The "Third Camp" explained

June 30, 2006 at 10:41 pm (Jim D, SWP)

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 doctrine 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 supporters were wrong about the Korean war: but don’t anyone try to tell me that they weren’t “third camp”.

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