The Invading Socialist Society. C L R James and Raya Dunayevskaya 1947

Preface to the 2nd Edition

C.L.R. James

This pamphlet by the Johnson-Forest Tendency was published in 1947. The Johnson-Forest Tendency was a grouping in the Trotskyist movement which split off from the Socialist Workers Party in 1940 and went with what became the Workers Party. However, inside the Workers Party, the movement found it necessary to clarify its positions, not only against the empirical and eclectic jumps of Max Shachtman; we found it imperative to clarify our positions against those of Trotsky, positions which the Socialist Workers Party was repeating with ritual emphasis. It was in the course of doing this that in 1947 we published The Invading Socialist Society. But precisely our serious attitude to the fundamentals of Marxism led us to leave the happy-go-lucky improvizations of the Workers Party, and in 1948, to return to the Socialist Workers Party. This brief explanation will serve to place the document historically, and also to explain to the reader, the many polemical references to contemporary Marxist wraiths such as Shachtman, Muniz, and one who wrote under the now-forgot-ten name of Germain.

The reader can safely ignore or not bother himself about the details of these polemics, because The Invading Socialist Society is one of the key documents, in fact, in my opinion it is the fundamental document, of the Johnson-Forest Tendency, among the increasing number of its documents circulating under the heading of “Facing Reality.”

Why do we consider this document so important for the comprehension of contemporary politics as to be worth reprinting? And so necessary for the understanding of the Marxist movement? The reason is as follows: it was in this document that for the first time we broke with the Trotskyist doctrine that the Stalinist parties were mere “tools of the Kremlin.” As far as we know this was not only central to the Trotskyist doctrine but was universally held by the majority of Marxists and political analysts of the period.

The analysis of Stalinism and the Stalinist parties dominated Marxist thought of that period. What we said was that the Stalinist parties were not “tools of the Kremlin,” but were an organic product of the mode of capitalism at this stage. Briefly to summarize the argument: the capitalistic monopolists could no longer control and direct capitalism and the working class. By this time, the Second International was utterly discredited and could no longer perform this function. The situation was ripe for the revolutionary party to lead the revolting workers. But this the Stalinist parties could not and would not do. By this time they had been innoculated with the doctrine that socialism consisted of the nationalization of private property. The idea that the emancipation of the proletariat would only be the work of the proletariat itself had been sternly repressed. Yet the bankruptcy of each national bourgeoisie was obvious. Each Stalinist party, therefore, aiming at power in its own country, supported the Moscow bureaucracy, waiting for the moment when the Red Army, militarily, and the nationalized economy, productively, would defeat the bourgeois state and open the way to Stalinist power.

That is the reason for the emphatic print in which we stated the political conclusions that we drew (page 53).

I. It is the task of the Fourth International to drive as dear a line between bourgeois nationalization and proletarian nationalization as the revolutionary Third International drove between bourgeois democracy and proletarian democracy.

II. The strategic orientation is the unification of proletarian struggle on an international scale as exemplified in the struggle for the Socialist United States of Europe.

The Johnson-Forest Tendency, becoming “Facing Reality,” and finding the necessity of reprinting document after early document. reprints The Invading Socialist Society (a phrase we adopted from Engels) with particular awareness that for those who wish to understand the developments among the anti-Stalinist political Marxists, this is the place to begin.

It took us many years of hard work to arrive once more at the conclusion that:

The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that deter-mines their consciousness.” (Preface to The Critique of Political Economy by Karl Marx.)