Some Critical Notes on the Fetishism of the Party, or: Why I am Not a Trotskyist

The proliferation of the micro-party in the West is a subject many times examined, and I would not pretend to say too much that is original about it. Already Hal Draper wrote much on this subject, the libertarian communist tradition has had various critiques, and there has moreover been a very considerable literature of self-examination and party histories among the micro-parties in different countries. The majority of this last literature both concerns and is produced by the Trotskyists, and it is they who have by far the largest proliferation and attach the greatest importance to the multiplicity of such micro-party structures; moreover, in some respects these formations themselves seem to follow from Trotskyist thought more organically than they do from other currents. This is not to say that this phenomenon is wholly unique to Trotskyism, as there have been various Maoist, ‘anti-revisionist’ and other micro-parties as well, often demonstrating the same essential weaknesses.

But it is in Trotskyism that it has the greatest focus of attention, and since the fall of the USSR it is Trotskyism that has numerically and politically the greatest support in most Western countries among the whole spectrum of independent Marxist groupings and associations (therefore not counting Marxists inside social-democratic formations). For this reason, it is particularly important to make a few critical notes about the persistent weaknesses of this political current in its practice, in order to mark out a clear difference of method and viewpoint on my part, as well as to invite some more productive reflection than the usual. Of course, as always with such critiques, whoever fits the shoe should put it on – my aim is not a personal nor a specific attack on this or that organization as such, but to point out what I see as some persistent trends many or most have in common, and which to me appear as unhelpful or even destructive. So what I shall write about Trotskyism in general here may be applied wherever it fits best. Continue reading “Some Critical Notes on the Fetishism of the Party, or: Why I am Not a Trotskyist”

Edward Hallett Carr on History and Revolution

This is a transcript of an interview with the famous British historian E.H. Carr as done by New Left Review in the year 1978, under the title “The Left Today”. Carr, one of the early serious specialists in Russian and Soviet history (a little outdated now but still very useful and readable) was at the time 86 years old. Although he was never a Communist, he clearly identified with the political left, and spent much of his academic efforts combating conservative and liberal (Whiggish) historiography. Nonetheless, for a significant of his career he was not an academic, but worked at the Foreign Office, and later as assistant editor of The Times, neither of which are exactly known for being left-wing. This gave him a broad and nonsectarian perspective on events. Continue reading “Edward Hallett Carr on History and Revolution”