James P. Cannon

What Is the
Socialist Workers Party?

(28 September 1946)

Published: The Militant, Vol. X No. 39, 28 September 1946, p. 6
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: This work is in the under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists’ Internet Archive/Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors, translators, proofreaders etc. above.

The Socialist Workers Party is a political organization of American workers that fights for the interests of the working class 365 days of the year.

The Socialist Workers Party is different from all other political groupings. The Republicans and Democrats are instruments of America’s ruling class. They safeguard the profits and special privileges of the tiny minority of Big Businessmen who exploit the vast bulk of the population. We stand 100 percent opposed to these parties and the clique of billionaires they represent.

The Socialist Workers Party likewise opposes such groupings as the American Labor Party, Liberal Party, Communist (Stalinist) Party, and so on. We are against giving any support whatsoever to capitalist candidates as is customary with the treacherous leadership of these parties. We believe in the independent political action of the working class.

The Socialist Workers Party participates in the daily struggle of labor against the capitalists. Our members take a leading part on the picket lines and wherever the battle for Labor’s rights is sharpest and toughest. The fight for higher wages, shorter hours and better conditions has no better champion than the Socialist Workers Party.

Our aims, however, are far broader than simple trade unionism.

World society can no longer advance under the capitalist system. National boundaries are like a strait-jacket on industry. The decay of capitalism has brought forth fascism. It has inflicted two world wars on our planet; and a third slaughter is now in preparation. After the present artificial boom a crisis and a depression eclipsing anything yet seen loom before us.

Already Europe, for centuries the heart of world civilization, lies in ruins. America cannot escape the spread of this decay. Indeed the development of the atomic bomb and other frightful instruments of destruction is a most ominous warning that humanity itself faces extinction if the chaos and anarchy of capitalism continues.

The only hope is to end capitalism and build a socialist society. Under socialism the rule of a privileged minority is ended forever. The national resources, transportation system, mines, mills and factories as well as finance and credit pass into the hands of the people. Planned economy is introduced by a Workers’ and Farmers’ Government. The necessity for piling up profits for a wealthy few no longer cripples and binds the production system. Rational boundary lines no longer tie down industry. The new law that rules society is production at the greatest possible capacity for the use of the people.

The Socialist Workers Party is dedicated to the great goal of guiding the working class out of the blind alley of capitalism and into the planned society of socialism. The road to socialism is the road to peace and plenty.

The socialist program offers the only realistic guide in the struggle against imperialist war and fascism.

Since the end of open hostilities in the Second World War, we have aroused the workers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, and other cities over the mounting menace of native fascism. Our banners, placards and slogans have been prominent in all the big picket demonstrations organized by the labor movement against the fascist demagogue Gerald L.K. Smith.

Our tradition of opposition to imperialist war has not been marred by a single deviation. For years before the Second World War we told the workers the truth about Wall Street’s preparations for another blood bath. At the outbreak of armed conflict we did not flinch in carrying out our duty. In the torrent of lies about fighting a war for “democracy” and “four freedoms,” ours was the only voice that told the truth. We said it was an imperialist war fought over markets and colonies and for profits. We said the war could not end in peace, that it would only pave the way for a more terrible third world war.

Eighteen leaders and members of the Socialist Workers Party were railroaded to federal prison for standing up for these truths and for advocating socialism in America; but the capitalist government did not succeed in breaking our will or in silencing our voice.

Now we are opposing the preparations for a Third World War with all the vigor and might at our disposal.

In the struggle against Jim Crow and all forms of racial and minority discrimination, the Socialist Workers Party is gaining increasing recognition for its uncompromising and militant stand. We demand an end to Wall Street’s lynch law government. We demand full economic, social and political equality for the Negro people. We believe the Negro people are destined to play a great and heroic role in the struggle for a Socialist America.

The Socialist Workers Party believes in the international solidarity of the working class. The interests of the workers extend across all frontiers. We defend the workers of other lands and the colonial peoples against imperialist oppression and against despotic foreign rule. We are not affiliated to any international organization – the reactionary Voorhis Act bars us from that – but we uphold the ideas of the Fourth International, the world party of socialist revolution founded by Leon Trotsky.

Heirs of Lenin

Although many workers may have heard about the Socialist Workers Party for the first time only recently, we are not a new party nor an untested party. Our program is based on the granite principles worked out by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels almost a century ago. We are the heirs and continuators of the program and methods developed by Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, the first workers’ state in history.

We likewise base ourselves on the heritage of Leon Trotsky who analyzed and fought the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. Trotsky foresaw the Second World War and its terrible consequences more clearly than any other person. The program he formulated with scientific precision has been confirmed by every great turn of events. His teachings, entrusted to the Socialist Workers Party, now constitute a guide that can lead the workers out of the misery, despair and bloodshed of capitalism into the better world of socialism.

Active, militant trade unionists constitute the majority of the membership of the Socialist Workers Party. Housewives and student youth likewise are finding their, place in our ranks. All races and colors of mankind are welcomed on an equal basis.

We adhere to “democratic centralism,” the form of organization developed by Lenin. In accordance with this principle, the membership democratically controls the party but centralizes. authority for the execution of decisions reached in free discussion.

Every member of a working man’s family who is against another war, who is against capitalist exploitation and capitalist oppression should join the Socialist Workers Party. Here he will find energetic, militant, self-sacrificing comrades whole-heartedly devoted to the great historic task of freeing humanity from the chains of capitalism.

The combined political power of these workers far exceeds the simple sum of their individual strength taken one by one. This power, in turn, gives new strength, courage and freedom of mind to the ranks. An entirely new life will open up for the sincere, militant worker who joins the Socialist Workers Party – a life of the greatest satisfaction, the only life that is really worthwhile, a life dedicated to the struggle against capitalism and for the world of socialism.

Last updated on 18 June 2021