Friday, June 30, 2006

The "Third Camp" explained

There is a bit of an argument going on over at "Lenin's Tomb" (see link on the right), about the "Third Camp". For those of you who have no idea what the "Third Camp" is, a rough definition would be:

"We are socialists who will never support our own ruling class, in war or in any other matter: However, we also do not give automatic support to its enemies, because the enemies of our ruling class are sometimes *more* reactionary than they are: we do *not* subscribe to the doctine of "My enemy's enemy is my friend. We take an independent, pro-working-class stance".

The term "Third Camp" was first coined by Leon Trotsky in 1938, to make the point that the proletariat should not be required to choose between rival sections of the capitalist class (even when one of those sections was fascist), but should retain its independence.

Today's SWP - apologists for the anti-working class Iranian regime and Islamic fundamentalism in all its forms - now deny that they were *ever* "third camp": when it is pointed out to them that the 'Socialist Review' group in the 1950's adopted te slogan "Neither Washington nor Moscow, but International Socialism", today's SWP'ers claim - bizarrely- that that slogan wasn't "third camp", but meant something else in the context of the cold war.

So, finally, I offer this - published in "The Origins of the International Socialists" (pub: Pluto Press, 1971), texts prepared by Richard Kuper, and introduction by Duncan Hallas (both, then, leading members of the International Socialists: the group that in 1975 became the British SWP). It's about the issue that got Cliff and his supporters chucked out of the official Trotskyist "Fourth International": their (the Cliffites') neautrality on the Korean war:

"The War in Korea"

"The writer is one of the leaders of the Trotskyists in Ceylon. First printed in the 8 July 1950 isse of *Janata*, organ of the Socialist Party of India, this article was quoted in *Labour Action* on 11 September)

"V Karalasingham:

(Excerpt):..."If we are to support the decisions of the UN, then it is tantamount to an abandonment of the position we have hitherto taken on neutrality as between the two power blocs - a position that distinguishes us from all other currents in the left movement. Our Third Force position - 'Neither Western Capitalism nor Stalinist Totalitarianism' - demands that we lend no support to either camp in Korea. Instead our solidarity is with the Koreans in their struggle against both war camps and for national independence and democratic socialism".

"Published in *Socialist Review* 1/2 January 1951"

As a matter of fact, think Cliff and his suppoters were wrong about the Korean war: but don't anyone try to tell me that they weren't "third camp".

11 Comments:

Blogger morbo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:33 AM  
Blogger morbo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Jason S. said...

If they were really neutral, then were indeed wrong. Opposition to both sides -- which is what being Third Camp really means -- isn't neutrality.

3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the SWP is choosing "lesser evils" as allies against the "greater evil" of American imperialism, then does that mean they oppose the proletariat who are in conflict with the "lesser evil"? In the case of Iran, it certainly seems true that the SWP is at best indifferent and at worst antagonistic towards grass-roots movements engaged in a struggle against the regime. Certainly, there is a tendency to talk up the regime's supposedly democratic credentials and popularity - something that even their new-found ally Shirin Ebadi would dispute. It's a dangerous strategy, as well as a sell-out to reactionary opposition to American power. It also ignores the very real fact that Iran has a capitalist economic system and a ruling elite that chooses to guard its privilege and wealth through extreme violence. And don't forget that this wealth has come through Iranian alliances with Western multi-national corporations. Iran is not a socialist country nor does it pretend to be.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is this blog called "Shiraz Socialist"? Why the reference to the former capital of Persia?

3:59 PM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

It has something to do with wine.

5:18 PM  
Blogger morbo said...

"it certainly seems true that the SWP is at best indifferent and at worst antagonistic towards grass-roots movements engaged in a struggle against the regime"

"Iran is not a socialist country nor does it pretend to be."

"Today's SWP - apologists for the anti-working class Iranian regime and Islamic fundamentalism in all its forms"

When has the SWP ever said anything that you mentioned above?

7:46 AM  
Blogger Jim Denham said...

Morbo: the only difficulty is knowing where to start: have a look at SWP student wadical Mr ill-named "lenin"'s contributions on his own blog "The Tomb", or over at Dave's Part (the comments about H-T and also the CWU, for insrance. Or ask yourself why Socialist Worker justified the Taliban's treatment of women (protecting them from rape...) or why SWP members in union branches and trades councils routinely oppose motions crtical of the Iranian regime and supporting Iranian workers, or why SWP'er Linsay German was on Newsnight a week or so ago excusing and apparently trying to explain away Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be wiped out, or the electoral pact with the MAB, British wing of The Muslim Brotherhood, or..well how much more do you want?

1:40 PM  
Blogger morbo said...

Hey at least I don't have a soft spot for imperialism

3:06 PM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...

That doesn't really answer the point, Morby.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Clive said...

The slogan 'Neither Washington nor Moscow' was in any case first used by the Shachtman tendency in the US, and borrowed by Cliff, who was linked to them in the 1950s.

2:11 AM  

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