Our comrade Stephen Bloomer died on November 5, 2022 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was a long-time member of the New York City local, working in the Maintenance Department.
He first intersected the Spartacist League/U.S. in the late 1960s while studying engineering at Cornell University. He was then drafted into the army and stationed in Alaska during the Vietnam War, which politicized him. Our call that “All Indochina Must Go Communist!” really struck a chord with him.
In October 1971, beginning shortly before joining, he sent the party several contributions, once writing that the money came from “my first check from the Veterans Administration division of the ruling class.” With these contributions, the party was able to set up its own offset print shop, which produced Spartacist pamphlets such as the first edition of Lenin and the Vanguard Party, Stalinism and Trotskyism in Vietnam and The Fight to Implement Busing. Over the years, he regularly went above and beyond in providing financial support to the party, comrades and friends.
Steve joined the party’s youth organization in late 1971 while at SUNY Stony Brook and continued working inside Students for a Democratic Society as a member of its Steering Committee. Our party’s aim was to split the subjective revolutionaries away from the Progressive Labor reformists, who were also in the SDS leadership. While at Stony Brook, he helped lead an SDS campaign in support of a CWA telephone strike in New York state. The campaign leaflet explained why workers should oppose the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy, which tried to isolate the strike, and should broaden their economic struggle into a political strike against the Vietnam War.
Steve later transferred to Los Angeles. There he became a CWA member and actively participated in the successful 1973 campaign to defend the Militant Action Caucus against the CWA bureaucracy’s fabricated charges and attempted anti-communist purge of MAC supporters. After transferring to NYC, he worked as a union electrician at Harlem Hospital for many years.
The most important thing for him was his party membership, and he closely followed the work of other ICL sections, particularly Spartacist/South Africa. A friend of many years and party sympathizer wrote about how Steve explained to her as a young member that the reformist left capitulates to U.S. and world imperialism not because they are “stupid” but because “they want capitalism to exist with just a more human face.”
Steve was generous to a fault. Although he had a wry sense of humor, he was reserved and rarely talked about himself. He was a passionate follower of college wrestling, loved learning about the latest scientific developments and had an extensive collection of LPs, particularly jazz. In his later years, he enjoyed bird watching in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
A comrade in Maintenance wrote: “One of the things I remember most about him is his revolutionary professionalism. He was a man of few words, always chosen carefully. Everything he did was precise, from maintenance repairs to providing security at protests.” For Steve, there was no division between intellectual and manual labor.
Todd Nolan, a cadre of the Spartacist League/U.S. for more than 50 years, died on November 19, 2022. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife of 35 years, Cindy Nolan. A longtime dedicated supporter of the party, Cindy fought to the end against the money-grubbing health care industry to try to get Todd the care he needed.
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1945, Todd took some pride in the Québécois heritage of his father. While a student at Stony Brook University in New York in 1970, he was recruited to the Spartacist League. Moving to New York City, he became the local treasurer, a post he held for ten years before moving to the Bay Area and becoming treasurer there in the early 1980s.
Being a party treasurer is not some routine accounting job. It is central to the existence and political functioning of a Bolshevik organization. Working together with the party leadership, the treasurer’s job is both to scrupulously maintain the party’s political and financial independence from state interference while ensuring our capacity to operate as an open, legal organization.
Todd was not only conscientious in handling the hard-earned funds from comrades and sympathizers who support our political work, he deeply understood that this money was an expression of political consciousness. From the early days of the SL/U.S., he played an important political role in establishing our financial norms; and as treasurer of our two biggest locals, he trained many new party treasurers. In her eulogy to Todd, a former national treasurer of the SL/U.S. recalled his “gruff, grouchy, frequently barbed but always carefully considered advice and training.”
Todd spent his working life in the printing/publishing industry, starting out in a hot-type print shop in New York City, where early issues of Spartacist were published. In the Bay Area, he worked for many years as a proofreader for the San Francisco Chronicle. A member of the Media Workers Guild, he was active in an eleven-day strike in 1994. Years later, in a 2009 report titled “For a Fistful of Dollars,” Todd described the support among co-workers for his intervention against a deeply concessionary contract being sold by the union leadership.
Todd was also a very able amateur astronomer. The Hubble Telescope website features several color compositions of different galaxies and nebulae by Todd. He also corresponded with the developers of the computer planetarium program Stellarium.
We salute his dedication to the party and will sorely miss his witty and cantankerous comradeship.
Our comrade Linda Thurston died suddenly in her sleep on April 22 at age 73. A member of the Spartacist League/U.S. for over 45 years, Linda was first radicalized in the 1960s women’s movement in Boston. As a student at Boston University, she and a group of friends researched and raised funds to publicize a handbook titled Birth Control, Abortion and V.D., A Guide for the B.U. Student.
At the time, abortion was outlawed, and in Massachusetts it was also illegal for anyone, other than a doctor advising a married couple, to distribute any information on birth control. As Linda wrote, “This was no idle threat,” pointing to the case of Dr. Bill Baird, who at the time was facing ten years in prison for discussing birth control publicly. Linda and her friends distributed 24,000 copies of their pamphlet at B.U. Others reprinted it, and over half a million copies were circulated around the country. It is now available on JSTOR.
Linda joined the Boston local of the SL/U.S. in 1977, and later moved to New York City, where she worked in WV production. A typesetter and graphic designer, she helped train other comrades for jobs in the printing trade. In the early 1990s, she and her husband and comrade, Mark, moved to the Bay Area, where she was key to designing leaflets for our public events, one of our main photographers at demonstrations and dogged in getting our press into bookstores and other venues.
Where Linda really made her mark was in publicizing the case of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was framed up and sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer. She was central to the Partisan Defense Committee’s campaign to mobilize for Mumia’s freedom, getting out his columns and arranging interviews with the PDC, particularly by the black press. Among those whose support Mumia acknowledges in his 1995 book Live From Death Row are the “three Lindas (two Thurstons and one Ragin).”
Her mother was of Cherokee descent; and throughout her life, Linda was a passionate advocate of Native Americans, assembling a prodigious library of their history and struggles. Getting her MA in education, she was a longtime teacher of journalism and graphic design, and union member, in the Bay Area public school system. She took pride in working with her students on the design and layout of their annual yearbook.
Linda was a tenacious, sometimes to the point of obstinate, comrade but always unwaveringly committed to the party and her comrades. Our condolences go out especially to her husband Mark.