Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Oral Statement to the Plenum of the National Committee
28 December 1963
Comrades of the National Committee, I appear before you this
morning to demand that you abrogate the suspensions against the five minority
members. I also ask it of you. At the beginning, Id like to make it plain
that Im speaking as an individual, Im not an elected member of a
tendency, Ive not been designated to make any official statements.
Im speaking as somebody who does not want to be thrown out of the SWP.
The immediate question I think is not one of agreement with or support of any
particular views of the minority either as a tendency or of particular
individuals in the minority. No, comrades, I think the question at hand is
simply one of the right of a minority tendency to exist in and criticize
policies of the Socialist Workers Party without the consent or approval of the
What are we charged with? What am I charged with? What in the hell
did I do wrong? The Control Commission who investigated me concluded by a
statement saying that a hostile and disloyal attitude toward the Party is
clearly manifested. An incorrect attitude. Now this is not true in the first
place. But think of it -- a wrong attitude! Well, well take a look in a
minute to see what this attitude consists of. However, the PC motion of Nov. 3
goes beyond the findings of the Control Commission, the body appointed to
investigate us, and charges us, me, with advocacy of these positions basically:
First, and now I quote from the PC motion: Assuming the
guise of a study circle, the group leadership projects a discussion policy that
disregards convention decisions to close discussion on disputed issues and goes
ahead factionally on a business-as-usual basis. This is what the PC says.
Now lets be clear what were doing. Lets be straight about
what we think, what I think. Nobody assumed any disguise; what we
did was out in the open. There was no policy projected or undertaken to disrupt
branches, to continue a business-as-usual basis in the branches of the
important questions before the Party. This was never done, comrades. And this
was never projected. These are private documents that we voluntarily turned
over to the Control Commission and appended to the PC motion which I assume you
have. Youll find no such content. But, comrades, theres a profound,
a fundamental, difference between reviving discussions on the floor of the
branch after the convention is over and continuing to talk about these things
among the various groups and individuals.
Do you stop thinking when the convention is over about the Negro
question? Do you stop thinking about Cuba or Algeria? I mean, is there a time
-- now for two months we can think about it, maybe talk over with somebody over
coffee -- no. What does this mean? At least what does it mean to me, and
correct me if Im wrong. It means that an action line is taken by the
party, thats what we act on for the next year or two years, and it means
that on the floor of the branches you dont raise hell and raise havoc
going over and over this line, you cant do it that way. But do you stop
talking about it? Do you stop thinking about it? No. Anybody who would just
turn his mind off and on like that isnt worth a hill of beans to me.
Now, in these documents we turned over -- you remember that
theyre intra-tendency documents submitted by individuals for discussion
within the tendency, never voted upon, never projected as an action line of the
tendency and were, in fact, preliminary views by the authors of the documents
themselves. Thats why in part youll find this study circle thing.
This was an attack and an answer to Wohlforth and had reference to
raising the intellectual, the theoretical, caliber of party members. What we
were in effect saying, trying to say, was that the level of cadres in the SWP
and in our tendency should be as high as possible.
If you expel us then, it wont be for disrupting the branches
on this point, it wont be for raising havoc or trying to disrupt the SWP.
Is this a crime to continue to think about these things and to discuss them --
or is it a duty?
Secondly, the PC said that new people recruited into the group are
considered ready to apply for party membership only after they have first been
indoctrinated against the program, convention decisions and organizational
principles of the party. This is a lie. I think anybody who operates like that
ought to be thrown out of the party right away. How in the hell are you going
to recruit people to a party by indoctrinating them against the program,
against convention decisions, and against the organizational principles, the
Leninist principles, of the party? How do you, well, I mean what do you think I
am -- some kind of monster?
Listen to Trotsky writing in In Defense of Marxism:
If the majority of party members are mistaken, the minority can by and by
educate them. If not before the next convention then after it. The minority can
attract new members to the party and transform itself into a majority.
Double recruitment? Heaven forbid. You recruit members to the
party and then you recruit into the tendency because you think youve got
the best point of view within the party, a point of view youre trying to
project as the majority view of the party. What is wrong with this? What is
disloyal with this? Is that a viewpoint you think the majority of the party
should undertake to carry out? Of course youre going to try to convince
new members as well as old members, anybody in the party, but only people in
Lastly, group discipline, I quote from the PC motion, is put
before party discipline. Then lets get this clear, because this is false.
We put forward, I put forward, the proposition that discipline stems not from
the organizational form of a party but from programmatic principles of the
Fourth International. Again in Trotskys words, The International is
not at all a form as flows from the utterly false formulation of the
Independent Labor Party. The International was first of all a program and a
system of strategic, tactical, and organizational methods that flow from
it. Cannon said exactly the same thing. Discipline is a question of
program. If you accept a program, then youre bound to it.
Nobodys got a gun at my back. I came into this voluntarily.
Im fighting it voluntarily because I want to stay in. My discipline is
based upon the program of the Fourth International. It always has been and by
Christ it always will be. No actions are charged against us -- disloyal
attitude. And yet, sections of the leadership or the whole leadership or I
dont know who, wants to expel us, me, from the party.
Now I -- you dont need me, but I need the party. I joined
this party consciously. Im 31 now. Ive only been in a couple of
years, but I knew what I was doing when I joined. I knew why I joined. I knew
why I didnt want the CP, and I tell you, as soon as I found out about
Trotsky and Trotskyism, in other words Marxism, I joined. And now, now,
youre going to expel me or suspend me, I dont know what, this is
all kind of new to me. Youll excuse me if Im a little upset. Why?
Because we didnt agree on the need for political revolution in the Soviet
Union, China, and other deformed workers states? We dont disagree.
Because we attack dialectical materialism? Is this Shachtman all over again or
something as some people seem to think? We havent attacked it. Because we
find fault with the concepts of democratic centralism? No. Because we denigrate
Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism? No. Because we disagree with the program of the
Fourth International? No. Because we have broken discipline and gone outside
the party? No, we havent. Because we refuse to accept the program and
discipline of the Socialist Workers Party? No. Because we do not agree with
every aspect of the majority line? Thats true. This is our crime.
Weve had the audacity to declare and carry out a principled
opposition to the leadership faction within the party. Again, I repeat, without
the consent of the leadership. If they consent its OK. Is the chief
merit, comrades, of a bolshevik now declared to be obedience to the leadership?
Have capitalist pressures become so insidious in the party that the minority is
exactly equal to menshevik in the SWP? Is it disloyal to be in a minority? Is
it factional to be in a minority? Is it petty-bourgeois to try and formulate
the differences as sharply as possible and to argue them out? Is this
disruptive? Or is it a Bolshevik attempt to try to improve and strengthen and
sharpen the majority line? The action line of the party? Is this a disloyal
act, comrades, or is it one of the highest and most responsible duties of a
Bolshevik, that is, the principled sharpening of the majority line?
The Socialist Workers Party is going to have an anniversary very
soon. I think, comrades, there can be no more appropriate time for reviewing
party history, recent as well as past, and party principles. I urge you in the
strongest possible fashion to lift the suspensions of the minority members, to
return this party to its democratic centralist course -- and the two go
together -- democratic centralist course, before its too late. To
demonstrate by your speeches and your votes that the Socialist Workers Party
remains true to a Leninist heritage by loyally protecting the right of a
disciplined minority tendency. Thank you.
28 December 1963