Dog Days: James P. Cannon vs. Max Shachtman in the Communist League of America, 1931-1933

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More About This Book

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780963382887
  • Publisher: Spartacist Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Pages: 752

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2004

    Stagnation in Left Communist movement of the early 30's

    The 'dog days of the movement'- that's how founding American Communist and Trotskyist leader Cannon described the early 30's. This book sheds new light on the history of Trotskyism, that is, authentic communism, by documenting the factional polarization that the Communist League of America (CLA)underwent during this period of stagnation. The '31-'33 fight pitted Cannon and his supporters against the generally younger followers of Max Shactman who were less experienced in workers struggle. The dispute presaged the defining '39-'40 split in American Trotskyism. In the later fight Shactman, bowing to the anti-Communist hysteria that accompanied the Hitler-Stalin pact, rejected unconditional military defense of the world's first workers state, the Soviet Union. Shachtman's defection was the first step on the road that led him, by the early '60's, to the open embrace of U.S. imperialism. Leon Trotsky and Cannon led the '39-'40 struggle against Shachtman and his followers. In '31-'33 the fight erupted when Shachtman opposed Cannon's attempt to put the CLA on record against trade-union opportunism in the French Trotskyist organization and against the unprincipled maneuvers of the would-be German Trotskyist leader Kurt Landau. During this time Trotsky sought to separate the genuine revolutionaries in the International Left Oppostition (ILO) from ulrtaleftist, centrist, and cliquist elements, as well as any Stalinist agents. As CLA representative to the ILO, Shachtman coddled many of Trotsky's opponents. This book includes Trotsky's powerful letters to Shachtman - some published for the first time - on formative political disputes in the French, German, and Spanish ILO sections. Shachtman soon capitulated to Trotsky on the international issues, but the fight in the American Communist League escalated, fed by personal frictions and grievances going back to '29. Subjects of dispute included Leninist methods of party organization, the potential role of the Soviet Red Army in a proletarian offensive to beat back Hitlers's ascension to power, and the CLA's work in the Progressive Miners union.

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