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Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ...


(24 April 1950)

From Labor Action, Vol. 14 No. 17, 24 April 1950, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

To the Editor:

A curious item has appeared in the Socialist Workers Party’s paper, The Militant: an unconditional political defense of F.O. Matthiessen, the Stalinoid Harvard professor who recently committed suicide and left a statement implying that his act was motivated by depression over world affairs.

The Militant headline reads: Matthiessen Commits Suicide Over Cold War. This, it may be suggested, is somewhat disingenuous: a great many people are just as concerned about the cold war as was Matthiessen; yet they do not commit suicide. As The Militant editors might discover by looking into a psychiatry text (or are they “against” psychiatry?), suicide, particularly when not undertaken in conditions of extreme physical duress, is usually caused by motives more intimate than political pessimism.

However, what is most interesting in The Militant item is that in the midst of its eulogy of Matthiessen, whom it calls “not a Stalinist,” but a “Socialist and Christian, with great love for his fellowman,” it never so much as refers to Matthiessen’s recent book on Europe or his activities at the Stalinist “Waldorf peace conference.” It says not a word about the fact that Matthiessen wrote in his book that if he were in France he would be a member of the Communist Party or about his nauseating whitewash of the Czech Stalinists and of the Stalinist stooge in the Social- Democratic Party, Fierlinger, who acted as a fingerman against the Czech Trotskyists. Nor does it feel the need to mention that Matthiessen spoke at the Waldorf conference on the same platform with the GPU culture commissars and said nothing against their blatant defense of Stalinism.

The Militant praises Mattheissen for his civil-rights work, for his willingness to defend the Minneapolis Trotskyists. For that, indeed, he deserves every honor – every honor, that is, except the wilfull and deceitful obliteration of, his shameful record as a Stalinoid.



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