James P Cannon

A misleading manual

“The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” Matthew Arnold, On Dover Beach

From Shachtmanite Trotskyism to Anarchism: Exploring the Relationship of a Marxist Tendency to Anarchism

This article, by the anarchist writer Wayne Price, was published in the journal The Utopian. It explores the relationship between the “Third Camp” Trotskyist tradition, with which Workers' Liberty identifies, and anarchist politics. It is republished with the author's permission. Visit the website of The Utopian here. In recent years there has been an increase in articles, books, and special journal issues on the relationship between anarchism and Marxism. (For example, Pittman, Dale, & Holt 2015; Prichard & Worth 2016.) One difficulty with such discussions is that both “anarchism” and...

Workers’ democracy is the bottom line

Steve Bloom has written an interesting and thoughtful review of The Two Trotskyisms confront Stalinism (Solidarity 400 and 401). It is interesting to hear from someone who identifies with the Cannon tradition where they feel that tradition went wrong. There is one point in Bloom’s review which is not expanded upon much. Bloom describes it as “obvious”. When posing the question “if nationalisations carried out in eastern Europe had a socialist content”, Bloom says in hindsight the answer is “obviously both ‘yes’ and ‘no’”. The question of whether nationalisations are per se progressive...

A case of class against class

Who can save Sacco and Vanzetti? By James P Cannon, Labor Defender January 1927 The Sacco-Vanzetti case is at a turning point. Legally speaking, it now rests on another appeal to the Massachusetts State Supreme Court from the latest decision of Judge Thayer refusing a new trial. But speaking from a more fundamental standpoint, that is, from the standpoint of the class struggle, the issue really hangs on developments taking place within the Sacco-Vanzetti movement which embraces many workers of various views. Within this movement lately a certain indecision and hesitation has been noticeable...

Labour’s martyrs: the story of Sacco and Vanzetti

The working-class victims of bourgeois repression and deliberate murder are legion. The murder of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were burned alive in the electric chair in Massachusetts, on August 23, 1927, was a cold-blooded crime committed by the American capitalist class in the full sharp glare of world wide attention and protest. Mass demonstrations were organised in every city in the world where Communist and Socialist movements existed. Protests and demands for clemency were made by many well known writers and politicians. These included British working-class leader George...

Standing against counter-revolution

The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism. The fate of the Russian Revolution, Volume 2. Edited and with an introduction by Sean Matgamna. London, UK: Workers’ Liberty, 2015. 790 pages. $30 paperback. Order here. This review first appeared in Against the Current #182 ON JULY 23, 1939 the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed an agreement that would be known to history as the infamous Stalin-Hitler Pact. A week later, pursuant to secret clauses in the deal, German troops smashed into Poland and on September 17 the Soviet Union invaded from the east. The impact on global...

Learning from both Shachtman and Cannon

Steve Bloom’s review of The Two Trotskyisms confront Stalinism is a serious and reasoned article. As such it deserves a response. Steve’s review concentrates on what he sees as the besmirching of the Orthodox. I think the huge value of the book in question is not that it does down the Orthodox but that it allows us to rediscover the Heterodox and appreciate the clarity of their argument. It must be remembered, that inasmuch as most of the people who are aware of the history of this moment in the Trotskyist movement have a view, it is the factional view of the Cannonite Orthodox. This view has...

"An antidote to Stalinist thinking": in conversation with Herman Benson

Herman Benson was a founding member, along with Max Shachtman, Hal Draper, and others, of the Workers Party, which broke from the US Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the British group of the same name) in 1940 following a debate about how to understand the Stalinist state in Russia. While the SWP majority maintained that the USSR remained some kind of "workers' state", however "deformed" or "degenerated", a large minority, which went on to become the Workers Party, argued that it was a deeply oppressive society based on a new form of class exploitation. They developed their ideas into...

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