Max Shachtman

How not to quote Lenin

AS noted in the accompanying summary of the debate, Kerensky spent much of his time working over scraps of quotations from Lenin — from different periods, contexts, and articles indiscriminately, — la Boris Shub — under the heading of a discussion of the Russian Revolution and democracy.

While it takes at least ten times longer to nail one of these forgeries than it takes to reel off the distorted quotation, Shachtman was able to take them up effectively.

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The new Russian imperialism

By Max Shachtman

The best way of facing the facts and, thereby, answering the question “What do the Russians want in the occupied countries” is to ask “What do the Russians do in the occupied countries?”

Enough data has now been collected to establish the following outline of Russian economic policy in the occupied countries:

1. Russia strips the industries of machinery and other equipment and transports it to Russia. (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Korea and Manchuria.)

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The October Revolution Was Made For Freedom in equality!

By Max Shachtman

THE fortieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution of November 7, 1917, has been celebrated all over Russia and in many other countries. The triumph of that revolution marked the most important dividing line in the history of mankind: between the end of the age of capitalism and the beginning of the age of socialism. That is how every thoughtful person judged it at the time, and the judgement remains fundamentally sound.

"The Russian Revolution marked the most important dividing line in the history of mankind: between the end of the age of capitalism and the beginning of the age of socialism. That is how every thoughtful person judged it at the time, and the judgement remains fundamentally sound."

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October was a true working class revolution

By Max Shachtman

THE Independent Socialist League does not subscribe to any doctrine called Leninism. It does not have an official position on the subject and I am pretty certain that nobody could get the League to commit itself officially on a term which has been so varyingly and conflictingly defined as to make discussion of it more often semantic than ideological or political.

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Trotsky taught us class action

By Max Shachtman

TWO years ago, an assassin in the employ of the Stalinist camarilla that rules Russia drove a pickaxe into the head of Leon Trotsky and killed him.

The way of the assassin, Jackson-Morand, was typical of the way of his masters. Even before the fight between them and Trotsky broke out in the Communist Party of Russia, they never faced him in fair and square debate or struggle.

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What is Trotskyism?

Author: 

Max Shachtman

By Max Shachtman

Our criticism of Trotsky’s later theory of the “workers’ state” introduces into it an indispensable correction. Far from “demolishing” Trotskyism, it eliminates from it a distorting element of contradiction and restores its essential inner harmony and continuity. The writer considers himself a follower of Trotsky, as of Lenin before him, and of Marx and Engels in the earlier generation.

"Trotskyism is the defence of the great and fundamental principles of the Russian Bolshevik revolution and the Communist International, which it brought into existence. Trotskyism is the principle of workers’ democracy, of the struggle for democracy and socialism..."

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What is left anti-semitism?

What is “left-wing anti-semitism”? Where is it manifested? What is to be done about it?

There are three difficulties, three confusions and obfuscations, that stand in the way of rational discussion of what we mean by “left-wing anti-semitism”.

The first is that left-wing anti-semitism knows itself by another and more self-righteous name, “anti-Zionism”. Often, your left-wing anti-semite sincerely believes that he or she is only an anti-Zionist, only a just if severe critic of Israel.

The fact that their proponents are surely not racists does not answer the questions raised by root-and-branch "smash Israel" agitational themes.

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Cannon and Shachtman: The other history of American Trotskyism

Cassius: Stoop then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted o'er
In states yet unborn and in accents yet unknown.
Julius Caesar

The real history of American Trotskyism.

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Twenty Five Years of American Trotskyism

It is now twenty-five years since the Trotskyist movement was launched in the United States under circumstances which had already ceased to be unusual for that movement. The date was 27 October 1928.

On that day, an enlarged session of the Political Committee of the Communist Party, upon hearing a statement by three members of the party’s Central Committee in which they aligned themselves with the then Russian (or Trotskyist) Opposition, voted to expel the three from the party: James P Cannon, Martin Abern, and Max Shachtman (an alternate member).

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The 1940 Split in the SWP (USA) and the Founding of the Workers’ Party

By Max Shachtman

The Workers Party was organised as a result of the factional struggle that broke out in the American Trotskyist movement (the Socialist Workers Party and its youth organisation) when the Second World War began, and ended in a split. Those who founded the new party had reason to be confident.

The 1940 split in the Trotskyist movement

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Natalia Trotsky’s indictment of Cannon’s Fourth International

By Max Shachtman

The letter of Natalia Sedova Trotsky, in which she breaks off relations with the Fourth International and with the Socialist Workers Party, is a document of outstanding political importance.

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Socialist policy in the war

Author: 

Max Shachtman

Some people refuse to learn. Others refuse to remember. And still others remember what they have learned only up to the moment when events call upon them to put it into practice, whereupon they start to forget. Critics of the Independent Socialist League’s position on the war are asking that we support the United States in the war, not only in Korea, but in the Third World War that is being prepared.

Discussing the Korean war of 1950-3, Shachtman argues for the working class to take its own independent stand in time of war, rather than siding with whichever reactionary camp may be, in the short term, the lesser evil.

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Old garbage in new pails

By Max Shachtman

THE invaluable assistance given the imperialists by the social democracy in the last World War is too well remembered to require elaboration even at a distance of twenty-five years. If the leaders of the Second International had not sown such demoralisation and confusion among the workers by their chauvinistic activity. their repetition of the official imperialist lies, it is doubtful if the war would have lasted half as long as it did. There is indeed good reason to believe that if the rulers of France, Germany, Austro-Hungary and England felt that they could not rely upon their agents in the labour movement, the fear of proletarian revolution might even have curbed their otherwise uncontrollable lust for settling inter-imperialist rivalries on Europe’s battlefields. For this we have the involuntary confirmation of no less a patriotic authority than the then and present leader of the French trade unions, Leon Jouhaux, who confessed in a speech delivered on 1 August 1937 at Toulouse, on the twenty-third anniversary of Jean Jaures’ murder in Paris: “If on the day of the assassination of Jaures his friends had not spoken to the people of Paris, the revolution would have preceded the war, for the workers thought that the hand of the assassin was armed less by the love of country than by the desire to shatter an obstacle to the war.”

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For a democratic foreign policy

By Max Shachtman

THE foreign policy of the United States is a disaster. It was that under the late Roosevelt’s War Deal, it remained that during Truman’s Fair Deal, and it has got worse in the first 100 days of the Eisenhower administration.

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An open letter to “our friends in Asia”

By Max Shachtman

Nineteen Americans who," “although connected with different political groups or parties in the United States, are democratic socialists by conviction,” have addressed an appeal “To Our Friends in Asia,” which is in reproduced for discussion in the February 11, 1951, issue of Janata, the newspaper of the Socialist Paryu of India. The signers include such old, as well as recent, converts to “democratic socialism” as August Claessens, William Bohn, Harry Laidler, Clarence Senior, Norman Thomas, J.B.S. Hardman, and, in their latest incarnations, of course, Upton Sinclair, Sidney Hook and James T. Farrell.

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A retrospective review of Standing Fast by Harvey Swados

By Steve Cohen
The revolution is not just about storming the barricades – though that’s one of the best bits. It is also about art and the imagination and living the politics of daily life – with its responsibilities, its eroticism, its building of the socialist project and the obligation to make sense of the relationship between all these.

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How the Communist Parties became “frontier guards of the USSR”

By Max Shachtman

The defeat of the September 1923 insurrection in Bulgaria and the October retreat in Germany, followed a few months later by the crushing of the Reval uprising in Esthonia, opened up a new period of development in Europe, replete with far-reaching consequences. The retreat in Germany gave the bourgeoisie the breathing space it sought and needed... In England, the MacDonald Labour government came into power for the first time. In France, the liberal Herriot ministry was established....

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Fighting sin or fighting capital? A Debate on Socialism and Religion

Author: 

Max Shachtman and Fr. Charles Owen Rice

Father Rice presents the case for religion

The Catholic Church is not out to capture the world in the sense in which that phrase is used. We would be out to capture, perhaps, the souls and hearts of all the people in the world if they want to embrace the true religion. But we are not setting out any revolutionary procedure such as the Marxists have entered upon, or such as the fascists have entered upon.

Max Shachtman debates Charles Owen Rice.

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The “IS tradition” and the Independent Labour Party

Author: 

Sean Matgamna
The “IS tradition” of the 1960s was in fact largely taken from the Independent Labour Party in its last years.

The “IS tradition” of the 1960s, which members and old ex-members of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) cherish, was in fact largely taken from the Independent Labour Party in its last years.

The first part of this article described the earlier history of the ILP. After 1946 the ILP mutated. This article tells the rest of the story.

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SWP/IS: history and myth

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Eric Hobsbawm somewhere discusses one of the oddest conundrums in labour historiography, one paralleled now in the historiography of IS/SWP: the 20th century reputation of the Fabian Society as far-sighted pioneers of independent labour representation - the gap between what was and what is afterwards widely accepted as having been.

An examination of the historiography of IS/SWP, by a one-time member, and of the realities behind the encrusted mythology. (1997)

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What is the Bolshevik-Trotskyist tradition?

Workers' Liberty

What follows is a summary of the political and ideological traditions on which Workers’ Liberty and Solidarity base ourselves.

Isaac Newton famously summed up the importance of studying, learning, and building on forerunners. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, he wrote, referring to René Descartes, his contemporary Robert Hooke, and presumably also to his direct predecessor Isaac Barrow.

In science few people think they can neglect the “tradition” and rely on improvisation. In politics, alas, too many.

A summary of the political and ideological traditions on which we base ourselves.

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The Russian Question: A debate between Raya Dunayevskaya and Max Shachtman

The Russian Question: A debate between Raya Dunayevskaya and Max Shachtman

May 25, 1947

Dear Comrades:

Debate on the exact nature of Stalinist Russia between representatives of the two answers to that question made by different sections of the Workers' Party (USA) in the 1940s, one, that it was "State Capitalist" (Dunayevskaya) and, two, that it was "Bureaucratic Collectivist" (Shachtman)

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Is the AWL headed down the Shachtman road?

Not all our supporters agreed with Solidarity’s emphasis and use of slogans during the recent war on Iraq. The following contribution is by Mark Sandell. It was written in May. We will print responses in the next issue. We welcome other short contributions on this topic.

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