Priorities

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat May 6 13:31:40 MDT 2000


Ken Lawrence:
>    The principal difference between Johnsonites and Cochranites was not
>theoretical in the 1950s; it was a difference of attitude. The former were
>optimistic; the latter, pessimistic. In this stance, though both would have
>been horrified at the thought, the Johnsonites were much closer to the
>Marcyites, which is why both groups were drawn to Robert Williams's struggle
>in North Carolina at the time, and James quite naturally to Malcolm X in the
>1960s. The American Socialist published many fine articles, but its swan
song
>editorial on the eve of the greatest postwar radical upsurge well
illustrated
>its shortcomings.

Very interesting stuff on Braden, but I have to answer this. Ken, the
difference was not over "optimism" and "pessimism". It was over the kind of
revolutionary organization that was required. Bert Cochran had broken with
the Cannonite or Zinovieviest model. To mention the American Socialist and
the Marcyites in the same breath shows that you don't get the essential
difference, which was about how counter-productive the "democratic
centralist" model was. Having read CLR James fairly exensively and after
having a cursory look at Marty Glaberman's new book on James's
organizational ideas, it is clear that James had never addressed this
problem. Having said that, I continue to be strongly influenced by James's
thinking as will be apparent in a post on "Billy Budd" that I am working on.

Louis Proyect
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