Marxist Bulletin No. 4

Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party

Document 9




Letter to the Political Committee
By Shane Mage

New York
10 November, 1963

Political Committee
Socialist Workers’ Party
116 University Place
New York 3, N.Y.

Dear Comrades,

The Political Committee resolution of November 1, suspending five comrades from membership in the Socialist Workers’ Party, constitutes a crime against the fundamental principles of the Trotskyist movement. I and the other comrades have been excluded from the party for no other reason than our consistent, open, and loyal political struggle against the abandonment of Marxism by the clique(s) in control of the S.W.P. That this Cannon-KerryDobbs apparatus did not have the courage to declare openly the real motive and ground for its act, but resorted instead to the familiar Stalinist methods of slander and frame-up, proves the drastic extent of the political and organizational degeneration of the S.W.P. leading clique(s).

This is a harsh charge, admittedly, but the texts of the Political Committee resolution of November 1 and of the Control Commission report on which it is allegedly based provide more than conclusive evidence that it is true.

A. The Control Commission report does not charge me or any other opposition comrade with a single violation of party discipline, with a single hostile or disloyal act. Why? Obviously because we have engaged in nothing even remotely approaching such an act.

B. The Control Commission accuses us of one thing alone--a ‘hostile and disloyal attitude’: we are thus accused of nothing but a thought-crime. Anyone who actually needs to have the totalitarian nature of this accusation pointed out to him is referred to the speeches of Cannon and Dobbs on the Smith Act trials.

C. The ‘evidence’ presented by the Control Commission for its charge of subversive thoughts is drawn entirely from two internal discussion documents of the opposition dating from mid1962: a series of fragments wrenched from their real context and strung together with dots in the fashion of the best schools of falsification. But this mendacious presentation is the smallest fault in the whole frame-up. The Control Commission concludes its ‘findings’ with this declaration: ‘In these statements by the Robertson-Mage-White minority their hostile and disloyal attitude toward the party is clearly manifested.’ THIS IS A CONSCIOUS, DELIBERATE, BARE-FACED LIE. The Control Commission knew perfectly well that the documents signed by Robertson, Ireland, and Harper were personal discussion contributions and had never been adopted, in whole or in part, by the ‘Robertson-Mage-White minority.’

Why was this LIE necessary? In order to drag comrade White and myself, as leading figures of the opposition, into the frame-up against Robertson, Ireland, and Harper; and thus to take the last step before exclusion of the opposition as a whole. This LIE is prima facie evidence that the real motive of the operation is the suppression of political dissent.

D. Not content even with the falsifications of the Control Commission report, the Political Committee resolution introduces still another cheap swindle by accepting the thought-crime charges of the Control Commission as evidence regarding luridly and slanderously outlined ‘leadership practices of the Robertson-Mage-White group.’ It thus can conclude: ‘Those concepts, methods and practices, are alien to our party, wholly disloyal, and utterly intolerable.’ One can only be amazed by the cynicism with which the leadership clique(s) cites a Control Commission report dealing only with ‘concepts’ as evidence for false accusations regarding ‘methods’ and ‘practices.’

E. Finally, the entire procedure used against us is not merely dishonest--it is in direct contradiction with the provisions of the S.W.P. constitution, and therefore utterly illegal. Article VIII, Section 3 states: ‘Charges against any member shall be made in writing and the accused member shall be furnished with a copy in advance of the trial.’ I have no way of knowing if charges, written or oral, were ever made against me--I do know that if such charges exist I was never furnished with a copy of them, and still less did I ever get a chance to answer these hypothetical charges at a trial.

If this exclusion of the opposition is allowed to stand, whether in the hypocritical guise of ‘suspension’ or as open expulsion, the career of the S.W.P. as a revolutionary-socialist party will have come to an end. The political degeneration of the S.W.P. has already turned the concept of workers’ democracy into an empty fetish, at least in the cases of the majority’s policy on Cuba and Algeria. Now the exclusion of the opposition within the S.W.P. itself eliminates the basic right of the members of a democratic proletarian organization -- the right to unite on a common political program in opposition to that of the existing leadership. Henceforward opponents of the leading clique(s) will have no rights: at most they can hope to be tolerated so long as the leadership does not regard their ‘concepts’ as ‘hostile’ or ‘disloyal’.

The duty of the party is clear. These criminal exclusions must be unconditionally rescinded and those responsible for their perpetration severely censured. The alternative is irremediable bureaucratic degeneration.

Shane Mage




Posted: 22 October 2006