Editor’s note: A long, long time ago, strange groups populated a lot of the left wing in the US. This is a fictional story about one of them. Avery has previously written a piece of short fiction for the Hard Crackers special print issue, dedicated to founder Noel Ignatiev. That issue can be purchased here.
Stuart Blum always considered himself somewhat of a Red. Growing up in a majority-Jewish neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia, he’d heard plenty of stories about communists, but none of his strict Orthodox Jewish family members were involved. He’d been to a few protests back in college, against war in Cambodia and against South African apartheid, but he never took the initiative to join an organization. In Philadelphia there were dozens of communist organizations to choose from, most of them only a handful of cadre, scarcely bigger than the nuclear family unit they sought to abolish, and they all hated each other. Overwhelmed by the possible choices, Stuart deferred on the decision, until prompted one day by Isabella, that sweet Italian girl from his music theory classes.
“Hey, what’s this about a meeting again? What’s the organization?”
“It’s the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee, or PWOC. A Marxist-Leninist organization and a constituent member of the Organizing Committee for an Ideological Center, or OCIC. We’re anti-revisionist yet also anti-dogmatist,” Isabella explained to Stuart.
“Mmm, right. So’s you organize this ideological center, for… to build socialism or…?”
“It’s to build a pre-party formation, to lay the basis for a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party of the working class. In other words, yes, socialism.”
“Alrighty, that’s swell, I’ll be there.” He hung up the phone. Isabella Argento, a three-year veteran of the PWOC, was falling behind in her recruitment drive. She hated pitching to potential recruits, so she stuck to people she knew until she ran out of options. She knew Stuart Blum from the music program at Temple University, class of ‘76. They weren’t close, but they’d studied together on occasion, and Isabella felt she had enough rapport with Stuart to give it a go.
Stuart showed up at the meeting at six o’clock on the dot, the time he’d been given, but it seemed as if he was late. The meeting was to take place in a church basement. When he descended the outdoor staircase and opened the door, a dozen or so people were already gathered, seated in a circle, and it seemed to him that they’d been talking for a while. The basement was lit with sparse fluorescent lights, giving the effect of a clandestine Resistance meeting, as if in the catacombs of Vichy’s Paris. The dull odor of mildew only added to the basement’s ramshackle quality.
“You must be Stuart,” a man said. He was strong looking, muscular but not stocky, with intense eyes.
“Yeah, that’s me alright.”
Stuart caught Isabella’s eyes, and she patted the metal folding chair next to her. The sound echoed in the small basement. He sat down.
“So, I guess we should start the new member portion of the meeting,” the man continued. “We’ll get done by eight if this goes well. Stuart, my name is Kurt Shaw, and I’m the Chairman of the Central Committee of the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee. I also serve on the Delegate Council of the Organizing Committee for an Ideological Center. You’re familiar with the anti-dogmatist trend of Marxism-Leninism, presumably? Of course, or why else would you be here.”
“Yeah, well, I’d say so. Isabella invited me. I know it’s, you’ve got some Mao Zedong influence, but not too much of that, you don’t reject the Soviet Union on principle, the what you’d call, an ultra-left error, eh…?”
“We maintain a scientific analysis on the Soviet Union, unlike the dogmatist followers of China, who abandoned Marxist analysis in favor of sectarianism. Unlike the dogmatists, we maintain that the Soviet Union remains a socialist country, even if the Soviet leadership has ideologically deviated from Marxism-Leninism. But more important than our line on the Soviet Union is our unique perspective on the question of party-building. Unlike the ultra-left Maoists, we do not yet think a Communist Party exists in the United States, nor can we or any other organization simply declare ourselves to be one. To get to where we need to go, we have to build a solid foundation. This is what we call the fusion thesis, that our primary task is fusing the party-building movement with the working-class movement. This task comes before total theoretical unity.”
“Right, yeah, it’s different from that other group, Line of March? I read a few of their pamphlets and I remember them saying that–”
“Fuck Line of March. Petit-bourgeois radicalism, total navel gazing. No interest in building the party, just rehashing debates that got us into the situation we’re in.”
“Oh, that sounds pretty bad. I wouldn’t want to be like that.”
Two full hours of communist inoculation: a comprehensive account of Stuart’s class background, his class standpoint, review of the points of unity of the PWOC, its goals within the OCIC, the obligations of a member, how to become a member (a nine-month-long probationary period of political education and practical organizing experience, “Yeesh”, Stuart thought). Stuart’s first assignment was to begin distributing copies of The Organizer, the PWOC’s weekly newspaper, around his neighborhood in South Philadelphia. The meeting rounded off with a red salute and they were on their way out for the night, at last emerging from the musty basement, greeted by the cool spring evening air.
Thus began Stuart’s association with the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee and the anti-dogmatist, anti-revisionist strand of Marxism-Leninism. It turned out the only thing that had been holding Stuart back from joining an organization was his own indecision, an understandable paralysis in the face of the buffet of organizations on offer. Roped in by Isabella’s charm, just as she’d hoped.
Isabella and Stuart went for a drink after the meeting. They rarely hung out in a one-on-one setting during college, but now they had something to talk about, something secret and special that they could share just between themselves.
“So, Stu, what did you think? About your first PWOC meeting,” Isabella asked.
“Oh, it was great. I learned a lot about the uhh, the fusion thesis, building the party and all that… That Kurt, he’s an intense fella, huh…?”
“Yes, Kurt is very serious. I think a good leader has to be. But you get used to him, I know he’s intimidating at first but I promise you’ll see he has a warm heart once you get to know him.”
“Yeah, well thanks for inviting me and all. I’m real excited to get involved in a group. I mean, I’ve never been involved in a real communist organization, you know that, but I think it’s neat. How’d you get involved anyway, Bella, were you in the group when we were at Temple, or…?”
“I joined the PWOC my senior year. I just felt like the whole campus activism scene was so directionless and scattered, and I came to realize that what we needed was disciplined organization. I started learning about Marxism-Leninism and the party-building movement, and I met some PWOC cadre at a rally. They were really nice, and serious, which I felt was lacking on campus, and I knew they were the group I needed to be with.”
“Ah, yeah, that’s real cool, I agree with that, I felt… well I was never really that involved, but it did seem like, none of us really knew what we were doing, I think it’s cool that you’ve got more discipline, that makes sense.”
Isabella raised her glass. “A toast to comradeship?”
“Here’s to the revolutionary 80s, eh?”
November 4, 1979
Stuart, who by this time had been going steady with the PWOC for a few months, grabbed a copy of the Sunday edition of the New York Times to read on the trolley, as he often did. Naturally, it being a Sunday, he was on his way to a PWOC meeting at Kurt Shaw’s house. “FOUR SHOT TO DEATH AT ANTI‐KLAN MARCH.” The huh? Oh dear. Paper says four dead, eight wounded. Twelve Klansmen arrested. Oh dear, oh dear. According to the Times, the Communist Workers Party organized the rally, they got shot and killed fighting the Klan. The CWP are, ahh, another one of those ultra-left Maoist groups, dogmatists, claiming to be the vanguard of the American proletariat, right? Stuart tried to remember. Not kosher, not kosher at all. But nonetheless, they were dead, shot dead.
Stuart showed up at the Shaw residence promptly at two o’clock, in time for their weekly organization-wide meeting, which normally ran five or six hours. This on top of the three or four subcommittee meetings throughout the week. Nose to the grindstone, the struggle continues, Stuart thought. He knocked on the front door of the small row home in Port Richmond, where Kurt lived with his ex-wife and ex-father-in-law, a peculiar arrangement sustained by comradely rather than familial ties. The furniture, a mishmash of styles both baroque and modern, was strewn across the living room, each and every surface covered with either PWOC members’ asses, back copies of The Organizer, or volumes on topics as varied as Soviet economics, natural science, cosmology, and German Idealism.
By the time Stuart arrived, his comrades were already discussing the incident in Greensboro. Kurt Shaw figured it would be a good time to push for a Leninist theory of the bourgeois state apparatus within the Coalition Against Racist Violence, a local network of progressive organizations in which the PWOC participated. This was a perfect opportunity to establish the PWOC as a leading force within the Coalition Against Racist Violence, Shaw argued. His comrades assented.
“However, there still remains the problem of the CWP’s ultra-leftism. We will have to toe a very fine line here, supporting anti-fascist organizing without looking like we’re parroting the CWP’s line, which we decidedly do not unite with. The CWP’s petit-bourgeois radicalism is at issue here; really, that’s what got them killed.” Stuart grimaced, but he waited for Kurt to finish speaking before passing judgement. “What did the CWP do for the working class of Greensboro, and most importantly, the Black working class? Did they unite with the politically advanced elements of the working class and win over the intermediate? No, they went out on a tough-guy adventure and got themselves killed.”
“That was well-put, Comrade Shaw,” added Michael Sorrentino, a longtime PWOC member. “The CWP lacked the requisite discipline and community support to carry out such an action. It was bound to end in disaster.”
“Thank you, Michael,” Kurt replied.
Thus ended the discussion. The meeting continued as usual from there. The CWP was not mentioned again for almost the entire remainder of the four-hour meeting. Reportbacks from subcommittees, summations of mass work, unionization efforts, coalition meetings, flyering, phonebanking, responses to the Line of March, responses to Theoretical Review, responses to The Guardian, review of Philadelphia news from a proletarian perspective, self-criticisms, recruitment prospects, until the Coalition Against Racist Violence was brought up again.
Kurt found the CWP’s cavalier posturing to be indicative of the elitist tendency of the ultra-left Maoists who, he charged, had placed their own organizations’ interests over the interests of the working class as a whole and the communist movement in general. The OCIC cadre had been primed for this new round of critique and invective towards the CWP, one of many rival organizations, as they had previously had a field day making fun of the CWP the previous year when they’d declared themselves the vanguard party of the American working class, a declaration the CWP made with a particularly bombastic poem:
our day is here, the glorious day is here
and we must cherish this day
in our hearts
For, finally, we have our party
finally, the dictatorship of our class
is within our grasp,
and soon workers and oppressed
will march along the road of socialism…
The PWOC unanimously decided to write a statement in solidarity with the four slain in Greensboro, victims of a heinous act of racist violence, perpetuated by the KKK with active collaboration from the Greensboro PD, but with the caveat that the strategic and political perspective of the victims’ organization, the Communist Workers Party, was retrograde, a dead-end sure to result in more bloodbaths down the line. Once the PWOC had hammered out its perspective more fully, Stuart started to see the merits of the argument. After all, he thought, the CWP had been quite reckless. Stuart decided that, in the main, he agreed with the statement, even if he still found it a bit harsh, but he still had a few months left of his probationary period as a prospective member, so he could not vote on the resolution anyway.
The CWP didn’t make it easy on the PWOC or anyone else to offer support. They launched their own campaign in light of what was by then being called the Greensboro Massacre, framing it as an attack on their organization qua vanguard. According to the CWP, the ruling class of the United States and their fascist lackeys had to shoot up the CWP in Greensboro because they were desperate, because they understood that the CWP represented the American working class and its interests, and that it would one day lead the working class to revolution in the literal sense: Constitution burned, White House demolished, Private Property made profane. That is, unless the FBI, the CIA, the GPD, and the KKK did something to stop it. For the CWP, in order to oppose the Greensboro Massacre one must unite behind their own party’s program, the program of the self-declared revolutionary party of the working class. This was something that their rival communist organizations simply could not do.
After their initial showing of solidarity with the CWP, the various communist organizations and reading groups throughout the country started to roll in the critiques: the Revolutionary Communist Party, the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L), the Ray O. Light Organization, the Amilcar Cabral/Paul Robeson Collective, the Bolshevik League of the United States, and of course the OCIC each brought charges against the CWP: opportunism, adventurism, elitism, and reckless endangerment of Greensboro’s Black neighborhoods. The CWP fired back, denouncing each critic organization in turn, calling them opportunists, lackeys, rightists, and legalists. Stuart found the whole sequence of exchanges both thrilling and educational. As he came to terms with the flaws in the CWP and the other Maoist groups, he began to better appreciate the strengths of the PWOC, and as the CWP business began to wane, he found within himself a newfound resolve as a prospective PWOC member committed to his fellow comrades and the working class at large.
December 25, 1979
Autumn bled into Winter. Television programming pivoted to Christmas adverts, petit-bourgeois shopkeepers cranked up the music to put shoppers in the spirit of the season, and the Flyers still hadn’t lost a single game since the middle of October. A layer of snow draped on the trolleys and a layer of ice coated their tracks. The debacle with the Communist Workers Party, which had resulted in the deaths of five anti-racist militants (one had died several days later in the hospital), had been laid to rest, largely replaced with other concerns within the PWOC and the communist movement more broadly.
Stuart, schlepping through the snow and ice, made his way to the trolley for an emergency PWOC meeting. Yes, it was Christmas Day, but the communists held no sentimental feelings for that religio-consumerist holiday. Besides, Stuart was a Jew. The emergency meeting, called by Kurt Shaw, was for the Central Committee to give the rank-and-file members a debrief on what had happened just the previous day: the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, to defend the Democratic Republic from the encroachments of the Islamist mujahideen uprising, bankrolled by U.S. imperialism and supported by anti-Soviet Afghan Maoist insurgents.
Kurt Shaw laid out the Central Committee’s perspective, that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan deserved support because it was crucial to limiting U.S. imperialism’s sphere of influence, defending socialist construction in Afghanistan, and maintaining the geopolitical integrity of the Eastern Bloc. His eyes scanned the room, until he let them settle on Stuart, who was playing with his shoelaces.
“Nobody has a problem with our perspective, right? No anti-leadership cliques I should know about?” He chuckled. “Stuart, are you able to unite with us on the question of Afghanistan? This is a crucial perspective for the anti-dogmatist trend, for the PWOC and the OCIC, and it’s very important that you unite with us on this. Do you know why I’m asking you in particular, Stuart?”
“Ahm… well, there was some debate over the situation in Zaire…”
“Good, Stuart. Now, what did you say about Zaire?”
“I was worried about Soviet involvement in the conflict in Zaire. Not worried about Soviet involvement as such, of course, but worried about the nature of it, whether it in practice upheld the right of nations to self-determination…”
“Yes, and what was the error in your perspective?”
“The error was that I was… unconsciously capitulating to anti-Sovietism, which plagues our society, an anti-Sovietism which is closely entangled with American racism and patriotism… Oh dear. I unknowingly united with the perspective of President Carter, his counselor Brzezinski, and all of their imperialist lackeys, including the ultra-left Maoists, objectively uniting with U.S. imperialism, whether or not I was aware…”
“Yes Stuart, that’s exactly what happened. I’m glad you understand where you went wrong. Remember, we aren’t dogmatists, we don’t toe the line of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. We maintain an anti-revisionist perspective, we unite with the critiques of the Soviets put forth by the Vietnamese, the Cubans, and the North Koreans, but we don’t turn a blind eye to Chinese wreckerism and its dupes. Remember, the Soviet Union is an objective ally of national liberation around the world, and to oppose the Soviet Union is to oppose national liberation, whether in Zaire or in Afghanistan. Thank you, Stuart, you may be seated now.”
Stuart took his seat, slowly, looking into Kurt’s eyes, seeking some sort of confirmation that he’d passed this test, finding nothing in Kurt’s eyes but discipline, proletarian nobility. He looked over at Isabella. She smiled at him, looked at the floor, and frowned. Isabella hadn’t gone yet that night. Perhaps she was thinking about her own fate, whether it would be as painful as Stuart’s, or whether she’d be able to take it as well as Stuart did. He looked over at Michael Sorrentino, who gave him a thumbs up. The truth was, of course Stuart felt uneasy, he felt embarrassed, but within that embarrassment he felt an opening for further political growth, as if he was purging some demon from his psyche, as if he was expelling all the prejudices and dogmas from the old society, hoping that what was left would be amenable to the new one, and Kurt Shaw was Stuart’s midwife in this act.
After the meeting, Stuart and Isabella found themselves at a bar they’d never been to before, perhaps the only bar open in all of Northeast Philadelphia that evening. Their usual haunt was, of course, closed for the holiday. At this bar they played disco, something neither Stuart nor Isabella had much of an opinion about either way. But it certainly didn’t stop them from staying for a couple drinks.
“How did you feel about the Afghanistan discussion today?” Isabella asked Stuart.
“It was pretty good, I’d say. I thought, you know, obviously I was pretty nervous being put on the spot like that, but I do feel like my political analysis has developed a lot since the whole Zaire thing? I think I learned some good lessons about proletarian internationalism, and all the rest of it…?”
“Yeah, for sure.” Isabella looked down at her hands. “That’s great, Stu. I’m happy for you. I love seeing new members develop politically, it’s such a special thing to be a part of. And I mean, you’re my friend, so that makes it even more special. It’s just, seeing you put on the spot like that, I wish it didn’t have to be so… severe.”
“What do you mean, Bella?”
“Forget it. Hey, c’mon, let’s dance. I think I’m starting to get this whole disco thing.”
And so they danced, the two of them together, even though they didn’t know what they were doing. They looked ridiculous, swaying as if they were dancing to David Bowie, and not to whatever it was that was playing. Neither of them knew the names of any of the songs. But on they danced, looking into each other’s eyes, feeling a special type of magnetic energy between each other: no longer just friends, certainly not lovers, but rather comrades, for better or for worse, in good times and bad.
The snow began to melt, children began once again to play in the parks in larger numbers, and adults resumed bar hopping with less of a sense of urgency between each location. The OCIC, spearheaded by the PWOC leadership, in particular Kurt Shaw, had launched its internal Campaign Against White Chauvinism. Unable to sufficiently unite with the working class, i.e. unable to put the fusion thesis into practice, the OCIC decided that white chauvinism was the primary roadblock to a successful transition from a small organization to a mass vanguard party. Get our own house in order first, so it went.
The PWOC’s external work, its only direct contact with the proletariat at the point of production, became diminished, put on the backburner as the Campaign Against White Chauvinism within the PWOC and more broadly within the OCIC raged on. Meeting times lengthened, frequencies increased, intensities expanded. Criticism and self-criticism sessions became the focal point of meetings, rather than a clumsy afterthought or formality, and fidelity to the sensibilities of the labor movement was replaced with fidelity to a set of criteria, a blueprint for how white communists (OCIC cadre were, after all, almost entirely white) should act within a fundamentally racist society.
One PWOC member, Eric Townsley, a white man, was eviscerated by Kurt Shaw, with the covert aid of Michael Sorrentino, for none other than an interracial relationship with a Black woman, named Kitty, who to boot wasn’t a member of the PWOC or even a communist at all. Michael Sorrentino brought the charges to Kurt Shaw, in private, such that the other members didn’t know who had squealed on Eric. Kurt then brought the issue to the membership body, not for discussion, but to verify Eric’s malfeasance and demand he take action to rectify the situation.
“Comrades, I’m disappointed to say that our Eric has fallen out of step. In spite of his good comrades here encouraging him to rethink and reflect, he has continued to pursue a romantic relationship with a Black woman, a woman from an oppressed nationality. Because racism exists in interracial relationships, then racism must be considered the essence of such relationships, and they should be discouraged. There’s no excuse, whether ignorance, since we all decided on this policy collectively, nor special allowance, since to grant such would constitute liberalism of the highest order. Therefore, comrade Eric, the Central Committee of the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee officially advises you to discontinue your racially exploitative relationship with Kitty, effective immediately. Further action may be taken if you do not heed our recommendation.”
The decision, even though it in fact did align with the policies the PWOC had passed in light of its Campaign Against White Chauvinism, shocked the membership, especially Isabella, who had quietly opposed the policy, even if she outwardly assented. She did not think the policy would ever be enforced. When Isabella was younger and still living at home her father, an old-fashioned Italian immigrant, had prohibited her from dating Poles, Jews, and especially Afro-Americans, and so she saw the PWOC’s position as deeply conservative, even if its rationale had a radical veneer, a concern for protecting minorities from being exploited. And so, she soured on the campaign entirely.
Stuart and Isabella got breakfast at a diner before a meeting the following Saturday, as they often did. Stuart ordered eggs over easy with toast. Isabella stuck to coffee this particular morning. “Stu, this white chauvinism thing, don’t you think it’s a bit much?”
“I, ah, huh? I think we gotta fight white chauvinism, ya know? I dunno Bella, I think we have to unite on this, root it out before it destroys our organization.” Stuart pushed a slice of toast through a puddle of runny yolk.
“Maybe the campaign itself will destroy us. Look what they did to Eric. And poor Kitty. Was all that really necessary?”
“Huh? Bella, what are you on about? You know anti-racism is a core component of any solid Marxist-Leninist strategy. Eric should know that as well.”
“Yeah, I know, but you know, just the way we’re going about it, it’s so vicious.” Isabella took a sip of coffee. “It’s even worse than the struggle around Point 18.”
“Point 18, what’s that?”
“You know, Point 18, the eighteenth point in the OCIC program. ‘U.S. imperialism is the main enemy of the world’s peoples.’”
“People fought about that? How come?”
“The opportunists wanted to change the point to say that we have to oppose U.S. imperialism as well as other imperialisms. Meaning, they took the Chinese line on the Soviet Union, that it’s an imperialist power as well. It’s flunkeyism, plain and simple.”
“Sure is. Say, now that Mao’s been dead for a few years, what are all these Maoists groups gonna do, are they gonna go along with Deng Xiaoping? What about ahh, how’s Albania looking these days?”
“They don’t have a clue themselves. They blindly followed the Chinese for so long they forgot how to apply Marxism-Leninism to their own context.” Once the subject had changed, Stuart and Isabella never returned to the topic of the Campaign Against White Chauvinism. Stuart wondered, and hoped, that Isabella was just having another bad day, run down by the capitalist system that does its best to make us too exhausted and too busy to organize against it. Isabella picked up the check and the two militants got on the trolley. They weren’t able to find seats next to each other, so they rode in silence, with a couple of rows between them.
Later, Isabella made the unfortunate choice of repeating the complaints she’d made to Stuart to Michael Sorrentino, who was much more of a hardass, an apparatchik, as Isabella had once characterized him to Stuart. And Michael, being the loyal functionary he was, felt that Isabella’s apprehensions, or less generously, anti-leadership attitudes, constituted an attack on the OCIC, its struggle against racism, and the establishment of a new Marxist-Leninist party in the United States, and one Saturday afternoon he picked up his phone, called Kurt Shaw, and told him as much.
That phone call from Michael Sorrentino, that rat, that lapdog, that scum, as Isabella would later describe him, who wasn’t even on the Central Committee, set into motion an irreversible process, first the discussion among the Central Committee, then the whispers among the rank-and-file, utterances of “her days are numbered,” “it’s what it is,” “she’ll be out on her ass,” utterances that scandalized and exhilarated the members in equal measure. Stuart, who mostly kept to himself, was not privy to Isabella’s inevitable expulsion. His best friend in the PWOC, the woman who recruited him, who’d inspired him with her political radicalism at Temple, was now permanently on the other side of the barricades, an obstacle in the historical mission of the proletariat, a countercurrent to the tides of History and Progress.
And yet, when Stuart arrived for that Sunday branch meeting, and he saw Isabella, in the middle of the circle of chairs, sitting in her own chair, with her head down, and Kurt Shaw grasping in his hairy, firm hand a missive of some sort, he immediately knew what was about to happen. Through almost a year of observation and several months of direct participation in the organization’s democratic processes, he knew the nature of these votes, the necessity of organizational unity, and the consequences of sticking one’s neck out in defense of the indefensible.
Chairman Kurt Shaw announced the charges: obstructing the Campaign Against White Chauvinism, horizontal communication, factionalism, taking an anti-leadership position, liberalism, and endangering the future unity of the proletariat. Once he’d read the charges, he requested that each member speak, to evaluate Isabella’s character, to give a fuller picture of her transgressions. When it came Stuart’s turn, he was red in the face, his hands were shaking, and he felt as if he might piss himself.
“Comrade Stuart, what do you think happened such that Isabella found herself in this position?”
“Comrade Shaw… it started with a hesitation on Isabella’s part as to our procedures for carrying out the Campaign Against White Chauvinism… As we know, we’re all resistant to change, to confronting the ways in which we’ve been stamped by the attitudes of the capitalist class, but her questions quickly turned to bad faith, and anti-leadership… I must admit, she almost convinced me of her backwards views, but I reminded myself that her views were not the perspective of the PWOC nor of the OCIC… I reminded myself that to unite with liberalism is to aid the enemy… and so yes, I accept the charges against Isabella Argento, and I unite with the criticisms put forth by the Central Committee.”
“Thank you, Stuart, that was well-put.”
Isabella had already been officially expelled by the Delegate Council of the OCIC and by the Central Committee of the PWOC, but now she had to be formally expelled by the PWOC rank-and-file. Kurt Shaw concluded the discussion with final remarks, about how Isabella had betrayed the PWOC and, more tragically, the American working class. “All in favor of the expulsion of Isabella Argento from the Philadelphia Workers Organizing Committee, please raise your hand.” At first in a trickle, but then in rapid succession, each person in the room raised their hand. Stuart looked around the room, saw the hands shooting up, with enthusiasm, with vigor, with proletarian excellence, and he too raised his hand, first with hesitation, then proudly, uniting with Comrade Shaw, with the Central Committee, and with the interests of the proletariat, in service of freedom, liberation, and socialism.
Those comments Stuart had made, on Isabella’s anti-leadership perspective, her capitulation to chauvinism and liberalism, were the last he would ever speak in her presence. The Central Committee informed communist organizations all around the country of Isabella’s transgressions, so that she wouldn’t be able to go elsewhere and continue wrecking communist organizations. Stuart, for his part, had come to accept Isabella’s absence, that even though she was the one who brought him to Marxism-Leninism, she had fallen out of step, an unfortunate possibility lurking within each one of us, Stuart thought.
This story is dedicated to those five anti-racists who were senselessly murdered in Greensboro in 1979. Your memory lives on in the struggle against white supremacy and for justice.
 “On the Founding of the Communist Workers Party, U.S.A.” Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 4, No. 18, November 5, 1979.