THE LAST WORD

Roane, Stephen

THE LAST WORD Encounter with a G-man Stephen Roane When I was young and the blood ran hot (but did not sufficiently irrigate the brain) I became a Trotskyite. We Trotskyites had the reputation,...

...Ah...
...I've been mostly in car theft...
...I have been away from any activity for so many years that even if I were inclined to 'cooperate,' I would have nothing to offer...
...Despite my refusal to "cooperate" and my admitted occasional singing of The Internationale, my dossier was evidently placed in the inactive file...
...Finally, I remarked, "You seem rather ill informed about left-wing political movements...
...Oh" I said...
...We dreamed we were living in Petrograd, 1917 one of the reasons for our ineffectuality...
...Rather, my indignation is as a taxpayer...
...When I get going, as my poor wife knows, I'm a hard man to stop...
...Iam not angry about the FBI's intrusion into my life...
...We parted soon after...
...During this period, we subsequently learned, we were among the principal subjects of surveillance and harassment by the FBI which proves that the FBI were even bigger clods than we were...
...I can't help you," I said...
...I didn't want to embarrass you with your wife...
...We Trotskyites had the reputation, in those years, of practicing amoeba politics: Upon reaching a certain size, we would split...
...They came to interviews prepared...
...It seemed to me that the agent was in sore need of some rudimentary education, so I launched into an exposition of communist politics Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Bukharinism...
...The FBI, with all the money appropriated to it, should do better...
...I offered to meet him at noon in front of the north lion at the library...
...he asked (they are always supposed to ask you to "cooperate...
...Cooperation" is evidence of purification...
...Years went by without any sign of FBI interest in me...
...After all, an interview on a sunny day in Bryant Park, obviously much more painful for the special agent than for me, cannot really he considered severe political persecution...
...Would you consider cooperating with us...
...Suppose I had been a real menace to the Republic: Who would have protected it from me...
...He wanted to talk with me, but didn't want to "embarrass" me by coming to my home or office...
...About all that's left of my former politics is that I sometimes sing The Internationale when I'm in my cups...
...Oh, my wife knows all about my former political activities," I assured him...
...I didn't know how much she knew about your subversive activities...
...Where's that...
...destined to lead the masses across the bridges of the Neva...
...They were conversant with the nuances of differences among those groups...
...he asked, and I became an informant for the FBI...
...Could we meet...
...The dread Soviet GPU or the Nazi Geslapo could be counted on, at least, to read the literature of the groups they were persecuting...
...At the corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street," I informed the agent...
...Actually, I've been quite inactive politically for the past several years," I said...
...Our binary fission point, at the time I joined, was about 1,000...
...His rather small eyes lit up...
...As I approached the age of thirty an almost sure cure, as old Clemen-ceau said, for my aberration I married, became a father, found steady work, and took to cultivating my garden...
...But I wasn't that far into cultivating my own garden...
...he said, writing in his notebook...
...I didn't want to go to your home," he said...
...At times, the surveillance and harassment were so subtle that we were not even conscious of being under official scrutiny, but at other times the FBI was less subtle and we were fired from our jobs...
...It should not send its auto theft experts to interview suspected political dissidents...
...With those numbers, of course, we could not have made a revolution in a dog pound...
...When that happened, it confirmed our conviction that we were the vanguard of the vanguard of the working class, Stephen Roane is a free-lance writer in Larchmont, New York...
...The issue became, "If there had been Finnish Trotskyites, what position should they have taken on the war...
...Well," he said apologetically, "I haven't been in internal security very long...
...Unfortunately, she takes them far less seriously than either you or 1 do...
...I left Trotskyism far behind...
...to show sincerity, one must not only abjure one's own former opinions, but also implicate others who shared them...
...Oh" he said...
...But even if we had numbered a million, we could not have made a revolution because we were such incredibly ineffectual clods...
...Some years later, though, I received a call at my place of work from a special agent of the FBI...
...As it happened, there were no Finnish Trotskyites, but that did not prevent the split...
...Occasionally, the agent interrupted to ask one or another singularly irrelevant question...
...During the Russo-Finnish war of 1940, a few years before I joined, we had a really big split in the party over the question, "What position should the Finnish Trotskyites take on the war...
...We sat on a bench in Bryant Park...

Vol. 43 • July 1979 • No. 7


 
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