History of American Trotskyism

Adam Rose adam at pmel.com
Wed Jun 26 09:37:00 MDT 1996

Deep scars indeed. Perhaps time will heal them.

The tendencies which were there in Embryo during Trotsky's lifetime
( catastrophism , labelling opponents petit bourgoies, etc ) stemmed
>from the situation Trotsky found himself in - most of his supporters
were by and large cut off from the working class. As far as he was
able, he fought against them, although he himself was prone to

It is part of the tragedy of situations like this that the immediate
actions to overcome this isolation from the working class actually
reinforce them.

Trotsky described the period from 1935 to 1940 as the most important
of his life - more important than his role in 1905, more important than
1917, more important than his role in organising the Communist international.
He was right. The living link with the Marxist tradition would have been
broken had he not been able to transmit the revolutionary tradition
"over the heads of the 2nd and 3rd internationals". If Trotsky had
not fought to build these organisations, warts and all, you, Louis,
would know nothing about the United Front in Germany etc. You Louis,
stand on his shoulders, as much as Hugh or me, and you would not be
able to do so if these organisations had not been built.

You might want to read Tony Cliff's biography of Trotsky, which is by
no means uncritical of some of the tendencies you outline.

You are also unfair to the American SWP - what about Minneapolis ?

> Thousands of people left the SWP during this period. Many of them
> went on to become activists in the Central America solidarity
> movement or other grass-roots movements. They worked closely with
> many ex-Maoists who had gone through identical experiences. You
> might even say that this unorganized movement of ex-Trotskyists and
> Maoists is the largest group on the left today. What is interesting is
> that a regroupment process has brought this milieu into contact with
> ex-CP'ers who have launched the Committees of Correspondence. This
> organization and Solidarity, another loosely structured group that
> rejects "vanguardism" are promising new formations on the American
> left. While these organizations are clearly not capable of winning
> socialism, they are promising first steps in the direction of
> constructing a genuine revolutionary party.

I doubt VERY much whether the basis of a revolutionary party will come from this
milieu, and if it does, it needs to break out of that milieu as soon as possible.

In the UK, we have built in the teeth of the opposition of such people.


Adam Rose


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