[Marxism] Trotskyism and WWII -- Where the Party At?

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at fusemail.com
Wed Feb 18 15:20:53 MST 2004

> Message: 2
> Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 09:26:05 -0500
> From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
> Subject: Re: [Marxism] RE: Communist tasks
> To: walterlx at earthlink.net, Activists and scholars in Marxist
> 	tradition	<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
> Message-ID: <403375FD.3060100 at panix.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed
> Walter Lippmann wrote:
>> Of course in the old SWP they thought it
>> made no difference who won World War II, either.
>> After all, it was just an inter-imperialist conflict, so
>> the outcome was a matter of indifference to its eloquent
>> editorialists.
> Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 4:57 PM
> Subject: Re: Macdonald on WWII
>  From Alan Wald awald at umich.edu
> Some followers of Trotsky carried this out faithfully. For example,
> James P. Cannon, leader of the SWP (which was the largest Trotskyist
> group in the US), stated in Sept. 1940: "We didn't visualize, nobody
> visualized, a world situation in which whole countries would be
> conquered by fascist armies. The workers don't want to be conquered by
> foreign invaders, above all by the fascists. They require a program of
> military struggle against foreign invaders which assures their class
> independence." In the SWP's paper, THE MILITANT, the leading Trotskyist
> attorney, Albert Goldman, wrote that Hitler was "the greatest enemy of
> the working class" and that the SWP advocated that "all those we
> influence must go to war and do what they are told by the
> capitalists....we would not prevent war materials being shipped to fight
> Germany and Japan." Of course, in Europe Trotskyists worked militarily
> where they could with the anti-fascist partisans. Later on, adherents of
> this WWII perspective (Steve Roberts, Ernest Mandel), produced studies
> of WWII arguing that it was actually a number of different kinds of wars
> occurring simultaneously, each of which involved different analyses and
> strategic responses. (Sources for the above quotations, and similar
> ones, can be found in my 1987 book, THE NEW YORK INTELLECTUALS, pp.
> 193-225).
This is a fine piece, Lou, although I have expressed elsewhere the opinion
that Greenberg's politics do not deserve to be understood as Trotskyist
per se, but rather those of a non-CI admirer of the Spartakusbund (although
as I previously said there is some call for considering Trotsky within the
theoretical ambit *of Greenberg*).  But the lack I keenly feel here is your
choosing not to include Castoriadis (rather obviously a critical figure for
understanding the Trotskyist response to WWII from an international
standpoint) in this hash.  Really, this is good American history, but
how much are this man's views supposed to simply be a static political
representation not amenable to revision *even by himself*?  If Trotskyists
wish to take up the mantle of social revolution, this is a question which
would at least have to be addressed in the context of the extremely
conciliatory rhetoric of the CI (incl. and especially Bordiga) with respect
to fascist and nazi politics in the prewar era -- how much does such an
image not represent the tactical needs of mass action, and are there
First-World figures (*e.g.*, Mandel) who have perhaps been wiser in this
respect than future SD-USA types?

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