My friend Michael Hudson, a brilliant economist, was born into and
raised in Trotsky circles.  Below is some e-mail exchanges between us.


Dear Henry,
    My father lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. now. He goes swimming
everyday,  and works with my stepmother Mary as head of the Hemlock
Society, of which Mary is national VP. Dad drafts most of her letters
and writing, and keeps busy following economic affairs. My friend Gavin
MacFadyen is building a BBC special on American labor history around
Dad's reminiscences. (Dad was Gavin's mentor in the 1950s.)
    When I went to San Francisco to be an assistant theater director and
conductor in 1958, one of the few people to whom I had an introduction
was Hal Draper. He said they still had a warehouse full of my father's
pamphlets (under the party name of Jack Ranger, making me known at the
time as "the son
of the Lone Ranger"). I always thought he was one of the smartest men
around, and had a good view on the corruption of Stalinism. Through him
I became friends with Art Lipow and that crowd (but I never liked Bogden
Denitch, who was as much a blow-hard then as he is today).
    The letter on your list runs different time periods together in a
"timeless" political posture that doesn't reflect the shifting tactics
of the early 20th century. Lenin was referring to World War I. He
couldn't forgive Kautsky and the Social Democrats for voting for
Germany's war credits. After the war, Trotsky viewed Russia's task to be
to hold out until the "real" socialist revolution would occur in
Germany. Stalin ordered the Communists NOT to revolt in 1921, and again
in 1930-31, when the Communist Party had a
million members under arms, Stalin told them not to revolt and fight
against Hitler. By this act he duplicated his betrayal of the Chinese in
the Shanhai massacre when he told the Chinese Communists to back Chiang
kai-Chek. Max Shachtman and other Trotskyists concluded that there could
be no socialist
revolution until Russia was destroyed, so that the Communist ideal could
be pursued afresh, free of Stalinism. Stalin saw that revolution
anywhere else, especially in Germany but also in France or for that
matter China, would lead the eyes of the world to look to that nation
rather than Russia. Thus, Stalin
turned socialism into national socialism of a Russian chauvinist
variety.
    On the other hand - to get back to your query re "revolutionary
defeatism" - the Trotskyists now appeal mainly to the blacks and racial
minorities. They certainly DO want white culture to be defeated. I would
hardly call this position "revolutionary," however. It is merely
resentful and racist.
    Today, of course, nationalism is about the only way to protect
populations from globalism, so the political situation is far different
from that a half-century ago or after World War I.
    By World War II, the usual socialist position in America was that of
Charles Beard (Roosevelt and the Coming of the War), that Roosevelt
forced Japan into the war on economic grounds. By the Vietnam War, there
were mass protests as you know, and America did seem to be defeated,
until Japan and
England bailed out its balance of payments turning defeat into the new
Super Imperialism of inter-governmental finance capital.
    I'm afraid that the author of your letter is correct in judging that
American Trotskyites were so obsessed with their hatred of Stalinism
that they viewed Ho Chi Minh as a "surrogate" for Russia. Michael
Harrington followed Max Schachtman in banning any opposition to the
Vietnam War from the Socialist Challenge, the YPSL paper. As a result,
the youth league lost about 90% of its members, and the ranks of the
Socialist Party quickly emptied out too, leaving it as geriatric a group
as the georgists, Christian Scientists and relate sects. This is when I
(and also my father) broke from Max and his followers, who quickly moved
to the right-hand wall of the political spectrum.
    Pres. Johnson said that all he had to do to detooth anti-war
opposition was to start a little war in the Near East. This would get
all the Jewish anti-war advocates all in favor of defending Israel, and
Johnson could equate Israel with South Vietnam. (He was right, of
course, in that both were rotten politically to the core. Golda Maier
was not even permitted to speak at the world Social Democratic
conference.)  The Shachtmanites became the Neo-Conservatives, and that
is when Herman Kahn adopted them for his own
Zionist-militarist policies as intellectual patron saints of the Hudson
Institute. I was brought along as being the "griot," the rememberer of
all the stories the world socialist leaders had told me in the '40s and
'50s
about the history of the world socialist movement.
    I still give a speech every year at the Socialist Scholars'
Conference, mainly just to meet my old friends and let them know I'm
still alive. Most of them are more interested in literary criticism and
post-modernism now than they are in economics. But I guess you know
that.

    Michael

Michael Hudson wrote:

 Re (2), Trotsky was my godfather because my father was the intellectual
leader of the American Trotskyists (at that time the Socialist Workers
Party), and one of the Minneapolis 17, a political prisoner in 1941
under the Smith Act for advocating the overthrow of the government by
force and violence, an activity defined for prosecutorial purposes as
having the books of Marx and Lenin on one's bookshelf. Although an MBA
graduate from the Univ. of Minnesota, my father became a leader of the
Teamsters, believing Marx's erroneous view that the workers would act in
their own enlightened self interest to bring about socialism. I met the
surviving leaders of the Comintern when Lenin was in power, and many
German and Russian exiles when they came through Chicago (to which Dad
moved when he got out of jail), and became the griot ("rememberer") of
all the secrets and tactics they told me from childhood.
 Yet my father is still alive (91), still smarter than I am and with
better political judgment, although he got fed up with the Trotskyists
back in 1945.
 Max Schachtman became one of my mentors. Just last week, while cleaning
out my (flooded) bedroom, I found an old 1965 letter to me from Georg
Lukacs, so that was the environment in which I grew up as an outsider.
 Of course, the Neo-con movement also came from the Trotskyist movement,
but I wasn't Jewish and hence was saved from being a Zionist and then
being shunted into the military aggression of the rest of the Hudson
Institute.

>From Henry:
Michael

The following is from another list by someone I do not know.  I would
like your comments on it.

Henry


Subject: Revolutionary Defeatism

Revolutionary defeatism is a phrase from Lenin referring to the duty of
Marxists in imperialist countries to oppose the war efforts of  their
own governments (and thus in effect to encourage the defeat of
their countries' armies by their imperialist opponents, although the
actual slogans of the Soviet of Workers and Soldiers were "Turn the
guns around!" and "Turn the imperialist war into civil war!"; Lenin
used the term defiantly and provocatively, to stiffen his comrades'
resolve in the face of the Second International's collapse into national
patriotism).
Naturally revolutionary defeatists also hope for the rest of what Doug
wrote, but those points are beyond the usual meaning of the term. Hal
Draper as a Shachtmanite leader once wrote an article titled "The
Myth of Lenin's 'Revolutionary Defeatism'," which was a tortured
argument that Lenin didn't really mean it, that it would have been
contradictory for German workers to advocate the defeat of Germany;
British, the defeat of Britain; Russians, the defeat of Russia, and so
forth, as though those outcomes were
mutually exclusive of one another and of the revolutionary project.
Hal's real problem was his anti-Stalinist discomfort in calling for the
defeat of the U.S. in a hypothetical war with the USSR; his article was
a fundamental text for the Third Camp, shortly before the main Third
Camp leaders abandoned their pretense and declared themselves in support
of U.S. military conquests. As a consequence of Hal's tutelage, many
otherwise radical Third Campers had great difficulty in taking a
positive view of a Vietnamese victory over U.S. forces, because they
regarded both Ho Chi Minh and the NLF as surrogates of Soviet
"imperialism," against which they were holding out their Third Camp
alternative.




_______________________________________________
Leninist-International mailing list
[EMAIL PROTECTED]
To change your options or unsubscribe go to:
http://lists.wwpublish.com/mailman/listinfo/leninist-international

Reply via email to