Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Appeal to the United Secretariat of the Fourth
By James Robertson
New York, N.Y.
23 February 1964
United Secretariat of the Fourth International
The National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party at its
December 1963 plenum expelled five party members, supporters of the
Revolutionary Tendency. The comrades involved are Shane Mage, Geoffrey White,
Laurence Ireland, Lynne Harper and myself.
Having exhausted all presently available recourse within the
American party, we are now writing to formally request that the United
Secretariat express its opinion on behalf of the restoration of our
organizational rights in what is, politically, your American section. Over the
past several months, copies of all relevant documents have been sent to the
United Secretariat. This material makes it superabundantly clear that the
expulsions took place exclusively because of our intransigent adherence to our
opinions, and through no breach of democratic-centralist discipline on our
part. A systematic summary of the issues to the time is found in our document,
Rescind the Suspensions! of December 10, 1963, by the five
then-suspended RT supporters. (Subsequently another supporter of our Tendency,
Roger Abrams, was also expelled from the party on trumped-up charges.)
We would like to remind the United Secretariat of the resounding
guarantees, regarding party interna1 democracy, found in For Early
Reunification of the World Trotskyist Movement (March 1, 1963). This
document was advanced by the SWP Majority itself as the summary of alleged
basic positions upon which unity with the International Secretariat forces
would stand or fall. The entirety of the relevant section of the resolution is
(4) The Fourth International as an international
organization, and its sections as national parties, must adhere to the
principles of democratic centralism. Both theory and historic experience have
demonstrated the correctness of these principles. Democratic centralism
corresponds to the need for quick, disciplined action in meeting revolutionary
tasks while at the same time assuring the freedom of discussion and the right
to form tendencies without which genuine political life is denied to the ranks.
In its adherence to internal democracy, the world Trotskyist movement stands at
the opposite pole from the stifling regimes imposed on working class
organizations controlled by bureaucrats trained in the schools of Stalinism,
the Social-Democracy or reformist unionism.
Fine words! And words which are presumably binding upon the United
Secretariat. For at the July 1963 SWP Convention, the party resolution hailing
the international reunification the previous month noted that:
The Convention of the Socialist Workers Party is
especially appreciative of the fact that the basic document, which received
unanimous approval both at the conference of the majority of the sectors
adhering to the International Committee and at the World Congress called by the
International Executive Committee, was the statement issued by the Political
Committee of the Socialist Workers Party, For the Early Reunification of
the World Trotskyist Movement. The unanimous adoption of this document,
which reaffirms the programmatic foundations of world Trotskyism, is proof of
the thoroughly principled character of the unification and a most favorable
augury for its durability.
Regarding the major international implications of our expulsions,
we would draw your attention again to sections 12. and 13. of our Rescind
the Suspensions! There is, moreover, a further consideration. We have
heard it put point blank by friends of the European sections of the
Reunified International group that part of the unity deal with the
SWP was an agreement that all affairs of the American party were to be outside
even the moral jurisdiction of any international body--in short, Hands
Off! If this is true and the United Secretariat is unable or unwilling to
offer a significant objection to the flagrant organizational abuse by the SWP
Majority leadership, then it would be proved that your Reunification Congress
created not a real international body at all, but a deliberate illusion!
But we would rather find to the contrary. We want readmission to
the SWP. We reaffirm for the hundredth time our disciplined acceptance of the
line of the Majority. In exchange we know that, within the SWP, we will have
the opportunity with minimal organizational obstruction to press for our
viewpoint in an orderly way among the largest number of declared Trotskyists.
All this we spell out clearly in the Editorial Notes of the
enclosed periodical, Spartacist, which we have now begun to publish for
the period of our exclusion from the SWP.
We await your early reply.