Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Pabloism: A Serious Biographical Sketch of Michel Raptis.

with 6 comments


We are often asked about Pabloism (well not very often but it has happened). Well the Pablo is one, of many, party names of a revolutionary usually called Michel Raptis. The most reviled Trotskyist of the post-war period, the father of lies, liquidationism, and revisionism of all stripes and spots.  With this in mind it is no surprise that Tendance Coatesy, as with many other leftists, owes a political and ideological debt to this outstanding individual.

There is more. Hearing that his principal orthodox Trotskyist enemies were Gerry Healy, Pierre Lambert and James Cannon – all po-faced right-wing authoritarians – one cannot but help but like Pablo.

Then there are heavyweight political and ideological reasons to be interested in Pablo, and the Tendency around him (which, if it ever was, was certainly not reducible to his personality). For an introduction, Wikipedia here. More texts are beginning to appear on the Marxist Internet Archive – here. These help give some portrait for anyone interested –  to make their own minds up, not rely on worn-out judgements on ‘Pabloism’.

But  the best biographical introduction to Michel Raptis: on the Lubitz Trotskyanet –  here  The account cannot be cut and pasted so go to the – extremely useful – site.

Lubitz effectively debunks a host of myths about Pabloism. The biography outlines the complex early period of his political life – including important episodes – such as the Second World War and his participation in the Algerian Revolution – where documentation is of necessity not always easily available. The rows in the Fourth International – – in the 1950s – between the figures cited above and Pablo and Mandel – are given fair attention. The article covers the later politics of the Tendance Marxist Révolutionnaire (TMR), and wider aspects of the later period of Pablo’s political career – the primacy of self-management. There is a solid bibliography. In short, the highest standards are met.

 This provides a window into how the TMR embraced the project of a ‘self-managed’ republic, took up themes such as feminism, supported anticolonial revolutions (without neglecting as their consequences unravelled, the necessary critique of ‘anti-imperialist’ national bourgeoisies), and defended democratic politics against Stalinism and orthodox Trotskyism.

By the 1980s the TNR, which operated on a collegiate rather than a ‘Leader’ basis (and numbered outstanding figures such as Maurice Najman), had returned to some position of influence. It helped keep alive the ideas of workers’ control during the political triumph of neo-liberalism. This heritage continues. Not to mention its close relations with modern movements, that place ecological issues within the context of popular control. Those influenced by these ideas are today active in the French ‘alternatifs’, left social- republicanism, and the (left-wing of) the  Front de Gauche. As well as in other countries where the TMR’s impact was wider than its formal membership.

For its contemporary relevance then this sketch of a biography  is therefore highly recommended.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 6, 2010 at 11:56 am

Posted in Left, Marxism, Trotskyism

Tagged with ,

6 Responses

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  1. Well, that was worth a look, and there’s plenty of old Pablo material that should really be made available. As a bit of an old Marcyite, Raptis is not really my cup of tea, but he’s interesting all right.

    Have you seen the biography of van Heijenoort? That would be well worth a review.


    March 6, 2010 at 6:20 pm

  2. A Marcyite eh. Even more exotic – in Europe – than a Pabloite!

    How new is this biography of the interesting figure of van Heijenoort (who I only really know about from referring the name to the same Trotskyanet)?

    I seem to be wending my way to Revolutionary History…

    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  3. There could be worse places to end up. This would be the book I was thinking of.


    March 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm

  4. It’s always a good idea to get the spelling and name of your hero right, I feel.

    Otherwise, it looks like a silly pose.

    Lobby Ludd

    March 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm

  5. […] from Coatesy: towards a reassessment of Michel Raptis and Pabloism, and on crusty feudal Tariq Ali’s historical illiteracy when it comes to French […]

    Ish « Poumista

    March 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  6. […] in Tito’s Yugoslavia (the cause of his 1948 break with Stalinism) and then out of Michael Raptis’ development of the Titoist model within the context of […]

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