James P. Cannon

To The Party Members

Written: October 28, 1928
First Publshed: The Militant, New York, Volume 1, No. 1, November 15, 1929.
Source: Original bound volumes of The Militant and microfilm provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California.
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters
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The following letter was sent to the members of the Communist Party with the text of the previous statement.

Dear Comrades:

Yesterday the undersigned presented the attached statement to the Political Committee, which had been called into special session for the purpose of conducting our trial. In this statement, as will be seen, we clearly and openly declare our agreement with the platform of the Russian Opposition and demand that the party publish their platform and other important political docu-ments which up till now have been suppressed and concealed from the party members.

The Political Committee refused to publish the suppressed documents and immediately declared all three of us expelled from the party because of our views.

Such methods, which substitute bureaucratic control for ideolo-gical and political leadership, have permeated our party to an alarming degree, adversely affecting its policies, choking its inner life, weakening its influence, blocking its growth. These methods tend to transform the party from a living body of revolutionaries into an institution which makes thought unlawful. When loyal communists are expelled for their views, when inquiry and discussion on principled questions are prohibited, when the party members fear to think, when they vote for decisions without in the least understanding them, the party is in danger. That is the meaning of the atmosphere created in the unscrupulous and demagogic struggle against Trotsky and the Russian Opposition during the past five years. That is the real meaning of our expulsion for stating our views. The proletarian masses of the party must awaken to this danger and take up the fight against it. They must break through the bureaucratic crust which has formed itself on top of the party. They must demand full information on all sides of the question so that they can decide for themselves intelligently and not merely from wrong and non-Leninist conceptions of formal discipline. To help bring about this awakening we have addressed our statement of views to the Political Committee and now address it to the party ranks.

As is known to all active communists, we are not people who only yesterday began to work for revolutionary ideas. The step we have taken is a seriously considered and deliberate one, based on a firm conviction of revolutionary duty.

Since we are communists, bound to the party by our whole conception and by our lifetime of revolutionary activity, it goes without saying that our struggle, like the struggle of the Russian Opposition, will be conducted solely on a party basis. Our expulsion, like the expulsion of the Russian Opposition, can only be temporary. The permanent victory of a machine over a correct political line never yet happened and never can happen to the Communist Party. We will appeal for reinstatement to the plenum of the Central Executive Committee and from it, if necessary, to the party convention and to the Communist International. All those who share our views and stand with us will react to measures taken against them in the same way.

It is our aim to bring the documents of the Russian Opposition, a treasure of revolutionary work, to the party members as rapidly as possible. All comrades who are willing to help in this revolu-tionary task or who wish to receive the material are invited to correspond with us at the above address.

With Communist greetings,

James P. Cannon, member of the Political Committee and CEC
Martin Abern, member of the CEC
Max Shachtman, alternate to the CEC