Letter from George Breitman to Ernest Mandel, January 15, 1954 Documents 1 through 9 and 11 originally published in Internal Bulletins of the SWP and the International Bulletins of the International Committee

Dear Ernest:

Your letter of December 9 was painful to read. I had hoped that a meeting of minds was possible. Instead, you have so far chosen to misunderstand, employ debaters’ tricks and ignore most of what I wrote you. You evidently feel you must defend ‘the International’ against us, and this has led you to indefensible statements. I asked why you had signed your name to the November 15 IS Bureau letter containing numerous gross slanders against us, applied to our past as well as present course, when in your letter to me you said you did not consider our past course ever to have been unprincipled. In the December issue of the French Pabloite paper, which I had not seen when I wrote you, you claimed among other things that our minority represented ‘more than a third of the members’ and that they committed ‘no public act of indiscipline.’ Do you know how ridiculous this makes you appear here, where everyone knows they represented only 18 percent? Do you see why no one can give the slightest credence to your equally inflated figures about the British Pabloites? And don’t you feel silly, writing there was ‘no public act of indiscipline’ at the very same time that Cochran, weeping on Shachtman’s shoulder, publicly refutes you by explaining that his faction deliberately organized the boycott of our 25th Anniversary celebration? By the way, what do you think of this boycott? Why do you evade all mention of it? Are you, like the real Pabloites, an enemy of our 25 year struggle and all that it represents? If you had been in New York, would you have joined the boycott?

Your answer to the question I asked you last time is, ‘I’m not going to squabble about words with my comrades who defend my organization.’ Does this mean that you will sign or write anything, no matter how far from the truth, just so long as it is conceived as a defense of the IS? What kind of defense is it, and what is being defended, that requires lies? How can I have confidence in what you write when you tell me in advance that you will not ‘squabble about words’ with slanderers because they are on your side, or because you are on theirs? How can I tell what part of what you write is actually your opinion of the facts, and what part is concession to your slanderous allies?

Nevertheless, I want to try again to reach through to you’for your sake, for ours, for the sake of the International.

You make a joke of my letter when you ask if I think the present situation is the result of ‘nothing but a tragi-comedy of errors and misunderstandings.’ No, what my letter tried to do in good faith was answer the charge that our course was unprincipled by reciting the events and the evolution of our thinking under their impact. What we reached was not a misunderstanding, but an understanding. An understanding (1) of the profound political differences that separate us from the Pablo faction, which are set forth in our Letter and to which I shall return. An understanding (2) of the new slogan, ‘Junk the old Trotskyism,’ not as an expression of a desire to bring our program up to date, correct our errors and adjust our tactics to new needs (although that is how it was represented), but as an expression of a desire to junk Trotskyism itself as outmoded and to replace it with an opportunist orientation to Stalinism as the channel through which the revolution will pass everywhere in the world. And an understanding (3) of the necessity to determine who the real Trotskyists in this International are.

You condemn us for openly publishing our Letter in which we broke politically with the Pablo faction, an act which you claim represents ’a break with the International.’ The reasons why we published the Letter have already been stated by Cannon in the December 28 paper. What do you mean when you accuse us of ‘a break with the International’ by publishing a defense of orthodox Trotskyism against deliberate public attacks on it? Didn’t Clarke publicly violate our program by forecasting the possible self-reform of the Soviet bureaucracy in the magazine behind the backs of its editorial board? Haven’t the new Pabloite conceptions about Soviet development, to which we object, been published? Didn’t the French Pabloites publicly defend the Stalinists against the criticism of the French Trotskyists of the Majority in a public leaflet? Is it ‘loyalty’ to the International to defile its program and tradition in public, but ‘a break with the International’ to defend this program and this tradition in public? The members of the SWP don’t think so, and no pontifical pronouncements, factional expulsions, excommunications or ‘removals’ will change our opinion. I agree that, as a general rule, internal disputes in our movement would perhaps better be discussed internally, although a public discussion is nothing new. We conducted a limited public discussion before the 1940 split in the SWP, and Trotsky did not hesitate to attack in the public press the capitulationist position of Roman Well and others in the German section in 1932. Trotsky’s polemic against Urbahns, in the formative stage of the International Left Opposition, was also published in The Militant. In any case, we will never agree to a one-sided rule whereby revisionists enjoy the right to attack the program in public and the orthodox have no right to defend it in public.

And I urge you: Please don’t pretend that the publication of the Letter marked a qualitative change in the relations between the IS and us. Because on November 1 5, before you had even heard of the existence of our Letter, the IS Bureau, writing to the leaderships of all sections, had already excommunicated us (and without even waiting to hear of the circumstances under which we had disciplined the organizers of the boycott, had already pledged to ‘never permit the expulsions effected by Cannon’).

Elaborating on ‘the main and only fundamental difference which I see at the present stage of the fight: the overthrow of the principle of one World Party,’ you write many things about international discipline and democratic centralism that we would never quarrel with. But many of these things are also beside the point. I said we want to know who the Trotskyists in this International are. With Trotskyists we always have found and always will find agreement on organizational procedure. With Trotskyists we are willing and eager to discuss. But we want to be sure that they are Trotskyists, and not something else. Stalinists and apologists for Stalinism we will fight as enemies, not engage in discussion on the basis of democratic centralism. This is not a difference of nuance; it is the first condition of democratic centralism. (The American Pabloites understood this and that was why they refused to be bound by democratic centralism.) The selection is now taking place in the International. Far from having contempt for the majority of the International, as you charge, we have the greatest confidence that a decisive majority will understand the real issues and show themselves to be Trotskyists.

I would make a second condition. When someone talks to us about democratic centralism, we want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. Tell me, do you think democratic centralism is possible internationally where an international leadership does not recognize and defend democratic centralism on a national scale? I don’t believe it is, and I think this question is most pertinent to our discussion.

Here we were in the SWP, contending with a minority that blatantly violated discipline in the name of a ‘higher allegiance.’ The Pabloite faction in England were doing the same thing at the same time. This, you will recall, was what happened first, before there was any disciplinary action against them, before there was any Letter. What, in your opinion, were we supposed to do’grit our teeth, smile and console ourselves with the merits of democratic centralism’as applied internationally? Oh, you tell us, ‘some organizational compromise could have easily been found at the eve of your last Plenum.’ Really? Such as what? Without anyone else’s help, we found the means for a truce at the May plenum. But it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on as soon as the minority saw it could not survive a truce. Why should we have your faith in ‘some organizational compromise’ when we could see that the minority was driven by fundamental political pressure that made them feel we were incompatible? Does your conception of international democratic centralism require the leadership of a national party to permit it to be wrecked as the price of international democratic centralism? It’s not our conception anyhow.

As I say, the minority violated democratic centralism. Here then was an excellent opportunity for the IS to show how devoted it was to this principle. Did it do it? On the contrary, Pablo directiy instigated and encouraged the deliberate violations. (You may not know the whole American story, but you certainly know that this was what happened in Britain.) Is that how you expect to create devotion to this principle on the international field? Instead of joining us in our defense of democratic centralism in our party, the Pabloite IS attacked us for bureaucratism and brutality and degeneracy and pledged that it would ‘never’ permit the violators of democratic centralism to be disciplined. And after that you expect this IS to be taken seriously when it preaches the necessity of democratic centralism on an international scale?

I am not sure, because I don’t know all your ideas on the subject, but I have the feeling that your views on the International suffer from a tendency to regard it as a sort of collective substitute for national parties. I know that is the real Pabloite conception; that is why the Pablo faction is so eager to break up the solid national cadres who assert independence of judgment. Without the International, in our view, there can be no national parties worthy of the name of Trotskyist. But that doesn’t mean that the International can substitute for them, for their organic development, for their selection of a leadership that really represents them, for the experiences they must pass through if they are to be fit for their historic role. Against these truths, which must be accepted as the necessary basis for a healthy relationship between parties and International leadership, we are offered a caricature of Cannon’s remarks, according to which the International must be a ‘letter-box,’ exercising no discipline, having no common line. Will it really surprise you to learn that we reject this caricature. Don’t you know, or have you forgotten, that we got along with the International for 25 years? At the same time we flatly reject the genuinely bureaucratic’to speak plainly, the Stalinist -- conceptions and practices of Pablo, which enabled him to dispose of a critical majority in France by disposing of the majority of the party, and which supplied him with the gall to issue his ultimatum that we’d better abandon our revolutionary anti-Stalinist line on Germany and the Soviet Union because they didn’t conform to his private line, or else! We reject the caricature of Cannon s views and the tested reality of Pablo’s views, and demand a healthy relationship between parties and International leadership, which will permit the parties to grow, and the International leadership, expressing the positions of the majority, to guide, co-ordinate and where necessary discipline’all this, of course, being possible only on the basis of a common general (that is, Trotskyist) line.

On the basic point in your letter: You emphasize ‘loyalty to the International...as an established organization, with its established leadership and statutes, while our main emphasis is on loyalty to Trotskyism, that is, the program, the body of doctrine and the tradition that the International had up to and through the 3 world Congress. Where we see fundamental political differences between ourselves and the Pablo faction, you see only differences of a ’tactical nature,’ none of which ‘put a question mark on any of the basic principles of our estimation of Stalinism and the USSR.’ That, in our opinion, is where you make the biggest mistake of all. You will end in a blind alley, totally unable to influence the development of this struggle in a revolutionary fashion, unless you probe the already visible differences to the bottom and take your stand on the basis of the political lines that are tearing the International apart, rather than on the basis of an organizational loyalty, and an essentially abstract organizational loyalty at that.

I won’t repeat what has already been written about these differences in our Letter, resolution and press. But I am forced to return to the German question when you say, ‘I myself have failed to grasp till today the differences in approach to the Eastern German question’, but that amazes me all the more. Why don’t you ask Pablo? He grasped it sufficiently to use the authority of his post’without any protest from other IS members’to try to bludgeon us into substituting his approach for our own. Instead of accusing us of ‘inventing’ differences, why don’t you find out from Pablo why he regarded our differences on this issue so important that he felt he had to resort to the heavy hand to try to stifle our views?

I don’t know what Pablo would tell you, but here is what we think: There was a fundamental difference between him and us on the omission from the IS manifesto of our demand for the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from East Germany in June. I know what you wrote me on November 15’that it was omitted ‘only because we wanted at that time to concentrate on the slogans the fighters in Berlin had used themselves (where no one had used that slogan and for good reasons! Did the people come out on the street in the February revolution with the slogan: Withdrawal of the Cossacks. When you are busy making a revolution, and not only writing about it, the winning of the troops wherever it is possible becomes task nr. 1, not the deliberate provocation of these troops into hostile actions.

Fundamentally this explanation strikes me as a lawyer’s argument. (1) As I told you before, the evidence we have collected was that the demand for the withdrawal of the troops was raised; but let that go -- I will agree that it probably was not raised as widely as other demands. (2) But must the raising of such a demand necessarily constitute a provocation of the troops into hostile actions? Not necessarily; in fact, such a demand, linked with appeals and acts of fraternization, etc., could have just the opposite effect and win the troops to friendly actions’it all depends on the way it’s done. (3) Let’s distinguish a little. There well might be situations in which the masses in the street could not raise such a demand, no matter how much they wanted to. But the IS statement was not written in the street. If it is true that the masses didn’t raise this demand because they couldn’t, then it all the more became the duty of the Trotskyist IS to express the demand for them, to voice it in their behalf, to use the occasion to drive home the lesson that the withdrawal of the occupation troops is an indispensable necessity for the successful completion of the revolution they had begun (I don’t think your comparison of invading, occupying troops with Cossacks is a helpful one in this situation). (4) Don’t say that the IS wanted to concentrate on the demands that the Berlin fighters had used themselves’say why it wanted to do only that. Since when are we constrained to limit ourselves only to those demands already raised by the masses’isn’t that called tail-ending? (5) And finally, in support of my opinion that you have given us a lawyer’s argument, I want to remind you that the IS statement was dated June 25’more than a week after the Soviet troops had already engaged in hostile actions, that is, had saved the regime from almost certain overthrow by shooting down and jailing revolutionary workers. How could the omission of the demand in the IS statement on June 25 have had any effect in warding off the counter-revolutionary actions of the Soviet troops?

’But,’ you can say, ‘even if this was a mistake, couldn’t it be a mistake in tactics?’ It could, and that was why we were slow to draw conclusions, and why I wrote to ask you about it last summer. But when we began to hear the arguments of the American Pabloites, we saw that it went far beyond tactical differences. For their basic point in support of the IS’s omission was that to demand withdrawal of the Soviet troops from East Germany while imperialist troops remained in West Germany would be to play into the hands of imperialism. Ask yourself: Is that an expression of a mere tactical difference? Since the Soviet troops are the chief obstacle to the political revolution in East Germany, doesn’t such a line of reasoning itself become an obstacle to that revolution? Doesn’t it raise at least a question mark over our attitude to Stalinism, particularly to our traditional positions that the way to defend the Soviet Union is by extending the revolution and that the defense of the Soviet Union is subordinate to the extension of the world revolution. Those who refuse to recognize such a line as a danger signal pointing to the growth of sentiments conciliatory to Stalinism will probably never recognize as a danger signal anything short of a proposal to dissolve the International.

Now the rotten thing and the infuriating thing is that those who hold these ideas refuse to express them openly, confining them for the present to verbal discussion and private correspondence while they build a faction around them. And when we see what is really at the bottom of their ‘tactical’ proposals and how much damage it is causing in terms of morale and when we want to bring the thing out into the open, we are met with evasion and duplicity and denial’and you reproach us as users of the smear tactic for wanting to discuss what people ‘don’t write.’ The procedure they follow is the infallible hallmark of revisionists: unable to present their full position at the start because then they could make no headway, they nibble away at things, putting out a feeler here and a feeler there, retreating when they have gone too far and exposed their real hand, refusing to discuss the real orientation behind their tactical proposals, furiously denying any intention of abandoning principles, and vilifying those who want to come to grips with them as sectarian, ossified, helpless in the face of changing reality, etc.

You are wrong if you think the troops-withdrawal issue is the only important one involved in the dispute over Germany; the conception in the IS statement that the bureaucracy can’t stop half-way on the road to concessions is a wide open bridge to the theory of Deutscher. You are wrong when you say there is only ‘one wrong sentence’ in Clarke’s article on Stalin’s death. The only thing exceptional about that sentence, which mislabels the harmonious sharing of power between a section of the bureaucracy and the workers as ‘political revolution,’ is that there Clarke slipped and let too much out of the bag. But the entire article is drenched with Deutscherism and could easily have been written by Deutscher if he were a member of our party and under compulsion of unfolding his revision of Trotsky’s analysis of Stalinism cautiously and step by step. I really am surprised that you didn’t see that, and I urge you to reread it, noting among other things the new terminology: Stalin, you see, may have been ‘anti-revolutionary,’ but never, God forbid, must we say that he was counter-revolutionary because all the time he was an unwitting and blind instrument of the revolution, etc. And because we dared to differ from his article, Pablo condemned us as not expressing the International’s line. There was a time not too long ago when Pablo and Clarke both considered Deutscher the most adroit apologist for Stalinism; but that time is past, and they fight us because we don’t want any concealed Deutscherism in our press or in the International. And it isn’t Deutscher who has changed, I assure you.

But, you say, you’ll dissociate yourselves from any sharing of power ideas, you’ll put back the sentence on the Soviet revolution dropped from the Transitional Program, you’ll reaffirm that you really wanted the troops withdrawn from Germany’in short, you’ll clear up all the ’misunderstandings’ on these and other questions we have raised. Again, I don’t question your sincerity. You want to do these things, and they may even be done. The Pablo faction is now up against the wall; they need all the help they can get from people with prestige as orthodox Trotskyists who are foolish enough to give it to them; tactically, it may serve their factional interests to retreat until the present crisis is eased for them; they may not only permit you to add or alter these sentences, they may even ask you to do so.

But it won’t solve anything because it will be at the expense of blurring actual differences, of covering up their real orientation. The Pabloites won’t mind such a thing happening if it will help them to maintain their control over the International apparatus, because with that control they will be able to interpret as they see fit whatever resolutions are passed. But you would regret contributing to such an evasion as long as you lived. To lend yourself to such an operation would be shameful because it would obscure differences which you know exist even if you think them tactical’and when has the revolutionary movement ever been helped by the suppression of differences! That was the role played by Shachtman in 1939-40. Burnham was breaking with Marxism but Shachtman covered up for him, softened his sentences, helped him to conceal his departure in the interest of their factional alignment at least until the factional fight was over in our party; and that was the beginning of Shachtman’s ruin as a revolutionist. We called Shachtman Burnham’s advocate. I hope you won’t serve as Pablo’s advocate.

On a few others matters handled in your letter:

I asked why you think the SWP leadership, whose principled conduct in the past you voluntarily affirmed, has now become unprincipled. The IS Bureau letter in the French Pabloite paper of December, which I presume you endorsed, talks about our ‘complete degeneration,’ resulting from our ‘prolonged isolation from the masses and from the terrible pressure exerted on all social milieux in the United States by American imperialism preparing its counterrevolutionary war’ and says our leaders are ‘really adapting themselves to the atmosphere prevailing in the citadel of imperialism and camouflaging under "extreme left" language their own buckling under this reactionary pressure.’ You yourself, in the same paper, write that our leadership ’has lost its principles under the pressure of the reactionary atmosphere imperialism imposes on its country.’ (In your letter to me, in slightly more restrained fashion, you say that ‘objectively this is a result of alien class pressure, without saying that your party has already succumbed to that pressure.’)

As I said last time, you must do more than make statements, you must support them concretely. The only concrete attempt you make goes like this: The SWP has ‘broken with the International’ (to use your words) -- ipso facto, it is and must be buckling to the reactionary pressure of imperialism. But I repeat: We have not broken with the International, we have no intention of letting anyone drive us away from the International; we are fighting its anti-Trotskyist faction precisely because we don’t want to break with the International.

There is a terrible pressure exerted on the revolutionary party in this country, and its results are extremely harmful. But you don’t understand its results because you don’t see how they manifest themselves; you have the thing upside down. How is the pressure manifested concretely? By a desire, an instinct, a hysterical drive to get out of the line of fire. That is, by a movement to get out of our party, which is branded subversive, hounded, persecuted, threatened with legal prosecution. Those who are buckling under the pressure feel uncomfortable in our party. They want the party to stop resisting the pressure’to discontinue activities that can result in casualties (in Michigan the Pabloites were bitter about our elections campaign in 1952 because, according to their reasoning, ‘they might not have gone after us under the Trucks Act if we had not been running an election campaign that forced us to their attention’). The last thing in the world they wanted was the line of the Third World Congress that in this country we should act as an independent revolutionary party. And when they see that they can’t persuade our party to try to escape persecution by playing dead (that’s their concept of ‘propaganda activity’), then they want to get out of the party. Leaving our party also has certain attractions for opportunist elements in the unions: It is dangerous for party members to run for union office today because if elected they run the risk of being indicted and jailed for perjury under the Taft-Hartley Act, which requires an oath that you do not belong to any ’subversive’ organizations. Those who leave the party and thus can swear that they don’t belong to any group on the ‘subversive’ list can run freely for union office, regain a position of respectability in the eyes of the union bureaucracy, etc.

In other words, the way in which buckling under the pressure manifests itself is by a tendency to find pretexts to get out of this party, membership in which entails serious risks. But what about the International? Since we are not formally affiliated to it anyhow,our relation to the International does not and cannot play the same kind of role in this process I have described. Whether or not we actually do break with the International (and not merely with the Pablo faction) does not affect the status of the SWP on the ‘subversive’ list because the SWP remains on it and the International does not. That is why I say your easy little formula stands everything on its head. It is the Pabloites here who have buckled under the pressure and are driven by a desire to duck, not we. Your abstract explanation about us applies to them perfectly in the concrete. If you really believe what you have written, you must think it over again in the light of the Pabloites’ uncontrollable frenzy to get out of our party as soon as possible and under any pretext. Surely their sigh of relief as they left us must have been audible over the Atlantic.

Determined to shut your eyes to the political differences that motivate our conduct, you seek another explanation. Only one has suggested itself to you, and you recur to it at least nine times in your letter. Here is how I would summarize your explanation: We never would recognize any discipline in the International when we happened to be in a minority; we denied the IS the right to reach its own conclusions on matters concerning the SWP; what we wanted was a clique in the IS that would obediently raise its hands whenever Cannon gave the signal. These are hypotheses, and nothing else; you know very well that nothing ever happened in the past 25 years to give them the slightest shred of confirmation. Now, however, you contend that they are supported and even proved by one thing: We resolved to put through a brutal and bureaucratic expulsion of the minority and demanded that the IS passively accept it, and when we saw that that was not forthcoming, we decided to ‘break with the FI,’ wrote the Letter in order to ‘justify’ the break politically, etc.

According to this conception, everything would have remained harmonious if only the IS had acquiesced in the alleged bureaucratic expulsion. But first we must ask: Why should the SWP leadership want to expel the minority, bureaucratically or otherwise? What reason could they have? Merely because the minority expressed differences? But that had never happened before in our party. It didn’t happen now with the Marcy group, who also had differences and also expressed them. How could the leaders justify a bureaucratic expulsion to the members, who you admit have not been trained in such a school? What would the leaders have to gain from such an expulsion when everyone understood that the 18% minority could not hope to win the party leadership for a long long time, if ever?

Your entire explanation, you see, rests on one assumption’that a bureaucratic expulsion, or an expulsion of any kind, was wanted and needed by the leadership so badly that everything else must be subordinated to it. But this assumption had no validity.

The SWP leadership had neither the need nor the desire to expel the minority’it had contained them, contained them so successfully that the minority began to disintegrate right after the May plenum and would have disintegrated further if the minority leaders had not resumed all-out factional warfare in order to whip up and hold together their followers. You say the May truce could not work; your proof’that Burns ‘already had information to the contrary from Cannon.’ This is not true. He had no such information, and neither did anyone else. We regarded the May truce as workable, and expected it to work if the minority wanted it to work and if Pablo did plot encourage it to wreck the truce. We told the party we expected it to work. We wrote it in the press. Do you think the members of our party are so blind that such a double game can be played on them?

No, you’ve got it all wrong, as I explained at some length in my last letter. We didn’t want to expel them, we did everything we could to keep them in the party on the basis of democratic centralism. If they had wanted to remain in the party, nothing could have removed them. They wanted to get out and away, and there was nothing we could do to prevent them from going except to make an unconditional surrender and a shambles of our party. So your simple explanation falls to the ground. It explains nothing because it evades the question of why the minority left our party, of what pressure was driving them. It substitutes psychological speculation for political and organizational analysis. It answers no questions and raises many. Either your previous estimate of our party was completely wrong, or your present one.

The truth is that we were not interested in expelling the minority, but in keeping them in the party, if possible. That this was not possible. That we were not greatly concerned about what the IS thought about the minority split because we knew that no one claiming to speak in behalf of democratic centralism could possibly get away with a defense of their provocations. That our opposition to the Pablo line, expressed in the Letter and resolution, had crystallized before the minority’s boycott action and before our decision to take disciplinary steps against them. That we were determined to break with Pablo and go to the International with our appeal for his removal even if the minority had remained in the party.

Believe this or not, as you please. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking that your explanation rests on anything but thin air. It has no, more foundation in reality than the American minority’s charge that the SWP leadership has suddenly become ‘mad,’ ‘irrational’ and ’senile,’ which they offered in our fight to explain so many otherwise unexplainable things. But the charges against Pablo that I outlined to you last time are based on solid fact: He did prepare and was on the verge of expelling you and others before the Third World Congress because you dared to resist the orientation that was evidently at the bottom of his proposals for that Congress. He did succeed in bureaucratically getting rid of the over-whelming majority of the French party. He did foment a split in the British party by directing his faction to ignore its discipline and by trying to oust the majority leadership without having even the feeble pretext that is employed against us. He did encourage and support the American minority in their violations of discipline that could only end in split. These are not hypotheses, conjectures or ‘misunderstandings’ -- they are facts, facts with the most sinister implications for the future of the International. How much longer are you going to refuse to look them in the face? How much longer are you going to tell yourself that such acts are motivated by merely tactical differences?

You have made some dire predictions about what is going to happen to us. I want to touch on only one of the points you raise’our attitude to the French and Chinese parties. For over two years the Pabloites here (and I imagine elsewhere) have made them the whipping boys, the bogeymen and the horrible examples of what we would become if we didn’t follow Pablo’s course without deviation. The French were denounced as incorrigible Stalinophobes, capitulators to imperialism and hopeless sectarians who refused to participate in the real mass movement. The Chinese were condemned and ridiculed as ‘refugees from a revolution,’ including, I presume, those who were murdered at their posts inside China. Whenever anyone would say anything about the need for an independent party, the answer hurled at him was: ‘Look at China. Wasn’t the revolution made there without our party? Keep on talking that nonsense about the independence of the party and you will end up the way the Chinese did, unable and unwilling to see the revolution before your eyes, blinded by old schema, running away from the revolution.’ When someone would question the correctness of a major orientation to American Stalinism, he would get hit over the head with the French example of ‘Stalinophobia,’ etc. At first we didn’t know what to make of all this. But we began to catch on. Real Life helped us.

We watched the French closely for evidences of Stalinophobia as our own internal fight developed. We never found any. The policies followed by the two groups in the French general strike clinched the matter for us. In that test the majority unquestionably acted as revolutionists, which is more than could be said for the Pabloites. Whether or not they actually have shown traces of sectarianism, which is harder to detect from afar than Stalinophobia, two things are sure: this is a matter on which we will no longer be content to take Pablo’s word; and the French majority has shown themselves to be Trotskyists, and therefore people with whom we can discuss and work. Similarly with the Chinese. That they made errors during the revolution we know; these were errors that were at the time shared to one degree or another by everyone else in the International, including those who now try to make them scapegoats for our common errors. But we also know now that the claim that they have refused to recognize the Chinese reality or learn from past errors is a lie. Their letter of last January, which we never saw until a few months ago because Pablo suppressed it’and this was not the least scandalous of his bureaucratic crimes’convincingly refutes this lie. They have recognized and adjusted themselves to reality, they have adopted a generally correct attitude to the government and the CP. We can work with them too, and not on the basis of any wrong position on the Chinese question, which they have corrected and are correcting. So we are no longer impressed by horror tales slanderously directed against the French and Chinese comrades, or predictions that collaboration with them will inevitably drive us to fall into errors that they have already corrected or never actually committed in the first place. And we’re not going to tolerate any longer the Pabloite campaign to discredit, isolate and excommunicate them.

While we’re on the subject of predictions, maybe you’d better devote some thought to the future of the Pablo faction and your relations to it. First of course there will be a period, during which the undecided will be wooed, when the Pabloites may find it imperative to blur the distinctions, protest their orthodoxy and screen the course they are contemplating. But that will be only an interim period. When the dust has settled and all the anti-Pabloites have been expelled,what will there be to restrain them? They will be indisputable masters in what-ever is left of the Pabloite house; their need for you will be diminished; freed of the restraints imposed by the presence of the orthodox wing of the International, there will be nothing to stop them from proceeding at a greatly accelerated pace along their opportunist, impressionist road toward Stalinism. You know Ceylon: if you want an image of the future of the Pablo faction, look at what happened to both the groups that broke with the Ceylon party after they were released from the pressure of the real Trotskyists. And make no mistake’at best you will be a captive, and sooner or later an unwelcome one, because these people will want nothing to do with those who are unwilling to accompany them all the way down the road of the junking of Trotskyism.

At the end of your letter, you ask some questions about our readiness to accept ‘an organizational compromise for reestablishing the unity of the world movement,’ which, if I understand it correctly, is aimed at ending or restricting the public struggle that is going on between the two factions in the International. It seems to me, however, that such proposals should be addressed first of all not to us, but to those who started the public struggle. If you are serious about these proposals, are you willing to and will you:

1. Demand that the Pablo faction discontinue all public announcements of political positions not authorized by orthodox doctrine and previous congresses, and submit their revisions of such positions for discussion in the internal bulletin?

2. Demand that they cancel all summary expulsions and ‘removals’ of elected leaders of the national sections?

Don’t you recognize that these are necessary conditions for the consideration of your proposals, especially since it was the Pablo faction that started the ‘expulsion’ game? without these conditions your proposals cannot fail to have the appearance of an unworthy maneuver.

You have made important contributions to the movement, which we all have valued greatly. But now you are at a crossroads’or rather, you have already taken a first step down a road that will be fatal for you as a revolutionist. I urge you: Reconsider what has happened. Subordinate all subjective considerations. Rid yourself of all fetishistic conceptions about the International. Restudy the political differences, and where they lead. Recognize that a historic selection, overriding all secondary issues, is now taking place in the International. I earnestly hope that you will take your place on the side of those who want it to remain a Trotskyist International, and against those whose political and theoretical disorientation is driving them inexorably to conciliation with Stalinism and other alien forces. If you do, we will be ready to discuss a common line of action with you. Organizational accommodations are not now, and never have been, a primary consideration for us. What we are concerned with, first of all and above all, is political agreement.


George Breitman

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Last updated 17.10.2003