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Aaron Moss

a militant anti-imperialist into his 90s

Published Jan 11, 2008 11:35 PM

Dr. Aaron Moss died of pneumonia on Dec. 23 at the impressive age of 98. Moss had been a close friend of Workers World Party since the late 1980s, when he began attending meetings with his son, Jerry Moss.

Aaron Moss considered WWP’s founding leader, Sam Marcy, to be a great Marxist-Leninist. Moss visited the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, North Korea, Spain and Mexico and made many trips to Cuba. He spoke Spanish fluently and joined with members of WWP on the first Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba in 1991, despite threats from the U.S. government to punish the comrades with heavy fines and expensive court battles.

Moss was a strong supporter of the Cuban Revolution, especially during the “special period” of economic and political crises triggered by the fall of the Soviet Union. He appreciated the great sacrifices that Cuba has made to deliver high-quality medical care to every citizen, despite the genocidal U.S. blockade.

Moss was a fervent anti-imperialist Marxist who thought of the WWP as his family. Each year on his birthday, he came to the meeting of the New York branch to make a generous financial contribution to the party and was honored in return. He attended numerous anti-war mobilizations and rallies and supported the Palestinian resistance.

Every year from 1998 until his death, he supported the annual National Day of Mourning action organized by the United American Indians of New England and helped pay for buses to Plymouth, Mass., where the event was held. Although nearly 90 at the time, he traveled to Puerto Rico in 2000 in solidarity with the people of Vieques, who were demanding that the U.S. Navy cease its practice bombing runs there and get off the island.

Moss’s parents were Polish working class immigrants. Later in life he was able to discuss with his friends about how he and five siblings had grown up in a harshly abusive family environment.

He graduated from New York University in 1933, the depths of the Depression, with a degree in dental medicine and began his first practice in his mother’s living room in Newark, N.J. During this period Moss joined the Communist Party; he remained a loyal member until the mid 1940s.

Jerry Moss recalls the day in 1945 when both his parents broke down in tears at the news that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a liberal Democrat whose presidency had encompassed both the Depression and World War II, had died. He also recalls that his father raised him not to accept the racist poison prevalent in capitalist culture.

Moss never gave up his socialist ideals, even when he was overwhelmed by inner conflicts and needed to leave the CPUSA, his marriage and his profession to face them. He became an early authority on the use of hypnotism in dentistry, wrote the first book on the subject and toured the country giving lectures.

His interest in hypnotism stimulated a curiosity about his own unconscious mind. After years of frustrating attempts to overcome emotional illness with the aid of psychoanalysts, Moss abandoned the conventional life to embark on an odyssey that led him to Mexico and Spain in the 1960s. In this period of social and personal rebellion and turmoil, he became a suicidal escape artist, an atheist-rabbi, a self-styled hippie guru and an experimenter with various substances, to mention only a few of his adventures.

He also earned a PhD in psychology at the University of Malaga in Spain. Thousands of hours of self-analysis formed the basis for him to develop a self-help six-step method of analyzing dreams, combined with free association, to gain insights into the relationship between behavior, conscious thought and the unknown. The six-step method is outlined in his book “Self-Analysis for the Analyst.” It explained his view that people are slaves to their unconscious minds, yet have the ability to change their behavior through sustained, systematic analysis that yields insights which otherwise would be beyond their reach.

The expatriate Dr. Moss returned to his home country in 1975 and took up residence in Manhattan to work as a therapist in his new field of analytic psychology. His friend Tibby Brooks jokes that Aaron nearly missed the boat as an activist. In 1982 the 72-year-old Moss was at first ambivalent about joining her Greenwich Village Peace Council. But he admired Brooks and she was able to persuade him to disregard his age and other problems for the sake of the anti-nuclear movement.

Always one to act on his beliefs, Moss even in his nineties traveled to Nevada to participate in a demonstration against nuclear testing.