Obituary for Frank Girard

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We have just received a report that Frank Girard, who edited and published - virtually single-handedly - the Discussion Bulletin for twenty years from 1983 to 2003 died last month at the age of 77. Frank had been a member of the Socialist Labor Party (the De Leonist organization in the U.S.) from the 1940s until his expulsion in the early 1980s, even running for political office on the SLP ticket. He began the Discussion Bulletin as an open forum for the exchange of political views by De Leonists, anarchists, libertarians, left communists, etc. - what he called "non-market socialists." Not only were the pages of Discussion Bulletin open to a wide range of political views, but the publication appeared like clockwork on a bimonthly basis, something of a rarity in this political milieu.

The ICC had many polemical exchanges with Frank, particularly on the political legacy of De Leonism, especially its blind spot when it came to the mystifications of bourgeois democracy. Despite its opposition to reformism, and despite the lessons of history, De Leonism, and Frank, persisted in a na?ve belief that capitalism could be overthrown at the ballot box. We also frequently criticized Frank for not publishing more exchanges on contemporary issues facing the working class, especially imperialist war. He once told us in a letter that he didn't republish any of the leaflets or articles against the various American imperialist ventures in the 1990s because all the groups had the same position, even though there were many different analyses for the causes of the war, and proposals for how the working class could oppose war. He finally seemed to take this criticism to heart at the time of the most recent US invasion of Iraq by publishing a collection of leaflets by various groups.

Whatever criticisms we made of Frank, and he of us, it was always clear that they were made as part of a fraternal debate between comrades who were committed to the destruction of capitalism and the liberation of the working class. When Frank Girard made the decision to cease publication we urged him not to. We argued that the Discussion Bulletin played an invaluable role of mutually introducing to each other the elements of a very disparate, far flung political milieu. After the publication of the last issue of Discussion Bulletin last July, we sent Frank a letter saluting his efforts on behalf of the proletariat, wishing him well in his retirement, and giving him a subscription for life to the press of the ICC. We had no idea at the time that his life would sadly end so soon. We extend our condolences and solidarity to the family and friends of Frank Girard.

Internationalism, 3/20/04.