The Strange Silence
of the Militant

(January 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 2, 12 January 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Immediately after the declaration of war in this country, the National Committee of the Workers Party made public a statement of its opinion, which appeared in Labor Action. In doing so, it merely complied with the elementary duty of a working-class socialist organization. With the outbreak of the war, it acquitted itself of its first responsibility – the solemn and unambiguous reaffirmation of its internationalist stand against imperialist war. The Thomasite Socialist Party issued a statement at about the same time, according to its lights. Even the ghost of the Socialist Labor Party let itself be heard from in an official declaration on the war.

The Socialist Workers Party, however, made no statement of its position, either when the war broke out or in the more than four weeks period that has elapsed since then. Neither has The Militant, spokesman of the Cannonites, had a single word to say about its position on the war in the past month. In fact, it has talked about everything else except what every radical-worker has rightfully looked for it to say.

What is the explanation of this strange silence? What does it mean?

Unofficially, it seems, spokesmen of the SWP have stated that its position is top well known to require another statement and that, besides, its position was already stated in the course of the Minneapolis trial. This is true in so far as its position BEFORE the declaration of war is concerned. But that is not the point. What is involved is precisely the question of its position AFTER the declaration of war, NOW that the war is a fact in this country and not merely a prospect.

Another thing that remains unexplained is the failure of the SWP to reply to a communication sent it by the Workers Party. On December 11, 1941, the Workers Party wrote the National Committee of the SWP proposing the drafting of a joint statement against the imperialist war, to be signed by the two organizations. The letter said:

It is neither necessary nor possible, as you know, for us to arrive at an agreement on all the aspects of the Second World War. However, it is our opinion that sufficient agreement does exist between us on the decisive questions of the United States in the Second World War, to make both possible and urgently necessary, a joint declaration ...”

This letter, as stated, has not been answered; not even its receipt has been acknowledged. The strained and haughty attempts of the Cannonites to “ignore” our existence, so pathetically comical in the past, are not a sufficient explanation for their failure to respond this time. There is more than this involved, and not a few comrades – supporters of the SWP – are insistent on establishing just what is involved.

Can there be any connection between the singular silence of the SWP on the one side and the notorious theory advanced months ago by its leader, according to which the SWP would “telescope” the two tasks of fighting for socialism and at the same time defending the capitalist fatherland?

Shachtman button
Max Shachtman
Marx button
Marxist Writers’

Last updated on 23.3.2013