CLR JAMES & THE 3RD CAMP

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Wed Apr 26 09:52:52 MDT 1995


Justin Schwartz sez:

>For world communist history, and part of why the Klehr
>revelations are not news, see CLR James' World Revolution 1917-
>36, a history of the Comintern but a distinguished West Indian
>Trotskyist, or anyway Third Camper. (The Third Camp positions
>is: Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism!
>Obviously this slogan is now one third obsolete.)

Well, James and his Tendency did function within the Socialist
Workers Party and the Workers Party in the Trotskyist movement in
the 1940s.  I am embarrassed not to be able to recall whether
James and co. labelled themselves third-campers, but they
continued their basic position after they broke with the
Trotskyist movement and established the newspaper CORRESPONDENCE.
Their fundamental starting point was workers' self-emancipation
starting from the workplace itself and not geopolitical strategic
alliances or conflicts at all.  CORRESPONDENCE started out from
the premise that both American capitalism and Soviet state
capitalism were the enemies of the workers, and that the task of
the workers everywhere was to emancipate themselves from their
overlords, hence the Tendency brazenly disregarded the
geopolitical considerations of the Cold War in favor of focusing
on what the workers needed to do wherever they were to get that
monkey of accumulating Capital and its organization of the labor
process off their backs.  Was the Third Camp proper not based
throughout on the anxieties over alliances (rejection of
defensism) and a preoccupation with State governments rather than
workers' shopfloor self-activity?

Anyway, James's WORLD REVOLUTION 1917-36 was a landmark work, the
only one of its kind.  It had a great impact in Britain when it
came out.  For example, it was noted by George Orwell.  (I believe
Orwell and James shared the same publisher, Warburg, who was
continually threatened by the Stalinists).  This book was out of
print for decades and retrievable only occasionally from rare book
dealers, but was finally reprinted recently by Humanities Press.
Buy it.

James's greatest grudge against the Communists was that they were
such liars, and most of all they lied about their own history.



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