It apparently didn’t take much for Elly to come around to Leon’s political point of view — and she continued leaning ever farther left while he was off in DC building up their marriage nest egg. Even without her side of their correspondence, it’s clear that she got involved with a Marxist study group on the Case Western campus and started making friends with other like-minded students. Some of her friends weren’t like-minded enough, though — or so Leon made unmistakably clear on October 25, 1940:
NOW! — you stinker with a capital stink, — dearest, I was not one whit pleased by your discussion with L.E. Before saying more let me remind you that in such things you are not only acting as an individual but, because of our sweetest of sweet relationships, also implicating me. I don’t want people to see Leon’s girl discussing with tRATzkyites. I don’t recall making many unreasonable demands dear, but that sort of thing must cease and on that I remain adamant. These people are the lepers of the labor movement. Everywhere they serve but to spread doubt, confusion, and slander as to the role of the C.P. USA and the USSR. Just as the most horrible crimes of the church were committed in the name of “humanity” so the crimes of these lice are committed in the name of “socialism”!
The proof of this — you yourself acknowledge — is to be found in the reams of praise showered on Trotzky, Norman Thomas, et al by the reptile press. To be class conscious means to fight against not only the horse manure of the class enemy but also of their agents whether conscious or unconscious. Elly, would you want to be seen talking to a scab or stoolpigeon? I understand that you find it difficult to place L.E. in such a category, but if she is honest she will recognize herself that the C.P. is the vanguard of the workers — the party of socialism. If not, let her and her ilk be damned — the sooner the better!
Read whatever you want to, dear, but no more relationships please. I’m really boiling, dear, because I thought we had reached agreement on this point.
Sorry I flew off the handle, El, but I am in deadly earnest about the above precisely because I love you so much I don’t want you to be tainted by either ideas or company.
I confess I’m not clear enough on the differences between Trotskyists and Stalinists to understand why Leon was so infuriated that Elly was socializing with someone he considered the wrong flavor of Marxist — but infuriated he obviously was. At the end of the letter, though, he seemed to realize that maybe he’d overdone it a bit:
WELL? RUDY, WELL? Hell hath no fury like a MAN scorned by his sister-in-law-to-be-I-hope. I spose while Elly cries her heart out in the bathroom about the meaness of the body of this letter I could talk to you awhile but here we are at the bottom of Page Four again. Yell in to Elly I really love her.
Her precious (?)
If anyone can help me understand why he was in such a lather about this, I’d love a note in the submit box.
- a-certain-party-i-love posted this