ALAN JOHNSON is a Lecturer in the Centre for Studies in the Social Sciences, Edge Hill College of High Education, England. He is writing a biography of Hal Draper.
SOCIALISM FROM BELOW IS DISTINGUISHED FROM SOCIALISM FROM ABOVE by its understanding that the agency of social change is the self-controlling emancipatory struggle of the mass of the people.1 In Marx's famous dictum, socialism is "the self-emancipation of the working class." What has this meant for socialists at the level of international politics? Three key "moments" can be identified in the development of a revolutionary democratic internationalism. The key figure in the first moment is Marx. Alan Gilbert has shown how Marx drew upon Aristotle's insight that Athenian imperialism abroad was a threat to Athenian democracy at home and that citizens should oppose policies of conquest for they would produce only greed and tyranny at home. Marx argued that in the epoch of capitalism the ideals of democratic liberalism had been cast down for the radicals to pick up. Basic internationalist ideas from "the recognition of the universal human capacity for moral personality and the justice of democratic movements" for self-determination, were ignored in practice by the liberals and so fell to the radicals to defend.2 In 1847 Marx changed the slogan of the League of Communists to "Proletarians of All Countries Unite!" and insisted the ideal of human brotherhood, proclaimed by the French Revolution, must now be given a class basis. The ideal of self-determination had also been passed to the radicals. For Marx, "there is absolutely no contradiction in the international workers party striving for the establishment of the Polish nation."3 The only kind of brotherhood the bourgeoisie could know was "the brotherhood of the oppressors against the oppressed, of the exploiters against the exploited."4
The Second International, amid the growth of labor aristocracies and social democratic bureaucracies, regressed from these positions. Eduard Bernstein, at the Stuttgart Congress of 1907, defended colonialism in terms of the necessity "of civilized peoples to act somewhat like guardians of the uncivilized." Alex Callinicos has argued convincingly that a democratic internationalism "could only be properly pursued after the collapse of the Second International and the formation of its revolutionary rival, the Third or Communist International," for only then was it possible to adopt the policy of forging an alliance between "incipient socialist revolution by the working class of the imperialist countries and the developing nationalist revolts in the colonies." This marked a return to the principle of self-emancipation because the oppressed nation was now understood as "not only the object but also the subject of politics," as Trotsky put it. The difference between the two internationals was the difference between the two souls of socialism.5
Soon enough Stalinism forced another much deeper regression in democratic internationalism. Generations of socialists, in their support for the Stalinist ruling class in Russia and its imperialist expansion, reprised the odyssey of the bourgeois liberals before them, who also supported a brutal imperialism while speaking a language of freedom. The baton of democratic internationalism was dropped again. The third moment in the development of a revolutionary democratic internationalism involved the rescue, by small numbers of "Third Camp" socialists, mainly in America, organized in the Workers Party -- later renamed the Independent Socialist League -- of the principles of democratic internationalism in the years during and after World War II.6 The "Third Camp" they defined as:
nothing more than a synonym for the tens of millions who resist or refuse the leadership of both American capitalism and of Stalinism and seek a democratic anti- capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-totalitarian road to peace, freedom and prosperity.7
THE PURPOSES OF THIS ESSAY ARE TWO- FOLD. First, to reconstruct the birth of Third Camp socialism in the split with Trotsky over the question of Russia's wars in Finland and Poland in 1939-40, and its development in the epoch of expanding Stalinism after World War II. I set out why the concept was indispensable to a politics of self-emancipation and revolutionary democratic internationalism in the period of the Cold War. The concept was not simply a rejection of the two imperialist war camps -- although that was the beginning of all wisdom. The partisans of the Third Camp, in the most unpropitious of circumstances, also developed a positive alternative to both war-camps, and to war itself, through the concepts of a "democratic foreign policy" and "political warfare." I explore the Third Camp's rejection of the neutralism of the "one-and-a-half-camp," and its transcendence of the kind of crippling antinomies, the "either-or" frameworks, which left Sidney Hook, Irving Howe and ultimately Max Shachtman as critical supporters of the capitalist camp, and the likes of Isaac Deutscher and the orthodox Trotskyists as critical supporters of the Stalinist camp. Second, the essay will explore the meaning of the Third Camp in today's post-Communist world, when the second camp has joined the first but the world is no nearer "peace, freedom and prosperity."
IN 1939, WHEN THE SOVIET UNION INVADED POLAND AND FINLAND, Trotsky made the catastrophic argument that Russia remained a "workers state" because nationalized property was, in and of itself, "proletarian economy." Consequently, Russia's wars in Poland and Finland were the wars of a workers state, to be defended. Trotsky insisted the Stalinist invasion of Poland "gave an impulse to the socialist revolution through bureaucratic methods" and, in Finland, the "Red" Army was giving "a tremendous impulse to the class struggle in its sharpest form," the Kremlin being "forced to provoke a social revolutionary movement."8 Caught in the theoretical logic of the "workers state" position, Trotsky gave birth to the idea of the bureaucratic proletarian revolution, led by Stalinists, to be supported, for now, as a distorted expression of, a locum for, "The Revolution." The truth is Trotsky played a bad role in the 1939-40 dispute. He educated the movement in a "realism" which eased the way to an accommodation to Stalinism. Replying, for instance, to the view of James Burnham and Max Shachtman that as "the politics of which the invasion were a continuation" were reactionary then the Russian invasion of Poland should not be supported, Trotsky used his immense authority to mock this minority, asking if a "simultaneous insurrection against Hitler and Stalin in a country occupied by troops might perhaps be arranged very conveniently from the Bronx." Trotsky was the first to raise the objection that the Third Camp was not of the "real world." It was an argument that would, in time, carry away most of the Third Camp partisans. Max Shachtman replied that it was not a question of arranging a revolution from the Bronx, or, for that matter, from Coyoacan, but of "a political line of revolutionary socialist opposition to both reactionary war camps, one of training and preparing the workers in such a spirit, and of arming them with such a policy that they would not fall victim to Hitler's army or Stalin's but moving closer to the day when they could settle accounts with both."9 In December 1939, James Burnham, Martin Abern and Max Shachtman pointed out that Trotsky's argument that the Stalinist invasion must be supported as a lesser evil in the absence of an independent revolutionary movement was "essentially reactionary," as "the independent revolutionary movement cannot be brought into existence and advance if we support the Stalinist invasion." The task was to bring together and provide program and perspective to the forces of the Third Camp currently "scattered, demoralised, without program or perspective."10 But the prestige of Trotsky ensured that, in April 1940, the American Socialist Workers Party split in two. Albert Goldman, Trotsky's attorney during the 1937 Dewey Commission into the Moscow Trials, was the spokesman for the majority faction. "Private property" he said, " has been nationalized in 1/8th of the world. It is the only thing concrete left in the camp of the proletariat. We are not giving up nationalized property for some abstraction of the world revolution." Another majority supporter, Richardson, from Oakland, said, "Just imagine if Stalin did set up a bureaucracy in India, what a tremendous advance it would be over the present democracy." Goldman defended Richardson's speech with the argument, "Between the slavery of a degenerated workers state and the slavery of capitalism, we prefer the slavery of a degenerated workers state." Convention minutes taken by the minority indicate that at this point there broke out "applause from the majority side, hissing from the minority side."11
Hal Draper wrote that it was in this resistance to Trotsky and the SWP majority in the 1940 split that "[the] Third Camp was born and raised."12 Max Shachtman in his reply to Trotsky, set out why the Third Camp was the only position consistent with a belief that socialism was the self- emancipation of the working class:
I repeat, I do not believe in the bureaucratic proletarian (socialist) revolution ( . . . ) I reject the concept not out of "sentimental" reasons or a Tolstoyan "faith in the people" but because I believe it to be scientifically correct to repeat with Marx that the emancipation of the working class is the task of the working class itself. The bourgeois revolution . . . could be made and was made by other classes and social strata; the bourgeoisie could be liberated from feudal rule and establish its social dictatorship under the aegis of other social groups. But the proletarian revolution cannot be made by others than the proletariat acting . . . No one else can free it -- not even for a day.13
THE EXPANSION OF BUREAUCRATIC COLLECTIVISM INTO EASTERN EUROPE after World War II, and its victory independent of Russia state power in Yugoslavia and China, marked a new stage in world politics: a global "struggle for the world" between Capitalism and Stalinism. This was no normal inter-imperialist rivalry but a "struggle of rival systems over which, if either, shall exploit the earth." This new stage presented the socialist movement, Marxism especially, with the job of fundamental renovation and reorientation if the politics of socialism-as-self- emancipation were to be preserved. It was necessary to plant a "firm fixed point" from which the Third Camp might oppose both rival imperialisms and their war preparations. Before Stalinism, Marxists had imagined the world as a zero-sum game: capitalism versus socialism. Actually it never was, but until an equally exploitative reactionary alternative proved to be capable of issuing from anti-capitalism it was not, in practice, too harmful. After Stalinism it was a disastrous framework, theoretically and practically, for the three-cornered struggle for the world was not the duel of Marx's Communist Manifesto. To declare for the Third Camp meant that "politically we recognize the emergence of the bureaucratic-collectivist empire as a bidder for the historic role of successor to a doomed capitalism" and a new stage in the epoch of wars and revolutions in which the working class faced two enemies, "a capitalism which is anti-Stalinist and a Stalinism which is anti-capitalist."14 Grasping that fact and renovating Marxism in light of it was one of the great contributions of the Workers Party-Independent Socialist League. Democracy was now the condition for socialism, to be consciously fought for as the differentia specifica of socialism from an alternative anti- capitalist force: totalitarian Stalinism. Stalinism was not the first rung on the ladder of socialism but its opposite. So understood, "In no other era than this does the fight for democracy rise to such a pinnacle of importance for the forces of progress. No other movement in the history of the world is so driven to place the democratic goal so close to everything it strives for."15 The 1939-40 split set both parties on diverging political paths:
The political character of the ISL quickly broadened . . . to a wide reinterpretation of the meaning of revolutionary socialism for our day. Reacting sharply against the bureaucratic concepts of both official Stalinism and official Trotskyism, it swung to a deep-going emphasis on the integration of socialism and democracy in all aspects of politics. What was distinctive, however, was that this was accompanied by equally sharp opposition to the American establishment, to American imperialism, to capitalism and its political representatives here. What resulted was a unique combination of revolutionary opposition to both capitalism and Communism.16
The task, wrote Max Shachtman in 1948, was to "build a workers movement that is fully independent of Washington and Moscow" under "the banner of democracy and socialism."17 In the Cold War of the 1940s and 1950s the WP-ISL sought to translate this rallying cry into a political program through the policies of a democratic foreign policy and political warfare.
WHY, ASKED HAL DRAPER IN 1955, was "the most brutal and repressive dictatorship in history" winning the Cold War?18 And how could Stalinism be fought, from the left, without war? The Third Camp socialists developed the ideas of a "democratic foreign policy" and "political warfare" to attack Stalinism without giving any comfort to capitalism. A democratic foreign policy or, as Draper happily called it in the Sixties, an anti-imperialist foreign policy, meant working for popular democratic revolution in the Stalinist countries, "blowing up the Russian empire from within," as the practical and realistic alternative to reliance on NATO militarism. The democratic foreign policy was what Trotsky termed a "transitional demand," a bridge to present neutralist consciousness, a means to organize and take forward the opposition to capitalism and Stalinism. Derided as a pipe-dream, the realism of the policy was proved in the anti-Kremlin revolts of 1956-7 which broke "the myth that Stalinism had produced the dehumanized Orwellian "prole" as its mass man, or the totalitarianised zombie heralded by Hannah Arendt."19 Yet NATO and the capitalist states proved a reactionary barrier to the anti- Stalinist revolt. In Poland, it was NATO and NATO rearmament of Germany which allowed Gomulka to argue for Russian troops to stay. The greatest ally of the Russian Imperialists in Hungary was the British, French and Israeli imperialist crimes in Egypt. Mao's greatest asset was the U.S. support for Chiang Kai-Shek. The vaunted "realism" of the liberal support for NATO turned out to be a prop of the Stalinist control over the satellites and useless to those popular forces in revolt against Stalinism. As Draper put it, "The West's stock of H-Bombs is no friend of the revolution against Stalinism. It is its enemy." Popular revolt, not the military threat of NATO, was the best peace strategy, limiting Russian aggression in Europe and decreasing the war threat. A "democratic foreign policy" was defined by its support for this popular revolt as the weapon to defeat Stalinism and by its refusal to rely upon western capitalist governments. The West must "give up its military-base and H-bomb encirclement of Russia in order to permit the revolution to encircle Russia." But a capitalist, imperialist West was incapable of a democratic foreign policy because its primary fear was the contagion of revolutionary struggle.20
This fear was demonstrated during the East Berlin workers revolt of 1953. While the Stalinist apologist Isaac Deutscher rationalized the brutal suppression of the workers by the bureaucracy,21 the western governments suppressed the fact of its existence, fearing revolution in West Germany. Hal Draper attempted a thought-experiment: what could a government of the working class, pursuing a democratic foreign policy and engaged in political warfare against Stalinism, have said and done during the East German workers uprising? First, it would have immediately removed all U.S. troops from West Germany. Second, it would have declared in favor of German reunification. Third, it would have appealed for the East Germans to fight for reunification. Fourth, political warfare would have meant military support for the insurgents; "we urge no adventurous putsches upon you, but what you need you will get, with no strings attached."22 Breaking the grip of the Kremlin on the East German police and army, who feared a U.S. controlled West, would open the way to a class politics throughout eastern Europe and "that is how the Russian empire will crumble, from within,"23 for political warfare, and the weapon of democracy was "stronger than planes and tanks, yes stronger than the A-Bomb."24
As the systemic social antagonism between the totalitarian states and the capitalist classes became clearer after World War II, the ability of Russia to exploit divisions between capitalist states diminished. The Stalinists, in response, engaged increasingly in political warfare. This "reactionary exploitation" of popular anti-capitalist movements became their "main weapon." Communists could use the weapon of anti- capitalism "in a world swept by winds of anti-capitalism and anti-imperialist revolution" because they had no stake in capitalism being the representative of a rival exploitative system. In contrast, the United States was incapable of anything more than a battery of techniques of skulduggery and "psyops."25 Genuine "political warfare" was beyond not only the lunk-head right but the sophisticates of East coast liberalism, too. Backing the corrupt landowners and not the peasants seeking land redistribution, the U.S. could not use the secret weapon in the Cold War: anti-capitalism. In fact the reverse was the case. In a world in which U.S. capitalism was the only one with "a bit of fat around its belt," then the middle-ground shrank and reaction faced rebellion the world over. U.S. support for reaction was rooted in the "decay of world capitalism itself,"26 hence the construction of a permanent war economy.27
For the Third Camp anti-capitalism was the "starting point of a meaningful foreign policy for peace,"28 and an alternative to the establishment and the appeasing peace movements. If winning a Cold War meant winning in political warfare, then successful political warfare in the epoch of decaying capitalism meant the promotion of social revolution.29 The conclusion was no comfort to the liberal opinion in the United States:
[The U.S.] will have to be socially and politically transformed before victory in the political war is a possibility. ( . . . ) Victory in the Cold War means, politically speaking, implementing a radical-democratic and anti-imperialist foreign policy which can win the support of the peoples of the world and strike blows against the Communist camp.30
UNDER THE PRESS OF THE COLD WAR, organized liberal opinion adopted the world-view of U.S. imperialism as its own, indeed worked up that world-view into the terms of sophisticated liberal theory, until democratic internationalism was left, as in Marx's day, to the revolutionaries. Even organized liberal politics, which in the 1950s meant Americans for Democratic Action (A.D.A.), saw much of American foreign policy as a series of "mistakes," unconnected to the nature of the American social system. The Third Camp socialists argued that in "riding along with the [U.S.] Administration" the A.D.A. were "doing precisely that which the Stalinists need, if they are to capture the rest of the uncommitted world." For example, to drift along with Washington's support for Chiang Kai-Shek in Formosa was to help "alienate every democratic sentiment in the world and push . . . all uncommitted peoples into the arms of the Stalinists."31 This was expressed in the liberal lexicon. "Internationalism" had come to mean the pursuit by American capitalism of its global interests, while proposals to reduce military expenditure and subsidies to Europe were "isolationism." Language was turned around until "liberal neo-internationalism turns out to mean essentially nothing but the imperialist outlook."32 This collapse of liberal opposition to U.S. imperialism was demonstrated during the U.S. intervention in Guatemala in 1954. Labor Action was almost unique in its coverage of Guatemala in 1954, when not just the government but also liberal opinion and even some members of the Socialist Party, refused to believe the CIA was engaged in a conspiracy to crush democracy. Labor Action set out the basic facts and drew out the lessons. There are no easy or direct parallels to U.S. interventions today but the methodology surely speaks to us. First, the episode proved the U.S. government could not fight the Stalinists politically because it followed an imperialist policy economically:
The rug can be pulled from beneath Guatemalan Stalinism . . . only by removing the legitimate social issues on which it nourishes. As long as the U.S. dollar is the enemy of the people, the Stalinists can flourish -- or else they can be cut down by . . . brutal intervention . . .33
Second, liberal anti-Communism was in practice neither liberal nor did it help to defeat Stalinism. The New York Post, which supported the U.S. action on the grounds that Guatemala was "communist dominated," made the "basic error" of the liberal, failing to understand that:
while Stalinism grows on the brutality of imperialism -- and this is the lesson of our era which overshadows every other one without exception -- our liberals propose to support that imperialist brutality in the name of defeating Stalinism.34
Liberal support for U.S. anti-Communism only succeeded in "greasing the road for Stalinism" by educating the world that only communists support land-reform and anti- colonialism and by driving the democratic Guatemalan opposition into the arms of the Stalinists.35 The New York Times, said Draper, might well be right in pointing out the crimes of Stalinism but it does so only in order to reconcile people to the crimes of capitalist-imperialism. When the liberal press supported the U.S. action and then urged that the U.S. should now go on to pursue land reform, Hal Draper was moved to ask, "how naive is the liberal allowed to be?" Max Lerner's pieces about Guatemala were discussed as an illustration of the politics of "putting a liberal face on national chauvinism." Again, Lerner was right to criticize the Arbenz government's relationship with the CP, to highlight the danger of a Stalinist coup and to call on democrats in Guatemala to fight against that outcome. But Lerner, absorbing the view of the U.S. as "overlord of the planet," accepted the U.S. right to intervene, casting himself as "the enlightened democratic thinker . . . gently teaching a backwoods politician about freedom." The imperialist liberal lacks the spine to propose intervention but "finds his reasons to go along" once it starts, finding himself "marched along in the rear of the CIA muttering 'Dulles has blundered again.'"36 Draper traced how in the aftermath of such interventions, with the liberal cover no longer required, not one of the progressive measures the liberal spoke so eloquently for during the conflict is ever implemented. Guatemala, for instance, saw the suspension of land reforms, the proliferation of concentration camps, the declaration of enlistment to the U.S. war camp, the disenfranchisement of three-quarters of the people as illiterate, and the suspension of the constitution. At this point the good liberal is left to talk, still eloquently, of "mistakes," even "blunders," and certainly of individual "bad men." Draper confronts the liberal once again on the terrain of realism, asking, "Which then is in and of the real world: your whitewash of imperialism or our Third Camp approach to the defeat of Stalinism?"37
The wider political consequences of the failure to preserve ideological independence were explored in a prescient article by Draper in New Politics in 1962 called "The Ultra Right and the Liberals." The liberal reaction to the rise of the new right was to try and "giggle them out of existence," to deal with the threat from the right "without taking up political ideas." In fact the liberal embrace of the world- view of successive Administrations had reinforced the shift in the center of gravity of the whole political structure to the right. The political vacuum on the left had "pull[ed] the new right out of the walls" as a reaction to the "Demo-Republican" bipartisanship. Not the least powerful of the arguments against "political realism" was the fact that "the middle of the road in any given political situation is determined only by the active extremes." The B52 liberals failed to grasp that the middle of the road was "a mirage [which] must shift away from you as you move toward it." When the left moves to the center the center moves to the right. The left can best stiffen the resolve of the liberal center by fighting for a radical political program and give the liberals "something they can happily water down."38
THE THIRD CAMP WAS NO NEUTRALIST "ONE-AND-A- HALF-CAMP" searching for "peaceful co-existence." While the capitalist states might reach a modus vivendi with a geographically confined Stalinism, the Third Camp believed in "'coexisting' with Stalinism in order to destroy it, not to appease it."39 But neutralism was often the first step toward a Third Camp position. The two war-camps sought to recruit all countries, groups and movements and to the extent that they failed all-out war was less likely. So even while "passive, uncoordinated and not fully clarified," all resistance to the war-camps produced a "relaxation of the war danger."40 Moreover, the hostility among both popular movements and some ruling classes to the prospect of being brought under the hegemony of the U.S. or Russia was often expressed in the form of neutralism in the 1950s.
There were two politically distinct forms of neutralism. As the inchoate instinct of the popular masses, it represented a "sound, healthy, progressive reaction" against both war camps and as such was a "long, strong step toward the conceptions and policies of Independent Socialism" with tremendous potential for further development.41 But as an organized political movement neutralism was "confused, futile, reactionary." It sought to reconcile the war camps rather than fight them. It fostered illusions in the mirage of peaceful co-existence and appeased Stalinism. The ISL's propaganda for a democratic foreign policy was explicitly directed "against the illusions and ambiguities of 'neutralism.'"42 To oppose organized neutralism and to "work up" popular neutralism into a consistent Third Camp position was "the main task of the Third Camp today," said the ISL in 1954. Organized neutralism urged the program of peaceful co-existence on the U.S. government as all it could realistically be expected to carry out. Much of the post-war peace movement sought the stabilization of world politics via "Pax Russo-Americana," a negotiated division of the world between two reactionary imperialisms. Erich Fromm's Council of Correspondence was a case of neutralism leading to the appeasement of the totalitarian Russian state. Fromm was for the recognition of East Germany for the same reason he was against German reunification, because "the existing power structure is a fact and Khrushchev, like any other leader of a powerful nation, could not keep his political position if he surrendered any of Stalin's post-war gains."43 The Third Camp alternative to the war threat, acknowledged Hal Draper, "seems to scant the deep feeling that something has to be done now . . . and that there is simply no time to wait for transformations." His rejoinder, carried in New Politics 25 years ago, is worth quoting in full, for it speaks to a left being urged once again to "be realistic" and back NATO military power:
What the Establishment needs to keep it restrained from military adventures even in the short run is in the first place, a militant and threatening left opposition in the country not clever advisors who can teach how to put a "peace" veneer on power politics. There has never been a peace movement in any country that has been worth a damn as long as it is "respectable," that is, as long as it has seen its role as collaborating with the status quo, rather than building an opposition from below against the powers that be. That is the fundamental line of demarcation between the forces of revolutionary transformation and the theoreticians of stabilization."44
In Europe, building the Third Camp meant counterpoising a socialist internationalism to NATO and projecting the goal of an Independent Western Union of the European States capable of waging warfare against Stalinism by "non-military political means." And, in 1951, the ISL looked to "the socialist and people's movements of Asia" as "one of the largest reservoirs and organising grounds for the elements of the Third Camp of the people against the looming third world war."45 Independence in India, Burma and Indonesia, the tumult throughout the region, was of "world-historic importance." But these states and movements faced the threat of absorption into one or other Cold War camp despite the mass sentiment for neutralism among the masses in Asia. The proposal for an Independent Federation for Asia aimed to avoid this. For while the native bourgeoisie forces had indeed been able to win independence, apparently refuting Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution, this victory was due to the incapacity of the imperialist powers to maintain their control rather than any newly developed capacities on the part of native bourgeoisies which Trotsky had failed to detect. Consequently, winning independence from both war camps would require the very agrarian and social revolution the native bourgeoisie could not deliver, and this was now the "concrete and contemporary meaning" of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution.46 It is, said the Third Camp, "the socialists of Asia who can do what Nehru cannot do." The one-and-a-half- camp stood between the two war-camps to reconcile them. The Third Camp waged war on both to defeat them. Neutralist governments such as India, Yugoslavia and Egypt often acted as apologists for both camps, "sowing illusions impartially about the intentions and nature" of both camps. Nehru, for example, defended Russia's invasion of Hungary and voted against the UN resolution calling on Russian troops to be withdrawn from Hungary.47 The Third Camp differed from the Neutralists on the very meaning of "peace." The organized neutralists defined peace as co-existence between two rival imperialisms. The Third Camp said the road to peace lay through social struggle against both rival imperialisms. Looking to forces such as the Algerian liberation fighters or the Polish rebels, the Third Camp socialists, "do not build any bridges between these combatants and their enemies."48
Neutralism also took the form of a demand for "World-Government." Third Camp socialists pointed out that for one hundred years the goal of world government has been at the heart of the socialist program for peace. Yet, ripped away from the rest of the socialist program, the demand for world government was utopian and reactionary. Utopian because it traded on the illusion that wars were unfortunate misunderstandings which world government would end. In fact, as Draper put it in 1952, "at the heart of world politics lies the contradiction between the essential interdependence of the world economy and the compartmentalization of the planet among competing national states."49 It is the efforts of each rival ruling class to integrate the world politically, as an economic necessity, which leads to war. Reactionary because it sustained the illusion in the social nature of the two superpowers, neither of whom would embrace world government unless it was a cover for their own hegemony.
To take one's stand on the slogan "Neither Washington Nor Moscow But the Third Camp of Independent Socialism!," to retain a revolutionary hostility to both war camps, to support a democratic foreign policy and political warfare, and to refuse all illusions in neutralism or world government was a lonely political perspective in the years of Cold War, and the WP-ISL found it impossible to maintain a Third Camp organization. The vast majority of the left never tried, preferring to look up to The Powers That Be, and gave critical support to either Washington or Moscow as the lesser evil.
Did you learn to dream in the morning
Abandon dreams in the afternoon
Wait without hope in the evening?
-- Ewan McColl, Ballad of Accounting
THE THIRD CAMP SUPPORTER FACED THE BARBARIC REALITY OF STALINISM in a way others did not. Out of reach to the Third Camp socialist were the knowing complicities of a Lillian Hellman or a Bertold Brecht, the pseudo-realism of the neutralist Erich Fromm, the moral illiteracy of a Jean Paul Sartre who urged silence about the Gulag lest it "demoralize the French proletariat." Unavailable were the Trotskyist dogmas about the progressive "workers states" or Unfolding World Revolutions, or the Historic Rationalizations for Stalinism as a Proletarian Bonapartism, issued regularly from Isaac Deutscher's watchtower. No, the view from the Third Camp was sobering indeed. It really was an evil empire. Stalinism was expansionist, and did put liberty and working class organization to the sword wherever it triumphed. Peaceful co-existence was a utopia and the self-reform of the bureaucracy was impossible. Possessed of this truth -- and who can deny that History has shown all of this to be so as against all those fantasies -- yet politically isolated, with minuscule forces, and reduced for so long to making propaganda for a Third Camp rather than merging their ideas with real social forces of the Third Camp, is it really so surprising that so many drifted politically toward Washington?
Most telling were the twin pressures of "Stalinophobia" and disillusion with the prospects for revolutionary socialism. Stalinophobia did not mean being "too anti- Stalinist" but being "led by your laudable hatred of Stalinism to sacrifice other political considerations on its altar."50 Once Stalinophobia was combined with a loss of hope in the socialist movement then the monster of Stalinism could only be met, "realistically," by the power of the other war camp, the lesser-evil. At this point other ideas long held, such that capitalism was "the very ground on which Stalinism feeds," lost all force and were quietly shelved. Julius Jacobson pointed out that the theory of bureaucratic collectivism -- that Russian type societies were neither capitalist nor socialist but a new form of exploitative class society -- precisely because it faced up to the realities of Stalinism, could indeed "become a rationalisation for support of utterly reactionary societies" once it is uncoupled from a belief in the political viability of the Third Camp.51 For such reasons did Max Shachtman, who founded the Third Camp, and who once boasted he would support American imperialism only when hairs grew on the palms of his hand, end up, as Dave McReynolds recalled, "telling the kids to shut up about Vietnam."52 Herman Benson, a leader of the WP-ISL in the auto industry, interviewed in 1989, stands for a whole swathe of Third Campists who turned to American military power as the viable counterweight to Stalinism:
When you lose that core [the revolutionary working class -- AJ] you begin to look around for substitutes, the closest thing to it, some physical power that will protect your democracy . . . and that power is the United States. And in the real world as we exist the power of the United States is generally on the side of freedom and the power of Russia is generally on the side of dictatorship. What's the problem? That's Shachtman's position and I'm not unsympathetic with that view.53
The "loss of that core" was the leitmotif of the ex-Third Camp socialist. Sidney Hook concluded the Third Camp, "was a pose that could not be sustained in the face of the obvious realities of working-class indifference to the old and tired Marxist dogma."54 Manny Geltman recalls that when he left the ISL he thought that "the Third Camp idea . . . just didn't seem to make sense any more."55 Geltman followed the lead of Irving Howe and Stanley Plastrick who left the ISL in 1952. Their resignation letter accused those who continued to adhere to a Third Camp position, such as Hal Draper and Julius Jacobson, of indulging in "the psychology of the saving remnant" on "some isle of rectitude more of less equidistant from both sides." Embracing the same "realism" Trotsky stood for in 1939, though reversing Trotsky's choice of lesser evil, they now wrote:
The "Third camp" concept now seems to us meaningless, a fetish. There are not available, at the present juncture, those historical energies which alone could activate a Third Camp -- and as the slogan drags along in ISL propaganda it has no particular relation to the shift of events. It takes on a life of its own detached from the realities of European or American politics.56
What does the partisan of the Third Camp do when there is no Third Camp? Hook self-consciously adopted the politics of lesser-evilism. He endorsed the paper, "Two Methods of Action," presented by Arthur Koestler to the Congress of Cultural Freedom in Berlin in June 1950. Hook recounts its basic thesis: "at certain times and in respect to certain crucial issues, instead of saying 'neither-nor' and looking for viable alternatives, we must recognize an 'either-or' and take one stand or the other." Hook called these "dilemmatic situations" and saw the threat of Stalinist totalitarianism as one such. Superseding the conflict between capitalism and socialism, was "the overriding problem of our age and culture -- the nature of political freedom and of the threats to its existence."57 In 1948 the novelist, revolutionary socialist and contributor to New International, James T. Farrell wrote to Albert Goldman that "The simple and blunt fact of the matter is that nothing stands in the way of the Stalinization of Europe but American power." The Third Camp, concluded Farrell, simply lacked a "sufficient fighting force with which to meet Stalinism."58 Irving Howe became convinced that "as democratic socialists our place is in the Western world, the democratic world." The struggle of the West against Stalinism was not just for spoils, but was a struggle "between two ways of living: between democracy, however marred, and the most bestial totalitarianism ever known." In this battle, "the whole heritage of civilization is at stake." In his political memoir, A Margin of Hope, Howe recalled that in the late 1940s and early 1950s the fear of World War Three was real and warranted and that, unlike the fantasists and apologists, the Third Camp partisan knew that "wherever Stalinism conquered, freedom vanished." Once you gave up on the working class it was necessary to lay down "real barriers -- power, money, politics -- not just articles in intellectual journals."59 Looking back many years later Howe summed up the entire problem accurately: "'Third camp' has meaning, I think, only if you believe in a revolutionary perspective."60
THE SADDEST OF THE INTERNAL BATTLES OF THE THIRD CAMP took place in 1956 when a political and ultimately a legal controversy broke out between the U.S. Third Camp and the Italian novelist and socialist Ignazio Silone. Silone had been one of Europe's best known partisans of the Third Camp but his statement, "My Political Faith," in 1956, announced his critical support for the western war camp. The exchanges which followed between Hal Draper, for Labor Action, and Silone, rehearsed the agonizing choices socialists made in these years.61 Silone argued the job of socialists was to struggle for peace from a position within the western military alliance, acting as a pressure for that alliance to be "democratic" and "purely defensive." Draper's response was to point out that imperialism can never be like that, that imperialism cannot politically fight totalitarianism, and that critical support for western imperialism is an abandonment of socialism as self-emancipation. Draper reminded Silone of his own 1939 interview with Clement Greenberg when he had spoken of the necessity of absolute political independence for socialists, even in the face of conflicts between bourgeois democracy and totalitarianism. Then, Silone had said:
When the socialists, with the best possible anti-fascist intentions, renounce their own program, put their own theories in moth balls, and accept the negative positions of conservative democracy, they think they are doing their bit in the struggle to crush fascism. Actually they leave to fascism the distinction of alone daring to bring forward in public certain problems thus driving into the fascists arms thousands of workers who will not accept the status quo.62
Draper points out that this is exactly the basis of the mass sentiment for the other totalitarian force, the Communist Parties of France and Italy, today. It is not a question of denying the superiority of capitalist democracy over totalitarianism. The Third Camp has nothing to do with that kind of moral and political insensibility. It is, rather, a question of refusing to draw the conclusion that political or military support is due to capitalist states. First, because socialism, a progressive anti-capitalist alternative, is possible now. Second, because, "[a]s long as and in proportion that the enemies of Stalinism base themselves on support of the capitalist alternative, Stalinism is bound to grow stronger and stronger."63 Silone wanted to defend human values and saw no alternative but to embrace, critically, the capitalist-imperialist west. But Draper asks, "what experience of recent life or history has persuaded you that this is where the bastions of human values are to be best defended?" The "escape to freedom" has no short cuts. There is no realistic alternative to the long haul of "seeking, finding and pursuing the revolutionary and democratic socialist way out of the shambles that has been made of this world by rival exploiters."64 Silone replied to Draper in abusive terms, mocking "little exasperated epigones of Lenin and Trotsky" and accused Draper of slandering Sidney Hook and the Italian Congress of Cultural Freedom.65 More seriously, Silone drew an analogy between the threat of Stalinism and the threat of Hitler. Both, if victorious, would have buried all political activity. To obstruct the fight against either, therefore, amounted to "collective suicide" and justified critical support for the enemy of both. In his rejoinder Draper accepted that bourgeois democracy and fascism could not be equated, and agreed the question was how best to fight totalitarian Stalinism. But just for that reason the independent Third Camp position should not be submerged for Stalinism "is able to win victories only insofar as it can convince its victims that the only realistic alternative to its own rule is the continued rule of the old discredited system of capitalism." But Silone was beyond reach. He had arrived at the same place as Koestler, Hook and Howe where "either-or" replaces "neither-nor."
Max Shachtman himself, in many ways the founding figure of the Third Camp, ended up at "either-or" during the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 when he made the case for the victory of the counter-revolutionary invasion.66 Shachtman was, said Draper, like the "sidewalk barker [who] pulls out the snake-oil while your head is still bobbing." A denunciation of Stalinism, in other words, was presented as if it were a justification of support for the invasion. The method, Draper pointed out, would have meant support for the U.S. in Korea, and was a "small working model" for support for the West in the war. Shachtman's method was to ignore the brute fact of the imperialist control over the invading force and to present them as a liberation movement because some trade unionists were involved, and to argue that liberation movements had every right to take arms from where they could. Draper points out it was not the "jejeune issue of take- arms-or-not" which mattered but the question of self-determination and "independence from imperialism," and this "Shachtman has abandoned."67 Draper reminded Shachtman that, whether in Spain or in Hungary, "We do not call upon our own imperialist government to send arms because we have no confidence in the progressiveness of its motives, its execution, its consequences, its politics."68 Second, with some prescience, he reminded Shachtman that in supporting the invasion he was repeating the same old self-destroying foreign policy of the Cold War and would push Castro to Stalinism. A democratic foreign policy for Cuba, Draper wrote during the missile crisis, would involve a commitment not to invade, the cessation of all arm- twisting and coercion, economic aid not sanctions, measures aimed to "drive a wedge between the Cuban people . . . and Moscow." But it was "pipedreaming" to expect JFK to pursue such political warfare for "The American Party Line mind is incapable of a democratic political offensive against the Communist power." A democratic foreign policy, as ever, would require a "different America."69
BUT, IF STALINISM WAS WINNING THE COLD WAR, according to the WP-ISL, how are we to explain its collapse in 1989? First, one can find in the writings of the Third Camp a clear analysis of the wracking contradictions of Stalinist society which were to lead to its stagnation and implosion. The Third Camp never viewed Stalinism as a progressive social system but as a "neo- barbaric relapse which feeds on the decay of capitalism as long as the working class has not unleashed its own forces to abolish it in favor of a real workers democracy."70 The fundamental contradiction peculiar to Stalinist society, Draper argued, derived from the absence of democracy in a statified society. This ensured a contradiction between the necessity of planning (the only other possible economic regulator, the capitalist market, having been abolished), and the impossibility of planning (the only possible basis of planning, democracy, having been abolished). I think that for Draper this was the "law of motion," the "dynamic" of the bureaucratic collectivist society: the repeated and doomed efforts of the ruling class to resolve the contradiction between planning and totalitarianism. The attempt to regulate a modern industrial economy by ukase produced only the "galloping disease" of chaos, of the "fantastic botches, gnarls, snags, wastes and snafus" as Draper put it.71 Only able to fight the disease of bureaucratism with more bureaucratic controls, production was kept up, for a time, by a combination of "fantastic expenditures of human labor, enslaved or virtually enslaved" and the looting and robbing of dependent satellites. Eventually these contradictions were too great and pressure of competition from the capitalist states was too pressing. Draper wrote, in 1967:
To denominate Stalinism as a social system does not confer on it any determinate lease of life, nor any historical era of existence. History does not give social systems any uniform term ( . . . ) Unlike any previous system, bureaucratic collectivism had hardly appeared on the scene before it was shaken by economic and political convulsions. The revolution against Stalinism did not have to remain a vision for a couple of hundred years, as was true of the revolution against capitalism. It appeared in life a little more than a couple of decades -- in Budapest, in East Germany, in Poland at least. (Draper, 144)
Analogies are always dangerous but one suggests itself here. The autonomized state of the 18th and 19th century eventually underwent what Draper calls a "social fusion" with the rising bourgeois economic power.72 And Georg Lukacs observed, about pre-capitalist societies, that despite the juridical fusion of economics and politics in such societies it was the "subterranean 'unconscious' economic development" which eventually "destroys the unity of the juridical form."73 Can the 1989 revolutions be understood in these terms as a form of "social fusion" of the Stalinist ruling classes with world capitalism under the intense pressure of "unconscious" global economic development which eventually destroyed the "juridical form" of bureaucratic collectivism? And if 1989 is to be viewed in that way, does it not place a question mark over the Third Camp view -- inherited from Trotsky, I think -- that capitalism as a mode of production was definitively finished, that collectivism was, as Shachtman said, "the only means whereby the means of production can be expanded" and so on? Was it not the dynamism of capitalism, its unanticipated recuperative powers, that saw off Stalinism and forced the messy "social fusion" of the Nomenklatura with world capitalism, which has necessarily destroyed the juridical form of the Stalinist societies?
THE RESULT OF TROTSKY'S "WORKERS STATE" THEORY and his notion of "proletarian economy" was that orthodox Trotskyists thereafter were left trying to reason within the terms of Trotsky's prior revolt against reason. They would project locums within locums endowing these with the qualities of the revolutionary proletariat. During and after World War II the Socialist Workers Party used Trotsky's theory of "proletarian economy" as a political compass with disastrous results. On September 12, 1942, readers of the Militant were told that in the Soviet Union, "factories, mines, mills, railroads, workshops belong to those who work them. The soil belongs to those who till it." On February 6, 1943, that "the self-sacrificing Russian workers were producing under socialist methods." On February 27, 1943, Felix Morrow argued that "The Red Army is fighting for a socialist Europe as well as a socialist Russia."74 Throughout 1944 the SWP theoretician John G. Wright, in the pages of the Militant, mapped a two camps view of the world in which the role of socialists was to be loyal critics of the progressive, objectively revolutionary camp of Stalinism. Stalinism was redefined as the blunt instrument of an Unfolding Historical Process. The post-Trotsky Trotskyists rediscovered the role vacated by the German dissident Communist Heinrich Brandler in the 1930s, the loyal critic of the bureaucracy. Max Shachtman was moved to comment that "the very fountainhead of Stalinist fiction is the official position of the SWP" in which "the appointment of slave-drivers over industry by the GPU equals . . . the proletarian revolution."75 The accuracy of Shachtman's apparently harsh judgment can be seen by an examination of Michael Löwy's account of the "proletarian socialist revolutions" of Tito, Mao and Ho. Löwy saw not Stalinist formations, embryos of the new exploitative ruling class, but, fantastically, parties which "acted as 'representatives' of the proletariat," nothing less than "the political and programmatic expression of the proletariat by virtue of their adherence to the historical interests of the working class (abolition of capitalism etc.)," parties whose "ideologies were proletarian."76 Hal Draper wrote in April 1948, in New International, that the orthodox Trotskyist, "who continues to claim that the Communist Party is a working-class party in spite of all for the reason that it directs its appeal to the working class or that it uses the working class as a base of operations" might be reminded of the lines from The Communist Manifesto in which Marx pours scorn on "feudal socialism" in which the Aristocracy "in order to rally the people to save them waves a proletarian alms bag in front of a banner."
Marx fully expected the proletariat to look past the alms bag, and seeing "on their hindquarters the old feudal coat of alms" desert "with loud and irreverent laughter."77 The tragedy of texts like Löwy's is that the bureaucracy's "proletarian alms bag" is theorized as "the political and programmatic expression of the proletariat" and not from ignorance but from a position of full knowledge of the barbarities written across its "hindquarters." Ernest Mandel for twenty years defined Mao's China as a "workers state" with no qualifications, argued that "the Chinese Communist Party . . . was striving to destroy capitalism and therefore represented a fundamentally proletarian social force."78 That it was also responsible for some of the worst barbarities of the 20th century such as the famine of 1958-1962 in which 30 million perished and a Gulag in some ways worse than Russia's was, for Mandel, not decisive. That it nationalized property was. Even Pol Pot's Kampuchea Mandel designated a workers state. Perry Anderson theorized the workers-state- as-barbarism, arguing, "The iron dictatorship exercised by the Stalinist police administrative apparatus over the Soviet proletariat was not incompatible with the preservation of the proletarian nature of the state itself -- any more than . . . the fascist dictatorship exercised over the bourgeois class were with the preservation of the nature of the capitalist state" (emphasis added).79Alan Woods, theoretician of the Militant Tendency, defending the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, could bracket out the national rights of the Afghans and the necessarily totalitarian dictatorship brought by the invaders, because, decisively, "the Russian bureaucracy is defending new, fundamentally progressive, social relations," i.e. nationalized property.80
From this perspective the idea of a Third Camp is dismissed as, once more, "illusory . . . in the face of the real world of political struggle by the late 1950s."81 Alan Wald argues that as independent nationalist movements were intertwined with Stalinism in the post-war world, the ISL demand that they "refuse assistance from their only available ally" was "unrealistic." But the Third Camp position was not that practical assistance be refused from any source, but rather that political independence should be maintained. This political independence was lost by the Fourth International definitively from 1948 when it engaged in what Natalia Trotsky called an "inexcusable idealization of the Titoist bureaucracy."82 The dispute between anti-Stalinist Marxists about the Third Camp turns upon a prior assessment of the class nature of the Soviet Union. Wald designates the Soviet Union as an "ally" of revolutionary movements, and maintains that the Soviet Union played an "important role" in the war because of the "economic and social advances that had occurred in the Soviet Union since Stalin's triumph."83 He feels the Stalinists proved in Eastern Europe and China and Cuba and Vietnam that they could create post-capitalist societies, progressive as against capitalism, to be supported against capitalism, albeit with "bureaucratic deformations." This recalls Trotsky's pre-1933 reform perspective.84 Looking at the same events the Third Camp saw a brutal imperialism engaged in exploiting revolutionary movements through political warfare and militarized Stalinist formations crystallizing into exploitative bureaucratic collectivist ruling classes.
THE PERSISTENT ILLUSION OF THE DEUTSCHERITE TRADITION was that the road to socialism lay through the self-reform of the Stalinist Bureaucracy. This illusion often led its believers to side with that Bureaucracy against unpredictable popular revolt from below, as with Deutscher's opposition to the East Berlin workers in 1953. The illusion burnt bright till the bitter end among many orthodox Trotskyists influenced by Deutscher. The post-war orthodox Trotskyists were actually Deutscherites, hankering after Trotsky's pre-1933 perspective that a Workers Russia could be reformed. Tariq Ali, who proudly claims to have been formed politically by "Isaac Deutscher, Leon Trotsky and Ernest Mandel (in that order)" dedicated his 1988 book, Revolution From Above to Boris Yeltsin, and claimed to have heard in Gorbachev no less than "the authentic voice of the cantankerous man in the British museum . . . echoing in the chambers of the Kremlin."85 The Third Camp, by contrast, understood that as the economic power of the Stalinist ruling class resided in its political monopoly, then "even such measures of popular political control as are possible under capitalism" were impossible as these would disintegrate the economic power of the ruling class. Capitalism, because of its disjunction between economic base and political superstructure, could exist with different political state forms, but Bureaucratic Collectivist society could not since, as Shachtman pointed out, "the introduction of political democracy of any meaningful sort automatically means the dissolution of economic exploitation." The political form of bureaucratic collectivism, said Draper, "is necessarily not only that of a dictatorship but also totalitarian (i.e. intolerant of any and all independent centers of power in the country) and not only oppressive but terroristic."86 Through the prism of its juridical illusion the orthodox Trotskyists saw anti-capitalism as progressive in and of itself, and as congealed in nationalized property. It was natural, therefore, to look to reform currents in the bureaucracy to bring into line a socialist base with an inappropriate political superstructure.
Such politically corrosive illusions were impossible for the adherent of bureaucratic collectivism as she rejected the idea at the heart of Trotsky's theory, that the bureaucracy was in wracking contradiction with the "proletarian economy," i.e. the nationalized property. This notion was, fantastically, retained by the orthodox even after the creation by Stalinist forces over a large part of the globe of replica "proletarian economy." In fact, as Draper made clear, "The police state is the superstructure that is not only appropriate to but required by an economy based on nationalized property owned by a bureaucratic class."87 The specific contradictions of bureaucratic collectivist society were shown to produce these illusory hopes in the "reforming bureaucracy." Draper pointed out that the bureaucracy was repeatedly forced to try and resolve the economic contradictions of totalitarianism through a "cycle of repression and relaxation." The bureaucracy tries to "escape the discipline of centralised authority" by liberalization, producing both the wave of illusion in its self-reforming capacity and the very popular energies which erode its own political and hence economic monopoly. The cycle is completed when the bureaucracy "finds it needs the whip for its own good."88
IN 1958 A VARIETY OF THIRD CAMP GROUPS, INCLUDING THE WP-ISL signed a statement titled "Stalinism is not Socialism!" But Hal Draper discovered that whether he looked at the educational dictatorships proposed by Babeuf, Buonarroti, Blanqui or Bakunin, the elitism of Saint-Simon, Lasalle or Bellamy, the philanthropy of Owen, Fourier or Cabet, the plannism of the Webbs, or the statism of Bernstein, it turned out that Stalinism had a strong claim to represent the dominant "soul" of socialism: collectivism without democracy. Socialism from below, he argued, was limited to a handful of figures such as the founders Karl Marx, the "democratic extremist," and Friedrich Engels, William Morris, Rosa Luxemburg, Eugene Debs, and, until the counter-revolution, the Bolshevik tradition. Such marginality has a social cause. Before the rise of the working class only the Octroyal principle -- the handing down of changes from above -- was imaginable, though there was a tradition of magnificent anticipators of the principle of self-emancipation such as Thomas Munzer, the leader of the revolutionary wing of the German Reformation and Gerrard Winstanley, the 17th century English revolutionary. Even in the epoch of the working class, non-revolutionary periods predominate when hopes for social change are dominated by Looking Up to The Powers That Be. The post-war world was dominated by two truly gargantuan Powers That Be, headquartered in Washington and Moscow, bestriding the globe like two colossi. The marginalized and dissident tradition of Independent Socialism in the U.S.A. steered a course between each by the creative development, in the conditions of its own time, of the historic alternative to the octroyal principle: self-emancipation and democratic internationalism. It would be false to claim that they were able to do more than make propaganda for the Third Camp, to renovate key theoretical ideas and provide a "fixed firm point" for a contemporary democratic internationalism. It was impossible to win popular social forces in this period. But we have much to learn from this history. In particular we can learn from the method of the Third Camp in our efforts to develop a democratic internationalism in the post-Cold War world.
The collapse of the Stalinist bloc has produced a "fluid world" in which "regional powers are more likely to take risks," the U.S. and its allies are relatively unconstrained in the brutality of their interventions to contain and defeat any attempt at regional expansion by sub-imperialist powers,89 and the implosion of multi-ethnic Stalinist states has unleashed a wave of nationalist struggles, often led by elites seeking to protect their privileges and derail worker solidarity amid economic turmoil. The sub-imperialisms are fully independent capitalist states. Many aspire to, or already exercise, a sub- imperialist role in their own region. But their political independence cannot, of course, win them economic independence in a global capitalist economy. Hierarchical relationships between competing capitalist states are inevitable and these have never been a reason for socialists to call on the working class to support the weaker capitalist state against the stronger in the wars which result. Such conflicts were largely "frozen" in the Cold War as each side submitted to the hegemony of the bloc leader, the U.S. or Russia. In the post-Communist world, sub-imperialisms are indeed taking risks and engaging in wars of competitive expansion as each tries to dominate neighbors, or even its region, as in Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, while ethnic nationalisms frozen during the Cold War are being rediscovered, often cynically by elites seeking to carve out, by ethnic cleansing and war, new nation states, as in the former Yugoslavia. In these wars the U.S. will intervene to contain the conflict, and to preserve and extend its own overarching hegemony within the capitalist state system. U.S. policy may be to stop any one sub-imperialism gaining a decisive advantage in a region, witness U.S. policy throughout the Iran-Iraq war, or to stop any sub-imperialism getting out of control and asserting its own independent interests without regard to Washington, as in the Gulf War of 1991. Such interventions are also used to pursue U.S. hegemony in Europe by establishing European reliance upon NATO and NATO hegemony globally.
In these post-Communist conflicts the Third Camp is established by a reasoned refusal of critical support for either anti-working class camp. Socialists oppose the camp of U.S. imperialism and the camp of semi-imperialist thugs such as Saddam Hussein or ethnic cleansers like Slobodan Milosevic pursuing his Greater Serbia over the bodies of the Kosovar people. But, just as in the Cold War-period this is not a politics of neutrality. The purpose of this double rejection is to clear the political space in which a positive alternative to both can be mapped: the Third Camp of Independent Socialism.
FIRST, THE THIRD CAMP WILL TODAY REFUSE CRITICAL SUPPORT to the likes of Saddam on the grounds that he is an "objective anti-imperialist" when his sub-imperial ambitions collide with the U.S. This truly tragic mistake involves treating economic inequalities between weaker and stronger capitals as a kind of proxy for the question of national self-determination. To do so is to invert the error made by Rosa Luxemburg. Lenin criticized Luxemburg for concluding from the impossibility of small nations being economically independent that the question of their political self-determination was irrelevant. The contemporary inversion of that error is to see in the economic dependence of politically independent sub- imperialist nations a ground for ascribing progressive and anti-imperialist qualities to their conflicts with the U.S.
There is absolutely no analogy to be drawn between the revolutionary nationalist struggles and wars of national liberation which Lenin urged socialists to support and wars between the U.S. and the sub-imperialist powers such as Iraq. Self-determination, said Lenin, "cannot, from a historico-economic point of view, have any other meaning than political self-determination, state independence, and the formation of a national state."90 There is no analogy between struggles for these ends and the efforts of sub-imperialist predators to expand their military might, territory and economic power. Lenin urged the working class to preserve its political independence but to support wars of national liberation because the workers had an interest in the positive political content of such wars: national self-determination, the clearing of the decks for the free development of the class struggle.
Once socialists eliminate the question of national self-determination then the road is clear to call upon the working class to forget its independent stance and take the side of every sub-imperialist dictator who ends up in a war with the U.S., or with a competitor sub-imperialism backed, for its own selfish strategic reasons, for now, by the U.S. Such conflicts do not involve questions of national liberation and political independence. The working class has no positive interest in these wars. The politics of which such wars are a continuation are reactionary on both sides. For socialists to side with the weaker power, and to call on the working class to fight and die in these wars, amounts to a loss of working class political independence, a submerging of the "firm fixed point" of the Third Camp.
To call such wars "anti-imperialist" is meaningless. "Anti-imperialism" today can only rationally mean national liberation. And the only rational meaning "anti- imperialism" can have in politically independent sub-imperialisms like Iran, Iraq, and Argentina is working class struggle against the native ruling class and the international capitalist system it stands in and for. The post Communist world cannot be reduced to a manichean struggle between "Imperialism" and "Anti-Imperialism." There is no "anti- imperialist camp" in which the working class merges its forces with General Galtieri, the Mullahs of Iran, the Serb chauvinism of Slobodan Milosevic or Islamic fundamentalist forces. The latter, especially, can indeed become a magnet for the poor and oppressed, as a reaction to Great Power imperialism, but so, in its day, could Stalinism. Socialists cancel themselves out if they support such forces in wars with the major powers when no question of national self-determination is involved. Revolutionary politics involves more than just putting a plus sign where the U.S. State Department puts a negative, to paraphrase Trotsky.
The idea that when a brutal sub-imperialist power such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq "takes risks" to advance its own power and revenues by invading a weaker bordering country, then socialists are obliged to call upon the working class to side with and support militarily that sub-imperialism, to be for its war, to die in its war, to kill in its war, is a long way from Lenin's approach. To confuse the national liberation struggles of yesterday with the sub-imperialist expansionary wars of today is fatal for the ability of socialists to fight for the political independence of the working class. The dangers were illustrated in the Iran-Iraq war. When the U.S. began to side with Iraq in the later stages of the war, helping to defeat Iran, some socialists argued that Iran's war was an "anti- imperialist" war and should be continued to victory. But this was a war which had been fought with human waves which matched the barbarism of the Somme. 100,000 were slaughtered in two futile attempts to take Basra. Chemical gas turned Kurdish villages into ghost towns. $35 billion of missiles and bombs rained down on Iraqi and Iranian workers. One million were killed. State militarization was entrenched and internal repression heightened on both sides. The politics of which this barbaric war was a continuation were clear: the war was being fought, on both sides, for the interests of the sub-imperialist Iranian and Iraqi ruling classes. Workers on both sides had no interest in its bloody continuation. In fact, as the socialist writer Mayam Poya pointed out, "The counter-revolution was pushed forward under the guise of Khomeni's phony anti- imperialism and consolidated with the development of the Gulf War . . . The war . . . provided the perfect cover for the regimes wiping out of any remnants of left-wing opposition."91
If "anti-imperialism" is defined as whatever, at any given moment, is in conflict with the U.S., then one's politics are defined negatively, but decisively, by the actions of the U.S. An independent working class judgement on events is impossible. Moreover, a socialist policy toward a war between two sub-imperialisms will be blown about with every tilt in U.S. containment strategy, and socialists end up rather like those leaves imagined by Wittgenstein which say, "Now I'll go this way . . . now I'll go that way" as the wind blows them. In fact the American raid deployment force had been in the Gulf from the start. The U.S. had armed Iran to the tune of $2.5 billion as well as arming Iraq. Indeed, in 1987 the U.S. increased Iran's military advantage over Iraq by funnelling arms through Israel. So, when the U.S. sent warships to the Gulf to prevent an Iranian victory this was a continuation of its policy of containment: avoiding a clear winner and a dominant regional power.
A PARALLEL REACTION AMONG MANY ON THE LEFT -- the so-called B52 Liberals or Stealth Socialists -- has been to look to the military power of the United States and NATO to police the globe in defense of human rights. This reaction is a reprise of the A.D.A. of the 1950s which, after condemning the latest "mistake" in U.S. foreign policy, would then call on the U.S. government to lead a social revolution in Asia. Hal Draper's reaction at the time -- "How naive is a liberal allowed to be?" -- must be ours today. The Third Camp will continue to be defined by the refusal, when resisting one reactionary social force, to place reliance upon another reactionary social force as a lesser evil. At the ISL 1957 convention, when Max Shachtman called for the U.S. to arm the Hungarian revolutionists, Draper led the successful opposition and wrote of the political meaning of the debate:
In brief, the point is not our attitude toward the revolution, but our attitude toward our own imperialist government. We cannot take political responsibility for any military intervention by this government, and therefore cannot raise as a demand that which we cannot support.92
The Third Camp during the Cold War indicted the A-Bomb as the enemy of the anti- Stalinist revolt and posed a democratic foreign policy and political warfare as the alternative. Today that approach means opposition to NATO bombing so that the Serbian people can oust Milosevic. NATO military power has damaged the political opposition to Milosevic. The veteran BBC correspondent, John Simpson, has been bullied by Tony Blair's spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, for telling some old Third Camp truths such as, "Every bomb that lands here strengthens Mr Milosevic." Simpson reported that the angriest Serbs are "the young twenty-somethings who speak English, admire Britain and the U.S., and have demonstrated against Milosevic in the past. They now feel utterly betrayed." Supporting NATO strengthens the efforts of the United States to extend its global hegemony often in the most barbaric forms. In its bombing campaign in Serbia NATO is using bombs tipped with depleted uranium (DU). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says if 50 tons of DU dust were released in Iraq it would kill half a million people of cancer. Perhaps as much as 700-900 tons of DU were used by NATO in the Gulf War. Leukemia has increased seven-fold in Iraq. Iraqi children have been born without eyes, limbs, genitalia. Felicity Arbuthnot, a journalist who has documented the effects of the DU in Iraq has written of "an epidemic of birth defects and cancers." The Third Camp critique of calls for "World Government," ripped out of the wider socialist program, remain valid today as a critique of widespread illusions about the United Nations. The task of socialists is not to indulge the fantasy that the UN is some kind of world-government in the making but to expose the hegemony of the Great Powers over it. Indeed the warning issued by the Third Camp in an earlier period, that the U.S. would only support that "world government" over which it exercised hegemony is, in the post-Communist world, of immediate and practical importance.
DESPITE THE MANY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO POSITIONS we have examined, those who support expansionary sub- imperialisms as "objectively anti-imperialist," and those who support U.S. imperialism and NATO as a bulwark of human rights employ a similar method. Both grant an objectively progressive role to reactionary forces, develop a defensism on that basis, and, consequently, lose the "firm fixed point" of the Third Camp: the political independence of the working class. The method was summed up by Hal Draper in the following terms: "our position on a given war is based on our analysis of the social and political character of the contestants, not on what they may do or how they may act, but on what they are." Draper characterized this as "the methodology of pro-war socialism," leading socialists to support any and every country in conflict with Stalinist totalitarianism because the latter was viewed as "such an overriding danger to all things good that any power that counters it must be supported."93 Is this not exactly the method which today leads some socialists to support the wars of sub-imperialist tyrants on the grounds that U.S. Imperialism is the "overriding danger"? The Third Camp was born resisting this pro-war method in 1939-40. Though Russia's invasions of Poland and Finland were a continuation of a reactionary political policy the Trotskyists supported Russia because it was supposedly socially preferable to its enemies. The alleged social nature of the regime was decisive for them. Draper regularly employed the following bald summary of the Third Camp methodology on the war question: "War is the continuation of politics by other, forceful, means. Our position on a concrete war is based on our position toward the politics of which it is the continuation."94 A concrete analysis of those politics will certainly take into account the social nature of the regime as one of the data and as establishing the boundaries of possibilities. The concrete analysis will determine which of these possibilities are present in this war and will be shaped by two overriding considerations, consistent political democracy and self-emancipation.
THE RIGHT OF NATIONS TO SELF-DETERMINATION IS PART AND PARCEL of the right of peoples to decide their own destiny. It is the external counterpart for the internal demand for democratic government and self- control. It is, as Dabat and Lorenzano put it, "a political claim of a democratic character which has nothing to do with economic or cultural nationalism"95 and it is as such that it remains an essential component of any Third Camp program. But the right to self-determination is meaningless without the right to secession and the right to armed self-defense. Lenin was clear that "when national oppression and national freedom make joint life absolutely intolerable [then] . . . .the interests of . . . the class struggle will be best served by secession."96 Lenin, of course, favored a free union between states in a socialist federation but reminded all socialists that, "a free union is a lying phrase without the right to secession."97 Moreover, the fact that Third Camp socialists refuse all reliance upon U.S. or British governments does not effect at all the right of an oppressed and resisting people, fighting for their liberation, to get arms where they can.
If socialists follow Trotsky's dictum that the oppressed are "not only the object but also the subject of politics," then they cannot oppose the arming of, for instance, the Kosovan resistance to Milosevic. For if the Kosovars are not to rely on NATO then the practical alternative is to rely upon themselves and to call upon their fellow workers in Serbia to defend the Kosovan right to self-defense and secession. And, to paraphrase Marx about English workers and the question of Irish independence, if the Serbian workers remain "tied to the leading strings" of Milosevic on the question of Kosovo then they will "never be able to do anything." While NATO bombing pushes all Serbs into the national front headed by Milosevic, a democratic foreign policy would aid the breaking of these strings by working with and strengthening the wide range of Serb opposition, trade union and civil society groups who issued an Appeal on April 6, 1999, emphasizing that "we have always raised our voices against the repression of the Kosovo Albanians" but that "NATO military intervention has undermined the results we have achieved." To take their emancipation into their own hands is the Kosovars's only alternative to NATO's subordination of the Kosovan resistance to NATO maneuvering for NATO hegemony in the region. The current bombing campaign was not intended to destroy but to preserve Milosevic as a junior partner to the U.S. in the region, by "bringing him to his senses." The U.S. is uninterested in the Kosovar refugees, as the military strategy makes clear each day, opposes an independent Kosovo, and will leave a displaced people in Gaza-like camps. If socialists oppose Kosovan reliance upon NATO then they cannot also oppose the Kosovan efforts to free themselves from reliance upon NATO, especially at a time when the Kosovars are being destroyed as a people, driven out and massacred. In this situation we might recall Lenin's comments that "whoever does not recognize and champion the equality of nations and does not fight against all national oppression and inequality is not a Marxist; he is not even a democrat" and that socialists only welcome that assimilation of nations "which is not founded on force or privilege."98 Socialists should champion an independent Kosovo.
JULIUS JACOBSON, IN 1986, IN THE FIRST ISSUE OF THE NEW SERIES OF New Politics, defended the Third Camp against the charge that it was built on nothing but delusion and piety by pointing to a living tradition of class consciousness, embodied in such movements as COSATU and Solidarnosc, to the vitality of the Peace Movements which escaped the control of either war camp, to the continuing instabilities and barbarities of capitalism and, presciently, to the fragility of totalitarian collectivism. The contemporary meaning of the Third Camp is the ever resurgent effort to bring into being a democratic socialist alternative to NATO and Milosevic.99 Sixty years ago Max Shachtman said the task of socialists was to "train and prepare" a third force that could "settle accounts with both" war camps. It still is.
Contents of No. 27