Ben Hall Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

H.W. Benson


A Reply to Draper

(Summer 1958)

From The New International, Vol. XXIV No. 2–3, Spring–Summer 1958, p. 147.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Facts are facts and logic is logic; but there is still such difference of opinion on what they really are and, alas! so little time with this last issue of the New International for Comrade Draper or anyone else to go into it all. But Draper is determined to place himself on record and that is his right. Comrade Shachtman is away on vacation and so I would like to keep part of the record clear, too.

Draper meticulously places the word “repudiate” in quotation marks; an unwary reader might get the impression that this is a quotation from Shachtman’s article, or even a paraphrase of it. Nothing of the sort. There follows, similarly, the welcome news that Draper continues to defend the Russian Revolution of 1917 which, he presumably insists, Shachtman proposes to “repudiate.” Nothing to it. He must have read someone else’s article; or perhaps he is thinking of the article that Draper might have written if he were Shachtman and has contrived to fit the article to Draper’s letter. It is all a product of his own political imagination.

Lastly, there is the once-familiar charge that Shachtman’s article is a “transitional stage,” in “the reactionary climate” toward the evil theory that “Leninism ‘invites’ Stalinism.” This little bugaboo deserves a short comment before it is mercifully forgotten. As he himself reminds us, Draper wrote a long three-part article over almost a whole year of the New International criticizing Lenin; (were they “strictures”?). Draper has complete confidence in his own socialist integrity and is not disturbed. But if some outsider wanted to be nasty; or if he was determined to examine every word with a microscope so fine and so powerful that it picked up what was not even there, he could quickly discover a Draper “transitional stage” under the pressure of reaction and exult in heralding it to the world.

That method of argumentation was once common practice and it once effectively stultified thought. Even then, I recall, Draper was never one to be impressed by it. Now it has lost all power to frighten people. A fine time to decide to turn it against others!

Ben Hall Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 14 January 2020