Max Shachtman

ISO: stirrings in the ashes

Published on: Wed, 04/12/2019 - 16:46

Simon Nelson

People from the leadership of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) which was in place before the ISO’s convention in February 2019, have launched a new website, the International Socialism Project (ISP),, and some forums in Chicago.

The project also involves one or two former members of the “Orthodox Trotskyist” (in fact, semi-Assadist) Socialist Action group.

Background: the ISO was long the most active group on the US far left, with up to 1500 members. Apparently overwhelmed by criticism from the ranks, the old leadership (many of them leaders since the

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.

Last stand for Bolshevism

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:14

Donal Rayner O’Connor Lysaght

A review of In Defence of Bolshevism, a collection of writings by Max Shachtman edited by Sean Matgamna

There is little that is new here, good or bad.

The most provocative stuff is contained in Sean Matgamna’s introduction, and this is a rehash of themes that he has presented better elsewhere, the unrelieved badness of the Soviet Union, the equation of antisemitism with anti-Zionism, as well as his failure to provide even a skeleton of a programme for the semi-colonial world, and, of course, more justifiably (and enjoyably) his attacks on the leaders of rival organisations to his Alliance for

How not to quote Lenin

Published on: Wed, 12/06/2019 - 09:08

John Ryan

“The October Revolution is an imperishable page in the history of the great movements of the masses to take their destiny into their own hands that began with the French Revolution.

“It was the second stage of the elemental upsurge of the Russian masses that began in February.

“The Kerensky regime had done its utmost to block its further advance by frustrating the efforts of the masses to end the war and divide the land. The regime sought to stretch out its undemocratic authority as long as possible by repeatedly postponing the elections of a Constituent Assembly. If the revolution was to

Pioneering work on Lenin and Bolshevism

Published on: Thu, 07/03/2019 - 10:36

Paul Le Blanc

Paul Le Blanc reviews "In Defence of Bolshevism" by Max Shachtman. (Picture: Shachtman in later years.)

This is an important work on Lenin and the Bolshevik tradition. While many have been profoundly impressed by the valuable work of Lars Lih in Rediscovering Lenin (2006), Max Shachtman was articulating and documenting many of the same points in the late 1930s, through the 1940s and 1950s, and into the early 1960s. His defence of Bolshevism was articulated over and over, with facts and citations buttressed with brilliant turns of phrase, sometimes with entertaining (even hilarious) flourishes

Bolshevism, the civil war, and after

Published on: Wed, 27/02/2019 - 11:18

Barry Finger

Review of In Defence of Bolshevism, £12 including UK postage. Purchase here.

Mass socialist parties, trade unions, workers councils and organs of struggle are places for debate, discussion, deliberation and opposition, where, ideally, everything is openly evaluated. Their functionality requires constituencies free to transmit their will to the administrators of power, not only within these organisations themselves but also to the broader institutions and arenas in which they participate.

The organisation is where members safeguard themselves by providing for the recall of those who fail to

A deviation from the road

Published on: Wed, 30/01/2019 - 11:20

Andrew Coates

“The force of things and the behaviour of men have contradicted all Lenin’s optimistic forecasts, his hopes in a superior democracy as much as his semi-libertarian ideas expressed in the State and Revolution and other writings of the same period, at the dawn of the revolution. Nothing in the individual theses of Trotsky has stood the test any better, in particular his wordy and abstract theory of the ‘permanent revolution’.” — Boris Souvarine, Stalin. A Critical Survey of Bolshevism, 1939.

The labour movement is striving “to renew and reconstruct itself in politics”, writes Sean

Reading about Rosa Luxemburg

Published on: Wed, 16/01/2019 - 12:33

As we go to press on 15 January 2019, it is exactly the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Polish¬German revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg. She was killed by a right-wing militia operating under the Social¬Democratic government which was heading off the German workers’ revolution.

We have a pamphlet in production on Luxemburg and the German revolution. Readers can also find a good summary of Luxemburg’s political work in two articles, from 1935 and 1938, by Max Shachtman.

The 1938 article is in print as an item in our book In Defence of Bolshevism. Much more on Rosa Luxemburg on

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

No party like the Bolshevik party

Published on: Wed, 17/10/2018 - 09:06

Paul Cooper

In Defence of Bolshevism, the new book from Workers' Liberty, had its launch at a lively meeting in central London on 12 October. Edited by Sean Matgamna, the collection of texts by American Trotskyist Max Shachtman represents one of the greatest polemics in the Marxist tradition. It is the defence of a revolutionary socialist consciousness being developed in the working class as the irreplaceable pre-condition for the self- emancipation of the working class.

Crucially, it describes the only type of party fit for the purpose of seeding, nurturing and growing this consciousness in the

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