C.L.R.James (J.R. Johnson.)

Sol Dollinger soldoll at SPAMinreach.com
Sat May 6 17:38:28 MDT 2000

My participation in the discussion on C.L.R. James began when an Email from
Jones referred to James as a great Trotskyist leader and I disputed this
claim by Jones.   Ken Lawrence claimed a  contrary position and went back to
the days of the Socialist Appeal to establish James's qualifications to be
called a leader.  But he is talking about 1938 and I have reference to three
or four decades later.  By the same Lawrence yardstick Albert Goldman, Felix
Morrow, Max Schachtman and James Burnham were also great leaders.  At one
time they were leaders of the Trotskyist movement.  All took a different
political direction and the same applies to James.

The more Lawrence writes our differences grow, * In France, James followers
in Socialsme ou Babarie used to put the word of LEADERSHIP in block capitals
in their polemic against Trotskyism to express appropriate contempt for the
essential Fourth International doctrine*.

Lawrence adds emphasis to the C.L. R. James position * In these studies  (of
Imperialism) that led James and his followers to depart Trotskyism, which
was uninterested in and hostile to these insights.*( Was this in the period
when the 18Trotskyist were sent to jail. or much later. The text is not

In this quagmire, where the discussion is shifted like shifting sands on the
beach, Lawrence does raise an interesting problem that is far more important
than the Cochranites vs the Johnsonites.  We should explore the relation of
the several national groups based on race and or ethnicity. We saw an
example of this in Miami recently.  The Afro Americans have created the
Black Radical Congress that acts like a parallel to a non-existent socialist
movement.  The Chicanos and the Asians are following suit.  Our concept is
an all inclusive movement regardless of race and ethnicity.

These nationalistic movements all  have a positive side to them but also an
unfortunate side that leads to sectarian movements like The Black Panthers,
Drum and Malcolm X and others.  Lawrence will find his answer in the Johnson
doctrine but the civil rights movement shows that Afro Americans have
rejected this course of action. Lenin objected to the Jewish Bund membership
in the Russian Social Democratic Party. He wanted a centralized party.

Marxists can fudge this issue because no mass party is on hand but only a
frank open discussion on this relation of nationalists to a movement should
not be delayed over the fear of being called  racist for not recognizing the
progressive character of race and ethnic organizations.

Allow me a personal reference to the book, Indignant Heart, by Charles
Denby. The authors real name was Jesse Owens.  Genora recruited Jesse into
the SWP when they worked at Briggs. When Genora was brutally attacked while
asleep in bed, we thought it advisable to get a gun for protection. The
police refused to give us a permit.  Jesse loaned me a 45 revolver.

I haven't read the book because he writes about our group in Detroit.  Erwin
Baur called me to find out if he could loan me the book but I begged off
having more important matters to deal with at the time. Erwin commented that
the book is composed of fantasies and slanderous accounts of life in Detroit
SWP Of  over 100 members, more than half were Black. Among the eminent Afro
American leaders in the branch were DR. Edgar Keemer, Horace Sheffield,
Jesse and Ernie Dillard. The book was a product of News and Letters that
broke with Johnson.

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