Best & worst writings by Trotsky or Trotskyists

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syndicalist
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Feb 14 2013 18:11
Best & worst writings by Trotsky or Trotskyists

Just curious, since folks talk about marxism here, just curious what, if any, are folks best & worst writings by Trotsky or Trotskyists?

Links, of course, welcomed.

syndicalist
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Feb 15 2013 06:23

Nada, nothing?

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Entdinglichung
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Feb 15 2013 10:39

try some stuff by Michael Löwy: Morning Star: Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia or Redemption and Utopia: Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe : a Study in Elective Affinity

worst: e.g. Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life by Paul Feldman and Corinna Lotz (Foreword by Ken Livingstone) or Pierre Foulan's "Introduction into the Study of Marxism" (not available in English)

S. Artesian
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Feb 15 2013 13:53

BEST:
Leon Trotsky, Results and Prospects, History of the Russian Revolution
Harold Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution
Felix Morrow Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain
Abram Leon The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation

syndicalist
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Feb 15 2013 16:36

Thanks folks....keep em rolling. Appreciate your time and consideration.

syndicalist
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Feb 15 2013 16:37

dup. post.

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Entdinglichung
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Feb 15 2013 16:56

by the old man himself: Our Political Tasks (1904), his take on Lenin's What is to be done and One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back, a text, most contemporary orthodox Trotskyists simply ignore ... and as usual, the best can be found at the fringes and in less orthodox traditions who went "beyond Trotskyism"

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ocelot
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Feb 15 2013 18:05

Totally agree re Our Political Tasks, you can see why the elder Trotsky renounced its radical critique of Leninist susbtitutionism:

Quote:
LONG LIVE THE SELF-ACTIVITY OF THE PROLETARIAT!

DOWN WITH POLITICAL SUBSTITUTIONALISM!

By giving a detailed exposition of different examples it has been my intention to draw attention to the difference in principle which separates two opposing methods of work. And this difference, in essence, is decisive, if we are to define the character of all work carried out by our Party. In the one case we have a party which thinks for the proletariat, which substitutes itself politically for it, and in the other we have a party which politically educates and mobilises the proletariat to exercise rational pressure on the will of all political groups and parties. These two systems give objectively quite different results.
[...]
The system of political substitutionism, exactly like the system of simplification of the “Economists,” proceeds – consciously or not – from a false and “sophistical” understanding of the relationship between the objective interests of the proletariat and its consciousness. Marxism teaches that the interests of the proletariat are determined by the objective conditions of its existence. These interests are so powerful and so inescapable that they finally oblige the proletariat to allow them into the realm of its consciousness, that is, to make the attainment of its objective interests and its subjective concern. Between these two factors – the objective fact of its class interest and its subjective consciousness – lies the realm inherent in life, that of clashes and blows, mistakes and disillusionment, vicissitudes and defeats. The tactical farsightedness of the Party of the proletariat is located entirely between these two factors and consists of shortening and easing the road from one to the other.

The class interests of the proletariat – independently of the present political conjuncture “in general” and, in particular, of the level of consciousness of the working masses at a given moment – can nonetheless only exert pressure on this conjuncture via the consciousness of the proletariat. In other words, in the political reckoning, the Party cannot count on the objective interest of the proletariat which are brought out by theory, but only on the conscious organised will of the proletariat.

Leaving aside the “prehistoric,” sectarian circle period which every Social Democratic Party goes through and in which its methods are much closer to educational utopian socialism than to political revolutionary socialism, in which it knows only socialist pedagogy, but not yet political tactics; if one considers a Party already past this infantile period, the essentials of its political work are expressed, in our opinion, in the following outline: the Party bases itself on the given level of consciousness of the proletariat; it will involve itself in every important political event by making an effort to orient the general direction towards the immediate interests of the proletariat, and, what is still more important, by making an effort to imbed itself in the proletariat by raising the level of consciousness, to base itself on this level and use it for this dual purpose. Decisive victory will come the day we overcome the distance separating the objective interests of the proletariat from its subjective consciousness, when, to be more concrete, such an important section of the proletariat will have gained an understanding of its objective of social revolution, that it will be powerful enough to remove from its path, by its own politically organised strength, every counter-revolutionary obstacle.

The greater the distance separating the objective and subjective factors, that is, the weaker the political culture of the proletariat, the more naturally there appear in the Party those “methods” which, in one form or another, only show a kind of passivity in the face of the colossal difficulties of the task incumbent upon us. The political abdication of the “Economists,” like the “political substitutionism” of their opposites, are nothing but an attempt by the young Social Democratic Party to “cheat” history.

Dannny
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Feb 15 2013 19:01

Would defo second Michael Löwy, I always enjoy reading him. I like Esther Leslie's stuff too.

A Trot tract I was recommended on here is Mary Low and Juan Brea's account of their time in Spain during the revolution, Red Spanish Notebook, which is fascinating and beautifully written.
http://www.marxists.org/history/spain/writers/low-brea/red_spanish_noteb...

syndicalist
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Feb 16 2013 00:26
Quote:
[S. Artesian]BEST:

Felix Morrow Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain

I read this one many years ago. At the same time I also read Art Pries "Labor's Giant Step".

syndicalist
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Feb 16 2013 00:35
Entdinglichung wrote:
by the old man himself: Our Political Tasks (1904), his take on Lenin's What is to be done and One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back, a text, most contemporary orthodox Trotskyists simply ignore ... and as usual, the best can be found at the fringes and in less orthodox traditions who went "beyond Trotskyism"

Thanks for the reminder about this one....yeah, I think it's like 30 years since I skimmed this one. Gonna re-read. I can see where the issue of trust between Trostsky and some of the other bolsheviks harken back to.

AnarchoStalinist
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Feb 16 2013 01:25

Trotskyism seems heavily influenced by liberalism, parliamentary democratism, trade unionism, reformism, Fabianism, and has somewhat Jacobin international tendencies.
I have some regard for trade unions, but I am suspicious or opposed to the rest of those.

S. Artesian
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Feb 16 2013 03:23

^^^WTF^^ best and worst writings

syndicalist
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Feb 16 2013 04:04
S. Artesian wrote:
^^^WTF^^ best and worst writings

Sorry, I don't understand. Is my question unclear? I realize I'm not the best writer.

S. Artesian
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Feb 16 2013 05:23

No, that wasn't in reference to your question, but rather anarchoStalinist's "response."

Harrison
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Feb 16 2013 08:58

I found it worthwhile reading his writings on the unions and polemics against syndicalists, in disagreement.

I find trotsky's writing style a strange mix of rational inquiry and then unsupported assertions. He'll string together a quite well thought out analysis with complete conjecture or analogy, turning it into a point in his argument. Its clear that he's not writing in a genuine inquiry/discourse, but in political rhetoric masked in fake discourse.

Perhaps it sounds persuasive when read out on a soap box, but otherwise it just comes across like it is written for the naive. I've read far more persuasive texts on the unions from a variety of positions and sources, so its weird that trotsky's postions were so influential, and makes me think that throughout the history of the workers movement it has never been the case that the most intelligent and correct ideas automatically win.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1933/09/unions-britain.htm
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1940/xx/tu.htm
http://marxists.anu.edu.au/archive/trotsky/works/britain/ch07.htm
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/unions/3-commsyn.htm

syndicalist
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Feb 16 2013 19:19
S. Artesian wrote:
No, that wasn't in reference to your question, but rather anarchoStalinist's "response."

Got it.

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Feb 21 2013 11:18

additionally, there are quite a lot of scholars from Trotskyist backgrounds who produce(d) good stuff, e.g. historians like Charles Post, Stephanie Coontz, Alan Wald, Erwin Ackerknecht (probably one of the most important writers on the history of medicine of the 20th century), Baruch Hirson, Perry Anderson, Luis Vitale, etc., stuff on critical psychoanalysis by Helmut Dahmer; some of the writings on economy by Mandel, Rosdolsky, Kidron, Wolf, etc. ... and there is of course Franz Jakubowski

p.s.: would be interesting to know, if Pannekoek and Jean van Heijenoort ever have crossed swords outside politics, on matters like astronomy and mathematics

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Feb 18 2013 14:04

Harry Braveman's Labor & Monopoly Capital is pretty good. It's basically a history of the reorganisation of labour from around ~1880 to ~1970, runs parallel to a lot of operaismo, of which it was a contemporary, and although not coming to the same political conclusions (Braverman was apparently a "Cochranite", although I'm buggered if I know what that means) has a lot to contribute to that sort of outlook. The primary shortcomings are that, given that it dates to the early '70s, Braveman has relatively little to say about, and doesn't address outsourcing at all, although I don't think that in either case what we've seen in the last thirty years would fundamentally alter his analysis (and in fact I think would largely confirm it).

(Also, I've just realised that we don't appear to have this in the library, so I should probably upload it.)

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Feb 18 2013 15:17
Tim Finnegan wrote:
Harry Braveman's a "Cochranite"

pejorative term by the orthodox Trotskyists (the "Cannonites") for the Socialist Union of America, 1953-59, some of their texts here

Quote:
A dissident tendency had begun to crystallize within the SWPs Michigan/Ohio District around 1948-1949led by Bert Cochran. It included the SWP fractions within the UAW locals in Flint and Detroit, Michigan, as well as Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio; the fractions in the United Rubber Workers in Akron, led by Jules Geller; and a group around Harry Braverman within the United Steelworkers in Youngstown. This tendency was beginning to have grave doubts about the sectarian nature of the SWP, and felt that the concepts of democratic centralism and the vanguard party were out of place in the context of the United States in 1950s. They did not believe that capitalism was heading for a revolutionary crisis, and felt that a socialist educational group for propaganda among the workers was more appropriate at that point than a vanguard party. They also believed in making alliances with the Communists within the CIO unions to fight against expulsions, and that Communists and fellow travelers should be the primary area of recruitment, especially as many were becoming disillusioned with Stalinism.

p.s., one of their central texts: Prospects of American radicalism

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Feb 22 2013 15:01
Tim Finnegan wrote:
Harry Braveman's Labor & Monopoly Capital ...

(Also, I've just realised that we don't appear to have this in the library, so I should probably upload it.)

someone already put it online: http://www.scribd.com/doc/40068506/Labor-and-Monopoly-Capitalism

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Feb 22 2013 15:10

If Rosdolsky counts as a Trotskyist, then definitely his The Making of Marx's Capital.

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Feb 22 2013 16:03

he didn't liked the term and called himself a "Marxist" (without adjectives, etc. wink) ... he was at least involved in Trotskyist groups up to 1939 but never joined any org after the war

syndicalist
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Feb 22 2013 16:54
Tim Finnegan wrote:
Harry Braveman's Labor & Monopoly Capital

This was a "popular" and "must read" book. I dunno, 1970s, as I somehow recall lots of folks I knew reading it or refering to it. It's one of those "dust collector" books I seem to have on my shelves.

syndicalist
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Feb 22 2013 23:30

Jules Geller: he proposed (to the SWP) a united front with the CP in the Rubber Workers against the right wing who were begining their post-WWII purges. His opinion was first the right-wing would come after the CP, then the SWP. This suggestion didn't fly.

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Jun 9 2014 08:24

the first year of the "Cochranite" American Socialist (1954) now completely online at MIA: http://marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/amersocialist/american_sociali...

fnbrilll
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Jun 9 2014 17:41

"Not Automatic" about Genora Dollinger. Dollinger was one of the women who founded the Woman's Committee during the Flint Sit down strike. Very well written after her death by her husband, Sol. Great story, lots of political discussion of how CP, SP, Trots, IWW and Proletarians all worked together and their part in the whole.

And as importantly, how the women of Flint joined together to support the Sit Down and how they helped win the strike.

I think this is also the place where one of the most inspiring labor stories I know. About the black worker who snuck into the sit down and refused to leave. He wasn't GM but was supportive of the sit down. No other blacks there. He sat down and wouldn't leave the sit down. He began to make friends and gain acceptance and used his precense to explain to the sit downers the conditions black workers faced. When the strike ended this worker was chosen to lead the parade.

It's critical of the Trot "industrial line" but also gives credit where credit is due.

fnbrilll
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Jun 9 2014 17:45

Burt Cochran started off in MESA [see the Libcom history files] and almost destroyed it taking a good chuck of workers into the UAW. Then started regretting it in the 1950s.

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Jun 9 2014 17:56

on another note...

Leon Trotsky: Literature and Revolution

Quote:
Ashtrays made of skulls are inconvenient and unhygienic.

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Jun 10 2014 08:49
fnbrilll wrote:
Dollinger was one of the women who founded the Woman's Committee during the Flint Sit down strike.

Striking Flint: Genora (Johnson) Dollinger Remembers the 1936-37 General Motors Sit-Down Strike ... as told to Susan Rosenthal (1981)

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Jul 24 2019 12:17
Entdinglichung wrote:

worst: e.g. Gerry Healy: A Revolutionary Life by Paul Feldman and Corinna Lotz (Foreword by Ken Livingstone) or Pierre Foulan's "Introduction into the Study of Marxism" (not available in English)

now online: https://archive.org/details/gerryhealyarevolutionarylife