[Marxism] Reply to Ilyenkova on Michel Raptis

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Wed Aug 11 08:56:27 MDT 2004

I have personally no connection with Pablo or so-called Pabloism, but I
object to smears about what real revolutionaries really did and said.
Personally I have been smeared as a "Mandelite" because I actually bothered
to research and read what Ernest Mandel himself wrote (which sectarians who
attack him never do). But, beyond my personal contact with Ernest Mandel,
collecting his writings together, and translating some of those writings
into English, I have no political ties with Mandel's movement or with any
other. As regards Michel Raptis, he was a genuine revolutionary and a very
knowledgeable Marxist, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his
ideas. If the sectarians demonise somebody, you can guarantee that it was a
real revolutionary. Sectarians hate real revolutionaries.

You ask:

Did Raptis advocate the liquidating the ISFI (the Fourth International) in
favor of entry into Stalinist, Social Democratic, and anticolonial national


No, absolutely not, not at any time. It was absolutely clear from the
beginning, in continental Europe at least, that so-called "entryism" was a
specific tactic, that the FI would retain its identity all the time, and
that it would retain a public face through its own press. In real history,
which is diametrically opposed to the lies of the sects, (1) it wasn't
however actually possible to operationalise the entryist tactic anyway to
any great extent in various countries, for any sustained time, and the
tactic was sooner or later abandoned (2) the Trotskyists who argued for
building independent Trotskyist parties did not gain any more influence or
members, than the people who argued that an entryist tactic was preferable
(3) none of the various Trotskyist groups and tendencies in the 1950s was
very sure about the way the world political situation and world capitalism
would develop, and none of them could solve the problem of party
organisation in a way that resulted in viable political parties with mass
support. This was admitted by Ernest Mandel, Duncan Hallas, Ted Grant and
all the other Trotskyist leaders at that time. (4) the imminent threat of
nuclear war referred to by Michel Raptis in the 1950s was not a Trotskyist
fantasy, but something which was for some years a real possibility, that was
recognised by a lot of people, many of whom started "ban the bomb"
movements. The US government came very close to nuclear-bombing Korea, China
and Cuba. (5) Perspectives and theses mooted in internal bulletins of the
Fourth International for the purpose of discussion were elevated by the
sects to final positions of world-historical importance, and they simply
weren't, they did not have the importance which the sectarians gave to them.

Did Raptis act as unofficial advisor to the Algerian radical nationalist
President Ben Bella, and serve as Minister of Abandoned Properties?

To my knowledge, yes. In the Algerian war, the Fourth International and the
French New Left intellectuals (including Foucault, Fanon and Sartre)
supported the Algerian national liberation movement, while the French
Communist Party mainly supported French imperialism. Some people in the FI,
including Raptis, were involved in smuggling counterfeit money and weapons,
to aid the Algerian radicals against French imperialism. Raptis went to jail
for that, in Holland, because he and Sal Santen got caught. Raptis served
briefly in the Ben Bella government. Later, Raptis also went to Chile, at
the time of the Allende government, but that was long after he had split
from the Fourth International.

.Did Raptis make a public break with Trotskyism in the 1970s and become an
advisor to his friend, Andreas Papandreou, leader of the middle class
nationalist PASOK  party in Greece, which came to power in 1981?

No. Raptis split with the Trotskyist movement in the mid-1960s. After he got
out of jail in Holland he didn't have his former influence. He split after
the Reunification Congress of the FI in 1963. He still wrote a lot about
African politics, changed his concept of socialism, began to emphasise
"workers self-management" and set up a Revolutionary Marxist Tendency.
However, he retained contacts with some people in the FI, and occasionally
published in the FI press. Towards the end of his life, there was something
of a reapproachment of Raptis with Ernest Mandel, and Raptis was also
present at Ernest Mandel's funeral in 1995 (Raptis died a year later).

Raptis was involved in the Greek communist movement from at least 1930. He
knew many of the Greek politicians of his generation personally, and he knew
some of the members of PASOK as well. But to my knowledge he played no real
role in PASOK, nor did he have real influence in it. It's not clear to me
that PASOK was "a middle class nationalist" party. Just because Raptis
talked or corresponded with people in PASOK, doesn't mean anything much.

On Michel Raptis, see for example:

Michel Raptis, Socialism, Democracy & Self-Management. Political Essays
Michel Raptis, Revolution & Counter Revolution in Chile
Michael Raptis, Quel Socialisme Au Chili? Étatisme Ou Autogestion
Sous le drapeau du socialisme : organe de la Tendance
Marxiste-Révolutionnaire de la 4e Internationale.
Raptis, Michel Étude pour une politique agraire en Algerie.1962
Lena Hoff, ""Resistance in Exile. A study of the political correspondence
between Nicolas Callas and Michel Raptis 1967-72"
Klaus Leggewie, Koffertrager. Das Algerienprojekt der Deutsche Linken in
Adenauer Deutschland.
Thomas Scheffler, Der SPD und der Algerienkrieg.\
Sylvain Pattieu,  Les camarades des frères : trotskistes et libertaires dans
la guerre d'Algérie.
Pierre Frank, The Fourth International.
Michael Taubmann, Le trotskysme sort de l'ombre
Christophe Nick, Les Trotskistes
Frédéric Charpier, Histoire de l'extrême gauche trotskiste.
Daniel Bensaïd, Les Trotskysmes

I have no association with the Grantites and do not comment on them. Of all
Trotskyist movements in the world, the British Trots had the most splits and
fights, and consequently I avoid them the most, because of their deeply
ingrained ultra-sectarianism. My previous comment has nothing to do with
Venezuela or with the Grantites, but with nonsense about Raptis by people
who don't know anything about the history. The best thing I ever read about
British Trotskyism was a pamphlet called "Go Fourth and Multiply" (I think
it was also published with the title: As soon as this Pub Closes).


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