Hal Draper

Use the coming weeks to study

The coming weeks, as labour movement activity dwindles in the second half of December and in early January, are a good time to catch up on reading. Workers’ Liberty is running a half-price offer on all our older books, aiming to redress the backlog in circulation caused by the lack of in-person political meetings over the last two years. We also offer special deals if you buy a few books — for example, both The Fate of the Russian Revolution volume 1, and The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism, for £10 post free. It’s an especially good time to read the longer books, more difficult to work...

Was Stalinism the new barbarism?

Published in Workers' Liberty Series 1 No. 66 January 2001. Paul Hampton analyses the arguments used by Tony Cliff and others to rubbish the ideas developed in the 1940s by Max Shachtman and the “unorthodox” Trotskyists in the USA about the USSR. This is the second part of an article whose first part appeared in Workers’ Liberty 62. By the late forties Shachtman came to the conclusion that Stalinism was “the new barbarism”. Cliff understood that there were two meanings of the term “barbarism’; the first sense meant a description of the period since 1917, given the belatedness of the socialist...

Stalinism in theory and history

Published in Workers' Liberty Series 1 No. 62 March 2000 In theories of Stalinism, as Haberkern comments in his review of The Fate of the Russian Revolution (WL59-60), plainly there are many nuances, and valuable contributions from the likes of Burnham, Carter and Draper which ought to be more widely known. But the book, criticised by Ernie for its failure to include more such texts, was not intended as a compilation of theories of bureaucratic collectivism. It is rather a critique of the ideas of latter-day Trotskyism, from the premises of Trotsky and by his most ardent followers. Many...

The dynamics of bureaucratism

Left Oppositionists in Siberian exile, late 1920s Published in Workers Liberty Series 1 No.59/60 December 1999 / January 2000 The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism Volume One is a significant contribution to the literature of the anti-Stalinist left. Long buried in the archives the polemics and analyses of those socialists who refused to accept the definition of Stalin’s barbaric regime as a “workers’ state” simply because property was nationalised and private property, large and small, was obliterated, deserve to see the light. My criticism of this anthology...

Penetrating but unsound

Statue of Stalin toppled in the 1956 Hungarian revolution Published in Workers Liberty Series 1 No. 53 February 1999 I welcome the publication of The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism Volume One a sort of library in itself. It is a handy compendium of the sweep of Max Shachtman's journalism, and of his co-thinkers. Always penetrating, often witty, and never without interest, Shachtman was a very gifted revolutionary journalist. But he was no theoretician. This puts him well ahead of James P Cannon, who was neither, but journalism is what it is, and not theory. The...

The pilots who weathered the storm

Natalia Sedova, Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky and Max Shachtman In the first of a series of critical responses to The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism, recently published by Phoenix Press and Workers’ Liberty, Alan Johnson argues that the book can play an invaluable role in restoring democracy to the heart of Marxism and help lay to rest the theoretical confusions of post-Trotsky Trotskyism. Originally published in Workers Liberty Series 1 No.50/52 October 1998/January 1999. “However well-intentioned Marxists are nowadays about the need to value democracy the latter...

Socialism and the Third Camp

Julius Jacobson (1922-2003) was a long-standing figure in the Third Camp socialist tradition. He followed Max Shachtman and Hal Draper out of the Socialist Workers' Party and helped found the Workers Party with them in 1940. Together with his wife Phyllis Jacobson, Julius founded the independent socialist journal New Politics in 1961, serving as its editor for more than 40 years. After going into dormancy in 1978, New Politics was revived for its second (and ongoing) run in 1986. This article by Jacobson, "Socialism and the Third Camp", is from the first volume of the resurrected New Politics...

Populism: a dead end for the left

In recent decades, there has been much discussion of “populism” as newly significant form of political movement. Some on the left even say we should embrace it. Admittedly, there are major conceptual difficulties when discussing “populism”. Even if we limit ourselves to examples on the ostensible left, movements labelled “populist” can be so different in their substantive politics and theoretical groundings that they conflict directly. On the one hand, there is Chantal Mouffe’s highly pluralistic and heterogenous “left-populism”, which is very much oriented towards liberation politics such as...

US socialist organisation implodes

A crisis which looks terminal is gripping the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the largest would-be Trotskyist organisation in the US. In a letter to ISO members of 15 March, now published at socialistworker.org, the Steering Committee elected at the ISO convention in late February to replace the old leadership describe the convention as their “most painful.” “Much of the convention was devoted to reckoning with the damaging impacts of our past practices and internal political culture. As branches have reported back and opened up these discussions, more examples of a damaging...

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