[Marxism] Why I didn't attend the Trotsky Legacy Conference

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Sat Jul 26 17:20:58 MDT 2008

Louis wrote:

If the Trotsky Legacy conference had been somewhere in Manhattan, I
might have made the effort to take in a couple of the sessions today.


...that's the official version of the Cochranites: liquidationists
panicked by McCarthyism. And then you mix this with Cannon's crude
sociological explanation of them as a privileged strata of the
working class.


Good post, Louis; a better use of your time today, IMO. I came across some
of the material of the Cochrane group as a result of my own "workerist" turn
to industry in the 70's. Those of us who had split from the pro-SWP LSA in
Canada to merge with a part of the old Waffle leadership in the Mandelite
Revolutionary Marxist Group quickly formed a tendency within it which was
very similar to the Proletarian Orientation Tendency in the US.

I think the anti-sectarian and non-dogmatic thrust  which was at the centre
of the Cochrane group's politics was not unrelated to its social
composition. The unions, and the worker-based political parties are really
the only venues where young radicals can understand first hand and learn how
to relate to the liberal and social democratic conciousness of the
politically conscious workers. When it made its later turn to industry, the
SWP, for reasons of self-preservation, was too concerned (perhaps not
without reason) about its cadres "liquidating" into the milieu to allow them
to act in anything other than a sectarian way within the unions, declining,
for example, to accept leadership responsibilities within these
organizations or to consider the fast-growing service sector unions which
now predominate as worthy of their attention.

It's important to remember that the outlook of the Cochrane group, like all
left organizations in that period,  was shaped by an international labour
and socialist movement which was still a going concern, backed by a powerful
anticapitalist bloc led by the USSR and China which, however deformed,
offered another alternative to the working class in both the advanced
capitalist countries and the colonial and semi-colonial world. Those
conditions are no longer present, and I suspect the Cochranites would
consequently find themselves having to "adapt" even further following the
world-historic defeats of the working class over the past three decades, but
that's another question, and one which we've canvassed pretty throroughly on
previous occasions.

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