Hal Draper

Socialism and the Third Camp

Published on: Thu, 21/11/2019 - 15:54

Julius Jacobson

Julius Jacobson (1922-2003) was a long-standing figure in the Third Camp socialist tradition. He followed Max Shachtman and Hal Draper out of the Socialist Workers' Party and helped found the Workers Party with them in 1940. Together with his wife Phyllis Jacobson, Julius founded the independent socialist journal New Politics in 1961, serving as its editor for more than 40 years. After going into dormancy in 1978, New Politics was revived for its second (and ongoing) run in 1986. This article by Jacobson, "Socialism and the Third Camp", is from the first volume of the resurrected New Politics.

Populism: a dead end for the left

Published on: Wed, 20/11/2019 - 15:27

Eduardo Tovar

In recent decades, there has been much discussion of “populism” as newly significant form of political movement. Some on the left even say we should embrace it.

Admittedly, there are major conceptual difficulties when discussing “populism”. Even if we limit ourselves to examples on the ostensible left, movements labelled “populist” can be so different in their substantive politics and theoretical groundings that they conflict directly.

On the one hand, there is Chantal Mouffe’s highly pluralistic and heterogenous “left-populism”, which is very much oriented towards liberation politics such as

US socialist organisation implodes

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2019 - 07:24

Stephen Wood

A crisis which looks terminal is gripping the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the largest would-be Trotskyist organisation in the US.

In a letter to ISO members of 15 March, now published at socialistworker.org, the Steering Committee elected at the ISO convention in late February to replace the old leadership describe the convention as their “most painful.” “Much of the convention was devoted to reckoning with the damaging impacts of our past practices and internal political culture. As branches have reported back and opened up these discussions, more examples of a damaging

In defence of Ernest Erber

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2018 - 10:35

Alan Johnson

Russia was ruled by 130,000 landowners. They ruled by means of constant force over 150 million people … And yet we are told that Russia will not be able to be governed by 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party – governing in the interests of the poor and against the rich. – V.I. Lenin, Will the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?, 1917

In 1948, after he spent a year thinking it over, Ernest Erber submitted an 18,000 word resignation letter to the US Workers Party, a small group of mostly young, mostly Jewish (one early internal bulletin carried the subhead “Out To The Gentiles!”), and

Ramparts for the workers against the bosses

Published on: Wed, 13/12/2017 - 16:32

Karl Marx

From Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy

In England… permanent combinations have been formed, trades unions, which serve as ramparts for the workers in their struggles with the employers... The organisation of these strikes, combinations, and trades unions went on simultaneously with the political struggles of the workers, who now constitute a large political party, under the name of Chartists.

The first attempt of workers to associate among themselves always takes place in the form of combinations.

Large-scale industry concentrates in one place a crowd of people unknown to one another.

Unions as centres of organisation

Published on: Wed, 13/12/2017 - 16:27

Hal Draper

From Hal Draper's book Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution

The historical problem in the socialist movement [before Marx] was seeing the positive side of trade-unionism; there was never any lack of denunciation of the limitations, deficiencies, and faults of trade unions. The socialist orthodoxy that Marx overturned leaned exclusively on the latter.
[Marx, by contrast, argued] that “the working people, in the management of their colossal Trade Societies” also prove themselves “fit for administrative and political work”. This applies not only to the training of union officials — who sometimes

Joanne Landy

Published on: Wed, 18/10/2017 - 10:43

Joanne Landy, one of the last surviving representatives of a thin thread of living continuity between the Third Camp Trotskyists of the 1940s and politics today, died on 14 October in New York, aged 75. She was one of the early members of the Independent Socialist Club which was founded by Hal Draper in Berkeley, California, in 1964, to regroup the revolutionary socialist wing of the remnants within the Socialist Party USA of the old “Shachtmanite” Workers’ Party and Independent Socialist League.

The ISC expanded rapidly into a US-wide organisation, and in 1969 renamed itself “International

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