Marxist Bulletin No 3 Part II

Party and Class




A Statement on the Pre-Convention Discussion by the Reorganized Minority Tendency

(reprinted from SWP Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 27, June 1963)

Why the Factional Attack?

Our political tendency has produced two major documents in preparation for this pre-convention discussion: ‘Decline of American Imperialism and the Tasks of the SWP’ and ‘The Rebuilding of the Fourth International.’ These documents present the main outlines of the political line that we wish the party to adopt both in its approach to the American scene and to the problems of the international movement. In essence our material calls for a return to a revolutionary outlook which relies upon the proletariat as the only truly revolutionary class in modern society, which sees the need of our international movement to become the leadership of the proletariat, and which today seeks to deepen the roots of our cadres in the class itself.

The response of the majority leadership to our political proposals has been a wholesale and uncontrolled factional attack of such a nature as our movement has never seen. No serious answers are put forward to our political criticisms--only heated factional attacks on the members of our tendency, their nefarious pasts, their bad writing styles, etc., etc. Everything is done to confuse and obscure our political positions, and an atmosphere is being created where serious discussion of any issue is made all but impossible.

Perhaps if the majority leadership felt that our group threatened to seize control of the party nationally one could understand the intensity of the factional attack. But all the comrades know this is absurd. Ours is a very small group which represents no threat whatsoever organizationally to the party nationally or in any local. All we have is our political ideas and a bare scattering of people who support them. Certainly considering the strength of our group, the action of the national party leadership to perpetrate a deep factional crisis in the party seems unreal, irrational.

Then why the attack? Why the intense heat, the personal acrimony, the vicious polemic? We can only conclude that it is that one strength we do have, our political ideas, which is cutting too deep into the central weakness of the majority, its political confusion. This is the only logical conclusion we can reach. Thus the factional reaction of the majority leadership to the presentation of our political point of view tends to substantiate our own analysis of the party --that today it is in a serious crisis because of its political confusion and its partial isolation from the mass movement.

What is it that we want?

Comrade Kerry and others have suggested that our main reason for existence is to criticize or attack Cuba. But then why do we seem to be going to such lengths to avoid centering the discussion on Cuba if this is what is ‘bugging’ us? Comrade Dobbs thinks perhaps after all we are Cochranites as well as Shachtmanites, Marcyites and Johnsonites and are out to dump our election campaigns. Then why have our comrades worked so hard and dedicatedly in all party election campaigns? No, we are for election campaigns. We want them deepened by directing them towards the working class and Negro people. Comrade Dobbs then goes on to suggest that we agree ‘on only one thing--the party leadership should be removed and they or at least the slickest of them should take the helm.’ But this is not our position. We do not wish to dump anybody. All we want is a discussion on our political point of view. Along the same lines is Comrade Dobbs’ suggestion that we wish to fight the ‘bureaucratic jungle.’ We do not consider the party a bureaucratic jungle nor are we interested in organizing battles against the leadership. We have sought, to the best of our ability, to assiduously avoid such battles, and have disassociated ourselves from those interested in such a course.

We are interested in none of these things. We urge all those comrades who really wish to discover what we really want to turn to our own political material and read what we propose for the line of the party. This is one place where the party majority leadership seems most reluctant to look to discover what we advocate.

We have important differences around three central questions before the convention. Primary, for some time has been the international question. It is our opinion that the party majority has gone over to the essential method and outlook of Pabloism on the international plane. The Pabloite outlook seeks to substitute reliance upon petty bourgeois forces--such as the Stalinist parties, centrist groups, and ‘sui-generis jacobins’ in the colonial areas--for the struggle of the proletariat itself under Marxist leadership in the revolutionary process. This outlook of Pabloism is reflected at different times in different ways but always the one force the Pabloites never really rely upon is the working class. Thus we have seen an erosion of the role of the party and the working class in the international outlook of the majority under the influence of the Pabloites. (For a summary of our views on this question see our resolution ‘The Rebuilding of the Fourth International’.)

This outlook has also begun to cut deeply into the domestic perspective of the party. This process has not gone anywhere near as far as the erosion of the international outlook of the party and thus the party is a very different organization than the little petty bourgeois Pabloite groups in Europe. But in many ways this partial erosion of the party’s American revolutionary perspective is more serious, and should cause greater concern to the rank and file, than the erosion of its international outlook. It is the relationship of a party to the struggles of the class in its own country which is the real ‘acid test’ of any revolutionary group.

Our differences on this level are expressed most sharply in the counterposition of our resolution on the American question with that of the majority’s. The majority resolution contains much good material. Like our document, it recognizes the turn in the objective situation in the United States, which after years of deep isolation, now opens up for our party serious possibilities of fruitful work in the mass movement. However, the majority draws no new conclusions from this as far as the orientation of party work is concerned. Instead they propose a ‘general propaganda offensive’--the same proposal which they presented in the middle of the deepest McCarthyite reaction. Thus the majority, while recognizing the turn in the objective situation, proposes no real turn in party work. But it is precisely in deepening the roots of our party in the class, that is becoming part of the class, that our party can be revitalized after 15 years of isolation when, through no fault of our own, our precious proletarian cadres were seriously depleted. It is our conviction that it has been this partial isolation of the party from the class which has prepared the party for its present retreat to the Pabloite revisionism it fought so hard against ten years ago.

The majority leadership not only does not accept our proposal for a serious turn in party work in the direction of the mass movement but it attacks us factionally for raising this proposal and caricatures what we have to say by calling us ‘whirling dervishes.’ It seems our document is asking too much of our overworked forces. It is too much to expect the locals to make work in the trade unions central to our work and at the same time give work in the Negro movement (and among the Spanish minorities where they exist) an important place in party work. If one views the mass movement as a whole from a class perspective then the problem is not so difficult. Our work in the Negro movement and among Puerto Ricans and Mexicans can be immeasurably strengthened by developing our roots in the trade unions and within the trade unions establishing relations with militant Negroes or other minority peoples. Thus our work in the class becomes an important link for our work in the mass movement as a whole.

The problem is not a matter of the smallness of the size of our cadre but rather how this cadre is utilized. Today our cadre devotes its greatest efforts to ‘party building’ work far removed from the masses and to work in petty bourgeois circles. Can we be complacent about the situation in the party when in the New York Local only one comrade has any real connections with the Negro movement? It is no accident that this comrade is a trade unionist and is dissatisfied with the direction of current party work. We are afraid, comrades, that this is no time to run a holding operation. The objective situation compels us to do more.

Our differences on the Negro question are closely linked with our differences on the American question as a whole. In the first place we doubt if the party will seriously turn towards real intervention in depth in the Negro movement when it maintains an outlook of limiting our approach to the mass movement as a whole to a ‘general propaganda offensive.’ We feel we must do more in the Negro movement than ‘propagandize’. Secondly, we feel the resolution is deficient because it does not give proper emphasis to Southern work. We are convinced a small beginning can be made in Southern work by some of our younger cadres without seriously weakening our work among Northern Negroes or our work in general. Finally, while correctly assessing the progressive aspects of the growing nationalist sentiment among the Negro people, the resolution fails to see a need for working class leadership of the Negro movement itself. Rather many comrades are now putting forward the concept that the present petty bourgeois Negro leadership will be ‘impelled’ to go over to socialism and thus will not need replacing at all. This is a deep distortion of our theory of the permanent revolution which sees national struggles going over into socialist struggles only under proletarian leadership. Thus we see in the concrete how revisionism on the international level eats away at the American perspective of the party. If there is no need for a new proletarian Negro leadership--in program and composition--then there is no role in the Negro movement for our party and its leadership as the most advanced section of the working class, Negro and white.

We can therefore see how the majority, beginning with a decay of the role of class and party internationally under Pabloite influence today, sees no need for a serious turn towards the class in its party building work nor a real role for class and party in the Negro struggle. It is this erosion of the role of class and party which necessitated the formation of our political tendency. It is this class struggle outlook that today we are fighting for. It is this which motivates us--it is this which is our essence. We feel close to all comrades who agree even partially on these two critical questions. We have nothing in common with all those who totally reject this outlook, regardless of their position on more abstract questions. Thus we will bloc with anyone who favors this outlook and we will fight politically anyone who deserts it. This is the principled and sole basis for all our political relations within the party and internationally.

The Split with the Robertson Group

The majority comrades have challenged us to explain the basis for our split with the Robertson group. Of course the rank and file comrades have a right to know why this split occurred and what were the political questions which brought it about. Our tendency is an open political group and all its actions are based on political considerations. We are not interested in conspiracies or games of any kind. We feel the situation within the party is too grave to permit anything but the most serious, objective and political relations between all party members. In fact we feel there may be some value, some lessons the party rank and file can learn from our experiences; from, frankly speaking, our serious difficulties. This is especially true because the split within our tendency was caused by the very same kind of political considerations which necessitated the formation of a tendency to begin with--the questions of party and class. Perhaps the comrades can get some deeper insight into these two critical questions by studying the extremely difficult crisis our tendency passed through.

The crisis within our tendency was precipitated by a single event in New York and then spread to involve a number of related issues. A minority comrade, Judy McGill, had a trade union difference with the party branch. When the branch voted against her position, she walked out of the party. Some in our tendency supported her desertion from the party and others expressed sympathy for her action. This created a dangerous situation within the tendency and raised the questions as to whether or not the tendency members fully understood the assessment of the party we made in our basic platform ‘For a Revolutionary Perspective.’ This document reaffirmed our loyal support to the party and our conviction that the party as a whole could be won over to a correct political perspective precisely through a process of its healthy growth. Thus minority comrades should be the most dedicated builders of the party and have the conviction that the working class cadres of the party could and would be won over to our ideas. In order to clarify matters Comrade Wohlforth submitted a memorandum to the tendency ‘On Orientation’ last May which reaffirmed these points and condemned any concept of taking the discipline of the party lightly (See Appendix 1) [see Marxist Bulletin No.2].

This statement precipitated a deep internal crisis in our tendency which lasted from May until November when it was resolved through the reorganization of the tendency around a new statement on the question (See Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 10) [Marxist Bulletin No. 3-I, page 23]. It became clear to us that a section of our tendency had simply written off the party as a whole without a serious struggle to reorient over a period of time the best working class cadres of the party. In addition they displayed no serious interest in the work of our party in the mass movement and instead sought to retreat into a comfortable ‘study circle’. And finally their evolution seemed at that time to be propelling them rapidly in the direction of a split from the party. The appended material ‘Towards the Working Class’ by Comrade Wohlforth and a letter to Comrade Wohlforth from Comrade Philips should explain clearly the way we viewed the differences within the tendency at that time (see Appendix 2 and 3) [see Marxist Bulletin No. 2].

Thus it appeared to us that a section of our tendency had no real understanding of the question of party and class. They wrote off the party as it existed in reality in this country, gave it the back of their hand, and substituted for the party their own little circle. They displayed not the slightest real interest in reaching the working class either through the party, or since they had written the party off, then on their own. Thus having turned their backs on both party and class, they were, in our opinion, a petty bourgeois tendency. Despite their formal agreement with us on a number of questions it was clear to us that there was no principled basis for further collaboration with them as long as they persisted on their course. Even though it meant the loss of half of our minority we had no other course open to us but to reorganize the tendency on a sound basis of a real understanding in the concrete of the importance of party and class. Even if we had to reorganize out of the tendency 99 per cent of the tendency we would have done so if there was no longer any principled basis for collaboration. There is no other course that principled people can take.

Following the split we devoted our efforts to positive party building work and later to the preparation of our political material for the pre-convention discussion as well. We had presented to the National Committee our own statement explaining where we stood and we expected that the Robertson group would make their own position clear to the party. They never did this. But we wished no further factional conflict with the Robertson group and hoped that our action would have an impact on them and that they would reconsider their course in time.

A number of individuals who refused to sign our reorganizational statement did leave the party in the interim--four comrades who signed the Robertson statement on Cuba and two comrades who refused to sign either statement. But the bulk of the Robertson tendency seemed to pull back from a split course. This to us was a welcome sign and it opened up the possibility that these comrades would reconsider their whole approach towards the party and the class. We did our best in the New York local to keep factional pressure off them and were very much opposed to the factional attacks the majority leadership leveled against them. We felt then, as we feel now, these comrades should be dealt with politically and not organizationally and every effort should be made to integrate them in party work and to assist them to learn from their mistakes.

In fact with the publication of our convention material we sent these comrades a letter soliciting their opinion of our material to see if the passage of time had led to any possible politica1 collaboration between the tendencies. We were not too optimistic about the sort of answer we would get because, while the Robertson group seemed to have pulled back from a split course, there had been no indication in the preceding period of a serious attempt on the part of these comrades to break out of their little circle existence to become a real part of the party, and to relate themselves to any party work in the mass movement. In fact the group in New York seemed to be interested in the City College and Columbia campus community and little else. The main proposal for local party work presented by these comrades since the split in the tendency was a special orientation towards the Maoist Progressive Labor group, also largely rooted on the campuses.

We never formally received an answer to our letter from the Robertson group. However, in the interim the Robertson group has made its position clear on our fundamental resolution on the American question by rejecting support to this resolution in favor of amending the PC Draft Resolution. This is an important political step especially considering that this group’s general approach to the pre-convention period has been to vote against everything the majority presents as a matter of principle, almost. While this amendment, like the resolution it is amending, pays lip service to the need for more work in the mass movement, it does not oppose the main orientation of the majority which is simply to continue ‘propaganda work.’ Thus it clearly rejects our proposal for a serious turn in party work making mass work our central task.

The importance of this basic difference we have with the Robertson group can be seen from the following statement made by Robertson in the first draft of an answer to our letter to them--an answer we never formally received. Robertson states:

“We see one essential defect in your convention material. It is common and basic to both your American and International resolution. This erroneous outlook is expressed clearly and briefly in two places. It is found in Section 3 of your International draft and in point 1 of the Philips amendment at the last plenum. This amendment was endorsed and appended to your American resolution. We do not believe that the way to combat the revisionists’ surrender of a strategic perspective of proletarian revolution is by counterposing a demand for the Trotskyists to undertake (everywhere and with forces no matter how small!) immediate agitational struggles of the working masses. This is a call which perhaps corresponds to felt inner-factional needs but which lacks reality. Your posing of our immediate task in every country as ‘the conquest of the masses’ creates an enormous discrepancy between this declared task and our means. It is a slide into a sectarianism which tends to cut the movement off from opportunities as they are--witness your indifference bordering on hostility toward developing an approach to the ‘Progressive Labor’ left breakaway from the American CP. Thus you did not support our memorandum on the ‘P.L.’ group. The general, but not sole or universal, perspective which the present world juncture demands, in our opinion, is one which places major emphasis on propagandistic work toward the crystallization of Trotskyist cadres. Today in most parts of the world our task is to lay down the foundations for revolutionary parties, not to pretend they already exist and declare ‘they’ should struggle for hegemony over the mass movement.”

It is clear from the above that Robertson sees his differences with us on this score as ‘essential’ and not a minor matter. But what are the views which Comrade Robertson thinks are so bad?

Point 1 of the concluding section of the Philips amendment simply stated,

“The party and its press must take a conscious turn towards the main arena of our work, the politically unawakened workers of the mass production industries.”

If our main organ is not to be written so that it can be understood by workers, then who should it be written for? We can only conclude that Robertson wants the Militant written for the people he is working among--petty bourgeois radicals and students. We feel that the ISR should be able to amply fill this need and our main organ should be written so that working class and Negro militants can understand it for it is precisely the workers and minority peoples who we wish our party to seek to reach.

Section 8 of our International Resolution reads as follows:

“While the concrete analysis and tasks will differ widely from country to country, certain general tasks will be necessary everywhere. We must understand that this is a transitional period to a new period of upsurge rather than being either a period of the ‘organic expansion’ of capitalism or of renewed revolutionary upsurge. Thus our tasks remain essentially preparatory in nature. Or to pose it in its classic form, our task now is not the conquest of state power but the conquest of the masses in preparation for the conquest of state power. Everywhere and in all countries our cadres must break away from the routine habits of propaganda group existence and reach out, no matter how meagre our forces may be, to establish contact with the masses themselves on whatever political level this can be done. This must be the main orientation of the whole international movement and the major task of each national section. Those sections which do not attempt such work will quickly find themselves bypassed by developments during the period of revolutionary upsurge.”

Clearly this section does not suggest that our small forces should expect to achieve hegemony over the mass in the coming period--only that we should strive in that direction rather than seek hegemony over petty bourgeois radical circles as some of the majority are advocating. And what concretely do we propose? To ‘seek to establish contact with the masses themselves on whatever political level this can be done.’ We can only conclude that it is this proposal which Comrade Robertson is rejecting.

We are afraid that Comrade Robertson does not understand in the slightest what the entire national and international struggle is all about. He does not view our propaganda work and party building work as intimately linked with our work to increase our influence in the class itself. Rather he seems to subscribe to the view of the most disoriented among the majority that today we must concentrate on ‘the crystallization of Trotskyist cadres’ far removed from the masses and later on we are to present ourselves to these masses as their chosen leaders. Such an outlook is a truly sectarian one for it is sectarian towards the class itself. No matter how ‘orthodox’ comrades may be, they will not be able to seriously contribute to the rebuilding of our international movement as long as they continue to see the building of our cadres as a process essentially isolated from the class itself. Those rank and file comrades of the majority, confused as they may be on the international question, who seek in some fashion to root the party in the class have a better understanding of the real task of rebuilding our movement than these comrades have.

We can only conclude from this whole experience that the Robertson group is not seriously interested in, or capable of, assisting the process of reorienting our movement here or internationally and that our collaboration with these comrades in a political struggle against the majority is out of the question. The group in a light minded way has written off the party as ‘right-centrist’ without making a serious attempt to reorient it, has retreated into an essentially petty bourgeois little ‘study circle’ and now openly rejects the need for our party and our whole world cadres to turn its major attention to work in the class itself.

However, while political collaboration is out of the question, we do believe these comrades seriously seek to remain in the party and have shown willingness to carry out their responsibilities towards the party. Therefore, we continue to oppose any factional pressure or organizational attacks on this group and feel that they should be answered politically. The majority is, of course, hindered in answering these comrades politically precisely because it also resists a turn of the party towards the class.

Our Relations With the British and the French

Our relations with the British and French sections of the IC, of course, flow naturally from our whole political outlook. These relations are essentially those of political solidarity which has been declared and defended openly in front of the party as a whole. Such political relations have a deep tradition in our world movement for we consider ourselves to be politically in solidarity with a world movement--not an isolated national party.

These relations flow essentially from our common outlook on these critical questions of class and party. Clearly we have defended the same general international outlook as expressed most comprehensively in the SLL International Resolution ‘World Prospects for Socialism.’ But the matter goes even deeper than that. These two sections of the IC are sections which are themselves deeply rooted in the class in their own countries and which maintain within their particular countries, under conditions peculiar to each country, the same general orientation which we are fighting for here. The success of this orientation can be seen especially in the case of the British section which has developed under a more favorable objective situation than either the French or our party have been favored with.

In addition, as extremely serious political groups, these comrades agree with our approach towards responsible, loyal work as members of the SWP and our political solidarity is based in part on their acceptance of this strategic outlook just as we agree with their general international outlook. Thus there is no conflict whatsoever between our political solidarity with this international tendency and our complete, loyal, positive approach to the party here despite our deep differences with the leadership. If there was any question of this it is made explicitly clear in a recent letter of Comrade Healy to Comrade Dobbs.

Of course there are political differences between our tendency and the British and the French. These differences however are within a common perspective of maintaining a revolutionary role for the working class and a role for our movement as its vanguard. These comrades do not dictate policy to us and we do not dictate policy to them. Our relations are solely political and our differences are openly expressed before the movement. We are proud of our relations with these groups and feel there is much we have to learn both from their struggles and the struggles and experiences of our party here over the years.

An Unprincipled Combination?

Much is being made by the majority of the theoretical differences within our minority. How can we maintain a common bloc in the party if we are made up essentially of a group of comrades who maintain an orthodox outlook on the Russian question in a bloc with a group of comrades who have traditionally maintained a state capitalist position within the party?

We feel that the internal experiences of our tendency have a certain bearing on an answer to this question. It was not the Russian question nor the Cuban question which split our tendency. Important as these theoretical questions are, our tendency was split down the middle when the questions of class and party were touched. This is the most acid of all tests; it is the concrete test of what different theories mean to political groups.

The split in 1940 was caused, so it appeared on the surface, by the Russian question. But it cut deeper than that. Behind the facade of difference over this question (or more accurately the question of defense of the USSR during the Soviet-Finnish War), a section of the party was capitulating to alien class pressures and abandoning the building of a proletarian party.

The Johnsonites rejoined the SWP in 1947 despite disagreement on the Russian question, because they agreed with the party on the critical question of class and party. When they later left the party in 1950 their leaving was caused not simply by the important differences over the Russian question but because, under the pressure of prosperity they had abandoned the need for a party and given up on the class.

A small group of these comrades, the Philips group, refused to go along with their co-thinkers on the Russian question precisely because they maintained a revolutionary class perspective. In 1952, a section of the party, the Cochranites, who had complete agreement with the majority on the class nature of the USSR, prepared to desert the movement and the present party leadership collaborated with the Philips group in a struggle against them precisely around the issues of party and class.

In 1957 a minority opposition formed inside the Shachtmanite youth organization to struggle against Shachtman’s final capitulation over the central issues of party and class. This struggle, carried on in close collaboration with the SWP leadership, was conducted by a group which did not have agreement within itself on the Russian question even though leading comrades like Comrades Mage and Wohlforth came over to an orthodox position on this question during the course of the struggle. After the split in the YSL, the group fused with the SWP youth to form the basic cadre of a new youth movement, again even though important sociological differences remained.

Today our common bloc of the reorganized minority is based on deep agreement on precisely these questions of class and party. In the period prior to last November it was revealed that there was no agreement on these critical questions and without hesitation we split with half of our tendency. Should our theoretical differences lead to a difference on class and party we would not hesitate to split again. But this is not on the agenda precisely because the comrades involved in our tendency have proved their seriousness on this score through long years of work in building our party in the class itself.

Our tendency does not need to explain its principled basis for existence. Our documents and our own actions prove this to the hilt. But are we hiding our differences that we have among ourselves? Of course not. Comrade Philips’ full state capitalist position is available in two long bulletins issued in 1957. Comrade Philips is presently working on a reevaluation of position but the pressures of his trade union work have not given him the necessary time to complete it. Do the comrades suggest he abandon this trade union work in order to work on a new thesis? In any event, even if Comrade Philips were to maintain every word of the position he put forward in 1957 his role as a part of the reorganized tendency is perfectly in order and principled.

Is Comrade Wohlforth holding back his views or has he sold out to Comrade Philips? But Comrade Wohlforth has just published a lengthy analysis of the Cuba question which not only reasserts an orthodox theory of the Russian question but utilizes as its theoretical taking off point precisely Trotsky’s polemics against Shachtman. These ex-Shachtmanites sure are devious. They insist on expressing their Shachtmanite character by conducting a fundamental struggle against Shachtman in his own youth organization in full collaboration with the SWP. Once inside the SWP they assist in building a new revolutionary youth movement. They then put forward the ‘well known Shachtmanite theory’ on the importance of the mass movement. Finally they base their present theoretical deviations on Trotsky’s polemics against Shachtman. Not only that they succeed in dominating our minority with a grand total of three ex-Shachtmanites, none of whom spent more than two years in the Shachtmanite youth (one of them fighting Shachtman) and none of whom even got into the ISL. Very, very devious people indeed.

On Loyalty and Party Building

Every comrade in the party who knows or who has worked with supporters of the reorganized minority tendency knows that there has never been a question on either point for us. Our comrades have worked hard and loyally to build the party despite factional problems and despite our disagreement with the majority line of the party. Perhaps comrades who never have been in a minority do not realize it, but this is not an easy thing to do. It is much easier to give up your ideas and ‘live and let live’ in the party or to write off the party and retreat into a little circle. We have insisted all along, despite the difficulties involved, on both energetic party building work and political struggle against a political line in our party which we feel is doing real deep harm to our party.

This has been our perspective and it will continue to be our perspective. To even raise such questions about our comrades is to us simply uncontrolled factionalism.

Our position on a split from the party is equally clear. We have fought ardently against such a course and have broken with anyone who considers such a course. We hope that those comrades who now question us on this point are not doing so because they wish in fact we would split. Certainly the factional tenor of the discussion seems to be aimed at pushing us to that conclusion. Well, we simply are not going to be pushed by anyone. The comrades can say what they will, we still intend to stay in the party and loyally work to build it--no matter what. If we are ever thrown out of this party it will be because of our political ideas--not our actions. This is something that every party member who knows us, knows.

How can you be loyal to the party and still at the same time make such harsh characterizations of the party leadership, comrades seem to be asking? In fact Comrade Dobbs expresses the same thought this way: “There isn’t much of a hint of responsibility toward the party contained in the closing sentence of the Wohlforth-Philips opus. ‘It is the duty of every revolutionist in the party’, they assert, ‘to struggle uncompromisingly for a return of the party to a working class line internationally and an orientation of intervention into the mass movement within this country.” We feel the comrades here are confusing two things--loyalty towards the party and loyalty towards the political line of the majority grouping within the party. The two are not identical. Precisely because we feel our loyalty to the party so deeply--we feel we must struggle uncompromisingly against the political line of the majority grouping because that line is severely damaging our party and world movement. However, because we are Bolsheviks and believe in democratic centralism we limit this struggle to the periods of pre-convention discussion and at all times loyally build the party as it is with its present political line which we defend in public against all opponents of the party. Once there is a total identification of loyalty to a party with loyalty to a particular political leadership of a party, then democratic centralism ends--there is no real possibility of loyal opposition to the policies of the leadership. That is not our tradition.

Will we abide by the decisions of the convention? Of course! Including the proposed split with the IC? Despite our strong opposition to this step, certainly. All we ask is to be allowed to loyally work in helping to build the party. Will we maintain our political views and fight for them within the party? You can bet your life we will! In the meantime world events and the experiences of the party in its work in this country can only strengthen our political outlook and lead to increased support for our ideas within the party. The growth of the movement can only aid the healthy forces within the party.

June 21,1963




Posted: 23 March 2006