[Marxism] Re Shachtman and "Third Camp"

robert montgomery ilyenkova at gmail.com
Sun Nov 6 09:22:00 MST 2005

Wayne Rossi writes:

"But I cannot process the "third camp" tenet of Shachtman's left period.
 These are people who understood Leninism and the need to be opposed to
imperialism; what is more imperialist than the United States?  This
analysis clearly did a lot of damage to those who stayed loyal to
Shachtman in his "State Department Socialist" period.  The Soviet Union
did not have to be defended on a class basis; the regime did not even
have to be defended.  Anti-imperialism in and of itself is a sufficient
ground to stand against any aggression from the United States against
another nation.  How is it that such an analysis was not in the minds
of Draper and his fellow travelers, especially after Shachtman so
brutally moved to the right?"

Doesn't  the answer to your nicely phrased perplexity reside between
your own lines? It's always seemed to me that the "Third Camp" notion
is at odds with the imperative to defend the USSR against imperialism.
 Such a basis for national defense against imperialism  is a form of 
"my enemy's enemy is my friend"-- hardly solid ground for a
consistent, anti-imperialism. So much wiggle room remains when we
equate the "regime", a political concept referring  to the Stalinist
bureaucracy, with the property relations upon which the state is
based, and deny that the  masses might have a stake in defending those
property relations, no matter how rotten the ruling regime.  If there
is absolutely nothing that distinguishes the defense of Iraq from the
defence of Cuba, beyond the fact that each is under imperialist
atttack, then there's plenty of room for a turn towards selective
defense-- i.e. Cuba deserves support because it's state capitalism is
preferable to that of North Korea's state capitalism. In Shachtman's
State Department phase, the Stalinist regimes in the former USSR were
cast as so repellent that the social gains of the workers and peasants
notwithstanding, the "regimes" not only deserved zero support against
imperialism, but would best be overthrown, even at the point of
imperialist bayonets. With due respect to Hall Draper, the tension
within the 3rd camp/state cap perspective isn't resolvable other than
on paper, and in sloganeering.
Bob Montgomery

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