recruited a new 
member. He told Susan that he volunteered for the 
Soviet Army to go to Afghanistan. This was in the late 
'80s when he was 16 years old. Comrades here know 
that we said "Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!" when 
it intervened on the right side of a civil war on 
the woman question — between a petty-bourgeois 
regime that wanted to bring progress to a feudal 
society and the Islamic mujahedin, the murderers of 
women, that were backed by the CIA. We wanted 
to extend the gains of the October Revolution to 
the peoples of Afghanistan. One night I went home 
by cab. I asked the driver what he thought of the 
changes in the former Soviet Union. He told me: 
"Leave me alone with politics. I went to Afghanistan 
in 1986 to fight for internationalism, the Soviet 
Union, and all those things. When I came back I had 
to watch Ramho and was called a rapist by the same 
people who sent me there. Now I'm 26, and all I can 
do is drive a cab." Susan realized that Gorbachev's 
treacherous pullout of Afghanistan burnt a whole 
generation of subjectively revolutionary youth in the 
Soviet Union. This was an important, if not final 
stroke against proletarian revolutionary internation- 
alism by the Stalinist bureaucracy. All the more, 
Susan wanted to publish our key articles on this 
question in Russian. 

An important part of our work in Moscow was 
research in the archives of the Communist Interna- 
tional. We wanted to find documents by James R 
Cannon between 1922 and 1928. He was the leader 
of the American Trotskyist movement. In 1928 he led 
a fight within the American Communist Party for 
Trotskyism, i.e., the Bolshevik struggle for interna- 
tional revolution. Cannon's fight was based on The 
Third International After Lenin. One day a com- 
rade and I went into the archive and we ran into 
Pierre Broue, who was for years a leading member 
of the French fake-Trotskyist OCI. We told Susan 
about this and she insisted that we read our article 
in Spartacist with a criticism of Broue's Trotsky 
biography in which he portrays Trotsky as a pere- 
stroika politician. Susan wanted to make sure that 
Sam and I knew who we were dealing with. She also 


wanted to meet this Broue, and Sam arranged this. 
The French social-democratic left is absolutely male- 
dominated. So when Broue saw this little charming 
and attractive woman who led our work in Moscow, 
he was shocked! Furthermore, Susan was the same 
person who was responsible for all the polemical 
attacks on the so-called fake-Trotskyists in France 
who did everything to get Mitterrand's social demo- 
crats elected for running the business of French 
imperialism. Sam told me over the phone that you 
could clearly see that all the polemical attacks and 
stings on the OCI still hurt him. 

Susan received her training from comrades who 
were trained by Jim Cannon in the SWP before it had 
renounced Trotskyism. Cannon himself was trained 
by Trotsky. Sue was always very proud of the train- 
ing that she had received together with a whole gen- 
eration of revolutionary youth in the early '70s. In 
a very real way she represented the revolutionary 
continuity of our international parry that goes back 
to the Russian Revolution. A couple of years back 
I prepared myself for a presentation on the fight 
of the Left Opposition in the Soviet Union. Com- 
rades from the U.S. sent me a tape of an education- 
al given by comrade Jim Robertson in 1973- Jim 
stood in front of a hundred young revolutionaries 
who he wanted to train into revolutionary cadre. In 
the discussion period a number of comrades spoke 
who today lead the work of the ICL all over the 
world. Susan was one of them. When she was in 
Moscow you could feel how everything that she 
learned in the early '70s was her daily bread and 
butter in the former Soviet Union. She did every- 
thing to pass on her knowledge and experience to 
the younger comrades in Moscow Station. I was one 
of them. 

We had several comrades in Moscow who grew 
up in deformed or degenerated workers states. Ralf, 
who can't be here today, and I were recruited to 
Trotskyism in 1990 when the ICL fought against Ger- 
man capitalist reunification. After almost a year in 
the party we went to Moscow. Susan was very inter- 
ested in the experiences of the Soviet and East Ger- 
man comrades. With her, there was never the type of 
teacher-student relationship where the teacher 
knows everything and the student just repeats what 
the teacher says. Susan always wanted to learn from 
us, too. This made discussions with her so pleasant 
and refreshing. She wanted us to read, even if it's 
one page before going to bed. She knew that we 
would only survive as revolutionaries in the post- 
counterrevolution period if we tried to assimilate the 
lessons of the many class struggles in history. 

In 1994 and 1995 I went to the Ukraine on a reg- 
ular basis. The trip took 17 hours. Susan said to me: 

"Now, since you have a lot of time to read, why don't 
you try your hand at Cannon. This would be very 
useful to you." In these six months I read all the Can- 
non books that we had in Moscow. Usually I would 
come back from the Ukraine and report on what 
happened there. Then Sue and I would sit down 
in the kitchen and she asked me what I had learned 
from the reading. Initially I thought that she wanted 
to run down a checklist to see whether I actu- 
ally read. But what made her curious was how 
I received these books, which questions I had, 
and which lessons I drew from the reading. It was 
important for her to understand how someone 
who grew up in Eastern Europe with a Stalinist 
conception of party organization would understand 
Cannon. She tried to compare this to her own 
reading of Cannon after she was influenced by New 
Leftism and Maoism, or the understanding of Can- 
non by French comrades who came to us from 
fake-Trotskyist organizations. 

In 1994 Susan convinced the Moscow comrades 
to undertake an intensive study of the struggle of 
the Left Opposition against the degeneration of the 
Soviet workers state between 1922 and 1928. Every 
two weeks a comrade would give a class on a year 
or two of this period. Then we discussed these 
events. Apart from the many Trotsky texts and his- 
tory books that Susan gave to us, she also insisted 
on reading E. H. Carr's What Is History? One day a 
comrade presented a series of mistakes that Trotsky 
made in 1923. Susan said to him: "I'm glad that 
you managed the reading well and that you agree 
with our criticism of Trotsky in this period. How- 
ever, what was lacking in your presentation was an 
understanding of the conditions at the time and 
why Trotsky came to his conclusions. See, history is 
not only reading one or two books but an attempt 
to understand the conditions of the class struggle 
in the period you're studying. Only when you do 
this, can you draw the lessons for today." A couple 
of years later, the same comrade wrote an excellent 
article for our Spartacist journal on Trotsky's fight 
against the degeneration of the Bolshevik Party. 

The ICL is known for putting special emphasis 
on the training of women comrades to become 
revolutionary leaders. Susan was a good trainer. I 
remember the time when comrade Linda came to 
Moscow. Unfortunately she can't be here today. 
Linda came from Australia, an imperialist country 
where not too long ago there were still signs on 
pub doors which read "Dogs and women are not 
allowed in." Linda was an experienced comrade 
with some 15 years in our tendency. When she 
came to Moscow she had to fight with the chaotic 
circumstances in the country, the difficult Russian 


language, and she was surrounded by comrades 
who knew Russian society and the language better 
than she did. So she felt somewhat intimidated and 
she was initially very shy. Susan early on recognized 
Linda's qualities as a leader of our organization. 
When Linda raised criticism about the functioning 
in Moscow Station, Susan backed her vehemently. 
After a short period Linda was elected Moscow 
organizer and became the glue that kept the very 
different comrades in Moscow Station together. 
Today Linda leads the ICL work in Poland. 

Moscow was a very rough place socially. The 
culture of Russian society went rapidly downhill. 
There were also big income differences in Moscow 
between our Russian comrades, who at best made 
the equivalent of 50 U.S. dollars a month, and for- 
eign comrades who made a thousand or more. Once 
a month all comrades would go to a nice restaurant 
together with the Russian comrades so that the 
income difference would not prevent the comrades 
who made less from having a social life. We threw 
the best parties in Moscow. Quite often we would 
cook in the office, and comrades came and we spent 
nice evenings cracking jokes and telling each other 
our stories, which helped a lot to overcome the hard- 
ships in Moscow. And then Susan was an admirer of 
arts. Wed go to a Matisse exhibition or to the bril- 
liant Mayakovsky museum or a B.B. King concert or 
we would just sit in the office and watch the latest 
movie from a movie store. 

1 want to share a last anecdote with you and this 
is about Susan as a fighter. In the end of March of 
1995 the Ukrainian government banned the work of 
the ICL there. Four comrades were declared to be 
persona non grata. Our entry to the Ukraine was 
banned. A special unit of the Ukrainian secret service 
stormed our apartment in which we stored our lit- 
erature. The papers reported that 50 kilograms of 
subversive literature was secured, as if it were explo- 
sives. The capitalist rulers of the Ukraine did every- 
thing to criminalize Trotskyism. What still hurt them 
was the warm welcome that ICL comrades received 
in the spring of 1993 by striking Russian, Ukrainian, 
Armenian, Georgian and Tatar miners in the Ukrain- 
ian coal mining area around Donetsk. The remnants 

of the Russian-chauvinist Stalinists denounced that 
strike. The Ukrainian "left" did the same. The min- 
ers had a banner "Nationalism will not pass" and 
when our American, German, and Russian comrades 
arrived, the miners were very pleased. Susan helped 
prepare that intervention and was crucial in ham- 
mering out the article with the lessons of this 
strike. When we were banned in the Ukraine in 
1995, the then government claimed arrogantly that 
only they could lift the ban of Trotskyists in the 
Ukraine, as if they would survive our party. I'm all the 
more happy today to hear that President Kuchma 
won't last for long. 

But in April 1995 the story of our ban was broad- 
cast on the main Russian TV news at prime time. 
Our comrades sat in the office, and we saw our pic- 
tures on the TV screen. We were quite shocked. At 
the end of the TV report there was a moment of 
silence and comrades thought: "Damn, what are we 
going to do now?" Susan felt uncomfortable with 
this silence. She quickly pulled herself together, 
stood up and stomped her foot on the floor: "We 
will fight against this! We will organize interna- 
tional protests! We will bring the Ukrainian govern- 
ment to its knees, so they will lift the ban! They will 
never have seen international protests against them 
like this! We won against the FBI, we will win 
against them!" Then she told comrades to re-read 
Victor Serges What Everyone Should Know About 
State Repression and we set about organizing our 
protests in Moscow, while the ICL sections all over 
the world organized protests. This was a very pow- 
erful international campaign. 

This is what Susan was like. She embodied in 
every respect everything that our party fights for. 
Many comrades will find solace about this painful 
loss by remembering and holding up this brave 
fighter and intelligent teacher whose life had only 
this one purpose — to lead the working class in the 
fight for a socialist world. We who have known 
Susan or who will learn about Susan today will 
always keep a warm place in our hearts for her and 
we will fight like she did. Susan is dead. But the 
party that she built all her life is very alive. Let's 
fight to reforge the Fourth International! 


Remarks by Eibhlin McDonald at Paris Memorial for Susan 

3 March 2001 

My tribute to comrade Susan is based on her role 
as representative of the International Secretariat in 
Europe, which is how I first knew her. One of her 
qualities was her training for combat with oppo- 
nents. She made sure our intervention at the Lutte 
Ouvriere Fete every year was an international effort 
and she helped prepare all of us. She was superb 
at finding contradictions of the opponents and 
exploiting them and she really hated passivity in 
the face of an opportunity to build the party. The 
first example I remember was in 1980. I was a new 
member of the Spartacist League/Britain (SL/B). 
Workers Power had moved to the left on the Russ- 
ian question as the Soviet troops entered Afghan- 
istan. The SL/B dismissed this development, saying 
they were "still Third Campists at heart." Susan was 
furious. She wrote in block capitals "WHERE IS 
COMMENTING ON THIS??" and said: "With the im- 
portance of the Russian question in the world today, 
we have a lot of explaining to do if a group moves 
to the left on this question and ends up... some- 
place else and not in the SL/B." 

She also had guts when confronting the chau- 
vinism of the opponents. The most spectacular 
example was against LO in 1992 at the fete. They 
excluded ACT UP; we defended them and LO 
threatened to exclude us. We did a stunning protest 
outside the big tent where the annual LO-LCR 
debate takes place. We just quietly appeared out of 
nowhere and stood there with signs denouncing 
LO's homophobia and anti-communism. A comrade 
said it was like a protest in a Maoist re-education 
camp. We arrived just as an LO speaker was explain- 
ing that voting rights for immigrants are not impor- 
tant — after all, voting rights for women had not 
changed anything! Susan maintained her position 
in the leadership of our team as we were physically 
pushed back by the entire LO goon squad. 

You would always want to have her around dur- 
ing major class struggle. She made sure the LTF 
played an active part in the British miners strike of 
1984-85. Dominique came to London and gave a 
great forum (attended by striking miners) on our 
struggle against the Mitterrand popular front. Min- 
ers came to France to raise money. Paul Brewin, the 
striking miner photographed with Susan (in the 
display), loves to talk about working with French 
comrades during the strike. When I told him about 
Susan's death, he recalled his visit here and said 
those were "hard times, but good times." He says 

he learned for the first time what a Stalinist is when 
CGT goons chased him off "their turf" in Rouen 
where he was collecting money. 

I often thought Susans role here during the big 
public sector strikes in December 1995 was typical 
of her. She had left France following a political 
fight; she came back in the midst of a huge strike 
wave and took up the reins of leadership. And she 
kicked ass because the section was somewhat ster- 
ile and deadheaded at the time, which she couldn't 
stand. She wasn't wrong very often, but she had 
been at the centre of the leadership collective 
which went off the rails in 1992. Susan never gave 
up until she figured something out. So in 1998 she 
contributed to correcting our line on the national 
question in France. 

It was never easy for Susan, an American woman, 
to be a communist leader in France, given the pig- 
gishness of the French and European fake left. But 
those who crossed her path often underestimated 
what they were dealing with. Susan struggled all 
her life to learn, to develop her capacity, driven 
by determination to be a good communist. She 
believed everyone could do that, if they were given 
the necessary help and encouragement. This is key 
to understanding her success in training youth; and 
her dedication to overcoming women's oppression 
(as well as her hatred of religion) . 

The best way to pay tribute to Susan is to really 
think about how she became a Cannonite. She had 
the ability to tackle complex ideas and questions, as 
well as intractable problems, and yet she was totally 
unpretentious and unegotistical. She made you feel 
that the struggle to overcome ignorance is not 
something to be frightened of. 

My favourite Susan story is one I discovered in 
an old bulletin. In 1976, 28-year-old Susan is sent 
on assignment in Genoa, Italy for the International 
Secretariat. A group of three guys had broken to the 
left and professed agreement with the Spartacist 
tendency. But things were not moving forward. 
Susan wrote a report which said they should get 
into one city, write some polemics and do political 
work, otherwise they would just spin wheels and 
concoct theories about our party's deviations. This 
plain speaking offended the leader, I suppose 
because it was not "high Trotskyism." Of course, 
Susan had to comment on the Catholic church. She 
wrote: "Italian society is so odd — so many priests 
walking around as if they belonged in public made 
me edgy" (As if maybe they should have been 


locked up!) And she mentioned some other feudal 

The leader of this group went ballistic. He 
described her report as "asinine," "lightminded," 
"coarse," and "insensitive." He even concluded with 
the following postscript: 

"If comrade Alexandre (Susan) had the patience to 
glance at Marx's Capital, (Book 1, Chapter 24) she 
would find that Genoa had completely emerged from 
feudalism, at least three centuries before that idiot 
Columbus discovered America." 

He was so retrograde he assumed this young, 
beautiful woman, an American to boot, must be an 
airhead. She was a cultured communist. His prob- 
lem was he wanted to vote for workers parties in the 
popular front; like most Pabloites they couldn't 
bring themselves to say this honestly. It only became 
clear later. . 

Comrades George and Kate very much regret 
they couldn't be here today. George thought we, 
the European cadre and especially the French sec- 
tion, should learn something important from 
Susan. Susan came to France a young American 
straight-shooting woman (of relatively recent Greek 
origin). She was also a trained Cannonite. Comrade 
Jim Robertson trained people to say what is and 
cut the crap, as it says in the Transitional Programme — 
to face reality squarely, not to seek the line of least 
resistance. The Pabloite tradition is to never say what 
is, and the European fake left couldn't stand our 
straightforward plain speaking. 

I think we ought to make a determined effort to 
grasp that mysterious thing called Cannonism. As 
Susan wrote in the introduction to the Cannon 

brochure which Gerard spoke about, it is about 
conscious cadre training. It (Cannonism) is the way 
to overcome the historic problem of French Trot- 
skyism. The introduction lists all of its historic 
weaknesses, but says "it would be false to conclude 
that the history of French Trotskyism is nothing but 
an unrelieved succession of centrist capitulations 
committed by a gang of petty bourgeois." Together 
with Susan the comrades of this section made many 
achievements. Sometimes it is easier to deny one's 
past achievements, but this is a self-justification for 
doing badly. But to recognise those achievements 
poses a challenge: it means recognising we can do 
better today. This can be a bit frightening, but one 
must face it. 

Susan was one of the finest cadre of our Interna- 
tional. The LTF is really privileged to have had her 
here for 15 years; the LTF in those days was a vibrant 
section, a centre of Spartacism and it was a force to 
be reckoned with on the left, as you can see from 
the pictures of demonstrations. She left a rich legacy 
here in bulletins, including the Cannon brochure. It 
is the best summary I know of what one would call 
Cannonism, so use it to train young cadre. 

I spent some time with Susan and Francois; even 
with decreasing energy she was organising and try- 
ing to accomplish things until about the day before 
she died. Her last project was "Women and the 
French Revolution" — she discussed the editing and 
helped select the photographs. Although she never 
wanted to give up, she was proud of what she 
accomplished in her life. The best we can do is 
carry on with the most important project in her life, 
which was building and strengthening the party. 

Lega Trotskista d'Italia Letter on Susan 


All the LTd'I comrades join together with you, 
comrades, to remember Susan. 

The LTd'I owes many things to Susan. With her 
political depth, her ability to teach and coach, and 
personal friendly and warm behaviour she followed 
the existence of our group since its inception. 

Before the founding of the LTd'I as the Italian 
section of the Spartacist Tendency in 1980, Susan 
was one of the key international representatives 
who followed the political situation in Italy and 
intervened to build a Trotskyist nucleus of profes- 
sional revolutionists in our country — early on with 
the "Nucleo Spartacista d'Italia," and later during 

the fights against the GBL d'Italia to win the com- 
rades of GBL d'Umbria to Trotskyism. 

She was one of the first iSt [international 
Spartacist tendency] comrades to visit us in Perugia 
back in 1978, and it was her special attention to the 
woman question that made possible the crucial 
fight waged by the iSt to win the majority of GBL 
comrades to the perspective of "women's liberation 
through socialist revolution" in the country of the 

But this was not the only fight she waged to 
build the Italian section. 

Throughout the first decade of our existence as 


a Trotskyist nucleus in Italy we saw her regular 
interventions as I.S. rep in Europe, as attested to by- 
several letters and faxes that reflect only part of the 
very rich exchange that was going on by phone and 

Amongst several other fights she waged, one 
thing the LTd'I and the Italian proletariat really owe 
her (and William) is the intervention to make the sec- 
tion pay attention to the fight against anti-immigrant 
racism at the very beginning, when Italy was begin- 
ning to turn from a country of emigrants to a coun- 
try of immigration. That fight was mainly against 
the top leadership of the LTd'I (Federico) who 
shared the popular-front lie that "Italians as a peo- 
ple of emigrants can't be racists." Among other 
things, this denies the atrocities of the bloody colo- 
nialism of the Italian bourgeoisie. Spartaco was lit- 
erally the first paper to denounce the racist terror 
against the new wave of immigrants and unmask 
the "Italiani brava gente" lie. We are still very proud 
of that record and most of that merit belongs to 

Another crucial intervention of Susan in the life 

of the LTd'I was when another new phenomenon 
arose in Italy: the birth of the COBAS unions. While 
the Italian comrades at the time tended to see the 
COBAS as merely a cover for political groups of the 
ex-New Left, it was Susan who stressed the truly 
union content of those formations that formed as 
a reaction to the continuous betrayals of the offi- 
cial unions. History proved her fully right, when in 
1999 the COBAS organized a million-strong work- 
ers strike against the NATO bombing of Serbia, 
while the political groups of the so-called left stood 
aside, following their class-collaborationist policy. 

One day, back in 1998 in Paris, commenting on a 
newspaper's article on the discovery of a site of 
prehistoric art, Susan made a remark on how much 
information and knowledge those ancient popula- 
tions were passing to us just leaving a sign on a 
stone. She made a comparison with our work and 
how important it is for future generations, even if 
we will not be able to actually live to see a revolu- 
tion. Susan didn't have the chance to actually see 
the society she was fighting for, but she left an 
impressive sign, and we will not forget. 

Letter by Herbert 

Berlin, 24 February 2001 

Dear Francois and comrades. 

One of the first times I remember Susan was 
after our intervention in the HDW shipyard occupa- 
tion in Hamburg in 1983. We had done regular 
work for some time there. One of the women who 
initiated the occupation, by going on hunger strike 
with other women to get their husbands and 
friends to do something against losing their jobs, 
was a workmate of mine. This occupation itself was 
a tremendous experience for the Hamburg local of 
the TLD [Trotzkistische Liga Deutschlands]. Ship- 
building and the harbor were seen by all the work- 
ing class as such key industries for Hamburg that 
this was not seen as just another plant closure. It 
was immensely popular among the working class in 
Hamburg and the social-democratic city govern- 
ment couldn't use force against the workers who 
had ready-made plans to defend themselves if the 
cops should attack. The occupation spread in days 
to another shipyard in Bremen, and steel workers 
in the Ruhr were discussing joining it too. For the 
time it lasted, nine days, it was the first thing on TV 
news all the time. Everywhere you could hear sym- 
pathetic discussions, and workers delegations from 

other factories arrived every hour. The canteen was 
a big meeting room where workers were resting 
and discussing about the Betriebsrat and their non- 
support to the occupation, while most workers still 
saw them as their leaders. Or about Solidarnos'c. A 
USec supporter put up a Solidarnos'c flag at the 
gate right beside the big banner "Besetzt!" (Occu- 
pied!). So we had arguments with workers that the 
Solidarnos'c flag was the flag for the defeat of the 
occupation, because Solidarnos'c was counterrevo- 
lutionary. The British miners strike took place in 
the same period. 

So there were plenty of interesting discussions. 
We had one big problem, and that was that we didn't 
have any propaganda about the shipyard occupa- 
tion until the very last day, before the Betriebsrat 
and the union sold out, doing the dirty work for 
the SPD. I guess that Susan was involved to finally 
get the propaganda out, which was produced in 
Frankfurt. When we had some informal meeting a 
couple of weeks later, Susan came to me and said: 
"I've heard that you want to recruit workers. That's 
really good." I didn't really understand it at first, 
weren't we all communists, we wanted to make a 


revolution, and therefore it was necessary to recruit 
workers? But looking at the trouble the TLD had 
later to intervene in class struggle and to see con- 
tradictions and get propaganda out, I think she 
really had a point that this intervention by the Ham- 
burg local was exceptional for the TLD. I see her lit- 
tle remark in an informal discussion as her way of 
encouraging a younger member to take on more 
responsibility. Susan later paid close attention to 
our work when we contacted a Yugoslav shipyard 
worker whom we had contacted since the occupa- 
tion, and gave good and helpful advice. 

Susan intervened in the TLD and SpAD [Spartakist- 
Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, successor to the TLD] 
for a very long time. There was hardly a struggle 
where her voice couldn't be heard before she took 
up the assignment in Moscow. Outstanding was her 
work during the impending political revolution in 
the DDR. We had our public office and the center 
of our operation in Halkevi, a center of Turkish/ 
Kurdish leftists. They had two rooms, one was their 
cafe and the other one they used occasionally for 
theater plays and dance performances. The second 
one they rented to us. It was without any heating 
and it got cold in the winter. I remember Susan 
meeting there as she gave comrades their assign- 
ments and political guidance for sales and contact 
work. There she was, in thick winter clothes, with 
scarf and hat on. She must have been there for 
hours and hours in this very cold room, but she 
gave everybody coming in a warm smile and hello. 

On the day before the founding conference of 
the SpAD, we had a common assignment to go to 
Leipzig and contact some people there who had 
worked with us for some time, help them set up a 
Spartakist group, and invite them to participate in 

the founding conference of the SpAD. I remember 
discussions with one couple. They had participated 
in the early demonstrations in Leipzig and had a lot 
of illusions in some of the oppositionist groupings. 
Susan was really great explaining the centrality of 
getting our propaganda to the working class. When 
we weren't successful from one angle, she tried 
another one, always centered on this one point: the 
only way to defend the gains of the working class in 
the DDR is through the mobilization of the working 
class to fight for political revolution in the East and 
socialist revolution in the West. In order to do that and 
give leadership to the workers, we have to get Arpre- 
korr, our daily newsletter, in the hands of the working 
class. We didn't recruit them, but Susan gave an excel- 
lent example of how to recruit programmatically 

The last time I saw Susan was at the SL/U.S. Con- 
ference in 1999 after we had the discussion on the 
German Revolution in 1923. She had a big smile on 
her face and her eyes were shining like diamonds. 
Over a beer or a vodka she told me that this was the 
first time ever that something like this presentation 
had come out of the German section. The presenta- 
tion really was the result of a collective effort of the 
German section. It was for this collective that could 
fight out differences and come to a conclusion, inter- 
vene and critically review what we have done, that 
she and many other comrades of the International 
had fought for so long with the German section. It 
was the first step to really root Trotskyism in the Ger- 
man section of the ICL and that made her happy. 

We owe a lot to Susan and the best way to honor 
her is to continue the fight for Trotskyism that she 
carried through till the end. 

With warm communist greetings, 


Letter by Jeanne 

Tokyo, 7 February 2001 

Dear Francois and comrades, 

A short note to let you know that comrades here 
in Japan are keeping you all in our minds and 
hearts, and we wish we could be with you now. 

Internationally many comrades have commented 
how Susan was an exceptional teacher and trainer 
of a new generation of proletarian leaders. None 
of us here had the opportunity to learn from her, 
or work together with her, in this important area 
of our work. Comrades here have different memo- 
ries of Susan. Arai has a vivid picture of Susan 
approaching him during the most recent SL/U.S. 
conference and asking him "How are you?" Tonight 
he said that this really confused him, because he 
thought he was the one that should be asking that 
question. Hirata's most vivid memory is of Susan 
taking time out from a local meeting in Paris to 
say good-bye to him and Toshie when they were 
returning to Japan after the 2nd International Con- 
ference. That meant a lot to them. Dan remembers 
that Susan always stressed that if you want to 
understand party history, you've got to read our 
internal documents. All comrades remember that it 
was Susan who was dissatisfied with what we had 
written on the question of U.S. bases in Japan. Her 
initial document then went on to spark an interna- 
tional discussion that became an article that today, 
four years later, we continue to sell very well on a 
regular basis. 

I think I will always remember Susan for her 
capacity to push herself, no matter how painfully, 
to go to the root of mistaken political impulses and 
actions and try and figure out what happened and 
why. We all make mistakes and are wrong at differ- 

ent times in our political life. The point is to learn 
from those mistakes. That is what makes a leader. 
And that is what Susan was. 

Today I took some time out and read what Lenin 
and Trotsky wrote about Rosa Luxemburg. The fol- 
lowing is something Trotsky wrote that really stuck 
with me: 

"The crisis of proletarian leadership cannot, of course, 
be overcome by means of an abstract formula. It is a 
question of an extremely prolonged process. Not of a 
purely historical' process, that is, of the objective 
premises of conscious activity, but of an uninterrupted 
chain of ideological, political, and organizational mea- 
sures for the purpose of fusing together the best, most 
conscious elements of the world proletariat beneath 
a spotless banner, elements whose number and self- 
confidence must be constantly strengthened, whose con- 
nections with wider sections of the proletariat must be 
developed and deepened — in a word, of restoring to the 
proletariat, under new and highly difficult and onerous 
conditions, its historical leadership." 
You are going to ask, how is this related to Susan 
in any way. Of course the context and situation that 
Trotsky wrote about is different from the situation 
that we are faced with today. But I do think Susan's 
contributions to international discussion serve as a 
useful manual in how to build the party, how to 
redirect the party during periods of disorientation, 
and how to politically analyze the pressures under 
which we operate. 

We're going to cherish Susan's memory and it 
will serve as an inspiration for us and the many 
generations of future communists. 

With warm communist greetings 
and deepest sympathies, 


Remarks by Sam Kaehler at New York Memorial Meeting 

3 March 2001 

There was more than a grain of truth when a 
comrade now in Poland made the point that many 
of us were recruited somewhere else but trained in 
Moscow When I arrived in the summer of 1993, 
Susan had already been in place for six months. 
Events were going pretty hard in the wrong direc- 
tion. The Soviet workers state had been strangled 
and civilization as it existed was taking a nosedive. 
Before 1990, none of us had lived through a coun- 
terrevolution, so we were dealing with new theo- 
retical questions. In these conditions, Sue welded 
together a group of comrades coming from very dif- 
ferent perspectives and backgrounds (from former 
East German tank commanders to sons of the mili- 
tary elite, Americans, Australians, French, and of 
course Russians). She calmed down the hotheads 
and brought forward the quieter ones. She taught 
us to think and act as Spartacists and to generalize 
and understand the events that we were living 

Each step of the way we had to grapple with 
what would happen if the working class intervened 
in events and why hadn't it? Sue pushed hard for 
historical, theoretical clarity. I think the most signif- 
icant thing that we read during this time, and Susan 
pushed this, was a document by the Left Opposi- 
tion leader Christian Rakovsky called "Letter to 
Valentinov," or "The 'Professional Dangers' of Power." 
It was an early attempt to generalize on the defeat 

of the Left Opposition and to come to terms with 
what was Stalinism and what effect was it having on 
working-class consciousness. It was the basis for 
what became The Revolution Betrayed by Trotsky. 
It provided a real theoretical link to the original 
Left Opposition and our fight against the final 
betrayal of Stalinism in the former Soviet Union. 

Sue told us then: "Nobody promised that we 
would make the revolution. But there's a lot of 
things for us to do in order to prepare for new rev- 
olutions and lay the basis for the next generation of 
revolutionary leaders so that they can draw the 
lessons of the class struggle." This inspired the work 
on The Third International After Lenin, which was 
distributed in thousands of copies for the first time. 

On the plane here I read "The Role of the 
Individual in History" by the founder of Russian 
Marxism, Plekhanov. It wasn't until I was halfway 
through the book that I remembered why. It was 
the work that Susan said convinced her to dedicate 
her life to revolutionary Marxism way back in San 
Diego. In short, the point of the essay is that once 
you understand the conditions and social forces 
that shape society and you want to change it for the 
better, you don't have much choice but to be a 
communist revolutionary as it is in the recognition 
of such necessity that one finds the greatest satis- 
faction and use of one's life. That was Susan to the 
hilt, and now she's gone. 


Application for Membership in the Spartacist League 

by Susan Adams 

15 December 1971 

Bay Area Spartacist League 
Berkeley, California 


I am applying for membership in the Spartacist 

I was initially attracted to the politics of the 
Spartacist League because they posed a clear and 
viable alternative to the inconsistent, at times reac- 
tionary Stalinoid politics of the Progressive Labor 
Party. Through work in the RCY (I have been a 
member of the RCY approximately since May 1971, 
but have worked closely with RCY for over a year) 
and contact with other groups it became clear that 
what distinguishes the Spartacist League from all 
other groups on the left is its consistency with the 
principles of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. 

The proletariat will establish socialism, but not 
because they are the most oppressed people in 
this society, but because the social existence of the 
proletariat creates in this class the unique con- 
sciousness capable of organizing the productive 
forces in a socialist fashion. The transitional pro- 
gram is directed toward the proletariat in this, their 
historical role. It provides workers with the organi- 
zational and basic theoretical tools required for 
the struggle to eliminate the bourgeois state and 
to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, the 
preliminary to classless society. This proletarian 
revolution will be international in scope if it is to 
be irreversible. Internationalism is not an abstract 
feeling of solidarity with other workers; crucial to 
it are the demands for defense of deformed and 
degenerated workers states in the case of impe- 
rialist attacks. Crucial also are the efforts of 
the Spartacist League to establish international ties 

and to rebuild the Fourth International. 

The strategy of the Spartacist League is unique 
in that, while it is based on a careful analysis of 
and is responsive to the circumstances of a given 
period, it has not capitulated to pressures, but has 
maintained a consistently principled position, 
insisting in all its arenas of work on posing a 
clearly communist pole to attract serious potential 

The recent occurrence of a potentially factional 
situation in the RCY has been, among other things, 
an education in the concept and practice of demo- 
cratic centralism. Political and organizational disci- 
pline, loyalty to comrades, communist morality, 
deciding when the basis for a faction exists and 
when to form one, are responsibilities of a com- 
munist; understanding of such specifics dispels 
the notion that democratic centralism is merely 
something to which one submits — rather, one 

I am aware of much of the history and all but 
perhaps the very obscure positions that the Spar- 
tacist League has taken. I am aware also of a need 
for a more thorough familiarity, to the point at 
which I can deal critically with all the material at 
hand. However, 1 feel that I have enough familiarity 
and experience to perform with competence and 
discipline as a Spartacist League member. 

Susan A 

[Handwritten annotation] 

Motion: That Sue A.'s application for membership 

be accepted. That she be accepted as full member 

of SL on basis of participation in RCY. 

Accepted by BASL, 15 Dec. 1971 

Our Comrade 

Susan Adams 

Workers Vanguard 

Susan giving report at SL/U.S. 
National Conference, 1972. 

Susan in Spartacist contingent at Arab auto workers 
one-day strike protesting union bureaucracy's 
purchase of Israeli war bonds, Detroit, 1973- 

Family photo 

n ,crR>nilWlO!\! 

Workers Vanguard 


Le Bolchevik photos 

79*<- (3 '"'""IS U S0LF[ 

«wfee fc,, 

Susan at Paris protest against 1991 Gulf War. 
LTF banner reads: "Defend Iraq Against the 
Imperialists! Sink Mitterrand/Bush in the Gulf!' 

LTF sponsored 1984 fund-raising 

tour of striking British miner, Paul 

Brewin (center). 


L fa • li^Sfe 
1 3&\ , 

* tjiTTtftm) 1 

— — ^- 

Susan led LTF protest 
of exclusion of AIDS 
activist group ACT UP 
from Lutte Ouvriere 
fete. LTF was itself then 
excluded. LTF sign 
reads: "Down With LO 
Exclusion of Trotskyists 
and Homosexuals!" 




Among Susans significant literary 

contributions to the International 

Communist League was publishing American 

Trotskyist James E Cannon's 1939 speech 

on "The French Question" in French. 

East Berlin, 14 January 1990: 

Susan (at right) with Spartacist contingent at 

demonstration honoring Karl Liebknecht and Rosa 

Luxemburg during incipient political revolution. 

Rape and Bourgeois Justice 


^^^^^— tendance spartaciste li 

<La question francaise» 

Discmirs inedit (avril 1939) 

de James P. Cannon 

fondateur du trot&ysme americain 

Women and Revolution 


Women and the™ 
French Revolution 






Susan at ICL public meeting 
in Moscow, late 1992, 
explaining roots of capitalist 
counterrevolution. She was 
crucial to publication and 
distribution of Trotsky's 
Tljird International After 
Lenin in Russian. 

Comrades and friends honor Susan at Pere 
Lachaise cemetery in Paris after laying wreath 
at Wall of the Communards, March 2001. 

Workers Vanguard 

Le Bolchevik 


Elizabeth King Robertson 


Elizabeth King Robertson 


Our comrade Elizabeth King Robertson died at 
home on October 12 after a six-year battle with can- 
cer. Over the course of more than 30 years as a pro- 
fessional revolutionist, Lizzy excelled as an organ- 
izer, propagandist, and editor. A patient mentor and 
inspiration for younger comrades, Lizzy provided a 
vital link in the fight to preserve our revolutionary 
heritage going back to Lenin and Trotsky's Commu- 
nist International. At the time of her death, she was 
a full member of the Spartacist League/U.S. Central 
Committee and of the International Executive Com- 
mittee of the International Communist League. Her 
loss is incalculable both to our party internation- 
ally and to her family — Jim Robertson, Martha and 
Martha's children Rachel, Sarah, and Kenneth — as 
well as her father Henry and mother Mary King and 
the rest of the King family. 

Lizzy grew up in a large family in New York City. Fol- 
lowing the death of her mother, Barbara, her father 
Henry King, a successful corporate lawyer, remarried. 
Mary King raised Lizzy as her own daughter, and for 
Lizzy she became "mom." Lizzy attended Brearley pri- 
vate school for girls in New York. She always valued 
the education she received there and many of the 
friendships made at Brearley endured until the end of 
her life. As a teenager she was sent to Miss Porter's, 
an exclusive finishing school for "old money" society 
girls. Her first-hand experience of anti-Semitism and 
class snobbery there played a role in her becoming a 
passionate fighter against racism and inequality. 

Lizzy first encountered the Spartacist League in the 
early 1970s while a student at Boston University. 
Under the impact of the Vietnam War, Boston cam- 
puses were a hotbed of New Left radicalism. Lizzy 
was active in the Cambridge Tenants Organizing 
Committee, a group trying to defend working-class 
families from being pushed out of their homes as the 
universities expanded. She was recruited to Trotsky- 
ism, joining the Revolutionary Communist Youth, the 
SL's youth group, in 1973. For many students, the 
brush with radical activism was just an episode of 
youthful rebellion on the road to an eventual com- 
fortable career. But Lizzy's recruitment to the fight for 
international socialist revolution was for keeps. 

Lizzy was accepted into party membership in 
July 1974. She had by then transferred to Detroit, 
where the SL was seeking to intervene among the 

largely black proletariat of the auto factories. She 
impressed comrades as the youth organizer as well 
as by her participation in the lively debates that 
took place as the party began to get more experi- 
ence in trade-union work. Here she also began the 
difficult training to become a legal stenographic 
reporter, a profession in which she was active until 
her debilitation by cancer. 

Around 1976 she transferred to New York in order 
to be part of the national leadership of the youth 
organization (renamed the Spartacus Youth League) . 
Lizzy was elected to the SYL National Bureau in July 
1976 and was a member of the editorial board of 
the monthly Young Spartacus from October 1976 
through September 1978. She served for a year 
as the SYL National Organizational Secretary. Her 
experience as youth organizer and leader was crucial 
to Lizzy's understanding of the importance of a 
youth organization in the training of party cadre. 

In August 1978, she resigned her leading posi- 
tions in the youth organization in order to take on 
the job of secretary of the Political Bureau. Not only 
did Lizzy fulfill the demanding assignment of getting 
out regular and accurate minutes throughout her 
years in New York, but she turned the job of PB 
secretary into a nexus for organizing political dis- 
cussions. Her close personal association with SL 
National Chairman James Robertson began at this 
time, and she remained his loving companion and 
closest party collaborator until her death. After serv- 
ing on the party Central Committee as a representa- 
tive of the SYL, Lizzy was co-opted in her own right 
in 1979 and elected a full CC member at the August 
1983 national conference. She also took charge of 
the subject indexing for the bound volumes of our 
press, which are the documentary record of our politi- 
cal line and our work. Lizzy transferred to the San 
Francisco Bay Area at the beginning of the 1990s. 
She tirelessly guided the local leadership, was secre- 
tary of the West Coast CC group and also took con- 
tinuous responsibility for our local in Los Angeles. 

Lizzy's strength was in tackling the intersection of 
political principle with concrete social reality, coming 
up with tactics and slogans to express our program. 
She closely followed the work of Spartacist support- 
ers in the trade unions and her counsel was highly 
valued by those involved in such work. She was a 



longtime member of the Bay Area Local executive 
committee and fought to remain on this body despite 
her many other responsibilities because she under- 
stood so well that making political decisions real 
means daily choices of "what to betray" in order to 
focus on the most important things; it means finding 
the right comrades for the concrete tasks and prepar- 
ing them politically to carry out those tasks. 

Lizzy was unsurpassed as a Leninist political 
organizer. After a party gathering, she was inevitably 
involved in figuring out how to shift personnel or 
assignments to make the political priorities just 
established actually happen. She had a profound 
understanding of how our organizational function- 
ing corresponds to our revolutionary purpose. For 
decades, Lizzy was one of a handful of comrades 
who took initiative in formulating, refining, and cod- 
ifying our internal norms and practices as the party 
came across new situations or as problems were 
seen with the existing rules. 

At the ICL's Third International Conference in 
1998, she gave a presentation, "On the Origins and 
Development of Leninist Organizational Practices." 
Published in Spartacist No. 54 (Spring 1998) along 
with our revised "Organizational Rules and Guide- 
lines," Lizzy's presentation educated both young 
comrades and experienced cadres by providing 
the historical background, beginning with the first 
Marxist organizations founded by Karl Marx himself, 
to enable the conference delegates to consider the 
Rules. In this presentation, she explained: "Living 
organizational rules are one of perhaps a half-dozen 
elements that characterize an organization; in that 
sense, they are political. But they are not determi- 
nate. A sound set of organizational rules is not a 
guard against political departures, although depar- 
tures from our organizational norms are generally a 
signal of political problems. In the absence of Bol- 
shevik practices, an organization is necessarily 
amorphous, that is, Menshevik." 

Though she rarely raised her voice, Lizzy was a 
powerful speaker at party gatherings. Her astute 
judgment and forthrightness made her a uniquely 
authoritative voice in the deliberations through 
which the party selects a leadership. Numerous 
times she was chosen to chair the nominating com- 
mission charged with recommending a slate of can- 
didates to the party conference that elects the lead- 
ing body (the CC in the SL or the IEC in the ICL). 
Lizzy was clear-eyed in seeing the weaknesses as 
well as the strengths of comrades, including her 
closest friends, and she was renowned for her fair- 
ness. This ability is crucial in a Leninist party, which 
aims to build its leadership as a collective that is 
stronger than the sum of its individual parts. 

Lizzy was also her own harshest critic. Although in 
great pain, she authored a document on October 7 
addressing her role in a political fight in the Los 
Angeles Local that had been marred by extreme char- 
acterizations of comrades and bureaucratic prac- 
tices. Her purpose was not a mea culpa but a state- 
ment of conscientious regard for clarity, drawing the 
political lessons necessary to strengthen the party. 

Beginning in early 1979, Lizzy was a mainstay of 
the editorial board of Women and Revolution, 
the journal of the SL CC Commission for Work 
Among Women, for which she often wrote under 
the last name Kendall. Lizzy particularly enjoyed this 
assignment, and she excelled at it, as it brought to 
the fore her acute understanding of Marxist materi- 
alism. She authored or co-authored articles on the 
most sensitive subjects, defending human sexuality 
and exposing the barbarous cruelty of the bour- 
geois state as it destroys the lives of people whose 
only "crime" is that their sexual proclivities and 
needs vary from the repressive, religion-based stric- 
tures of hypocritical bourgeois moralism. Her area 
of expertise was the thorny issue of human sexual- 
ity in its diversity, articles like "Something About 
Incest," "The Uses of Abuse," and "The 'Date Rape' 
Issue." She once explained: 

"The reason that we talk about questions of sexuality is 
that often these questions are politicized, usually not by 
us but by the bourgeoisie, by some element of society, 
that takes questions that are normally of a secondary 
interest and makes them political questions that we not 
only can comment on but, in certain circumstances, 
must comment on and must take a position on." 

When publication of W&R was suspended after 
the Spring 1996 issue, Lizzy continued to contribute 
to the articles published under the W&R mast- 
head in the press of the national sections of the ICL, 
including Workers Vanguard, and in Spartacist. Dur- 
ing the last weeks of her life, Lizzy was intensely 
involved in editing, in collaboration with W&R pages 
editor Amy Rath, "The Russian Revolution and the 
Emancipation of Women," which appears in this 
issue of Spartacist. 

The final undoing of the October Revolution in 
1991-92 was a historic defeat for the workers of the 
world, ushering in a difficult period for revolution- 
ists. Our difficulties in coming to grips with the 
new period have been expressed in political disori- 
entation and corresponding internal difficulties 
(see "Spartacist League 12th National Conference — 
A Hard Look at Recent Party Work and Current 
Tasks," WV No. 841, 4 February 2005). Nobody 
has been immune to these problems, but com- 
rade Lizzy played a forward role in trying to get 
the party out of this morass. Several times during 
the past five or six years, our internal bulletins 


have featured a document by Lizzy, submitted early 
in the discussion, often less than one page in 
length, which became a touchstone for subsequent 
contributions. Often her document would begin 
from a concrete, seemingly tactical question of a 
particular projected intervention somewhere, and 
would proceed logically to illuminate program- 
matic and principled issues. 

After Lizzy's cancer was diagnosed, she under- 
took surgery, chemotherapy and, finally, radiation. 
Her father ensured that she obtained high-quality 
care, which was ultimately unavailing. She contin- 
ued to do her biweekly sales and other public polit- 
ical activity In April 2003, she was wounded by a 
"non-lethal projectile" fired from a cop shotgun 
during the vicious police attack on antiwar protest- 
ers, longshoremen, and port truckers at the Port of 

Memorial meetings for comrade Lizzy were held 
around the world, including in New York City on 
November 12 and Oakland, California, on November 
20. The New York meeting was attended by more 
than 20 members of her family, as well as former 

schoolmates from Brearley. Elsewhere, as is the cus- 
tom in the communist movement, comrades gath- 
ered at memorials to past revolutionaries — Karl 
Marx in London, Rosa Luxemburg in East Berlin, 
Leon Trotsky in Coyoacan, heroic Soviet spies 
Richard Sorge and Ozaki Hotsumi in Tokyo — to lay 
wreaths or raise a glass in Lizzy's honor. 

Her comrades, family and friends will miss Lizzy's 
presence in our lives for as long as we have con- 
sciousness. We will miss her fine mind, her humor, 
her warmth, and compassion. We will always remem- 
ber her beauty and courage. Even in the midst of our 
grief, we celebrate her life and find comfort in know- 
ing that she lived as she chose to and never wavered 
in her belief that fighting for the liberation of all the 
exploited and oppressed was the right way for her 
to live. For us, she has been a very strong link in the 
chain of continuity that goes all the way back to Marx 
and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, and Cannon. We 
resolve to honor our beloved comrade Lizzy by car- 
rying on her struggle. 

— reprinted from Spartacist (English- 
language edition) No. 59, Spring 2006 

Remarks by George Foster at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

20 November 2005 

Comrades, friends and family members, we are 
all gathered here today to honor the memory of 
Elizabeth King Robertson, a professional revolu- 
tionary and member of our party for over 32 years. 
Her death after a six-year battle with cancer is a 
keenly felt loss to our close-knit International, and 
as well a devastating loss to her family — Jim Robert- 
son, Martha and Martha's children Rachel, Sarah, 
and Kenneth — and to her parents Henry King and 
Mary King and the rest of the King family, whose 
participation with us in a memorial meeting held 
last week in New York City was greatly appreciated. 

As one of the founding members of our Boston 
Local, I've known Lizzy since she joined us. So let me 
talk a bit of her political life. Thirty-two years ago in 
Boston, as a 21-year-old New Left radical activist, 
Lizzy decided to join the Spartacist League's youth 
group, the Revolutionary Communist Youth. Young 
people of that day were radicalized by the Viet- 
nam War, the struggle for black freedom and also for 
women's liberation. The Roe v. Wade decision was 
only a few months old when Lizzy joined. And 
throughout her life she remained a dedicated fighter 
for women's liberation through socialist revolution. 

Prior to joining she had been active in the Cam- 

bridge Tenants Organizing Committee (CTOC), a 
tenants' rights group trying to defend working-class 
and minority families being pushed out of hous- 
ing in Cambridge by various university real estate 
developers. The CTOC organized sizable demonstra- 
tions and rent strikes and mobilized large numbers 
of Cambridge residents to intervene in city council 
meetings. Lizzy was, I believe, the CTOC's full-timer/ 
office manager. Was she supposed to be going to 
school instead? I don't know. To have such a young 
person playing such a large role was typical of the 
times, but impressive as well — an early indication of 
her capacities. 

Around that time, the largest left group in Cam- 
bridge was the Progressive Labor Party and they had 
been active around the CTOC. But I am sure that 
outfit, with their terrible line on the woman ques- 
tion, Stalinist bluster and thuggery and, above all, 
glorification of ignorance, would not have appealed 
to Lizzy. Instead she joined us and committed her- 
self to the cause of the revolutionary emancipation 
of the working class and the program of Trotskyism. 
As Trotskyists, we base ourselves on the experience 
of Lenin and Trotsky on the Bolshevik-led Russian 
Revolution of October 1917, and as well on the 


struggle by Leon Trotsky and the International Left 
Opposition against the degeneration of that revo- 
lution, a degeneration presided over by J. V Sta- 
lin with his anti-revolutionary dogma of "socialism 
in one country." As Trotskyists, we stood for the 
unconditional defense of the gains of the October 
Revolution against imperialism and/or capitalist 
counterrevolution, while simultaneously seeking to 
mobilize a workers political revolution to oust the 
anti-revolutionary bureaucracy whose policies en- 
dangered those gains and short-circuited revolution 

We recruit to our party based on agreement with 
our Marxist principles and acceptance of party 
program. So when Lizzy told us of her class back- 
ground, which was one of considerable economic 
advantage and privilege, it was noteworthy but not 
a matter of concern. The Leninist party necessarily 
must have elements of both declassed revolution- 
ary intelligentsia and the most politically advanced 
layers of the working class. 

Neither Marx, Engels, Lenin nor Trotsky were 
proletarians in origin; all were "traitors," in a sense, 
to their class origins. In fact, Lizzy's "advantages," a 
good education and a sense of duty responsibil- 
ity, and self-confidence instilled by her parents and 
teachers, were put to very good use by her. She had 
a very keen sense of humor, and also, always, great 
poise and seriousness. 

As a result of significant recruitment in Boston, 
by late 1973 we were able to establish a branch in 
Detroit, then the center of the largest and most 
militant sector of the U.S. labor movement. Lizzy 
was among those who volunteered to transfer, and 
when she arrived there, she was elected youth 
organizer. Many years later, she told me how much 
she enjoyed being Detroit youth organizer, and I 
agreed that politically the city and campuses were 
really interesting back then, but couldn't resist jok- 
ing that it couldn't have hurt that she was one of 
the few women in an overwhelmingly male local, 
and that most of the comrades were understand- 
ably totally infatuated with her. She just started 
laughing at me, and said, "So what's wrong with 

Another story: In the summer of 1974, we had a 
national meeting on a campus located near Detroit. 
Most of the comrades rented rooms at the campus, 
but four from California couldn't afford to stay 
there. So when they came into town in their car, 
they were put up in a large house where a number 
of Detroit comrades lived, including Lizzy — some- 
thing at the time we used to call a commune. Now, 
two of those comrades were, while young, mothers 
of young children and rather hard-bitten types. 

Well, the commune was in a rough neighborhood, 
and when the comrades got inside, the two moms 
were appalled. The interior resembled something 
out of a bad teen movie. But then they opened 
a door and found a neat, clean bedroom com- 
plete with a real bed and a nightstand on which 
there was a Plexiglas cube in which a comrade had 
mounted a lot of photos of a rather large family. 
Needless to say it was Lizzy's room, something they 
were able to ascertain the next day at the confer- 
ence by matching her face to the family snapshots. 

It was in Detroit that Lizzy completed her train- 
ing to become a legal stenographic reporter. This 
stood her in good stead as a way of earning her liv- 
ing, and she continued to work as a court reporter 
until her debilitation from the cancer surgery made 
that impossible. We all have a picture in our heads 
of this very well-groomed and tiny woman lugging 
a very heavy stenographic machine, which must 
have weighed 25 percent of her total body weight, 
to and from work. Again, her training and profes- 
sionalism in this field was put to good use in the 
party — recording meetings and editing and pro- 
ducing party bulletins. 

Her job as a court reporter gave her a very good 
sense of the courts, law and the legal system, which 
proved very valuable in legal defense work. Lizzy 
had a very keen intelligence, and had she been 
so inclined, she would have been a very effective 
attorney. And those of us who knew her know one 
would not want to be cross-examined as a hostile 
witness by Lizzy. As it was, she was a fierce defender 
of Marxist principle. 

After Lizzy moved to New York around 1976, she 
was elected National Organizational Secretary of 
the youth. She helped coordinate the activities of 
the youth branches and worked on the youth press. 
In contrast to a couple of "precious" young male 
editors at the time, she did not disdain the tech- 
nical side of producing the paper. By the time she 
became Political Bureau secretary in the summer 
of 1978, she had served her apprenticeship. As a 
young organizer and youth activist, she had gained 
valuable experience dealing with trade-union ques- 
tions in the heavily black city of Detroit, she had 
learned an exacting skill, had served as a national 
youth leader and learned to issue propaganda, put 
out a youth paper and organize its distribution. 

A short while after she became PB secretary she 
and Jim got together. She was both his loving com- 
panion and his closest political collaborator until her 
untimely death. Lizzy was clearly the best PB secre- 
tary we ever had, both in terms of sheer technical 
capacity, organizational skills, and political acumen. 
She helped shape and organize political discussion, 


and she played a central role in facilitating commu- 
nications between our center and SL/U.S. local com- 
mittees, as well as our International. And this was a 
high-stress job — actually having to be ready at any 
time, and I do mean any time, to assist in interven- 
ing and engaging in struggles, external and internal, 
to try to decide what could and should be done with 
the often very meager resources at our disposal. 
As a lapsed physicist, let me share with you a quip 
from Richard Feynman, who let the cat out of 
the bag: "Physics," he said, "is what physicists do late 
at night." Well, Trotskyism is what Trotskyists do late 
at night. 

Lizzy's responsibilities entailed a lot of travel, dis- 
cussion, inquiry, and explaining points of program 
and organization to various comrades, local commit- 
tees, and sections. But through this, Lizzy acquired 
a very comprehensive understanding of the cadre 
and component parts of the ICL and Spartacist 
League/U.S., which made her invaluable in deciding 
questions of what personnel to allocate to address 
what task. It is also why she played a very large role 
in a number of nominating commissions, charged 
with evaluating the capacities of comrades nominat- 
ed to leadership bodies at various of our national 

Lizzy was, as well, in charge of indexing the 
bound volumes of our press and additionally was 
editor of internal party discussion bulletins. Min- 
utes of meetings, our press, and our discussion bul- 
letins — these are the documentary history of our 
tendency. And as Leninists, we strive to be the his- 
toric memory of the working class, and to distill 
from such experiences and struggle the principles 
and program to guide us in our activity. There is 
no other way to test our understanding and guide 
our future actions and intervention as a disciplined 
party acting on a clear line, and there must be a 
record, so that we can evaluate what we under- 
stood and where we went wrong. To do otherwise 
is not to be a Marxist, but to repeat empty formulas 
as ex post facto justification for whatever activity 
you undertake. For us, principles, theory, and pro- 
gram, i.e., consciousness, are indispensable. 

Lizzy was a very modest comrade. When she 
was first proposed to become a full member of 
the SL/U.S. Central Committee, she was unsure of 
her qualifications — she saw her main talents as lying 
on the organizational and administrative side of 
things. But the delegates at our 1983 National Con- 
ference thought otherwise and did elect her. It was 
a very wise choice; she was selected for her sober 
political judgment and keen insights as well as her 
remarkable organizational capacities. 

In the Spartacist League, we understand there is 

no such thing as a 100 percent leadership. Jim has 
argued that if we can manage to be right 70 percent 
of the time, we will be doing very well indeed. And 
Lizzy would be the first to admit that she made 
her share of errors. But what was truly remarkable 
about her was her absolute lack of subjectivity or 
personal defensiveness in addressing such errors, 
both her own and others. Her concern was to get at 
the root of questions, to understand, and based on 
that understanding, to move forward. 

These qualities of hers were best expressed in a 
letter sent to me by a comrade from the Bay Area: 

"There are three concrete lessons I am very aware I 
learned from Lizzy (though how well or not is of course 
not her responsibility). The first two are central to the 
building of effective Leninist collectivity and Jim has 
demonstrated them to me as well: listen carefully to 
every comrade, because reason is not the exclusive 
property of anyone; and (relatedly) the conclusions of 
properly prepared collective debate of a political ques- 
tion are much more likely to approximate right than any 
single comrade's opinions (including not least one's 
own!). The third lesson is more personal, the result of a 
fight Lizzy in particular waged with me over the course 
of some years. ..the difference between moral imperative 
and dialectical materialism, between moralistic judg- 
ment and materialist understanding." 

Additionally the comrade closes her letter: "To ease 
my conscience in regard to Lizzy's own wishes to 
be seen for what she was, I must add that she was 
a slow reader and not a good speller." 

The last six years of Lizzy's life, after she discov- 
ered she had cancer, are both grim and inspiring 
and give us a true measure of her character, her 
revolutionary will, and her humanity. She under- 
went chemotherapy, two extremely difficult and 
painful operations, and radiation treatment. I 
believe she had the very best medical treatment 
available through the intervention of her father. But 
ultimately it was to no avail. The hopes of her fam- 
ily, friends and comrades were cruelly dashed — the 
cancer at some point metastasized and resulted in 
a very painful death. 

Yet it was in this period that Lizzy struggled with 
great will, effectiveness, and determination to defend 
the programmatic and organizational integrity of the 
party. The October Revolution was the signal politi- 
cal event of the 20th century, resulting in the over- 
throw of capitalism and creation of the world's first 
workers state. The demise of the October Revolution 
in 1991-1992 was a historic defeat for the interna- 
tional working class, ushering in a period of reaction 
and great difficulties for proletarian revolutionists. 
Most notably, we have to struggle anew to win the 
workers of the world to the banner of Marxism. 

Our great difficulties in this period have been 
expressed in political disorientation and associated 


organizational disarray, matters about which we have 
written in our press. It was in these circumstances, 
on a number of issues of principle, program, and tac- 
tics, that comrade Lizzy forcefully intervened to keep 
us the party she had originally joined, the party of 
the Russian Revolution. She did this with clarity, great 
energy, and astounding determination, while suf- 
fering both physical disability and great pain, when 
much of her decreasing reserves of energy were 
spent on frequent visits to doctors and therapy. 

Lizzy's obituary published in Workers Vanguard 
notes that her strength was in tackling the inter- 
section of political principles with concrete social 
reality: coming up with tactics and slogans to 
express our program. That is very true, but it was an 
expression of both a lifetime of experience and very 
hard work. 

V I. Lenin, the founder of the Bolshevik Party, 
noted that it's far more difficult to be a revolution- 
ary in periods of reaction than revolution. At a 
speech memorializing the Bolshevik organizer Yakov 
Sverdlov, he noted that during the difficult period of 
preparation for revolution there arises an inevitable 
gulf between theory, principle and program, and 
practical work, and that the Bolsheviks suffered from 
too deep an engrossment in theory abstracted from 
direct action. That is why we define ourselves as a 
fighting propaganda group, one that struggles to find 

opportunities, however modest, to intervene in strug- 
gle and test our program, organization, and cadre. 

Early on after his return to Russia in 1917, Lenin 
cited a line from Goethe's Faust: "Theory, my friend, 
is gray, but green is the eternal tree of life." It was a 
polemic against those who did not understand that 
political theory is an abstraction from experience, 
and that such theory, divorced from an analysis of 
the actual developments, runs the danger of degen- 
erating into empty sloganeering. At issue here was 
the decision to struggle to embark on the course 
which led to the victory of the October Revolution. 
That capacity to grasp the green eternal tree of life 
is a rare quality but it's absolutely necessary to trans- 
form revolutionary program to living reality. And 
that's how Lizzy lived her life, and that, as well as her 
friendship, beauty compassion and courage, is what 
we shall miss. 

In the Transitional Program, Trotsky writes: "To 
face reality squarely; not to seek the line of least 
resistance; to call things by their right names; to 
speak the truth to the masses, no matter how bitter 
it may be; not to fear obstacles; to be true in little 
things as in big ones; to base one's program on the 
logic of the class struggle; to be bold when the 
hour of action arrives — these are the rules of the 
Fourth International." That is what Lizzy embodied, 
and we honor her best by honoring those rules. 

Remarks by Amy Rath at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

20 November 2005 

It's an honor and a challenge to address Lizzy's 
huge contribution to the party's work around the 
woman question, specifically Women and Revolu- 
tion, which was very close to her heart. 

Lizzy's last contribution to the party's work was 
"The Russian Revolution and the Emancipation of 
Women," in defense of the road of October, for the 
Women and Revolution pages in Spartacist. Com- 
rades were concerned that the stress of editing this 
ambitious article would be too much for her, given 
how ill she was. But she insisted on it. Often she 
had to work lying on her back to try to manage the 
pain. Finishing the article gave her a reason for liv- 
ing through those last months. For her the article 
was key to getting out the message of the truly rad- 
ical vision of human society that the Bolsheviks 
fought for, to educating this younger generation in 
the road of Lenin and Trotsky. And it was truly excit- 
ing even just to do the research, given the very 

inspiring material. It was hard for her to let it go. 

Lizzy was an exemplary member of the editorial 
board of W&R since 1979, concerned about every 
aspect of the paper: from editorial policy and broad 
political questions, to sales, to the grind of getting 
it out. She worried about our long-suffering sub- 
scribers who faithfully signed up for their three 
issues a year and then... didn't get them. Struggling 
with the excruciating gap between perspectives and 
capacity, we never were able to produce as much as 
we wished. We struggled with a basic contradiction: 
the journal began as an instrument of intervention 
into an active women's movement. But that move- 
ment no longer existed as a target of party work. 
Lizzy was good at generating copy ideas out of the 
work of the locals on suitable issues. You can bet 
that after she started spending a lot of time on the 
West Coast, every article in W&R that's datelined 
California was there by virtue of her work. 


Lizzy always had at least a finger if not her whole 
arm in each article. The most ambitious were a col- 
lective product, sometimes described by our critics 
as "editing by mass democracy" While our methods 
could certainly have been improved, such articles 
require that kind of collaboration and Lizzy was key in 
making that work. Sometimes she provided a crucial 
insight. Sometimes it was thoughtful advice on unty- 
ing some knotty problem of politics or personnel. 
Sometimes it was a few well-considered touches on 
an almost finished piece. Sometimes it was an in- 
depth edit job, taking in the points of our eccentric 
editorial body and turning a draft into a cogent polit- 
ical statement. But Lizzy was never so dedicated to 
editing that she didn't take time off now and then to 
take in a Lakers game. 

Always, even after the advent of computers, Lizzy's 
editing tools were her pencil, eraser, scissors, and 
roll of tape. She would begin with an outline, drawn 
up on a yellow pad and covered with arrows and 
inserts as it was expanded. The draft would then be 
cut up and re-pasted following the outline as a sort 
of map with additions in pencil. She always insisted, 
"I wrote nothing." In fact she wrote almost nothing 
from scratch, having a horror of the blank page. But 
she was a superb editor — one of the best at keeping 
a writer's words and making them work, and with 
keen political judgment. Though I wouldn't make any 
claims about her spelling, and she was rather strange 
about commas. 

Lizzy's area of expertise was the thorny issues of 
human sexuality in its diversity, articles like "Some- 
thing About Incest," "The Uses of Abuse," and "The 
Date Rape' Issue." It's fitting that Isaac Deutscher's 
famous remark about "hunger, sex, and death," as 
the three tragedies besetting man, is on the display. 
As Deutscher says, "Hunger is the enemy that Marx- 
ism and the modern labor movement have taken 
on." But W&R was pitched to cover the human con- 
dition writ large. The woman question touches the 
human being in all of us — and so Lizzy liked to say 
that W&R is the "sex and death" desk. 

Acting as the tribune of the people — protesting 
every act of oppression, no matter what layer of soci- 
ety it hits — can put you in some pretty unpopular 
spots in these days of the anti-sex witchhunt. Time 
after time, Lizzy had her finger on the hot-button 
questions that were socially explosive and about 
which we have something unique and powerful 
to say. In "The Uses of Abuse," "Something About 
Incest," and "Date Rape," as we later summed up: 

"We explored some of the ambiguities of sexuality in a 
society where the deformities of class inequality and 
racial and sexual oppression can lead to a lot of personal 
pain and ugliness. We pointed out that while the abuse 

of children is a vicious and horrible crime, many illegal' 
sexual encounters are entirely consensual and devoid of 
harm per se. The willful conflation of everything from 
mutual fondling of siblings to the heinous rape of an 
infant by an adult caretaker creates a social climate of 
anti-sex hysteria in which the perpetrators of real vio- 
lence against children often go free. And we insisted that 
the sexual proclivities of a group-living mammalian 
species such as our own are patently ill-suited to the 
rigid heterosexual monogamy which forms the ideolog- 
ical foundation of the institution of the family, rein- 
forced by organized religion." 
— "Satan, the State and Anti-Sex Hysteria," 
W&R No. 45, Winter-Spring 1996 

Our position is summed up in the concept of 
effective consent as the guide in all sexual matters 
and opposition to state interference in private life. 
We do not condemn any kind of sexuality or sexual 
act per se — what counts is that it is consensual. 

After we published "Date Rape" we received let- 
ters from a few outraged feminists canceling their 
subscriptions. That article lost us more readers than 
any other in the history of the tendency! So we knew 
that our paper was being read by its intended audi- 
ence, and that we had hit our target hard enough to 
get an active and angry response. Lizzy was delight- 
ed and proud. We also had to have a fight with a few 
youth comrades over the question, and Lizzy made 
a clarifying political intervention into the discussion 
that's printed in a bulletin: "The reason that we talk 
about questions of sexuality is that often these ques- 
tions are politicized, usually not by us but by the 
bourgeoisie, by some element of society, that takes 
questions that are normally of a secondary interest 
and makes them political questions that we not 
only can comment on but, in certain circumstances, 
must comment on and must take a position on." 

In grappling with the tangled issues of sex and 
society we sometimes arrived at a position only 
after extensive party debate. The article "The Agony 
of AIDS" is one example, and Lizzy played a leading 
role in an important party discussion that began in 
the PB. It was a challenge to address the emergence 
of this deadly disease, which has been politically 
charged from the beginning. In this article we took 
up the controversy over the closing of the gay bath- 
houses at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Our 
first response in 1984 had been "a knee-jerk reac- 
tion." We wrongly demanded "Government Out of 
the Baths!" according to the principle of opposition 
to state interference in private life. 

But this public health emergency was about life 
and death. You don't cite the First Amendment 
when the Fire Department is hacking through your 
walls to stop a fire. In reconsidering our position we 
wrote: "The problem is that there are two principles 


here which are always in tension: public health vs. 
individual rights. Which one has more weight at any 
given moment can only be decided by examining the 
particular health threat posed." This was a key party 
discussion on the nature of the state. 

Lizzy also played a key role in the piece on the 
traditional practice of female genital mutilation, which 
took on the liberal and leftist advocates of cultural 
relativism, which rejects and opposes the rational 
humanism of the Enlightenment as a form of West- 
ern cultural imperialism. At its extreme this doc- 
trine leads to rationalizing the most barbaric anti- 
woman practices in tradition-bound patriarchal 

This problem came up again in an article in our 
Canadian sections press on the sharia courts in 
Ontario. Lizzy criticized the draft, which stated: "In 
fact, the choices facing Muslim immigrant women 
are quite terrible. The capitalist injustice system is 
no alternative to traditional law." Lizzy came back: 
"But comrades, of course bourgeois democracy is 
better than pre-feudal reaction. That's one of the 
bases on which we are not cultural relativists. That 
does not mean that we consider the capitalist 
courts to be a friend of Muslim women — or many 
other women, for that matter. You are forgetting 
the question of social struggle, so there's no alter- 
native to reaction, no matter what the legal system 
looks like. But what regime best facilitates struggle 
by the working class and oppressed — one based on 
European Enlightenment or one based on seventh- 
century religious obscurantism?" 

Lizzy's critical capacities and her interest in the 
woman question and commitment to getting it 

right proved invaluable to the work of the Interna- 
tional many times. Before W&R was suspended as a 
separate publication and incorporated into Sparta- 
cist, it was increasingly international in scope, even 
though formally it was published by the SL/U.S. The 
editorial board expanded to include members from 
other sections, while the sectional presses began to 
include their own Women and Revolution pages. 
Lizzy's vast knowledge of the party was key in mak- 
ing this work. 

The current W&R article in Spartacist, about the 
U.S. government-sponsored "sex slaves" hysteria 
about immigrant prostitutes, was the product of 
an international discussion on the impact of the 
counterrevolution on the status of women. This 
discussion — where, again, Lizzy played a leading 
role — reconfirmed our opposition to laws against 
the "crimes without victims" like prostitution, gam- 
bling, and drug use, resulting in an important addi- 
tion to the LBL program and the SYC's ten-point 

We've recognized that the social questions are if 
anything even more fundamental to our political 
work in the U.S. today Who knew 20 years ago that 
in the 21st century we'd be arguing about religion 
and abortion with youth interested in leftist politics? 
In my last meeting with her, Lizzy expressed worry 
about insufficient resources being given to the work 
of the Women's Commission, and stressed that the 
party needed to pay more attention to this work, 
which is international in scope. 

To end, I'd like to quote Plekhanov: "Freedom is 
putting all in the service of your aim." That's what 
Lizzy did for the party. 

Remarks by Joseph Seymour at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

20 November 2005 

Many years ago another senior woman comrade 
in our tendency quipped that while Marxism is not 
merely common sense neither does it conflict with 
common sense. Lizzy King Robertson had an excep- 
tional ability to combine the principles of revolu- 
tionary Marxism, that is, Leninism and Trotskyism, 
with common sense. And that's actually a very diffi- 
cult thing to do, especially in the United States. 

For our understanding of social and political real- 
ity and of the interests of the working class and 
oppressed is very different from those with whom 
we interact and engage in common struggle, those 
whom we seek to influence and win to our program: 

union-loyal militant workers, black and Latino 
activists, left-liberal student youth. For example, they 
consider it simply common sense to vote for Demo- 
crats, especially liberal Democrats, against Republi- 
cans. Our principled opposition to the somewhat 
more liberal party of American capitalist imperialism 
is not easily comprehensible to those with whom we 
constantly interact. 

Because we are surrounded by a notion of com- 
mon sense so different from our own, we have to 
guard against a tendency to flatten out and over- 
simplify reality. It's all too easy to paint a situation 
in black and white, ignoring various shadings of 


gray. Sometimes we face situations in which our dif- 
ferent principles conflict with one another and we 
have to decide which should predominate on the 
basis of the concrete circumstances. Lizzy's sound 
judgment, her practical sense toward precisely that 
kind of situation, was one of her great strengths. 

She understood that in working out our line, as 
well as explaining and arguing for it, it was neces- 
sary to consider the complexities, the contradic- 
tions, the ever-shifting factors in the real world. She 
often reiterated an important guideline directing 
her political thinking. "Can I explain to a close con- 
tact or a new youth recruit a line that we've taken 
or are considering taking in a way that makes sense 
to them so that they are likely to agree with it or 
at least consider it reasonable? Because if I can't 
do that, if I can't make plausible arguments, then 
maybe the position is wrong." Marxism is not an 
esoteric doctrine totally divorced from a common- 
place understanding of reality and the interests of 
working people. 

Lizzy expended a great deal of time and energy 
studying, learning about cultural, social, and polit- 
ical conditions not only in the U.S., where her main 
areas of political responsibility were located, but 
also in other countries where we intervened politi- 
cally. She worked hard to understand the prevailing 
attitudes and ideas in the different groups, tenden- 
cies, and milieus with which we engaged in politi- 
cal combat. 

Just after she died I talked about Lizzy with com- 
rade Laura, one of our younger cadre. She recalled 
a discussion she had with her when she was still a 
contact. Lizzy had been informed that Laura came 
from a radical feminist background, and so she 
asked her about the current thinking in that milieu. 

Lizzy had two qualities of mind that often do 
not go together. She had strongly held and well 
thought-out ideas of her own. At the same time, 
she was very open to considering the ideas of other 
comrades, sympathizers, also contacts. She was 
ever willing to explore new and different ways of 
looking at questions within the framework of our 
shared understanding and programmatic principles. 
She had an intelligence that was simultaneously 

receptive and critical with both elements held in a 
fine balance. 

During the past decade or so I came to use and 
regard Lizzy as a kind of intellectual editor. I would 
tell my somewhat speculative, not fully thought-out 
ideas. What was happening in the world. What was 
happening on the left in the U.S. and internation- 
ally. How we should respond to these develop- 
ments. And if Lizzy didn't understand my ideas or 
didn't agree with them, it was back to the drawing 
board. I would elaborate or modify my ideas in 
light of her response. Sometimes I decided that I 
was flat-out wrong. 

My close political collaboration and rapport with 
Lizzy developed in the early 1990s mainly through 
working together on the editorial board of Women 
and Revolution. Comrade Amy has spoken about 
the importance of this journal and Lizzy's central 
role in it. Through W&R we presented a broad 
Marxist worldview and our vision of and commit- 
ment to all-sided social liberation, the ultimate goal 
of our struggle for a future communist civilization. 

For the last six years of her life Lizzy battled lung 
cancer and related serious and often painful med- 
ical infirmities. During the last several months she 
faced certain imminent death and experienced con- 
stant excruciating pain. Throughout these ordeals 
she displayed a strength of character and a commit- 
ment to and sheer enjoyment of revolutionary pol- 
itics which impressed even those of us who knew 
her well and respected her greatly. She remained 
the same old Lizzy: smart, witty, sensible in her 
judgments, interested in a wide range of activities, 
issues and concerns. And this was not willful sto- 
icism on her part. This was what she was in her 
innermost being. 

I remember a conversation with her three or 
four months before her death. Her doctor had told 
her that now was the time, before it was too late, to 
do some things that she had always wanted to but 
hadn't gotten around to doing. She said: "I am 
doing what I really want to do. What I really want 
to do is to play an active and many-sided role in the 
leadership of our party." Her death is a very great 
loss in our struggle for a communist future. 


Remarks by Emily Turnbull at Bay Area Memorial Meeting 

20 November 2005 

Lizzy was beloved in this party, and not simply for 
the qualities George talked about: her conscientious- 
ness, her judgment, the thoroughness with which 
she thought through even' question, the strength of 
will with which she pursued political fights. 

No. she was loved as well for her beauty, her 
warmth, her pertness, her graciousness. 

She was a rare bird in the communist movement: 
a New York City debutante turned professional rev- 
olutionary. (Picture Lizzy in a gown at a coming-out 
part)' in the Plaza Hotel.) She was a real class traitor, 
as George noted. Such types are not unknown in the 
workers movement — the founding American Com- 
munist John Reed is the archetype. One thinks also 
of Jessica Mitford, the blue-blooded British aristocrat 
turned American Communist Party member, whose 
memoirs A Fine Old Conflict are so entertaining. 
But Mitford joined the CP for its Stalinist policy of 
class collaboration, for trans-class "anti-fascist" unity. 
Lizzy joined what was then the Revolutionary Com- 
munist Youth in 1973 with the commitment to fight 
for the complete political independence of the work- 
ing class. She joined the party in 1974 in Detroit, 
which was then a hotbed of black radical and 
working-class struggle. At that time the Spartacist 
League's perspective of revolutionary integration- 
ism, of fusing the struggle for black liberation with 
the proletariat's fight for socialist revolution, was 
palpable. Lizzy fought for this perspective for the rest 
of her life. 

Unlike Jessica Mitford, Lizzy wasn't aristocratic 
"old money" Rather she was a Jewish girl from 
Queens, transposed to Park Avenue and the Upper 
East Side of Manhattan at age ten after the death of 
her mother, Barbara. Lizzy always spoke with won- 
der and affection of the way her new mother Mary 
accepted her and Patty and Matthew and raised 
them as her own. 

Mary had been raised in the New York society 
world and she raised Lizzy to be part of this world. 
Lizzy was happy in her new surroundings — she 
loved the exclusive, but academically challenging 
girls school she attended, Brearley She made great 
friends there, as evidenced by the trip she made to 
Wyoming this past August, which Amanda spoke to 
in the speech which Kathy read. We all thought she 
was crazy to even attempt the trip — let alone go 
horseback riding. But with her usual iron will, Lizzy 
insisted. Not only did she pull it off, she came back 
glowing, radiant. Brearley memories and her Brear- 
ley friends were very important to Lizzy. 

But Lizzy didn't finish high school at Brearley. As 
was the custom for upper-class young ladies, she 
was sent to a tony boarding school — "Miss Porter's." 
Her new roommate made derogatory remarks about 
both Jews and Catholics. Her new mother Mary was 
Catholic. And Lizzy was acutely aware of her own 
Jewish heritage — she loved Barbara's parents — her 
grandmother gave her the Jewish name Gittel, a fact 
Lizzy bemusedly spoke of from time to time. Gittel? 
But she was proud of it too. 

At Miss Porter's Lizzy was made to know that she 
was an outsider. I don't think she was unhappy, 
exactly, but the alienation she felt there certainly 
facilitated her becoming a communist. 

Lizzy broke decisively with the bourgeois society 
world and its values when she joined the party, but 
she was still profoundly shaped by her upbring- 
ing. Most comrades could see that just in the way 
Lizzy carried herself, in the care she took with her 
appearance and clothes. When towards the end of 
her life she started falling a lot, I beseeched Lizzy 
to abandon her leather shoes with short heels and 
wear sneakers. She exploded, "Some things are just 
important to me! I will not wear sneakers!" That 
was Lizzy. Miss Porter's had a special meaning for 
those of us who knew Lizzy well. We joked about it 
whenever Lizzy made us reset the table because we 
had done it wrong the first time, or whenever she 
forbade us from putting food cartons on the table 
and insisted on serving dishes. 

And when Lizzy was annoyed or in a bad mood 
she could be quite imperious and short-tempered. 
Jane and I called it her "Miss Porter's" mode — we 
would warn each other whenever Lizzy was like 
this — usually as a prelude to fleeing the house. 

But that didn't happen very often, and "Miss 
Porter's" certainly never appeared with younger 
comrades, or comrades Lizzy was responsible for 
working closely with or training. I so admired Lizzy 
for the apparently infinite reserves of patience she 
exhibited when explaining to a young comrade 
what was wrong with a certain position they had 
argued, or a draft article they had written. Com- 
rades learned so much from her, and that was why 
she had such an impact especially on the younger 
comrades with whom she worked. 

If I had to use one word to describe Lizzy's per- 
sonal qualities, it would be graciousness — a great 
generosity of spirit. Lizzy decided at an early age that 
she did not want children — she had her tubes tied 
while she was in her early 20s. She fell in love with 


Jim and married him with no expectation of children. 
Yet she accepted Martha's children into her home 
with the same graciousness and love with which 
Mary had accepted Lizzy and her siblings. Lizzy 
helped raise and nurture Rachel, Sarah, and Ken- 
neth. The love and attention that they showered on 
Lizzy, especially in the last weeks of her life, are pow- 
erful testimony to the place she held in their hearts. 

For the last 25 years I worked with Lizzy on a 
myriad of political projects for the party; she also 
became one of my closest personal friends. George 
has already spoken to how central Lizzy was to cre- 
ating and maintaining the bulletins and minutes that 
are the documentary record of our movement. We 
worked together collecting this material so that the 
Spartacist League archives would be part of the col- 
lection at the Hoover Institution Library, one of the 
best archives of communist history in this country. 

I almost always sought Lizzy's advice, especially 
on editorial questions, even when she was not 
technically assigned to work with me. She played 
a more important role than most comrades prob- 
ably realize in all the various Prometheus Research 
Library publishing projects over the years. 

It is not easy to balance close friendships with 
ongoing working political relationships in a Lenin- 
ist organization. For us clarity of political purpose, 
the integrity of what we fight for as an organization, 
has to come above everything else. The human emo- 
tional makeup which is shaped and distorted by the 
class inequities and oppression inherent in capital- 
ist society does not take easily to this. It takes a very 
high level of rationality and political will and some 
years of training to be able to subordinate yourself 
to a higher goal. Lizzy had that political will. 

What I most valued about her was the ability to 
have political fights almost completely without per- 
sonal rancor or pettiness. That's a very rare quality. 
Of course Lizzy and I often agreed; but we often 
disagreed as well, sometimes quite vociferously. We 
must have been a funny sight, walking the dog 
together, or looking at wildflowers, or just sitting 
by the pool, yelling at each other. We both valued 
the back and forth. 

Lizzy played a central role in the national organi- 
zation, both initiating and coordinating discussions 
in the Central Committee. For the 14 years she spent 
in the Bay Area she was also an important compo- 
nent of the Bay Area District leadership. Until her ill- 
ness prevented it in the last year, she was elected 
repeatedly to the local executive committee, and was 
for a few years the elected political chairman of the 
district. She also insisted on keeping her oar in the 
party's external activities, doing a WV sale at least 
once a week, talking to contacts, and going to impor- 

tant demonstrations — as late as September she was 
still trying to go on subscription drive trips to the 
Berkeley campus. 

Lizzy resisted disengaging from the Bay Area Dis- 
trict until the very end. When she was already too ill 
to get out of bed, in one of our last conversations 
Lizzy told me that, despite all the complaints that 
she had made over the years about having to go to 
overly long executive committee meetings, about 
having to deal with endless phone calls about the 
details of local work, she really missed not being on 
the exec. She said being a local executive member 
was the hardest job in the organization, because you 
had to think concretely and daily about how to get 
the best out of small forces, about what concretely 
we could and could not do in the real world. She 
appreciated the discipline that forced on her. 

Lizzy's ongoing involvement in local work was 
an important factor in the acuity she exhibited in 
national discussions and disputes. Lizzy stood at a 
central nexus in the organization, where political 
program meets everyday reality. 

She was a great implementer . Her judgment re- 
garding where to put the personnel resources to 
obtain the best results was usually superb. In that 
sense she played a role in our small propaganda 
group — all proportions guarded — not unlike the 
role played by the CC secretary Yakov Sverdlov in 
the Bolshevik Party. Sverdlov organized the Bol- 
shevik Party during and after the October insurrec- 
tion, whereas Lizzy acted as an organizer in our 
small organization in very non-revolutionary times. 
I can't imagine a more stark contrast in personality 
and physical type between Sverdlov, a hardened 
and bearded underground organizer, who always 
swathed himself from head to toe in black leather, 
and the petite, pert and immaculately dressed Lizzy. 

Different historical epochs throw different per- 
sonality types into leading roles in the proletarian 
movement. But I was reminded of Lizzy when I 
read the following description of Sverdlov in his 
wife's biography of him: 

"People valued his sincere and passionate conviction, 
for he was also sensitive and considerate, and respected 
the opinions of others. He was upright and truthful, 
never stooped to deceit, and took no pleasure in intrigues 
and personal gamesmanship. He never promised any- 
thing lightly; his word, once given, was binding." 
In his tribute to Sverdlov, who died suddenly and 
very conveniently for Stalin in 1919, Trotsky notes 
that in making decisions in the early years after the 

"It was much clearer and easier to approach each 
problem from the standpoint of principle and political 
expediency than to approach it from the organizational 


I think this is a general truism in revolutionary 
politics, but Trotsky noted that in the early period of 
the revolution, "the discrepancy between a clearly 
envisaged goal and the lack of material and human 
resources" was very acute. It was always Sverdlov 
who had the practical solution. 

In our tiny organization the discrepancy between 
our aims and lack of resources has always been 
excruciating. Lizzy played a central role in finding 
practical solutions. She made the suggestions on 
which comrade to transfer to an underled or under- 
staffed local or department. She also led fights about 

what not to do when too many tasks were being 
demanded of our overstretched local committees. 

Lenin, in his tribute to Sverdlov, wrote that "We 
shall never be able to replace this man who had 
cultivated such an exceptional organizing talent, 
if by replacement we mean finding one man, one 
comrade, with all these qualities." The work Sverd- 
lov had previously done himself would hence- 
forth have to be done by many comrades. So too 
with Lizzy — it is going to take many comrades 
to step forward and help fill the huge gap she has 

Remarks by Amanda Cross at New York Memorial Meeting 

12 November 2005 

This is the story of three girls brought together 
so long ago, whose lives wound around each other, 
an old girls school in New York, and puzzles, and 
Shakespeare. In 1961 I moved to New York City for 
the fifth grade. New to this intimidating city and 
its school, Brearley I found my first friend. It was 
Lizzy. Through Lizzy I met Barbara, as Barbara lived 
next door to Lizzy. The King household was like no 
other. You could high-jump in the dining room, 
with the encouragement and participation of Mrs. 
King. We could wheel the family TV into Lizzy's 
bedroom to watch old movies on late-night TV and 
eat ice cream from the freezer chest. And always 
there were jigsaw puzzles, particularly those round 
ones. The one with the Shakespearean quotes was 
my favorite. 

Even when Lizzy went off to boarding school 
at Miss Porter's, the three of us still often saw 
each other on weekends and during the holidays. 
Our closeness, our friendship, seemed to be a con- 
stant. But the times, they definitely were a-changing. 
This was the '60s. Blue jeans were replacing white 
gloves and evening gowns worn to society dances. 
The tradition of the daisy chain at Miss Porter's 
seemed, all of a sudden, very quaint. 

Then in the fall of 1969 the three of us all ended 
up in college in Boston — Lizzy at BU, Barbara at 
Tufts, and I was at Radcliffe. The feminist move- 
ment was exploding. I remember Lizzy dragging 
me to a consciousness-raising meeting for women, 
and later going to a Cambridge courthouse to see 
her being charged in a rent-control demonstration. 

Lizzy was always the activist. Lizzy dropped out 
of BU to train as a court stenographer to provide a 
way to support herself while she worked on the 

causes that were so important to her. By then a 
confirmed communist, she chose to spend the rest 
of her life devoted to this cause with an optimism 
that belied the world around her. 

The three of us went our own ways and followed 
our own paths after that time. We'd occasionally 
reconnect via letters, Christmas cards, wedding invi- 
tations, and later, e-mails. But Brearley reunions 
brought us back together. 1989: The three of us 
promised to come; only Lizzy showed. She never for- 
gave us! 1994: Barbara and I made it, but Lizzy was 
the no-show We forgave her. 1999: The three of us 
are determined to get there, but a month before the 
reunion Lizzy was diagnosed with lung cancer. In 
spite of her ongoing simultaneous chemo and radi- 
ation, she flew across the country for that reunion. 
2004: only Barbara and I. And I'm a mess, my hus- 
band has recently died from that very same insidious 
disease, cancer. 

This past year, Lizzy agreed to be one of the class 
agents whose thankless job is to encourage our 
classmates to support Brearley Alumni Fund Drive. 
The school also recruited Barbara, so they were 
now back in close touch. In July I learned from Bar- 
bara that Lizzy's cancer had returned. Lizzy wanted 
to see us in Wyoming, so we arranged to spend five 
days together at Barbara's family ranch. Lizzy's suit- 
case contained a very small amount of clothing, 
huge quantities of medications and a jigsaw puzzle. 
When we were not driving around the Teton valley, 
taking in the spectacular scenery, wildlife, and park 
museums (Lizzy loved the Georgia O'Keeffes), or 
riding horseback — against her doctor's orders — we 
were working on the puzzle. This was a 1500-piece 
puzzle of all the characters from Shakespeare. It 


reminded Lizzy of our time at Brearley, where we 
read a Shakespeare play every year. Lizzy did not 
look at the picture on the cover, or sort through for 
edge pieces. She zeroed in on shades of color and 
found pieces with matching colors in the pools of 
pieces that spread over three tables. I'd forgotten 
how visual Lizzy was. And while we worked on the 
puzzle, we talked, reminiscing about our child- 
hoods, catching up on our lives since then, resolv- 
ing some old issues. 

Mainly because of Lizzy's persistence, we finished 
the puzzle on the last day. As we were packing up, 
Lizzy offered us copies of Workers Vanguard that 

she had brought with her, encouraging us to read it 
and subscribe. Commitment and perseverance were 
Lizzy's hallmarks. As was her humor, her curiosity, 
her assertiveness and courage. 

My daughter is now a freshman in college; she's 
currently working on a paper on the history of the 
feminist movement of the 1970s. So I think back to 
that time, with Lizzy and Barbara. It's not history to 
me; it's our lives. And it was that time in my life 
when I was making decisions about where my life 
would take me. I'm glad I had those two friends 
with me then. I hope that my daughter will find life- 
long friends such as these. 

Letter by G. Bogle 

22 October 2005 

Lizzy was a friend and mentor to many younger 
comrades, and I feel immensely lucky to have been 
among them. When I left the Bay Area, she told me 
I could call at any time. For years she put up with 
these calls, encouraged them, listened nonjudg- 
mentally and offered sound advice. She didn't have 
as much time in the recent past, and we didn't 
always talk politics. But every time we talked, I felt 
it was something to be treasured. The qualities that 
describe her best are in some ways minor virtues — 
decency, an ability to listen, thoughtfulness, metic- 
ulousness. But in her hands, by her single-minded 
devotion to them, which went hand in hand with 
her understanding that they lay at the political core 
of building a Leninist party, these traits became 
something truly exceptional. 

She subsisted on politics like few others. It 
seemed she was so at home in her role as a profes- 
sional revolutionary that she couldn't imagine and 
wouldn't want to put it out of her mind, even for 
an instant. 

Lizzy had a giant intellect, but never used it for its 
own sake. When she came to the same conclusion as 
other comrades, which was often, she usually came 
to it more deeply, as a product of more reflec- 
tion and understanding. Thus, when she came to a 
different conclusion, people listened closely While 
devoted to genuine orthodoxy, she was never hide- 
bound by the "orthodoxy" or received wisdom of 
the moment, and when she challenged it, it never 
seemed that she did so with any trepidation or 
doubt. She shot straight, and presented to the world 
exactly what she thought. 

Talking to her and working with her helped me 

and many others to see the world more clearly. But 
she never claimed to have all the answers. One trait 
I especially associate with her is the careful attention 
she gave to degrees of knowledge. Whether she sus- 
pected something, thought something likely, specu- 
lated something, or actually genuinely knew it, she 
made sure to convey precisely her level of certainty. 
This set a fine example of self-awareness and main- 
taining an even keel to young political hotheads like 

The things she taught me and others can't be 
crammed into nice aphorisms, because her biggest 
lesson was that the genuine practical world of pol- 
itics is never simple. But to her, that complexity was 
a source of infinite surprise and fascination. While 
others could polemicize against a bad position, 
Lizzy always sought to come to a genuine under- 
standing of why this position would seem sensical 
to anyone at all. Thus she was able to see the right 
(no matter how small) in any position, as well as 
the wrong. I believe she was constantly learning 
from everyone she spoke to, constantly seeking to 
challenge and broaden her understanding of the 
world, and especially of human behavior in all its 
manifold quirks. 

Lizzy even, and perhaps especially, liked prob- 
lems that she couldn't solve easily. Like koans, they 
were food for contemplation and reflection, rather 
than excuses to lash out in frustration. She embod- 
ied so completely what Gramsci termed the "phi- 
losophy of praxis" that I think she would resent me 
finding traits of a philosopher in her at all. But she 
did possess the best of them — a belief in precision 
of words, not for their own sake, but as the neces- 


sary complement to precision in thought; and a 
concurrent belief, deeply materialist, that precise 
thoughts render the world not in broader strokes, 
but in ever sharper and more scintillating detail. 

Just knowing she was there and would eventu- 
ally get around to thinking about whatever trou- 
bled our movement, large or small, made me feel 

more secure. In a movement historically composed 
of exceptional individuals, she was one of the most 
exceptional of all. In comparison to her, all of us, to 
one degree or another, leave much to be desired. It 
is hard to believe she is gone. She was one of the 
great human beings, and I will miss her for a very 
long time. 

Letter to Lizzy by Laura 

10 October 2005 

Dearest Lizzy, 

I wish I had a chance to sit and tell you stories 
from Mexico, some of which I know would make 
you laugh, or make you angry, or make you nod 
your head in agreement. Stories about political 
fights, or being a woman on the streets of Mexico 
City, or what people feed you when you get a hang- 
over (it's spicy beef tripe stew, in case you're curi- 
ous). I won't be able to relay all those stories here. 

What I wanted to convey is a memory that sticks 
out in my mind after I joined the Bay Area SYC in the 
summer of 2000. Maryanne had told me what an 
important role you played in the International, how 
central you were on the Central Committee, how cru- 
cial you were in maintaining the history and program- 
matic continuity of the organization. I immediately 
found you approachable, interested and incredibly 
vivacious. You invited me out and we met in a cafe on 
Euclid on the North Side of UC Berkeley's campus so 
we could talk about my opinions on feminism. 

The memory stands out because it shaped my 
early conception of the Party: an organization that 
knew how to intervene into the world, with a lead- 
ership that was concerned and dedicated. You were 
this to me in my subsequent years in the Bay Area. 
You fought with me and treated me like a leader 
before I ever thought of myself as one. It is hard in 
this position: being so young that people don't see 
me yet as an organizer, being experienced enough 
to not want to be coddled. Having the opportunity 
to work closely with you for even a brief period of 
time gave me an idea of what people expect from a 
young party leader and what I should aspire to be. 

Your presence, your stability, your enduring will- 
power, and your Marxist insight will remain an ever- 
lasting recollection of the immense respect that I, 
along with many others, have for you. 

Very warm and compassionate 

Bolshevik wishes, 


Remarks by Lital Singer at New York Memorial Meeting 

12 November 2005 

One of Lizzy's great legacies was the political 
investment that she made in many youth, in partic- 
ular in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, in order to 
ensure revolutionary continuity. Lizzy was a remark- 
able example and inspiration to young cadre. In the 
early 1990s, the party made a decision to reinforce 
the Los Angeles local, and Lizzy was assigned to be 
the Central Committee's representative to the local. 
Thus began a period of close collaboration with Los 
Angeles comrades that would span a dozen years. 

I was a young and inexperienced organizer of 
the Los Angeles Local for two years, starting in 2003. 

In this capacity, I benefited from working closely with 
Lizzy. Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis, and dis- 
cussions in the local over how to implement our pro- 
gram have often centered around the fight against the 
oppression of the black population, defense of the 
large Latino immigrant population, and the tensions 
between blacks and Latinos in the city. Lizzy helped 
us understand the need to make immigrant rights 
and immigrant workers a key part of the work of the 
local, and at the same time, the need to win Latinos 
and immigrants to an understanding of the central 
importance of the fight for black liberation. 


During the many class battles in Los Angeles in 
the past few years, such as the longshore workers 
lockout, the UFCW grocery workers strike and tran- 
sit strikes, Lizzy's main intervention was to warn 
us against the constant pressure to merely run 
from picket to picket. In addition to bringing our 
Marxist perspective to the workers, she urged us to 
bring those battles to students and youth, building 
support for workers' struggles on the campuses, 
bringing students to the picket lines, and seeking 
to win youth to be lifelong partisans of the working 

In a city that can easily lead one to forget about 
what's happening elsewhere, comrades treasured 
Lizzy for helping us to be better internationalists. 

As difficult as it is to be an organizer, consulting 
with Lizzy was always my favorite part of the job. 
She told me on numerous occasions to keep poli- 
tics first. She advised us on how to deal with 
our tasks as a small local in a big city with a lot 
going on. She wrote: "The answer... is not to decide 
nothing and then do everything, necessarily half- 
heartedly and badly. You need to figure out what 
you must do first and do it, and then see if you can 
also tackle some of what you want to do — but that 
implies that you agree both on the vital and the 
desired. This can only be done through fighting 
out your differences which, if guided by a set of 
programmatic criteria, you will probably find are 
not that far apart." 

Letter by Janis Gerrard 

Berlin, 19 October 2005 

Dear Jim, Martha and family, 

The news of our comrade Lizzy's death last week 
struck a painful blow to our entire international 
organization, and of course we can only imagine 
how it affects you who loved her, lived with her, and 
collaborated so intensely and productively over dec- 
ades. We send you all our most heartfelt sympathy 
and are searching for a way to honor Lizzy's life and 
contributions appropriately. 

On 6 November we are planning to lay a wreath 
for her at the Gedenkstatte der Sozialisten (Memo- 
rial to the Socialists) where Rosa Luxemburg and 
Karl Liebknecht are buried. After which we will go 
to Catherine and Herbert's house and warm our- 
selves with mulled cider and memories of Lizzy and 
her most important interventions into our section. 
We are busy searching through internal bulletins. 
We will send you photos of this ceremony and write 
up interesting contributions as our way of con- 
tributing to the public memorial meetings. 

It is particularly important for us to communicate 
to our youth what Lizzy meant to our party, the 
respect she earned and the role she played. Some of 
our young members never met Lizzy, or if they did 
had little chance to get to know her. We are lucky to 
have a young comrade, Tom, who was recruited last 
year by Lizzy in the Bay Area. He says he was a "hard 
case" and that Lizzy spent many hours over months 

to recruit him particularly on the question of the 
necessity of a Leninist vanguard party. This is a story 
he wants to share and is busy writing up. 

As we talk to each other, comrades often make the 
same point in various ways. She was the party per- 
son. She not only studied and transmitted the Lenin- 
ist methods of organization to make revolution but 
she applied it effectively. Everyone who was there 
remembers her report on the Org Rules to the 1998 
International Conference, Renate remembered how 
she intervened on questions of membership stan- 
dards for seriously ill comrades. I remember that she 
consciously sought out comrades who she thought 
would disagree with her to test her ideas and have 
the fullest discussion and come up with the best 
answer to a dispute. Comrade after comrade has 
commented on her ability to soberly figure out what 
had gone wrong, to cut across confusion and dis- 
orientation without an iota of moralism. We are all 
stronger for it and we will miss it sorely. As we 
remember and honor her qualities, we will seek to 
instill the striving for her level of programmatic 
depth, integrity, effectiveness, discipline, and hard 
work in ourselves and our youth. I only wish we 
could find a way to communicate her rare grace and 
wit, but that is perhaps too much to aspire to. 

With comradely affection 
Janis Gerrard for the SpAD 


Letter from Sri Lankan Comrades 

9 November 2005 

Workers Vanguard 
New York 
Dear Comrades, 

We write to salute and honour the memory of 
our beloved Comrade Lizzy, who spent time with us 
in the late '70s. Comrade Lizzy was here with us for 
a short period and laid the foundation for building 

this propaganda group in this part of the world. We 
rededicate ourselves to carry out the work of the 
world Trotskyist movement through the ICL in the 
manner Comrade Lizzy did. 

Please convey our warm feelings to all those who 
were near and dear to Lizzy. 

Comrades from Colombo, Sri Lanka 

Lizzy's Impact on Los Angeles 
by Kathy Finnegan on Behalf of the L.A. Local 

5 November 2005 

In the early 1990s the party made a decision to 
reinforce the Los Angeles local, in particular given 
the increasing importance of the Pacific Rim in world 
politics and trade. It was during this period, in the 
wake of the L.A. upheaval, that comrade Lizzy, as 
the Central Committee's representative to the local, 
began a period of close collaboration with Los Ange- 
les comrades that would span a dozen years. 

This was quite a challenge given her other major 
responsibilities in the party, but also given the nature 
of Los Angeles — a small Spartacist local with no res- 
ident Central Committee member in a cauldron of 
a city which had just had a major social explosion. 
The organizer of the local at the time was Jane R, 
whose initial memories of Lizzy from that period 
capture the quality of her leadership. She started 
by visiting the local during the sub drive and work- 
ing with comrades both on campus at UCLA and 
at UC Santa Barbara, something which became a 
yearly ritual. But in addition, Jane remembers that 
Lizzy's relation with her was always collaborative, 
that she never felt that she was just getting directives 
from afar. 

The thread that runs through her interventions 
into the local over the years centers on, as we said 
in her obituary, "tackling the intersection of politi- 
cal principle with concrete social reality." If you go 
through the files in Los Angeles, those from the 
1990s are filled with literally scores of reports and 
notes to Lizzy, notably not only from older party 
members but also numbers of youth. She went to 
great lengths to pedagogically respond to comrades, 
particularly youth, who had questions or differences 
of opinion about how to express and implement 
our program. In Los Angeles this has often centered 

around the black question, the large Latino immi- 
grant population, and the black/Latino tensions in 
the city. One such discussion ten years ago centered 
on formulations in a leaflet for a Black History 
Month forum, where she took up a youth's ques- 
tions on our reference to the "genocidal impulse" of 
America's racist rulers against black America. She 
wrote an extensive letter to the local on the nature 
of black oppression, including the question of spe- 
cial oppression stemming from class society. In the 
ensuing years she led key political discussions and 
fights which enabled the local to intersect and ulti- 
mately recruit from the large Latino immigrant pop- 
ulation. As part of this she made hard fights against 
reflections of chauvinism in our party, and inter- 
vened in the party as a whole on the relation of the 
black and Hispanic questions in the U.S. The found- 
ing of a Labor Black League in L.A. this summer is a 
testament to her leadership. 

In a metropolis which has been known as "Strike 
City" for several years now, Lizzy's interventions 
during key class battles such as the UFCW strike 
were a struggle against the constant pressure to 
merely run from picket to picket. Rather, she point- 
ed out the importance of bringing those battles to 
the campuses, building support for workers' strug- 
gles among the youth, seeking to win them to our 
proletarian, internationalist worldview. She wrote to 
us at one point of a local bout with what's come to 
be known as the "L.A. Disease," i.e., "a small local in 
a big city": "The answer to the fact is not to decide 
nothing and then do everything, necessarily half- 
heartedly and badly. You need to figure out what 
you must do first and do it, and then see if you can 
also tackle some of what you want to do — but that 


implies that you agree both on the vital and the 
desired. This can only be done through fighting out 
your differences which, if guided by a set of pro- 
grammatic criteria, you will probably find are not 
that far apart." 

The past dozen years during which Lizzy was chief 
political collaborator with Los Angeles correspond 
to the period of deep initial impact of the demise 
of the Soviet workers state upon the international 
proletariat. The political disorientation and corre- 
sponding internal difficulties in this period were 
acute in the L.A. local. Despite problems in carrying 
out the necessary political fights and discussion in 
this period, what was ultimately qualitative in assist- 
ing comrades here were comrade Lizzy's combined 
attention to the need for programmatic clarity and 
constant accessibility to comrades. All comrades 
can attest to the fact that even when she called 
the office, whoever answered the phone would be 
engaged in conversation by her, with questions as to 
what was going on in the local and what their opin- 
ion was regarding a particular political discussion. 
During her frequent visits to the local, she always 
pulled out her small notebook with a list of all the 
things she wanted to talk with particular comrades 
about. We are going to miss the many barbecues and 

parties we had when she came down — not least of 
all they were opportunities to find out firsthand 
what was going on in the ICL, not a small thing in 
a historically parochial local. She exemplified the 
lesson from Cannon, that the purpose of discussion 
in a communist organization is not to discredit one 
another, but "to teach the comrades to think and to 
fight politically, to grasp the main aspects of a ques- 
tion, to go by principle and not to be sidetracked 
by incidental matters." That is why even comrades 
with whom she had to have some of the most seri- 
ous fights considered her their friend and will miss 
her so deeply. 

Comrade Lizzy could take satisfaction during the 
last few months of her life that the local she had 
worked so closely with had made some strides 
politically, founding a Labor Black League, recruit- 
ing a sizable youth club with a vital UCLA frac- 
tion, and seeing its way clear to have a rally in 
defense of class-war prisoners. Many of us know 
we simply could not have done this without her. 
We understand that the struggle to forge the party 
necessary to lead the proletarian revolution will 
continue. But the comrades who had the privilege 
of working with Lizzy are better communists for 
that experience. 

Tribute to Comrade Lizzy by Tokyo Comrades 

14 October 2005 

Dear Jim, Martha, Kenneth and Jane, 

Jan called this morning to tell us that Lizzy had 
died. We are having trouble finding the words to 
express our sympathies at your deep personal loss 
and to express our own grief. What we do know is 
that Lizzys contributions to almost every aspect of 
party life and work were tremendous. Every com- 
rade who had the opportunity to work with her 
learned from her, as did the party as a whole. We all 
are in her debt. Her life was not in vain. 

This evening comrade Arai was telling stories 
about his encounters with Lizzy. The first time was 
at the iSt-Rekken fusion conference in 1988. He 
and the other comrades had been invited to your 
house for dinner. He doesn't remember what Lizzy 
said or did. He just remembers that he had "never 
met a woman like that before." He was impressed. 
He also spoke about the times he worked with her 
on the nominating commissions for several interna- 
tional conferences. Her ability to be objective and 
assess a comrade as a whole is something that he 

said he is still trying to emulate. 

As production manager for the last several issues 
of Women and Revolution, Chas was able to work 
closely with Lizzy on several occasions. In particular 
he appreciated her decisiveness. Not just because it 
made his job easier, but because she was a voice of 
lucidity. He came to value her opinions and became 
very fond of her. 

Our strength is in our program and our combina- 
tion, i.e., by recognizing the weaknesses and utiliz- 
ing the strengths of all comrades. Lizzy understood 
very well that our process of selecting and helping 
comrades to emerge from the ranks to strengthen 
the leadership is a conscious process. Cannon once 
said that compared to Lenin and Trotsky, the rest of 
us are men made out of common clay. He also said 
that the grain of originality in most human beings is 
very slight, that the art of independent creation is 
limited. Both of these things are true, but within 
the "common clay" and limited originality frame- 
work, there is a lot of elasticity. What I will always 


appreciate about Lizzy was that she was an indepen- 
dent thinker. She didn't dabble in ideas for the sake 
of dabbling, but she was able to concretely think 
about a problem, take it apart, argue and discuss 
with comrades, and put the problem back together, 
many times based just on common sense. She 
helped to educate the party in objective, critical 
thinking toward everything and everybody, including 
other leaders. For some reason currently we do not 
have many comrades who are capable of this, and we 
will be weaker because she is gone. 

We are planning a small memorial out at Tama 

Cemetery on the weekend of November 12-13. This 
is where Richard Sorge and Ozaki Hotsumi are 
buried, and we usually go there every year around 
the date of their execution, which was November 7, 
the anniversary of the October Revolution. I am 
sure they would have been honored to join us this 
year in raising a cup of sake in honor of comrade 

Warm comradely greetings, 
Jeanne for the Spartacist Group Japan, 
section of the International Communist 
League (Fourth Internationalist) 

Application for Membership in the Spartacist League 

by Elizabeth King 

19 July 1974 


I would like to be accepted as a member of the 
Spartacist League. Through my work in the RCY for 
the past year and a half, I have gained an understand- 
ing of the program of the SL and feel that I am now 

ready and willing to assume the responsibilities and 
commitment of party membership. I have read and 
agree with the Statement of Purpose and the Decla- 
ration of Principles, and I understand and accept the 
democratic-centralist organizational form of the SL. 

Our Comrade 

Elizabeth King Robertson 

Lizzy in 
New York, 1978. 

Robertson Family 

Lizzy at Wayne State University protest, 
Detroit, 1974. 

Young Spartacus photos 

Protesting Pinochets bloody Chilean coup, 

Boston, 1973. 


jQTttKraa fis&Aj 

:.: .-•" •-■ A*.^> ■■•-, ;„...\.iw 


r^ ■ 

Third International Conference of the ICL 

Declaration of Principles and 
Some Elements of Program 

International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) 

On the Origins and Development of Leninist 
Organizational Practices 

Organizational Rules 
and Guidelines 

International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) 

Women and Permanent Revolution in South Africa 

Lizzy at February 2003 

antiwar demonstration 

in San Francisco. 

Lizzy's work on ICL's 
Organizational Rules and 
Guidelines drew on history 
and traditions of the 
international Marxist 

Above, from left: 
Founding of First 
International, 1864; 
Congress of Second 
International's German 
section, 1875; 
publication of Communist 
International, 1919; 
Diego Rivera mural depicting 
Leon Trotsky, founder of 
Fourth International in 1938. 

Robertson Family 

Workers Vanguard 


Women and Revolution 

Women mid f^ 
Revolution iTCa 

The "Date Rape" Issue: 
Feminist Hysteria. Anti-Sex Witchhunt 

For Class Struggle Against Clinton's "New World Order' 

Children, Family and State 

Something About Incest 


Women and Revolution 

The Russian Revolution 

and the 
Emancipation of Women 

A selection of Lizzy's significant contributions 
on complex social and historical questions to 
ICL publications. Left to right: 

"The Date Rape' Issue..." 

in W&R No. 43, Winter 1993-Spring 1994; 

"Something About Incest" 
in W&R No. 28, Spring 1984; 

"The Russian Revolution and the Emancipation of 
Women" in Spartacist (English-language edition) 
No. 59, Spring 2006. 

Robertson Family 

Lizzy with comrades at 
the Port of Los Angeles. 

no credit 


Photos displayed at New York 
and Oakland memorials show 
Lizzy speaking for the ICL in 
January 2005 and February 1993. 


Comrades in Berlin laid wreath in Lizzy's honor at memorial for Rosa Luxemburg and 
Karl Liebknecht, 6 November 2005. 


Publications of the Prometheus Research Library 

Dog Days 

James R Cannon vs. 
Max Shachtman 
in the Communist League 
of America. 1931-1933 

James P. Cannon 
and the Early Years 
of American 


II HTepiiaiiHoiia.i 

.1. TpOHKllfl 

♦> Dog Days: James P. Cannon vs. Max Shachtman 
in the Communist League of America, 1931-1933 

• 118 documents including letters by Trotsky on international issues, some published here for the first time. 

• Extensively documented introduction and explanatory notes. 

• 16 pages of historical photographs and graphics, some previously unavailable or never before published. 

• Glossary of more than 175 items; 15-page, fully cross-referenced index. 

• 752 pages; smyth-sewn binding in paper and cloth. (2002) 

Cloth: $30.00 (ISBN 0-9633828-7-X) Paper: $19.95 (ISBN 0-9633828-8-8) Shipping/Handling: $4(1 book), $6 (2-4 books) 

♦♦♦ James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism: 

Selected Writings and Speeches, 1920-1928 

This volume of Cannon's writings covers the period when he was one of the principal leaders of the American section 
of the Communist International. (1992) 624 pages. 

Paper: $14.50 (ISBN 0-9633828-1-0) Shipping/Handling: $4 (1 book), $6 (2-4 books) 

♦> The Communist International After Lenin 

First Russian-language edition. By Leon Trotsky. Includes Trotsky's Critique of the 1928 draft program of the 
Communist International. (1993) 309 pages. 

Cloth: $12.00 (ISBN 5-900696-01-4) (Includes shipping and handling.) 

New York State residents add 8.625% sales tax to book price and S/H. New Jersey residents add 6% sales tax to book price. 

Prometheus Research Series 

No. 1: Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of 
Communist Parties, on the Methods and 
Content of Their Work 

Complete and accurate English translation of 1921 Comintern 
Resolution from final German text. (August 1988) 94 pages $6 

No. 2: Documents on the "Proletarian Military Policy" 

Includes materials from the Trotskyist movement in the U.S. 
and Europe during World War II. (February 1989) 102 pages $9 

No. 3: In Memoriam, Richard S. Fraser: 

An Appreciation and Selection of His Work 

A selection of the writings of comrade Richard S. Fraser 
(1913-1988), who pioneered the Trotskyist understanding of black 
oppression in the United States. (August 1990) 108 pages $7 

No. 4: Yugoslavia, East Europe and the 

Fourth International: The Evolution of 
Pabloist Liquidationism 

By Jan Norden. Covers the internal discussion within the Fourth 
International over its flawed response to the Yugoslav Revolution 
and the 1948 Tito-Stalin split. (March 1993) 70 pages $7 

No. 5: Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism? 
Internal Problems of the Workers Party 

Max Shachtman's document from the 1936 internal bulletin of the 
Workers Party of the U.S. Includes introduction and glossary by 
PRL and appendices. (September 2000) 88 pages $7 

Prometheus Research Series prices include 
shipping and handling. 

Order from/make checks or money orders payable to: Spartacist Publishing Company, Box 1377 GPO, New York, NY 10116 
To order multiple copies and for international prices, write to the above address or send e-mail to 

Prometheus Research Library 

The Prometheus Research Library is a working research 
facility for a wide range of Marxist studies and also the 
central reference archive of the Spartacist League of the 
U.S., section of the International Communist League 
(Fourth Internationalist). Library holdings include sub- 
stantial materials on the organizations inspired and led by 
Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky, as well as works on relat- 
ed topics, sometimes remote. 

The purpose of the PRL is to collect, preserve, and 
make available the historical record of the international 
workers movement and to assist Marxist scholarship. It 
is both a strength and weakness of the PRL that it is nec- 
essarily centered upon the work and interests of the 
American Communist and Trotskyist movement. 

The Library's collection, which does not circulate, grew 
out of the forty-year accumulated and organized holdings 
of James Robertson, both correspondence and printed 
materials. The collection now includes over 6,000 books 
and periodical volumes, 100 reels of microfilmed docu- 
ments and periodicals, and 175 linear feet of archival doc- 
uments and bulletins. Particular emphasis is on minutes 
of leading committees and internal discussion material. 
Approximately three-quarters of the holdings are in Eng- 
lish. There are significant materials in Russian: over 300 
titles covering much of the record of the Bolshevik Party 
in the form of stenographic records of Congresses and 
Conferences, early Cheka reports, memoirs, and publi- 
cations and exile correspondence of the Left Opposi- 
tion. Holdings in German, French, Spanish, Polish, and 
other languages are also significant. Books and pamphlets 
are catalogued in a card file with 120 subject headings; 
periodicals are indexed separately. An extensively cross- 
referenced, computerized version of the card file and 
document holdings facilitates research. 

The Library also contains the published works of many 
non-Marxist authors who strike our interest. The PRL cir- 
culates lists of recent acquisitions to interested libraries 
and individuals. These circulars, which date from March 
1979 to the present, are available upon request. 

Key Archival Holdings 

• Major published documents of the First through 
Fourth Internationals. 

• Protocols of Executive Committee meetings and World 
Congresses of the Communist International. Principal 
periodicals, pamphlets and leading body minutes of the 
early American Communist Party. 

• Central body minutes, internal bulletins and internal 
correspondence of the American Trotskyist movement, 
plus its public press, pamphlets and theoretical organs. 

Materials cover the initial 
Trotskyist expulsion in 1928, 
the founding of the Com- 
munist League of America 
and the later Workers Party, 
the period of entry into the 

780963H382894 1 ' 

ISBN D-^b33flEA-^-b 

5 600 

Socialist Party, and the Socialist Workers Party. 

• Substantial collection of works by James P Cannon, 
founding American Communist and Trotskyist leader, 
including writings and speeches from the 1920s. 

• Extensive internal materials from the Workers Party/ 
Independent Socialist League (led by Max Shachtman) 
and its youth affiliates from the 1940s and 1950s. 

• Minutes, documents, and bulletins of the Interna- 
tional Secretariat of the Fourth International in French 
and English. 

• Books on general subjects ranging from the history 
and struggle of colonial masses to various idiosyncratic 
interests of Marxists and others. 

Collaborative Work 

The Prometheus Research Library evolved over the last 
25 years and works under the auspices of the Central 
Committee of the Spartacist League/U.S. The PRL has 24 
staff and individual associates in the U.S. and 10 other 
countries. The PRL is a member of the American Library 
Association. The PRL seeks to assist serious efforts to pub- 
lish histories of Trotskyist sections around the world, 
both by providing documentation and where appropriate 
financial support, without regard for our particular agree- 
ment with the views of the authors. The PRL occasional- 
ly collaborated with Louis Sinclair, the noted bibliogra- 
pher of Leon Trotsky's work. George Breitman, editor of 
Trotsky's Writings, advised the PRL in the early stages of 
the production of our first book, James P. Cannon and 
the Early Years of American Communism. The Library 
strongly supports the collaboration and exchange of his- 
torical material with individuals and libraries of kindred 
purpose around the world. It has deposited archival 
records of the Spartacist League/U.S. and Spartacus Youth 
League in the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and 
Peace at Stanford University and the International Insti- 
tute of Social History in Amsterdam. 

To Collect and Preserve... 

The Prometheus Research Library seeks to collect, 
preserve, and make available the documentary record of 
the international communist movement. The Library has 
its own publishing program, making available rare mate- 
rials that are an indispensable part of the documentary 
history of the Trotskyist movement. We are very inter- 
ested in obtaining any relevant minutes, bulletins or cor- 
respondence both to complete gaps in our collection 
and to ensure that such historically valuable documents 
are not lost. Please note that for our purposes xerox 
copies of originals are nearly as satisfactory as the origi- 
nals themselves. Persons who have such archival papers 
are encouraged to contact the PRL. 

Visit the PRL at 
or e-mail us at: