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Submitted by Daniel_Randall on Wed, 01/10/2008 - 15:35

Personally I think Sacha was being a little generous when he said Trotsky's later demagogy (and it was demagogy, I think) against the third-campists was a "betrayal" of his own politics. You can argue yourself into an early grave over whether the apparently pro-third campist stuff was the deviation/inconsistency or the fundamental spirit. Personally I'm (predictably) inclined towards the latter (I think the overall perspective of Trotsky's major contributions to working-class politics make it clear that working-class organisational and social independence was very much his starting point) but on a certain level I'm not all that bothered. While perhaps not indicating a specific "betrayal", what the quotes Sacha posted from Trotsky do show (and what various other stuff he wrote shows) is that he was obviously conflicted and inconsistent over these questions. As Jason might put it, his politics on the matter weren't "monolithic."

In response to Tom's point about the USSR - of course, there's no way of knowing whether Trotsky would've resolved the inconsistencies of his position (surely you don't deny that they exist, Tom?) in a third-campist direction. On a certain level to speculate about this is a waste of time. The point for us, to the extent that it matters, is that the very fact of the inconsistencies and contradictions in Trotsky's attitudes towards ideas of the third-camp show that he was still working through his politics and very clearly refute the "ortho-Trot" notion that those of us who identify with the Shachtman/Draper tradition have no claim to any aspect of Trotsky's legacy (at least on this question).

Jason -

Our issue isn't whether or not PR has "monolithic" positions. We've argued that some of what you've written is inconsistent with PR's majority line; that's fine, but we're just saying you should be upfront and honest about that. Also, if you're comfortable with the conception of the third-camp as set out in what Trotsky wrote, then why recoil from the term? In situations of conflict between big and small capital (and/or big and small imperialisms), the "third-camp" seems to sum up the notion of an independent working-class force in the conflict rather well.

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