Centrism

I’ve had this comment at the back of my mind for a while, to do something with, but am not sure what to. It’s Andrew Coates, here. Hyperlinks are added:

If Bob you’d wish to define me it’s through what the Trotksyists call ‘centrism‘. Put simply it’s democratic Marxism. Its origins are in Austro-Marxism, Pivertism, the POUM, [Henk] Sneevliet, the left of the ILP – the 2 and a half International, the London Bureau. After the war this current flowed back into mainstream socialist and labour parties. But it re-emerged in the late 1960s.

During the 1970s when I was in the IMG I worked closely with members of the Portuguese MES in a campaign of solidarity with the Carnation Revolution.

In the 1980s I was a member and on the Parisian Co-Ordination of the Federation pour une Gauche Alternative. This involved the PSU, the AMR - Pabloites – the CCA and various alternatives.

At the turn of the decade I was on the steering committee of the Socialist Society for some years. leading memebrs such as Hilary Wainwright and Richard Kuper are related to this tradition.

Amongst the left publications I write for Chartist consciously defines itself in terms of this ‘centrist’ tradition.

The latest issue of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation‘s journal, The Spokesman, carries a number of articles celeberating the life of Ken Coates (including mine). Ken was also a ‘centrist’.

Although the emphases vary, this is broadly the tradition Poumista is aligned to.

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Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s worth noting, for this is the way in which the term is often used, that the word ‘centrism’s has a perjorative definition as well. It’s also used to denote socialist currents who vacilate between reform and revolution, using the terminology of one while practicising the other.

    While it’s overused in it’s pejorative sense I do think this is a useful way to understand much of the Marxism of the Second International.

  2. Thanks Duncan. I am aware of its pejorative use, and I really like Andrew C’s attempt to reverse that. It always seemed to that the classic critique of reformism (e.g. Luxemburg) was correct, but that there was an equally valid Marxist critique of “revolutionism” that needed to be made.

  3. [...] politics draw on four or five distinct political traditions, including anarchism, left communism, centrist Marxism, Trotskyism, and democratic socialism. That last tradition is the tradition of Eugene Debs, Norman [...]

  4. [...] protests. He makes excellent points. I was thinking about the long history of the relationship of centrist Marxism to anarchism, of which Keir Hardie‘s defence of the anarchists at the formation of the Second [...]

  5. [...] Previously: Defining the centrist tradition. [...]


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