The Johnson-Forest tendency

Submitted by martin on 1 June, 1999 - 9:19

Footnote to Cliff's state capitalism in perspective, in Workers' Liberty 56, June 1999.

Not all the Workers' Party were bureaucratic collectivists.

A sizeable minority were state capitalists, convinced by the arguments of C L R James and Raya Dunayevskaya (who began by logically saying Russia was just a fascist state and in 1947 rejoined the SWP-USA, which was pledged to support and defend the "fascist state capitalism"!)

This tendency in the Workers Party, known by the cultist name of "Johnson-Forest" (pen/ party names of James and Dunayevskaya) had shared all the mystifications of the Cannonites about imminent revolution, despite the state of the labour movement and the working class, and some peculiar to themselves.

James is now very well known and has been the subject of a number of books.

Leaving side the question of state capitalism for the moment, if James were to be judged on his political positions throughout the 1940s, it would be very hard to say anything good about him.

When Johnson-Forest rejoined the SWP-USA they took a sizeable chunk of the Workers Party with them - a fifth or a quarter, perhaps - and thus dealt the Workers Party a severe blow.

They remained in the SWP virtually silent - they did publish a big position document, State Capitalism And World Revolution, in 1950 - for about four years. Then they suddenly left the SWP, throwing a megalomaniacal statement over their collective shoulder.

The nearest thing to the unreason, mysticism, cultism, pontifical pronouncements and duff philosophising you find in the Johnson-Forest documents and articles of the forties is the British SLL-WRP in the late 60s and early 70s.

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