Max Shachtman, Hal Draper and the anarchists

This is rather belated, but Radical Archives has published something very important to my topic, an appreciation of Hal Draper’s analysis of Stalinism in a 1956 New York anarchist publication. RA sets the context:

View and Comments was published by the anarchist Libertarian Labor League in New York City. The cover of #13 also features an ad for a “May Day Meeting” at the Libertarian Center in New York, which was billed as featuring “Speakers from the following organizations: Independent Socialist League, Industrial Workers of the World, Libertarian League, Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista, Young Socialist League and the War Resisters League.”

Little attention has been paid to the intersection between post-Trotskyist Schachtmanite Marxism and anarchism. The evolution of certain “Left Schachmanites” paralleled the evolution of other thinkers who originated in Trotskyism but moved to a libertarian socialist position. This trend was represented by groups such as the Johnson-Forrest Tendency (which included C.L.R. James, Grace Lee Boggs and Raya Dunayevskaya), Socialism ou Barbarie (which included Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort and Jean-François Lyotard) and Solidarity (UK)  – as well as individual theorists such as Dwight Macdonald, Murray Bookchin and Daniel Guerin. Other non-Trotskyist Marxists were also moving towards anarchism, including Fredy Perlman and the Situationist International.

The majority of the ISL eventually entered the Socialist Party of America. However, some members (including Hal Draper) disagreed with this move, and later formed the Independent Socialist Clubs, which then became the Independent Socialists (IS). The Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) split off IS in 1973. Over the years, the RSL became increasingly anti-Leninist as members moved towards anarchism, and it dissolved in 1991. Later, on the same day, a number of former members co-founded Love and Rage with a group of anarchists, in particular the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League. In 1993 Love and Rage split between those who favored a network and those who favored a more centralized apparatus (which included the RSL members), and the later became the Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation (LRRAF). A couple RSL members, including writer Wayne Price, passed through LRRAF and later entered the North Eastern Federation Of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC).

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  1. thanks Poumista. I hope to expand this into an article in the near future, including a more in-depth account of the RSL/ISL split. I will also be reproducing the RSL program shortly on my site.

    Another interesting element about the Schachmanite/anarchist intersection is the move of the ‘Left Turn’ grouping towards anarchism. They came out of the u.s. ISO (the sister party of the u.k. SWP) – which had in turn emerged from the IS. In 2001, the ‘Left Turn’ faction was expelled from the ISO and entered the anti-globalization movement, close to anarchism. As the ISO was expelled from the IST, their international, for their failure to be sufficiently entryist in regards to the anti-globalization movement, Left Turn took the IST’s u.s. affiliation. They held it until 2003, when they decided they were not going to constitute a M-L vanguard party. (LT members have been known to deny this, but see Alex Callinicos’s letter on this matter, reproduced on various sites.)

    Of course, ‘Left Turn’s’ politics – while they are decentralized – bare very little resemblance to anarchism intellectually. They are openly pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah, along with the usual uncritical support of national liberation movements that one sees so often in “leaderless leninist” groups. The influence of Pabloism and related notions developed in the Trostyist milieu seems quite strong here, as opposed to the critique of authoritarianism that developed out of the RSL.

  2. Thanks RA. I find this fascinating, so await more with great interest!

  3. I updated my original post now (ie that you copied) with the info on Left Turn.

  4. btw.: other groups which came out of the ISL/ISC/IS in the states were/are Workers Power which became in 1985 one of the founding components of Solidarity and the LRP-COFI around the late Sy Landy which split somewhere in the 70ies from the RSL and is still alive … and there is of course the journal “New Politics”

  5. Thanks for this. I’ll post more on this at some point!

  6. Quite a number of differing groups came out of the IS/ISL/ISC. I mentioned RSL and Left Turn because they were the ones directly affiliated with the US anarchist milieu. As for the groups Entdinglichung mention, only Solidarity is seen as a something that anarchist groups (usu workerist) might work with. In general, i think the Third Campist politics of ‘New Politics’ are largely compatible with anarchism, but my experiences with board members led me to believe that they are uncomfortable with this idea, and see themselves as part of the marxist/social democratic milieu.

  7. […] und im Download-Archiv … Poumista befasst sich mit dem Verhältnis zwischen der ISL um Shachtman und Draper mit AnarchistInnen und weist auf weitere Archivalien […]

  8. Just for the record, Love and Rage was founded and the RSL dissolved in November 1989, not 1991. The RSL held a brief meeting to dissolve itself just prior to the Love and Rage founding conference in Chicago. There were, IIRC 20 RSL members in attendance at the dissolution meeting, half of whom participated in founding L&R.

    It should be noted that a number of the non-RSL founding members of L&R were influenced by the work of CLR James via the Sojourner Truth Organization which none of us were members of but which had a considerable influence on several of us. For a brief period Noel Ignatiev would join L&R.

  9. yes, 1989, that was silly of me, thank you; i have corrected this on my site.

    however, i am not a sympathiser to the Allen/Ignatiev critique. and the fact that recently Ignatiev has chosen to print Israel Shamir in ‘Race Traitor’ has not given me any greater respect for his project.

    the Break the Ruckus group around Joel Olson is the outgrowth of this tendency in LRRAF. But i still think ‘Soy Not Oi!’ is the best thing Olson ever did.

  10. Thanks for this.

    Related links:
    Sojourner Truth Org archive: http://www.sojournertruth.net/main.html
    The archivist’s blog: http://sojournertruth.blogsome.com/

    Love & Rage and anarchism:
    https://poumista.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/anarchism-versus-leninism/

  11. btw the RSL program is now up:

    http://radicalarchives.org/2010/04/30/rsl-program/

  12. The article was originally penned by Sam Wiener (Sam Dologoff). I know he was unclear as to what to make of Love and Rage.

  13. hi Syndicalist, what’s your source that Dolgoff wrote it? although i don’t doubt you’re right, it’s unsigned in the original.

    • I knew Sam for many years and immediately recognized his writing style and verbage. OK, not very scientific, I realize.

  14. […] Max Shachtman, Hal Draper and the anarchists […]


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