Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Concerning Our Expulsions
Letter to the National Committee by
Harper, Ireland, Mage, Robertson and White
(plus cover letter)
New York, N. Y.
12 February 1964
Dear comrade Dobbs,
Enclosed is a declaration to the National Committee by the five
expelled Revolutionary Tendency supporters, Lynne Harper, Laurence Ireland,
Shane Mage, Geoffrey White and myself.
We formally notify you at this time of our intention to appeal the
expulsions to the next party convention.
Concerning our Expulsions
Letter to the National Committee
The five members of the Revolutionary Tendency expelled from the
Socialist Workers Party declare to the National Committee that our expulsion
has taken the party another long step on the descent into Stalinist
Nothing in the history and tradition of the party can be used as a
precedent to justify our expulsion for thought crimes. Nor can the party
justify the violation of elementary norms of procedure which even bourgeois
society grants an accused, such as a trial. Not a single act is charged against
us! Instead the leadership has torn out of context quotations from written
opinions in an internal discussion in our tendency, given them the most
sinister interpretation possible, and used them as a pretext for our expulsion.
The concept put forth by the National Secretary, Farrell Dobbs,
that the majority is the party, makes very clear the intention to convert the
party into a completely docile organizational instrument in which only
officially sponsored ideas will be permitted expression. This intention cannot
now be masked by soothing assurances to the contrary to the other minorities.
The political motivation for this action is also quite clear. The
leadership has abandoned the fundamental Marxist concept that the working class
and its vanguard must lead the masses in order to achieve a socialist
transformation of society, and continues to seek to convert the party into an
appendage of petty-bourgeois radical groupings. It hopes that humble obeisance
and adulation will enable the party to ride the coat-tails of the Castros, Ben
Bellas, and Malcolm Xs into the socialist future. At the same time, the
leadership cannot openly admit to discarding the basic principles on which the
party was founded. For example, it is still eager to use a phrase such as the
Permanent Revolution after discarding its political content, as a cover for its
political nakedness. The leadership is, therefore, especially vindictive toward
our tendency for exposing them, and seizes any and all organizational pretexts
in an attempt to silence it.
A particularly envenomed situation was created by the majority in
youth work. For the first time in seventeen years, and with minority party
members playing a leading role, a significant youth cadre had been developed.
The majority found it intolerable that party members identifying with the
minority led this cadre, and set about to displace them. A campaign was
therefore launched by the party from outside the youth movement to remove the
youth leadership. In doing so, youth independence and initiative was
deliberately destroyed. In the circumstances, charges of disloyalty to the
party and double recruiting can only be described as a hollow mockery.
We have used every legitimate opportunity which presented itself
to expose and oppose the abandonment of a revolutionary class position and the
abstentionist policies which directly derived therefrom. Accordingly, we have
protested with all our strength the opposition of the Majority to a policy
which permits sending Negro members into the Negro rights movement in the
South, as well as the refusal to allow white members to participate in this
struggle in the North. We have called for the involvement of the membership in
select trade-union concentrations, and have also raised the need to resume our
traditional policy of cooperation with leftward moving radical groups, now in
motion as a result of the Sino-Soviet dispute. In sum, we have demanded the
involvement of the party in the struggles now taking place, with the object of
influencing them in the direction of greater militancy and mass participation,
to help the process of crystallization of a left-wing, and to recruit to the
party new militant working-class and intellectual forces -- and we shall
continue to do so.
We declare to the National Committee that the efforts of its
majority to isolate us from the membership by expelling us are in vain.
We shall continue to appeal to the membership in person and in
writing to reject the politics of opportunism and abstentionism, and to return
to the revolutionary policies and practices on which the SWP was founded.
We consider ourselves to be a temporarily expelled section of the
party and declare that we will do everything in our power to gain readmission
As part of this perspective, we declare that we shall support
every action taken to involve the party membership in the fight for Negro
rights, to reach out to the trade-unions, to oppose the desperate attempts of
American imperialism to stem the tide of revolution throughout the world, and
to combat its ever increasing danger to the existence of humanity.
We welcome the partys announcement of its plans to run
presidential and vice-presidential candidates in 1964, although we must protest
the refusal to place Myra Tanner Weiss on the ticket. In replacing her as a
punishment for opposing its unprincipled organizational highhandedness, the
leadership merely demonstrated its own insensitivity to the struggle for
womens rights which Myras candidacy served to highlight. We shall,
in any case, support the partys efforts on the electoral scene to promote
socialist ideas, defend the Cuban Revolution, and fight against colonialism and
We also declare that in thrusting us outside the partys
ranks, the responsibility for the necessity of our open political work falls on
the leadership. We shall, as a result, direct our efforts not only toward the
party membership, but also toward other, leftward moving, radical groups, the
Negro rights movement, the trade-unions, and the mass movement in general. We
are, therefore, compelled, while outside the party, to make our criticism known
to the radical public, while we continue to press our struggle in every
possible way for readmission to the party.
We shall, in short, continue our struggle for a working class
vanguard free from alien class influences, and thereby capable of leading the
masses to socialism.
February 10, 1964