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Submitted by rman on Wed, 06/06/2007 - 02:20

In opposing the AWL's deeply flawed position on the war in Iraq, Barry Finger has courageously remained true to the third camp tradition. His writings in New Politics represent some of the finest contributions on the radical left in the last twenty years. It is therefore all the more surprising to read Barry in this polemic trivialize two of the most important political thinkers in recent times. Paul Buhle, author of numerous books on the labour movement and other topics, has eloquently written about the creativity of CLR James and his legacy. James' contributions extend not only to race but in rethinking the nature of the vanguard party, cultural studies, the nature of art and many other topics. It is impossible to read Kent Worcester's biography of James, essential reading for third camp socialists, and not be captivated by the elegance of James' charm and commitment to the working class. It is equally impossible to read The Black Jacobins and not be deeply moved. Given the importance of understanding the class nature of the Russian state, both James and Dunayevskaya made genuine contributions that help to explain the dynamics of the state capitalist economies, whatever flaws one might find in the details. I think one mistake may be to conflate James and Dunayevskaya. The News and Letters tradition associated with Raya Dunayevskaya clearly has some issues of personalism, like much of the far left. But James himself cannot be so easily dismissed. A full explication of James' legacy requires serious consideration of not just his cultural studies and philosophical writings but also the text, Facing Reality written in light of the Hungarian uprising. Given the fall of the Soviet Union, any post-1989 socialists must take the arguments outlined therein seriously. Martin Glaberman made serious contributions to the left on the basis of James' legacy. The small radicalization that occurred since the Seattle demonstrations has had a distinctly syndicalist character in North America. Without defending every aspect of this tradition, it is now more than ever time for social democrats (my own politics), greens, syndicalists and third camp socialists to seriously revisit and explore the contributions of James' thought honestly and in total. In the aftermath of the decline of the Soviet Union and the discrediting of vanguard parties, in a very real sense, the newly radicalized youth of today are all Johnsonites now.

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