CLR James, Raya Dunayevskaya and others 1946

The Program of the Minority

Source: Bulletin of the Workers Party, Vol. 1 # 15, pp 35-39;
Written: 8 April 1946;
First Published: (internally) May 20, 1946;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden, with thanks to Joseph Auciello.

The coming convention of the Workers Party is confronted with opposing resolutions on all the main questions facing the party.

These differences began to appear in 1941 following the first convention of the Workers Party. Although the political differences remain within the framework, aims and principles of the Fourth International, the majority tendency in the Workers Party shows a growing divergence from the theories and methods of Marxism, the traditions of Bolshevism, and the program and perspectives of the Fourth International.

Therefore, for the purposes of the convention, the minority proposes to form an organized faction because it is firmly convinced that the party line must be radically changed in order to overcome the gap which exists between the radicalization of the American masses and the growth of the Fourth International in the United States.

The Workers Party is based upon the fundamental conception of a Bolshevik Party as one in which groupings and factions have the fullest right to existence.

The minority is fully aware of its responsibilities as members of a faction. It intends to be scrupulous in its observance of them.

It is also aware of its rights and it expects from the leadership of the party, precisely because it is in the minority, a scrupulous observance of the letter and the spirit of all its rights. The minority will expect the cooperation of the party leadership in trying to minimize the inevitable frictions inherent in factional relations. An important part of this cooperation is the education by the majority against rumors or accusations, either in public or in private, that the minority intends or proposes to split the party and join the Socialist Workers Party.

The minority particularly wishes to draw attention of the membership to the fact that it does not propose factional division in branches, branch executive committees and other organizational units of the party except in the highest policy-forming bodies.

The minority further declares that it will do it utmost to give an example of how a Bolshevik Party conducts factional struggles for the education of the party as a whole and to help convince the Socialist Workers Party and the Fourth International of the feasibility of unity and the sincerity of the Workers Party in this question.

Those comrades who understand and appreciate the significance of the general political line advocated by the minority should understand that it is not only their right but their highest duty to the movement to resist moral intimidation of any kind and to join the proposed faction. To follow the organizational course resulting from their political convictions constitutes not disloyalty but loyalty to the party.

While the minority does not in any way minimize the importance and significance f its position on the Russian question, it does not consider agreement on this question a prerequisite for joining the faction. It invites those comrades to join who accept the general line of this declaration and of the minority resolutions presented to the convention.

In the light of the above, the minority submits the following program to the membership.

Program for the United States.

1. For the reaffirmation of the analysis of the Founding Conference of the Fourth International that the United States, as part of world capitalism is in a pre-revolutionary period.

Against theories of American “exceptionalism.”

For the transitional program which is based on the objectively pre-revolutionary situation.

Against basing a transitional program on the conjectural backwardness of the masses.

For carrying on the day-to-day tasks in the framework of the concrete, actual, i.e., revolutionary perspective.

Against the opportunism which concentrates the attention of the workers on immediate demands while posing socialism as some distant and ultimate goal.

2. For the advocacy of a Labor Party distinguished from the very beginning from a reformist labor party and inseparably linked with the revolutionary purpose of the transitional program.

Against the sectarianism which opposes the slogan of the Labor Party.

For the propagation of the concept of workers’ control of production and a workers’ government based on factory committees. For propaganda and agitation for rank and file trade union committees, stewards committees, etc to open the books and to control production as a step in the development toward factory committees.

Against the abstract use of slogans of nationalisation, workers control of production and workers government, without linking them with concrete forms of mass action and organization.

For the propagation of the concept of workers defense guards in connection with every strike and street demonstration.

Against the concept that the propagation of workers defense guards presupposes preparation for the immediate seizure of power.

3. For the reaffirmation of the position of the Third International (First Four Congresses) and the Fourth International, that the Negro question is part of the national question.

Against the Debsian conception that there is no Negro question outside of the struggle between labor and capital.

For the recognition by the party of the immediate practical significance for the building of the party which lies in the tremendous revolutionary energy of the Negro masses.

Against any deprecation of the independent mass struggles of the Negro people. Against any program which implies breaking up the independent Negro organizations.

International Program

4. For the reaffirmation of the analysis of our epoch as being profoundly revolutionary and the analysis of the proletariat as capable and striving to take the most drastic measures to tear down capitalist society.

Against the theory of retrogression.

For the reaffirmation of the analysis of the Fourth International of our epoch as the death agony of capitalism.

Against any estimate of our epoch which poses the possibility for a world bureaucratic collectivist social order.

5. For the reaffirmation of the analysis of the Founding Conference of the Fourth International that the decay and ruin of bourgeois democracy only poses more sharply the perspectives of proletarian power.

Against all conceptions that the proletariat has been hurled back to the conditions of its birth, capable of struggling only for democratic rights.

6. For the reaffirmation of the position of the Founding Conference of the Fourth International that democratic slogans play only an incidental and episodic role. For the slogan of workers (or workers and peasants) republic. Advocacy only of a constitution based on the Soviet Power for advanced countries like France and Italy.

Against the conception that workers today can be brought into motion only by democratic slogans. Against raising the slogan of the democratic republic or “the most democratic constitution” for advanced countries like France or Italy.

7. For the reaffirmation of our traditional; analysis that a revolutionary situation can exist without a mass revolutionary party.

Against the theory that the situation in Europe and elsewhere cannot be revolutionary because of the absence of a mass revolutionary party.

8. For the Marxian analysis that Russia is a capitalist state, the most advanced outpost of the world-wide movement toward stratification.

Against the theory that bureaucratic collectivism is a new social order.

Against the theory that Russia is a workers state and demands defense by the working class, conditional or otherwise.

9. For the concept that the Stalinist parties, outside of the U.S.S.R., are working class parties.

Against any theory that these parties are the political expression of a new class.

For critical support to the Communist Parties, outside of the U.S.S.R., whenever they oppose the bourgeoisie (e.g. France, China).

Against any policy of abstentionism towards the Stalinists.

Against Stalinism chiefly because, more than any other party today, it frustrates and betrays the desires of the masses for social revolution.

For the self-mobilization of the masses towards workers democracy as the only safeguard against the Stalinist and reformist misleaders of the proletariat and as the only solution to the economic-political contradictions of capitalist society.

Building the Party

10. For the transformation of our party, now a propaganda group, into a mass party of the working class.

For the proletarianization of the party membership.

For a paper which appears openly and obviously as an organ of revolutionary socialism and which presents “the truths of Communism and the methods of social revolution” concretely related to the class struggle.

For a paper which will address itself mainly to the militant elements of the working class.

Against any reversion to concentration on the radicalized intelligentsia.

For a paper which acts as a recruiting agent in harmony with the rhythm of the developing class struggle in the United States.

For agitation which is governed by the strategy of the transitional program of the Founding Conference of the Fourth International.

Against superficial mass agitation which attempts week in and week out to bring the whole working class into motion. Against all pretensions of a small mass party.

11. For the education of our movement in the fundamental theories, history and traditions of Marxism.

Against the dilution of our political education under the disguise of “popularization.”

12. For the reaffirmation of the principle of democratic centralism based on a firm political line.

Against vacillations, irresponsible attitudes and actions of a political leadership towards the political positions which it has adopted or which are posed before the Fourth International.

For the reaffirmation of the principle of the proper relationship between the political line and the party regime.

Against the confusion of political issues by injections of disputes on regime.

Against any proposals of a “cadre” aimed at overcoming the failures and political weaknesses of the party by organizational means.

13. For the unity of the Trotskyist movement in the United States on the principle of democratic centralism.

Against the Cannonite conception of a monolithic party.

For posing the unity question in terms of the vital needs of the American proletariat and the Fourth International.

April 8, 1946

J.R. Johnson – N.C. Member
F. Forrest – C.C. Member (N.Y.)
Ruth Phillips – C.C. Member (N.Y.)
Sol allen – C.C. Member (Phila.)
Irving Marnin – C.C. Member (Phila.)
Martin Harvey
Bessia Graham
Tom Brown
George Tobin
Freddy Dutton
Helen Bright
Ria Stone
Lea Dillon
Carl Santon
Ike Blake
Artic Parks
Dave Biller
Mickey Bryant