Never would have thought to attend the Left Forum but then got your messages, looked at the website and schedule, and so went this morning. It was nothing like you thought. It was much, much worse.
One good thing was that (as you would have learned if you’d braved the Park Row traffic), next year the name will be changed. It won’t be called the Left Forum. Truth in packaging. The plan is to call it Cluster Fucks in the Dustbin of History: CFDH 2014. Stanley Aronowitz will remain on the board but Pussy Riot will run the show.
But that’s next year. I couldn’t resist because you mentioned Grover Furr, the the Montclair Fury, the medievalist-cum-unreconstructed Stalinist I’m now destined to miss tomorrow because the idea of going back is more than I can bear. But I saw him anyway because this morning he chose to attend the same colloquium as me, on Babeuf and Guy Endore. (Guy Endore BTW wrote a left-wing novel about the Haitian revolution, so much for your charge of neglect.) There were six of us.
Furr’s students, I think, gave the talk. Grover corrected their pronunciation and exhorted them to improve their French. It was nothing like you thought. It was much, much worse.
For the afternoon had planned to go to the Mass Incarceration Forum but turned out it was run by Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Call me an opportunist but I walked out without sitting down. Then stopped down into the Raya Dunayevskaya/Herbert Marcuse/Erich Fromm classroom. Long enough to hear Bertram Wolfe booed. “Has anyone heard of Bertram Wolfe?” (“Boo!” “We’ve all heard of that rat. Boo!”) Ugh! What did I tell you?
On the way out the building after a turn at the Greek crisis (“Thank you American Left for being you”) I stopped into the Court of Miracles, where a Health Policy Discussion was under way with three dozen of our best antiquities. Principal demand as Revolutionaries: healthcare should be considered not a commodity but a service. No co-pay no way. Tell that to the Defibrillator.
Best of all overheard was passing a forum on targeted killings. A sweet young thing of sixty summers and sixty-one falls took to the podium. “We’re revolutionaries,” she said. “We need to learn to be human beings.”