Rex Chell Holliss
Rex Holliss played an important role in defending Marxism-Leninism in the complex years after 1991 when the Communist Party of New Zealand leadership dropped its allegiance to Marxism and adopted Trotskyism. He showed particular interest in the activities of the International Committee for the Restoration of the Soviet Union, particularly the International Seminar 'Stalin Today', held in Moscow in 1994. His death is a blow to the communist movement in New Zealand and internationally. The following account of his life by his wife is reprinted from 'Alliance' No. 38, December, 2000:
Rex was born in Christchurch and attended school and university there. He studied theology for a short time before the authorities decided he was an unsuitable candidate! He then studied journalism and his experiences as a working journalist had a profound effect on his thinking and outlook. He became disillusioned and disgusted with the capitalist press, largely due to his observations and experiences during the 1951 waterfront lockout. He became interested in class conflicts, and joined the Communist Party in Christchurch in the early 1950s and became an enthusiastic student of Marxism-Leninism, convinced of its logic, practical significance and relevance for New Zealand (NZ) working people. He gained further experience of life as a crane driver and car assembly worker.
He was invited to work for the ‘People’s Voice’ (PV) newspaper (organ of the CPNZ) and over the years assumed increasing responsibilities both in the leadership of the party and the editorial work of the PV. He visited the Soviet Union, China, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and in recent years Albania. As a result of his visit to Vietnam in 1965 he wrote a booklet entitled ‘Vietnam Eyewitness’ — this booklet reflects his humanity, his love of people, his concern for the suffering of the Vietnamese people and his admiration for their heroism and above all his scathing indignation of the barbarism of US imperialism. He toured NZ for many months assisting in the building of the local movement against NZ participation in this filthy war.
Rex was active in many fields as well as the CPNZ — the local ratepayers association, anti-Vietnam, and anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid struggles and thus expressed his outlook of serving the people as the makers of history. In 1991 Rex’s long association with the CP ended when it was hijacked by a neo-Trotskyist group who turned their backs on Marxism-Leninism. He was instrumental in the formation of the Marxist-Leninist Collective for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of New Zealand.
Despite health problems he mastered modern technology and kept abreast of international developments through the Internet and was very disappointed when his disabilities ended his participation in the international discussions on Marxism-Leninism. He had a ready wit and sense of humour and set an example by striving to study problems in depth and from all sides to find correct solutions and avoid errors. While he had great respect for people he always defended his principles and beliefs. For most of his adult life he worked selflessly in the interests of the working class and their revolutionary party.
BH On Comrade Rex
Jack Shulman was born into a family of Jewish migrants from Tsarist Russia who settled down in the Rochester area of New York. His father was a housepainter and his mother a washerwoman. Having entered college with a scholarship he was compelled to withdraw with the onset of the depression. In 1930 he became a member of the Young Communist League. In 1936 he volunteered to fight on behalf of the Spanish Republic which was threatened by fascist invasion, joining the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. During his 26 months in Spain he was assigned to a special artillery unit. He experienced the treachery of the Trotskyites and the anarchists who rose against the democratic government in Barcelona. After the withdrawal of the International Brigades from Spain he returned to Rochester, worked in defence production and then joined the US military in 1944. While he was in the army he came to learn of the dissolution of the CPUSA by Earl Browder. After international intervention the party was re-established and Jack Shulman resumed party activities. In 1954 and 1955 he worked in the Southern States of the USA in New Orleans and Birmingham distributing Communist Party literature on the Negro Question. Subsequently he worked for three years as the Secretary of the leader of the CPUSA, William Z. Foster. Because of his disapproval of Khrushchev's attack on J.V. Stalin at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, and as the Soviet revisionists built up links with their American counterparts (Gus Hall, Eugene Dennis, John Gates), Foster found himself increasingly isolated in the party leadership. Despite his cardiac problems which led to partial paralysis Foster continued his fight against opportunism. Hoping to convince the CPSU of the correctness of his positions as he had done in the 1920s and 1930s when Stalin led the CPSU he travelled to the USSR for medical treatment where he died in 1961. Jack Shulman had travelled to Cuba in 1959 and 1960. After Foster's death he visited Albania which had already begun the struggle against the floodtide of Soviet revisionism. This led to his being isolated by the CPUSA leadership. In 1968 he went to People's China and worked as an English editor in Peking during some of the years of the cultural revolution. On his return to the United States he began the work of friendship with Socialist Albania. Through the publication of the bulletin ‘Albania Report’, the publication and distribution of Albanian literature, Jack Shulman made known the ongoing achievements of this socialist bastion to a wide audience in the USA and beyond. He was a source of great assistance and encouragement to the India-Albania Friendship Association and to the Indian Marxist-Leninists.
Ernie Trory was born in Fulham, London and was raised in Brighton, Sussex. He was educated at Brighton Grammar School and Ardingley College. He left school at the age of fifteen. His initial political activity took place in the local Conservative Party and the Junior Imperial League but on being convinced by the arguments of his opponents he became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain at the age of eighteen in 1931 and joined the Hunger Marchers the following year. In the years leading up to the Second World War he was engaged in political and economic activity including the fight against the fascist Blackshirts led by Oswald Mosley, working for the Shop Assistants Union, and as Sussex Communist Party Organiser. He visited the Soviet Union in 1936 and his observations in Moscow and Leningrad cemented his lifelong commitment to the cause of communism. In 1939 -1941, the period of inter-imperialist war between Germany, France and Britain, he laid heavy stress on the need to strike roots in the factories to counter the imperialist propaganda against the Soviet Union which became particularly intense during the period of the Finland war when influential sections of the British ruling class favoured war against the first land of socialism.
Ernie Trory was called up by the army in 1940 but after training he was considered too much of a security risk for front line duties. After ten months in the army he was discharged in May, 1941 together with other former full-time organisers of the Communist Party. Under the Direction of Labour Act he was sent to work in the Southern Railway Road Maintenance Department where he joined the National Union of Railwaymen and penned many political articles for the union paper ‘Railway Review’. He later worked at Caffyn's Garage in Haywards Heath rebuilding army lorries and joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union where he became Shop Steward.
After the war Ernie Trory founded the Crabtree Press under whose imprint he published his political and historical writings. He returned to engineering near retirement. In the 1960s he visited most of the people's democratic states in Europe. His sojourn in Socialist Albania which coincided with the 1967 six-day war made a profound impression on him. In 1977 he became a founder member of the New Communist Party. He wrote occasionally for the New Worker and from 1998 he initiated the practice of reviewing each issue of Revolutionary Democracy in that paper. He regularly contributed to Northstar Compass.
The literary legacy of Ernie Trory is considerable. Three major volumes, Between the Wars, Imperialist War and War of Liberation, all sub-titled Recollections of a Communist Organiser, form a masterly survey of unfolding political events from the Depression right through to the end of the Second World War based on the contemporary communist literature, historical sources and personal reminiscences. The post-war period to 1960 is analysed in two volumes entitled Peace and the Cold War. It is a major loss that the projected third volume of this series will remain uncompleted. Of exceptional importance is his monograph How Did It Happen? The Dialectics of Counter-Revolution which is an insightful and detailed analysis of the rise of ‘market socialism’ in the USSR under Khrushchev and Gorbachev in the light of Stalin's last work Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR.
The memory of Ernie Trory will live on through this life's work and his writings.
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