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Post WAIS Effect of the Day: With Francisco Wong-Diaz in Ann Arbor
Created by John Eipper on 05/01/22 10:46 PM

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WAIS Effect of the Day: With Francisco Wong-Diaz in Ann Arbor (Patrick Mears, -Germany, 05/01/22 10:46 pm)

Wow! Talk about a direct and forceful WAIS Effect!

I must have physically crossed paths with Francisco Wong-Díaz during my freshman and sophomore years in Ann Arbor without knowing that we would "meet" later on.

I was a freshman undergrad student living in West Quad and "working" as a cub reporter for the Michigan Daily in 1969-1970. I enrolled in Whiting's Poli Sci 160 class either in the Spring or Fall semester of 1970. By my sophomore year of 1970-1971, I had moved over to South Quad, joined the Psi Upsilon fraternity at 1000 Hill Street, and took Professor Meyer's course on Marxism, which I believe was catalogued as Political Science 407. I loved that class--Meyer had an extensive and refined knowledge of Marxism, which opened up a new vistas of knowledge and thought for me. Meyer's lectures went well beyond what was taught about Communism in my Roman Catholic high school in Flint, Michigan.

I spoke once at length with Dr. Meyer in his office concerning the term-paper assignment that he had given our Poli Sci 407 class. I wasn't quite sure what to write about--the possibilities were endless--and he suggested that I explore the 1920 debate between Vladimir Lenin an M.N. Roy, a young Bengali Communist who made his entrance into the world communist movement at the Second World Congress of the Comintern conducted in the Soviet Union. This debate addressed a number of issues then highly relevant to the world communist movement, including the question of what level of economic development would be necessary for a "true" Marxist revolution to occur in a nation or a colony.

As I began to research and write on this topic, I became fascinated with it. This topic also touched upon the history of the indigenous communist movement in French Indochina, which was front and center in the daily news at the time of the Vietnam War. Also during my meeting with Professor Meyer, I recall him expressing admiration for the organization and governing structures of the Weimar Republic in Germany and how that government accommodated, at least for a time, competing ideologies and their respective political movements.

I still have that term paper in storage back in the United States. I was very proud of it and still am.

For those WAISers who are interested, here is a link to a YouTube video of an Indian lecturer explaining the Lenin-Roy Debate, which is quite informative.


Here is another link, this time to a brief summary of a 2011 article titled "The Roy-Lenin Debate on Colonial Policy: A New Interpretation," which was published by Cambridge University Press in its Journal of Asian Studies.


Please note in this Cambridge Press extract footnotes 19 and 23, which cite to works by Professor Meyer, and footnotes 4, 8, 13 and 24, which cite works by Professor Allen S. Whiting.

I wonder how I would have reacted to all of this if I had known at the time that my first cousin, twice removed, John Cronin (1890-1918) had been killed in combat in 1918 in a small village south of Archangel, Russia as a member of the Allied Expeditionary Force composed of British and American soldiers. This army group was quickly assembled by Great Britain and the United States to defend Archangel and the surrounding area against takeover attempts by the Soviet Red Army and to support the non-communist, local government based in Archangel.

Finally, I can only revert to the call of "Go Blue," whenever I witness excellence in Wolverine scholarship or sports! Thank you, Francisco, for filling in my knowledge about some people and goings-on in the Political Science Department back then.

JE comments:  As an additional Wolverine Coincidence, I've learned that WAISer George Zhibin Gu and I overlapped on campus for one year in the 1980s.

Pat, your mention of cousin John (Cronin) reminded me that upon my return to WAIS HQ (May 5th), I need to visit the monument to the Polar Bear Expedition in nearby Troy.  It's strange how one crosses items off the Bucket List only when far from home.

Francisco Wong-Díaz has a further comment on Dr Whiting, next.  The China-Russia-US dynamic is more urgent now than it was half a century ago.

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