James P. Cannon

Letter from James P. Cannon to Farrell Dobbs

From Toward A History of the Fourth International

Written: June 3, 1954
Source: Struggle in the Fourth International, International Committee Documents 1951-1954, Volume 4 of 4, page 243, from the collection Toward A History of the Fourth International, Part 3. Education for Socialists bulletin; issued by the National Education Department of the Socialist Workers Party (US).
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters
Editing and Proofreading: Andrew Pollack
Pubic Domain: This work is in the Public Domain. Please cite the James P. Cannon Internet Archive, a sub-archive of the Marxists Internet Archive for credit.

Los Angeles, Calif.
June 3
New York

Dear Farrell:

I received the notice of the Pabloite IS, indicating that they are going ahead with their so called “Fourth Congress.” If their gathering decides to constitute itself as such, it will signify the definitive international split. We should begin to consider our tactics in this event.

The first question that will be posed, if the Pabloites actually proclaim their gathering as the Fourth Congress, will be that of our public attitude toward it. For us to publicize their Congress in any way, in any polemics which we might direct against its decisions, would appear as an implicit recognition of their Congress and implicitly place the orthodox Trotskyists in the position of secessionists.

I think it will be better to ignore the Pabloite gathering and give it no publicity whatever in our press. Instead of that, the Trotskyist press should begin publishing material emanating from the IC as the bona fide center of the Fourth International, which in reality it is. From this point of view, I was glad to see that both The Militant and La Verite published the IC declaration on Dien Bien Phu without reference to the IC as a faction. That is a good beginning. I think it should set the pattern for our future tactical course.

Our reference to the “Pabloite faction,” which we have used up till now and which is also used in Murry’s latest article this week, has been correct for the whole period from our November Plenum up until the present time. But if the scheduled gathering of the Pabloites declares itself to be the Fourth Congress, further references to them as “a faction of the Fourth International” would be inappropriate. Thereafter, they should be designated simply as secessionists, but not as a faction of the Fourth International; and in no case as the Congress, IEC, or IS of the Fourth International.

After the Pabloite Congress, it will be time for the Trotskyist groups to begin an international discussion of new documents of their own on the world situation. It would be a good idea for those concerned to consider the questions to be dealt with in the resolutions and assign the writing of drafts. Once acceptable drafts are approximately agreed upon, they could be published in the International Bulletin and in our Internal Bulletin and a discussion opened preparatory to a real Congress to reconstitute the bona fide Trotskyist Fourth International.

I am submitting these suggestions on tactics for a preliminary discussion among the leading people affiliated with the International Committee.

Yours fraternally,

James P. Cannon