"He also wrote what are perhaps his best-known works of non-fiction: World Revolution (1937), a history of the rise and fall of the Communist International, which was critically praised by Leon Trotsky
"In 1936, James and his Trotskyist Marxist Group left the Independent Labour Party to form an open party. In 1938, this new group took part in several mergers to form the Revolutionary Socialist League. The RSL was a highly factionalised organisation. When James was invited to tour the United States by the leadership of the Socialist Workers' Party, then the US section of the Fourth International, to facilitate its work among black workers, John Archer encouraged him to leave in the hope of removing a rival
"By 1940, he had begun to doubt Trotsky's view of the Soviet Union as a degenerated worckers state. He left the SWP along with Max Shachtman, who formed the Workers' Party (WP). Within the WP, James formed the Johnson-Forest Tendency with Raya Dunayevskaya (his pseudonym was Johnson and Dunayevskaya's was Forest) and Grace Lee (later Grace Lee Boggs) to spread their views within the new party
By the end of the Second World War, they had definitively rejected Trotsky's theory of Russia as a degenerated workers' state. Instead, they classified it as state capitalist, a political evolution shared by other Trotskyists of their generation, most notably Tony Cliff. Unlike Cliff, the Johnson-Forest Tendency was focusing increasingly on the liberation movements of oppressed minorities, a theoretical development already visible in James's thought in his 1939 discussions with Trotsky. Such liberation struggles came to take centre stage for the Johnson-Forest Tendency.
in 1947, the Johnson-Forest Tendency joined the SWP, which it regarded as more proletarian than the WP.
James would still describe himself as a Leninist despite his rejection of Vladimir Lenin's conception of the vanguard role of the revolutionary party. He argued for socialists to support the emerging black nationalist movements. By 1949, James rejected the idea of a vanguard party. This led the Johnson-Forest Tendency to leave the Trotskyist movement and rename itself the Correspondence Publishing Committee.
In 1955 after James had left for England, about half the membership of the Committee withdrew, under the leadership of Raya Dunayevskaya, to form a separate tendency of Marxist-humanism and found the organization News and Letters Committees. Whether Dunayevskaya's faction had constituted a majority or a minority in the Correspondence Publishing Committee remains a matter of dispute. Historian Kent Worcester claims that Dunayevskaya's supporters formed a majority, but Martin Glaberman claims in New Politics that the faction loyal to James had a majority.
The Committee split again in 1962, as Grace Lee Boggs and James Boggs, two key activists, left to pursue a more Third Worldist approach. The remaining Johnsonites, including leading member Martin Glaberman, reconstituted themselves as Facing Reality. James advised the group from Great Britain until it dissolved in 1970, against his urging"
C.L.R. James is essentially a black nationalist.
C L R JamesEdit
World Revolution 1917-1936
The Rise and Fall of the Communist InternationalEdit
No Proletarian revolution can succeed without a revolutionary party of the proletariat. No party can succeed without a strong centralised discipline, an International without centralism is no International at all.
with the development of the bureaucracy the democracy dropped completely out of centralism. From the Russian party it spread to the whole International. Centralism which helped to create the International helped to ruin it.
Late in 1915 another group finally split off from the German party and voted against the war-credits. Its leaders were Kautsky and Bernstein, whose return to Marxism consisted in their being now "against the war," but nothing more. Later the Spartacists although they knew Kautsky and Bernstein and the vacillating centrist nature of these Independent Social Democrats, entered the new party, a mistake that was to have disastrous consequences.
The premature insurrection of the Spartacists had deprived the revolutionary proletariat of vigorous leadership.
Lenin fought stubbornly for the word "majority," for without the sympathy at least of the majority of workers, there can be no successful proletarian revolution.
(Comment: that's exactly what's wrong with Che Guevara's concept of a revolution.)
it is necessary to understand thoroughly the tactic of the United Front, which is fundamental to any understanding of the history of Communist revolutions after 1923. Misunderstanding of it was at the root of the failure in Germany in 1923, in China in 1925-27, and, most catastrophic of all, in Germany in 1929-1933. It is being shamefully abused to-day. Yet it remains a basic tactic for any revolutionary Socialist Party. Without a thorough realisation of all its dangers, the party that attempts it will be lost in a swamp of opportunism. On the other hand, without it there can be no success
In December, 1921, the theses on the United Front were finally agreed upon, and in the Fourth Congress, held in November, 1922, they were amplified by a careful consideration of how far entry of a Communist Party into a workers' government could be contemplated. It was decided that a Liberal Labour government such as was likely to be formed in Britain in the near future (the MacDonald government came in 1924) was a capitalist government. A Social Democratic government, such as the German Ebert government, was the same. Communists could under no circumstances take part in these governments but should ruthlessly expose them.
Comment: a modern theory of world revolution must be preceded by an examination of major revolutionary situations up to date, the role played by various parties in the crisis, and the appraisal of the outcome.
The Ruhr crisis of 1923 (an attempt by the French to invade Germany to collect reparations (coal) by force:
The savings of the middle classes vanished, and the working-class was reduced to a depth of deprivation and misery beyond anything they had suffered during the war. The workers in the Ruhr district took matters into their own hands with mass strikes, organised a militia, disarmed the Fascist bands, fixed prices in the local markets, punished profiteers, and in fact exercised political power in large areas.
The German Communist Party called for a demonstration on July 29, Anti-Fascist day. Cuno prohibited the demonstration. The left-wing of the Communist Party demanded "the conquest of the streets." Brandler and his majority called the demonstration off–a criminal mistake as the whole of Germany was able to see before a fortnight. On July 29, 150,000 workers assembled at the meetings of the Communist Party in Berlin, expecting the party to act. The Communist Party did nothing. Cuno declared a state of siege; the workers refused to obey. They seized motor-trucks and drove out into the country to the peasants to get supplies of food which was running short. The Communist Party seemed paralysed; Moscow gave no lead. Then in the second week of August the mass movement boiled over and a general strike brought down the Cuno Government. Had the Communist Party challenged the Government on Anti-Fascist day, a fortnight before, they could not have failed, and whatever its ultimate fate the German Revolution would have begun.
Brandler, faithful to his misunderstanding of the United Front, could not see that when at last Social Democratic workers turn to a Communist Party it is for action, and negotiations then with Social Democratic leaders, however "left," will gain nothing and may lose everything. He continued with his agitation for a Workers' Government
To-day, Trotskyists and Stalinists (all except Brandler and his followers) agree that the finest of postwar revolutionary situations was missed in 1923. The roots of the failure were in Moscow, not in Berlin
the dependence on the centre created a body of leaders who looked always to Moscow and were incapable of independent appraisal and action
Comment: causes of the defeat in Germany in 1923 were not examined in the Third International. This implies that after every failure there should be a commission to examine its causes, just like after an airplane catastrophe.