Hidden alliances 6, Cohn Werner

From Marlen to Faurisson

Faurisson is of course not the first to propose preposterous
ideas or to use pseudo-rational methods in the process.
Jacques Baynac and Nadine Fresco have recently reminded us
that a certain Jean-Baptiste Peres denied as early as 1827
that Napoleon ever existed.<64> Today there is a California-
based Flat Earth Research Society International, only a
stone’s throw from our Institute for Historical Review,
whose leaflet assures us that it can “…prove [the] earth
flat by experiment, demonstrated and demonstrable. Earth
Flat is a Fact, not a “theory” … Australians do not hang
by their feet under the world.” There is proof for

It is one of the misfortunes of the left wing, both in
Europe and America, to have been afflicted with more than
its share of Flat Earthers. Many of these marginal socialist
and anarchist illuminati are adepts of the doctrine of
malign equivalence, i.e. they see all government as
basically “capitalist” including that of the Soviet Union,
and they find all “capitalist” rule to be equally
reprehensible. The autobiographical part of the new
_Chomsky Reader_<65> shows us how Chomsky has adhered to
such doctrines, from his earliest days to the present. But
we shall also see how both he and_La Vieille Taupe_have gone
beyond this anarcho-Marxist tradition to arrive at what
amounts to a justification of Nazi Germany.

Chomsky tells us (in page 14 of _The Chomsky Reader_) that
he was fascinated by the “Marlenites” when he was a boy of
fifteen or sixteen. This was about 1944 or 1945. Insofar
as I can reconstruct it now, this ex-Trotskyist splinter
group thought that the war was “phony” and that the Western
Allies, the Soviet Union, and the Axis powers were all
conspiring together against the international proletariat.
All sides represented the bourgeoisie (including the Stalin
“burocracy,” as Marlen liked to spell it), all sides
oppressed the workers, all sides were in every way morally
equivalent. Chomsky now says that he “never really believed
the thesis, but … found it intriguing enough to try to
figure out what they were talking about.”

I want to linger just a bit on the subject of the
Marlenites. On the surface it would seem that there is
little similarity between this small band of 1940’s New York
revolutionists and the Chomsky of today. The Marlenites had
strange ideas but they were no apologists for the Nazis, so
compared to Chomsky and his French “revisionists” they were
models of sanity, of moderation, of judiciousness. But as
it happens the Marlenites do afford us some insight, first
into the atmosphere of the little radical groups that
constitute the lineal forebears of todayOs left-wing neo-
Nazis, and second into the methods of historiography that
Chomsky and his friends employ today.

It so happens that I myself had a brush with the Marlenite
organization Leninist League, as it was then called. It
was, at the time, led by the veteran New York splinter-group
radical George Spiro. Like all American Bolshevists in
those days, Spiro used a pseudonym in the hope of warding
off the FBI. (The leadership of the Trotskyist Socialist
Workers Party having been sent to jail in 1941, this
precaution was not as fanciful as it would seem today.)
When Spiro chose his “party name” he wanted to honor his
(temporary, as it turned out) heroes and picked Marlen, Mar
for Marx and len for Lenin.

My first experience with the Marlenites predates Chomsky’s
by about four years. I was fourteen in late 1940 or early
1941 when I attended a meeting in Spiro’s apartment on the
Lower East Side of Manhattan. I had been invited by the
Marlenite who distributed propaganda to one of the group’s
larger rivals, and I can’t now remember whether this other
group had been of the Shachtmanite or the Cannonite wing of
the Trotskyists.

Spiro and his Marlenites struck me as not much different
from other Trotskyists in the manner in which they conducted
their business except that the group was even smaller and
even further removed from the common sense of the world.
They seemed to have had an even more intense conviction of
being the very small elite that alone knows all the esoteric
truths about capitalism, war, the class struggle, the future
of humanity. It was a matter of very heavy Rechthaberei,
of disputatious knowing-it-better.

When I first met Spiro he had already accomplished a
considerable political journey. He had been expelled from
the Communist Party and had joined the Trotskyists. He had
next joined a splinter group led by Hugo Oehler and Thomas
Stamm to found the Revolutionary Workers League, in
opposition to the “official” Trotskyist organization. But
soon thereafter he had discovered that Oehler and Stamm and
in fact Trotsky himself were traitors to the working class,
so he had left all these groups, with a very small band of
followers in tow, to found his Leninist League and to
declare World War II to be “phony.” I don’t think that the
number of these Marlenites ever exceeded a dozen or so.

I went to see Spiro again around 1956, in the same Lower
East Side apartment where the earlier meeting had taken
place. He told me then that the intervening years had
brought him one disappointment after another. His
researches had led him to see that not only Stalin and
Trotsky had been traitors to the proletariat but that Lenin
had been of the same stripe. And even the writings of Marx
could not withstand his careful inspection. Spiro (he had by
then abandoned his pseudonym for obvious reasons) discovered
that yes, old Karl Marx himself had really been nothing but
an anti-Semite in disguise. When I asked him about the
other Marlenites whom I had met some fifteen years earlier,
Spiro revealed to me that they, too, had been unmasked by
him for what they really were, a bunch of anti-Semites.<66>

Spiro was by then a mellow old man and I must say that I was
shaken, not only by his madness but also because of the
kernel of truth that his madness all but hid. He gave me a
copy of what I take to be his last opus, Marxism and the
Bolshevik State.<67> I am glad that I kept this volume. At
one time in my life I owned other Marlenite literature but
unfortunately I discarded it all except for that last big

Marxism and the Bolshevik State has 1100 closely-printed
pages, divided into 78 chapters, and gives evidence of a
tremendous mental energy on the part of its author. Its
thesis can readily be surmised by some of the chapter
headings: The Stalin-Trotsky Betrayal of the British
Workers; Lenin Disrupts the Potential World Revolutionary
Army and Navy; Marx’s Personal and Political Insincerity;
A Marxist-Ignored Phenomenon in the Ancient and Medieval
Class Struggles — The Jewish Scapegoat; Marxist Anti-
Semitism in the United States; Marxism’s Hand in Creating
the Reactionary Zionist State; Marxism — The Last Bulwark
of Anti-Semitism and Christianity. The book denounces all
known government — i.e. it embraces the doctrine of malign
equivalence — but it also holds open the promise of a new
day, when, presumably under the guidance of enlightened
leaders like Spiro himself, “Mankind will attain
superabundance of the fruits of its labors, will plan its
own history, will gradually gain mastery over the globe…”
(p. 1077).

Spiro could read German and Russian in addition to English,
and he has perused thousands of old books and especially old
newspapers, apparently all in the Reference Division of the
New York Public Library. Whenever he saw something that he
liked he would carefully note it and cite it in his book.
As he himself explains the method in his preface:

In the body of the work for example, we cite a
parenthetical remark by Lenin which, to our
knowledge, has never been used as source material,
and which is of greater value to an investigator
of the true history of the Bolshevik State than a
shelf of histories produced either by the
bourgeoisie or by any historians of that State.
(p. 14)

Spiro had no more critical sense about such sources than
Faurisson and seemed to think that something printed in an
old newspaper, if it tended to confirm his own convictions
about history, constituted proof positive of the rightness
of his cause. It would never occur to him to consult the
work of the expert historians on a given subject, let alone
to weigh one source against another. He was a completely
self-educated erudite as well as a ceaseless polemicist and
self-righteous moralist. Perhaps, had he acquired some
sense of balance along the way, he could indeed have become
what he thought he had become: an important thinker.

With all that Marlen-Spiro was a rather amiable old crank,
and I think that the same can be said for the Flat Earthers,
“Marlenites” all. If I now suggest that Chomsky and
Faurisson are also adepts of the Marlen method of
historiography I must immediately add that Spiro’s writings,
with all their faults, were free of malice; there was
vigorous polemic but there was no hate or vituperation. For
these we must look to Professor Chomsky and his neo-Nazis

In any case, Chomsky only gives the faintest of nods to
Marlenism in his autobiographical musings. His real
political mentors, he says, are Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Korsch,
Paul Mattick, Anton Pannekoek, and some others.<68> These
writers are the founders of “Council Communism,” and, as it
happens, the very ones whom the “revisionist”_La Vieille
Taupe_also claims as among its guides and teachers. Chomsky
and VT thus have common professed ideological roots, Council
Communism, and Chomsky is less than forthright when he
suppresses this ideological tie in his autobiographical
sketch and elsewhere.

But what is Council Communism?<69>

The beginnings lie in a small sect of left-wing,
oppositionist German Communists in the 1920’s who were in
revolt against Moscow’s domination of the German Communist
party. Basing themselves partly on the anti-Bolshevist
writings of Rosa Luxemburg, the group developed profound
differences with the Communist International on
organizational matters. It rejected the notion of a
“dictatorship of the proletariat” as exercised by a party or
state, advocating, instead, independent councils of workers
as the government of socialism. Under the influence of
writers like Paul Mattick and Karl Korsch (both of whom
emigrated to the United States where they died after the
war), Council Communists became fierce opponents of Stalin,
were persecuted by both Stalin and Hitler, and in general
maintained standards of political ethics that were widely

Council Communists were much more consistent than
Trotskyists in their opposition to Bolshevist tyranny but
they shared certain attitudes with both Trotskyists and
anarchists during the Second World War. Wherever they could
exist in Europe and America, these little groups and
grouplets held to a radical anti-war position; they thought
that neither the Axis nor the Allies merited their support.
Unlike most of the Trotskyist groups, both Council
Communists and the anarchists applied this anti-war position
to the Soviet Union as well as to the West and the Axis.
But none of these groups, and nobody in them, had anything
but hatred for the Nazis. They all supported the resistance
in Nazi-occupied Europe, and culturally and practically,
insofar as they had any influence anywhere, they were part
of the overall anti-Nazi front of all decent people. The
current pro-Nazi position of_La Vieille Taupe_is, as far as
I know, the first time that a group with authentically left-
wing origins has broken this front.

The history of _La Vieille Taupe_ has been told by Pierre
Vidal-Naquet and Alain Finkielkraut.<70> A group of ex-
Trotskyists led by Cornelius Castoriadis and Claude Lefort
broke with Bolshevism in the late 1940’s to start a movement
called Socialisme ou Barbarie<71> with ideas broadly
resembling those of the Council Communists. Many splits and
mergers later, toward the end of the 1960’s, one of the
resulting grouplets called itself _La Vieille Taupe_. By
about 1970, VT began to develop ideas and activities that
contrast very sharply with any of its ideological ancestors.
It had inherited a thorough-going rejection of “bourgeois”
society, and had inherited also a tendency to equate
“capitalist tyranny” with “fascism.” But now, partly under
the influence of certain ultra-leftist Italians
(Bordigists), it began to reject the one article of faith
that had hitherto been a common denominator for everyone on
the left: anti-Fascism.

At first it was a matter of declaring Nazism as no worse
than the “bourgeois” capitalism of the West, of finding the
Axis as no more guilty than the Allies of crimes against the
working class. Such, roughly, were the ideas of the first
anti-Semitic writer whom Vieille Taupe saw fit to promote:
the ex-Communist, ex-concentration camp inmate Paul
Rassinier, now deceased (“Revisionists” from Paris to
California still accord him pride of place as the father of
their particular branch of knowledge). But going from
Rassinier on to Faurisson, whom VT discovered in 1978 and
has promoted ever since, the group became more and more
openly anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi, a process which reached a
sort of apogee in 1986 when it published the 520-page screed
of one of the most strident of the German post-War Nazis,
Wilhelm Staeglich.

In preparation for this essay I corresponded with some
veterans of Council Communism and other far-left wing groups
in France and elsewhere. My informants were unanimous in
their observations that Guillaume and his Vieille Taupe,
apart from his two or three tiny fronts groups, are
absolutely and completely alone in this trajectory from anti-
Stalinist radicalism to neo-Nazism. As one particularly
knowledgeable correspondent put it: “Neither the
Trotskyists nor the Council Communists can be held even
indirectly responsible for Guillaume’s wanderings.”
Authentic Council Communists will not have anything to do
with him. Paul Mattick was one of the respected thinkers of
this movement, and his son, Paul Mattick, Jr., wrote to me
as follows: “A few years ago, Guillaume offered to publish
a French translation of my father’s last book, but we (my
mother and I) of course refused him the right, as we do not
want to be associated with these crazy people.”

Estimates of the number of Guillaume followers range from
about ten to about thirty. Veterans of the left wing shun
him, scholars laugh at him. But Guillaume does have two
things going for him. First, as we saw, he seems to have
ample finances; second, he has Noam Chomsky.


The safety and welfare of the State of Israel mean a great
deal to most Jews today no matter where they happen to live.
There is a minority to whom Israel does not matter much, and
an even smaller minority who are critical of both Israel and
the Zionist enterprise. And after we have thought of all
these categories and try very hard, we can find still
others: there is an individual here or there who hates
Israel so much that he is willing to aid the neo-Nazis in an
attempt to dismantle the State. There is the sad Alfred
Lilienthal, tireless pro-Arab propagandist and speaker at
neo-Nazi conventions; there is the eccentric Dr. Howard
Stein who translates Julius Streicher’s propaganda into
psychobabble; and there is Noam Chomsky.

Some individual Jews have always turned against their own
people. We call such people Oself-hatersO after the title
of some biographical sketches describing such unfortunates
during the Weimar republic.<72> It is of course anyoneOs
inalienable right, in a free society, to be a self-hater,
and most such cases are sad rather than interesting. The
psychology of how and why a person reaches that stage,
especially when that person has had the benefit of every
privilege of Western society, is not something that I can
claim to understand. All I can do here is to demonstrate
the methods, the ways and means, of Chomsky’s crusade
against Israel and the Jews.

Last-Modified: 1996/12/05

[Archived with author’s consent]

[Partners in Hate: Page 89]