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International Socialist Review, Summer 1962




From International Socialist Review, Vol.23 No.3, Summer 1962, pp.66, 95.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.



I have just read the Spring 1962 issue. It has been around some time, but I have just gotten around to it.

Your Mr. William F. Warde and Mr. A. Binder seem to be beating around the bushes, lacking facts.

Being lazy I will not go into great detail, but will say that during my stay in the Soviet Union in 1958 I saw no evidence that queues were bothering people. In stores there were a few at the cashiers’ stands, a few at the hot piroshki stands, to buy new editions of books and to get into the shows. I did not see any in the regular stores caused by the shortage of anything. I am going back this summer so I will take another look.

As for the food issue both of these gentlemen could settle the matter with copies of publications issued by the United States government. (1) FOOD AND PEOPLE, by the Subcommittee on Foreign Policy, 1961, and, (2) THE WORLD FOOD BUDGET by the Department of Agriculture. Both publications agree on these figures: (food values given in calories).




Soviet Union



West Germany



East Germany





















United States



El Salvador



As you can see there is nothing wrong with the food values of the countries in Eastern Europe as compared with the countries in Western Europe. In fact Eastern Europe has a much better “diet” than many countries in Western Europe. As for black bread and cabbage soup, that is what a Russian dreams of when he is hungry. I eat it in the United States, and I am not a poor man. I will eat it all the days of my life. It is good and it is healthy.

Why should we take a thing N. Khrushchev says wrong as a gospel of truth. He talks for internal distribution as do the blabbermouth group in the US. If you do not believe this is so ask Mr. “Goldenwasser” of Arizona the state of the Union. His reply would be interesting. He seems to hold the “nest of thieves” theory, too.

As for the “failure of the potato crop” this is not worth answering. It has no meaning. The Soviet Union is three times the size of the US and certainly some small areas will have a “failure” in any year, but the fact that the Soviet Union grows seven to eight times as many potatoes as the US does would give them ample potatoes even with some local failures. There was no crop failure in the Soviet Union in 1961. I have contact in many areas, and they have mentioned just the opposite. Good crops.

As for the 10 million tons of grain short in the 1961 (?) crop as compared with the 1958 crop, some good honest reasoning is needed. The cereal crop in the Soviet Union will run over 110,000,000 metric tons per year. In real good years it will be 10-20 million tons over the average. In not so good years 10-15 million tons less. This does not mean hunger, or the lack of bread. It means more feed for cattle or less. The 1961 grain crop was 137,432,000 metric tons.

The charge that slaughtering is going on of the cattle to fill quotas (some writers in this area) seems to be disproved by the fact that cattle have increased by 27 million head in the seven years to 1961. Number of hogs doubled, and sheep numbers went from 115 million to 144 million in the same time.

I do not think that the people have the kind of government that they deserve as one of the world’s great peoples, but they are making great progress in spite of this. Their great progress is the cause of most of the hate our own government has for them.

Seth J. Carpenter
Lemon Grove, Calif.


The following letter was sent to Connie Weissman.

“I am sending you a poem done a few hours after reading your reminiscences of Natalia Trotsky in the International Socialist Review. Being a recent convert to Trotskyism, I knew nothing of this remarkable woman until reading your article. Because the individual is the common metaphor, denominator, of Man, I was struck with the beauty of your portrait of her. To pretend I could conceive of her grief, of her humanity, would be stupid; but I did glimpse a courageous woman surviving with dignity in a world gone tragically wrong.

“Mrs. Weissman, I am moved greatly by your sketch, and my small tribute, which shall in no way compare to yours, is dedicated, appropriately, to you, although it is about her.”

R.L. Vaughn
San Francisco, Calif.

* * *

The depths and strength
of a human character
are defined by its moral

After the betrayal,
after the guards no longer needed,
after the great failure,
Natalia Trotsky,
among friends in the Bronx,
killing cockroaches.

Finally south
to a well-kept garden
with a red flag brilliant
under a merciless sky.

Mornings before the
sky reddened,
when the small flag
in the garden
over the grave
hung damply
did you turn
in your sleep
in the bed’s
cold vastness?

Did you,
did you turn
when the sky
began to bloody
in the East
& a small breeze
moved over the stones
& to the flag,
did you turn
& awaken then
& grieve?

Many women have stood in open windows at dawn, overlooking well-kept gardens, and grieved, Natalia; but later in the day when visitors came you refused, pridefully, to accept a proffered arm to guide you to the garden, saying:

“But what shall I do when you are not here?”

In tragic hours
I am always amazed
at the reserves ...


The following comment on The Myth of “People’s Capitalism” by Art Preis, published in the Winter 1962 issue of ISR, is from a 79-year-old lady in Detroit:

“I agree with your article in the magazine you sent me some months ago. How silly to say we have no classes, no proletariat. I contend that anyone who depends solely on a job for existence belongs to that category – where else?

“I have thought for some time that class lines were becoming more rigid. Can a boy from a poor family become a doctor or lawyer as he could 50 years ago? Every year they are making it more difficult for a worker’s son to complete a medical course. And now I hear that the boy who would study medicine must be sponsored by a doctor just as a student at Annapolis or West Point must be sponsored by a member of Congress.

“When I lived in Detroit in the early Twenties there was a judge here – Judge Murphy – and a very good judge too, who had not been a lawyer – I don’t recall all the circumstances. I suppose he ran for the office and was elected. Maybe he hadn’t finished his law studies – if there had been any. He couldn’t have been a member of the bar or they wouldn’t have made an issue of it. Anyway, he was the last such judge. A law was passed prohibiting anyone not a member of the bar serving as a judge. That was my first awakening to the changing mores of our society.

“Two years of high school used to equip a girl to teach school. It costs her parents much more now and if they can’t help her she joins the supply of typists, clerks, factory workers, etc. There’s the nurse – a few years ago it was much easier for an ambitious girl to get into that profession. No classes!

“Some years ago I read a book about the South titled, A Preface to Peasantry. I’ve forgotten the author’s name, but not his main thesis: that share-cropping was on the increase – that the small landowner was going to find himself in a few years working for someone else with the same conditions that prevailed in Europe – a kind of peonage. No classes!!

“The million farmers that are being forced off their land each year are either being recruited into the new peasantry or joining the proletariat in the big cities. Certainly they are not retiring to live in penthouses.

“Right after Galbraith’s Affluent Society became a best-seller, the Progressive magazine published a list of people who were not affluent by any standard. They included the 30 million families whose income before taxes was $2,040 a year; the 10 million marginal farmers whose yearly income was around $1,000, often less. No classes! – Who are they fooling besides themselves. If our present social order lasts another 50 years class lines will be as rigid as they are in Europe. With few exceptions you’ll remain in the class in which you are born.”

Detroit, Mich.

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