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

Apsken at SPAMaol.com Apsken at SPAMaol.com
Sat May 6 19:27:41 MDT 2000

Sol wrote,

>  Lawrence adds emphasis to the C.L. R. James position * In these studies
>  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
>  clear.)

    The studies (not published at first) originally took place in the 1947
interim between leaving the WP and joining the SWP, along with publication of
The Balance Sheet of American Trotskyism, but the Johnsonites reentered the
SWP as loyal minorityites. Those insights did not take on organizational
importance until the Johnsonites left the SWP for good, and published The
Balance Sheet Completed in 1953. From then on, James was not a Trotskyist,
and his followers explicitly rejected the Transitional Program as doctrine.
Did the Cochranites continue to embrace the Transtional Program after 1953?

>  In this quagmire, where the discussion is shifted like shifting sands on
>  beach, Lawrence does raise an interesting problem that is far more
>  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
>  movement.  The Chicanos and the Asians are following suit.  Our concept is
>  an all inclusive movement regardless of race and ethnicity.

    We have had this debate before, and I believe Lou has archived it. I
certainly participated as vigorously as anybody, and in general Lou and I
were in agreement. I recall that Lou specifically archived our exchange on
C.L.R. James and the Black Panther Party. Is that right, Lou?

>  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
>  doctrine but the civil rights movement shows that Afro Americans have
>  rejected this course of action. Lenin objected to the Jewish Bund
>  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
>  progressive character of race and ethnic organizations.

    As veterans of the SWP are aware, Trotsky did not agree with Sol's
position on Black nationalism, but was much more closely allied with
Johnson/James. In the 1960s, James's pamphlet Negro Americans Take the Lead,
which predicted the developments that culminated in SNCC's Black Power
slogan, was well received by SNCC activists, and SNCC was certainly the most
radical wing of the Southern Freedom Movement.

Ken Lawrence

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