For or Against The Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba 1961: Max Shachtman Debates Hal Draper

Submitted by AWL on 17 June, 2014 - 6:55

The dispute over attitudes to the "Bay of Pigs" invasion was the first sharp break on a big world-political issue which separated the ageing Max Shachtman from long-time co-thinkers such as Hal Draper and Julius Jacobson.

This pamphlet, published by Draper in May 1961, presents the dispute.

Click here to download pdf (which includes excerpts from the contemporary press not transcribed below, giving factual background on the invasion).

Contents and note

Max Shachtman. Speech on the Cuban Invasion

Hal Draper. Comments and Criticism

Supplement: Hal Draper. Public leaflet on the invasion

The speech by Max Shachtman on the Cuban invasion was delivered in Berkeley on Tuesday evening, April 18, 1961, at a public meeting sponsored by the East Bay Local of the Socialist Party. The last part of the presentation, and all of the summary made in reply to discussion from the floor, are given here, as transcribed from the tape-recording made at the meeting.

The tape of the summary speech was technically poor, transcription was very difficult, and a few words and phrases could not be deciphered from the tape, mostly occurring in the course of low, rapid parenthetical remarks. These are indicated here by [...] or a longer row of bracketed dots. Brackets around words or phrases indicate uncertain transcription. Other notes in the transcription are self-explanatory.

The presentation, on the general situation in Cuba, took over an hour and a half, and came to the question of the invasion (which had been launched the day before) at the point where the following text begins. This was preceded by a long account and discussion of the Batista regime and the social and economic forces in Cuba leading up to its overthrow, and the earlier acts and aims of the Castro revolution; finally, the growing power of the Communists in the regime, its antidemocratic development, and the danger of a Communist take-over. Thus, the following pages present the whole of Shachtman's discussion of the Cuban invasion itself.

I should add that Shachtman has had no connection with the production of this pamphlet, which is issued entirely on my own responsibility.

Hal Draper

Draper and Shachtman, 1961