Max Shachtman

My Reply to the Open Letter

(August 1943)

From The New International, Vol. IX No. 8, September 1943, pp. 251–255.
Response to Open Letter to Max Shachtman, by A.T.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Friend:

I am obliged to you for your efforts to set me straight on so many things, the “German problem” included. The results, however, are not equal to the efforts. Because this is regrettably the case, I am compelled to add some supplementary, as well as critical, remarks to your somewhat misaddressed open letter.

1. The “reports and insinuations” about the “demoralization” of some German comrades, to which you devote so much of your letter, do not originate with me. They come originally from the Cannonites. Evidently, you have not yet learned that such “moral labels” are part of the stock vocabulary they employ against those political opponents whom they cannot otherwise answer. If you are interested in the rest of that vocabulary, you can find it in the recently-published first volume of Cannon’s Collected Works which is devoted to killing off the long-dead “petty-bourgeois opposition.” I have no doubt that if you had known who first applied the label, you would have directed your open letter, or one like it, to the right address ...

It is true that in the March 1943 New International, in speaking of the treatment accorded the views of the German comrades on the national question in Europe (embodied in their Three Theses), I wrote that “there is little wonder that some of them end up disheartened and even demoralized.” Is it really necessary to explain to you that these words were used and meant both in a different sense and a different spirit from those animating the Cannonites? You say somewhere in your letter that I insulted you. I will not do it “again” by giving such an explanation. Instead, I will confine myself to two statements:

I spoke of disheartenment and even demoralization of some German comrades, not on the basis of the Cannonite “insinuations,” but in simple reiteration of the way comrades of the German section itself described the situation following the accumulated experiences of their organization with the Cannonite leadership. And they are comrades whose reliability and good faith I have ample reason to accept without question, regardless of their agreement or disagreement with my political ideas.

Secondly, in spite of your letter, I must decline to retract my remarks – not so much the words, which are not so important, as the substance. I reserve for the latter part of my reply the reasons for my insistence.

2. You find it necessary to do more than is necessary. You defend your Cannonite friends in the case of the publication of the Three Theses of the Germans. “Even if late ... at least they are published in the end,” and that is a “great advance over your [Shachtman’s] administration,” when, it seems, nothing was published, either in the beginning or in the end.

You refer to the German theses on the construction of the Fourth International which were submitted for publication in The New International, some five years ago, when I was one of its editors. I do not recall very clearly the document, the circumstances, or the reasons I then had for not agreeing to its publication.

You compare this incident with the way the Cannonites handled the Three Theses. Let us grant that my vote against publishing your 1938 theses was a first-class mistake and an injustice. At worst, this revealed a personal aberration in the matter. What possible organizational or political motive could I have in “suppressing” the document? What policy did I have on the question of “constructing the Fourth International” – and in what act or proposal was it revealed – that the publication of the German document would have affected adversely? What part of my position in the International, or “control” of it, was I seeking to protect bureaucratically by the “suppression”? Were the theses perhaps directed against me? That would indeed be news. The fact is, as you must know, that (rightly or wrongly) none of us here attributed such vital importance to the document, to say nothing of the importance of “suppressing” it. This is partly demonstrated by the fact that the question never even came before the Political Committee of the party, where Cannon, always intensely interested in all questions relating to Marxian theory, could have the opportunity of expressing himself on it.

And the Three Theses? You say, with ever so much delicacy, that “almost a year was required to decide upon its publication.” I envy your ability to compress so much in so little! Never having quite mastered the knack of writing tersely, I would expand your delicate formula to read:

The Cannonites at first refused to publish the document at all. They inveighed violently against the German comrades, basing themselves on Cannon’s theory that public discussions are permissible (if at all!) only after the subject of discussion has been decided inside the party. I would go further, and say that, in a sense, the Three Theses did not suffer so much from suppression by the Cannonites as from over-publication. First, they published it for the exclusive use of their committee members, who were then properly lined up against it. A second time they published it for the exclusive use of party members, who were then properly lined up against it, by methods we have long known and which you are now learning. Then, finally, after the party convention had pronounced itself against the views of the Germans, and all was fairly safe, it was decided to communicate these views to the vulgar populace, accompanied by a, for him, appropriate comment by Morrow.

These are the two cases you compare, with praise for the better showing made by the Cannonites. I will not say you have lost your sense of proportion; I will simply assume that, in your own words, you do not want “to spoil the joke” by going into verbose detail about why “almost a year was required to decide upon its publication.” (While on the subject, may I ask how many years will be required to “decide upon the publication” of the article by the German comrade on Hilferding, which was “held up” for its reference to Hilferding’s theory of money?)

Let me now proceed to the “political” questions, since I know how popular is the novel belief (perhaps it is not so novel) that “organizational” questions, questions of “methods,” are not political matters, and in any case always belong to some nether region in party discussion.

3. You find that our position on the colonial question in the World War has nothing in common with Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism, and that any claim to the contrary is “the most colossal nonsense I have read in years.” On this question you “take decisively the side of the ‘Cannonites.’” Presumably that means, among other things, that you are still tor the defense of Anglo-American imperialism’s ‘’ally,” China, on substantially the same grounds set forth by Morrow and Morrison, who “have a correct political position en général.”

The only argument you have added to theirs, in refutation of the stand taken by our party, is that our position is the most colossal nonsense. That is, my dear friend – I am the first to acknowledge – a weighty argument deserving all the consideration it merits, but it is not fully convincing. It would be difficult for anyone to debate the colonial question on the basis of such an argument. For me, it is impossible. Better yet, it is superfluous, for I have dealt in many issues of The New International with arguments which 1 found somewhat more tangible and to the point. When you are prepared to take up in detail the articles I have written, I shall no doubt be willing to resume the debate on this question.

Nor is it very fruitful to discuss here the “correct political position” which, you say, the Cannonites have “en général.” The difficulty is that it is so “general.” Better that we continue with the concrete questions. In fact, that will be much more enlightening precisely as to their policy “en général.” That is why I proceed to the national question in Europe, into which you have introduced such a breath-taking “turn.”

4. You write: “The political line of demarcation runs (in the national question!) between you [i.e., Shachtman], Morrow, Morrison and Loris, on one side, and the Three Theses on the other.”

This is either a case of paper being patient, and indifferent to what is written on it, or a case of gross misunderstanding – at least on my part, let us say. I shall therefore try to clarify what is involved in the discussion of the national question in Europe, as I understand it and in highly summarized form. This should serve to establish where the line of political demarcation is really drawn and who stands on either side of the line.

(a) Soon after the entry of the United States into the war, I, among others, set forth the point of view that this would be a war of long duration, lasting five years, perhaps ten years, or even more, with no decisive military victory by either imperialist camp in sight; and that the war would come to an end only when “interrupted” by proletarian (or genuinely popular) revolutions. Until such revolutions would break out, the war would drag out and bring with it an ever-accelerating degeneration of capitalist society, economically and politically.

This point of view was embodied in theses finally adopted by the leading committee of our party. What the Cannonites have to say on this subject, I really cannot tell, for as you know, they incline to say as little as possible on the war. The views of the German section, so far as we know, are set forth only in the very summary Three Theses. My impression is that on this point there is sufficient similarity between our views. Right or wrong?

(b) We hold that one of the outstanding manifestations of the decay of imperialism in this war is that it throws society back, and forces toward the top of the political agenda questions which are “historically outlived.” This is especially true of imperialism in its fascist form, that is, the form toward which all capitalist society tends at one pace or another. Among the historically out-lived questions referred to, the most important in Europe today is the national question.

This question is new for us in two senses: First: in that it does not (cannot) appear in the same form it assumed in the period of the constitution of the modern big nations as part of the struggle against feudalism, and second, in that the question of national liberation arises now in countries which were yesterday not only independent national states, but also imperialist national-oppressor states (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, Holland, Belgium, France) and which have now been reduced to the status of colonial or semi-colonial countries by German imperialism.

We hold further that this is not some peculiar aberration of German imperialism alone, but a characteristic of modern imperialism in general; that this is not purely or essentially a temporary phenomenon, or a “mere” war phenomenon that will disappear when “military necessities” no longer “require” it. In the extension of imperialist dominion over former independent and even imperialist nations, and their reduction to the position of colonies, we see a further development of the trend in present-day capitalist society toward the establishment of what your Theses and our Resolution both refer to as the modern slave state.

We have set forth these views in various theses, polemical articles, and especially in our detailed resolution on the National and Colonial Question. If you do not like my phrase that, on this point, too, the “Germans are on the right track,” let me use another: There is a sufficient similarity of views between us. Again, that is my impression. Right or wrong?

The Cannonites, on the other hand, have little if anything in common with these conceptions, to the extent that they give coherent expression to any conception at all on this point. Right or wrong?

(c) We affirm that the national question has been placed on the agenda again in Europe – in a new form and in new social and historical conditions.

Wright denies this, and proves his point with irrefutable conclusiveness by a quotation from Lenin in 1915 that the struggle for national independence in such countries as France is a thing of the past; his program of action would consist in parading through the revolutionary underground movement in France carrying a placard with this quotation written on it, plus the added admonition that they are wasting their time on a task which their bourgeois ancestors solved for them a hundred and fifty years ago. Morrow has essentially the same understanding, i.e., lack of understanding, of the problem and policy for dealing with it. Morrison is a congenial person who believes every people is entitled to national independence (Lenin said so), but right now in Europe the way to champion it is to maintain the strictest silence unless some undisciplined person asks you the question point-blank. Morrison has discovered that if he comes out in plain English for national independence in France, Holland, Poland and Servia, as he does in China, he will have to support de Gaulle, Queen Wilhelmina, the Polish bourgeoisie and Prince Peter as much as he now supports Chiang Kai-shek.

That, you say (“in order not to spoil the joke”?), is substantially our position! Excuse me.

The Cannonites contend that there is a difference in principle between the national question in Europe and the national (colonial) question in Asia. Loris, I note, challenges this preposterous contention; so, decidedly, do we; if my impression is not wrong, so do you. The Cannonites deny that the “outlived” national question has arisen again in the large countries of Europe; you and Loris, so far as I can judge, and our party, hold the contrary view. The Cannonites are thus compelled to oppose the prominent advancement of democratic slogans in Europe today, especially the most important one of national liberation, the right of self-determination. We hold that the road to freedom for Europe, the road to the Socialist United States of Europe, lies through emphatically advancing to the forefront the main democratic slogans as a means of reawakening the masses, reassembling the proletarian and revolutionary movements, setting them into motion against their imperialist oppressors, and thereby facilitating the switching of the struggle onto the rails that lead to proletarian revolution and power.

What considerations animate Loris in his highly diplomatic polemic against the export-radicalism of the Cannon-ites, I do not know exactly and am not violently interested; but in the views he does put forward on this point he seems to face in the same direction as ourselves. So – this is my impression, you understand – do you. Right or wrong?

(d) Finally, you write:

Here is the national movement, and it is a progressive movement according to both the objective conditions and the aspirations of the masses. We have to accept it, just as it is, for the proletarian leadership is not “ordained,” it is conquered. Only the most intimate participation can enable us to destroy the bourgeois influence in stubborn struggle against all other tendencies, to lead the movement to victory and to shift it over to the socialist revolution.

If this is written in opposition to our viewpoint, God alone in his infinite wisdom knows why. Allow me to quote from another document:

In the first place, it [the revolutionary vanguard] must find its place right in the heart of this underground popular movement, especially now, when the movement is still in a fluid state politically, before it has become programmatically and organizationally rigid in a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois sense, that is, before any of the bourgeois or petty-bourgeois political currents in the general movement has succeeded in completely centralizing it and imposing its political program and leadership upon it ...

Unless the revolutionary Marxists are in the movement from the beginning, it will be impossible for them to accelerate the process of differentiation and influence it in the direction of revolutionary proletarian hegemony and policy ...

The presence of the revolutionary vanguard elements in the movement, and above all, a correct policy, are urgently required to counteract reactionary imperialist and social-imperialist currents. Otherwise, the definitive victory of these currents will convert the movement into a reactionary tool of imperialism and nullify its progressive significance ...

The Marxists seek, first of all, to establish the hegemony of the proletariat and of proletarian policy in the general movement. They must therefore agitate for the incorporation of progressively bolder economic demands for the workers into the program of the national movement and its daily activity ...

The “hegemony of the proletariat” in the national movement does not mean the abandonment of the struggle for national liberation in favor of the “purely socialist” struggle, in view of the fact that in the actual movement, “hegemony of the proletariat” would only mean the hegemony of the more advanced elements of the proletariat, who would still have to appeal for the support of the main body of the working class as well as the peasantry. The latter will respond quickly only if the “activist” movement puts at the head of its demands the war cry of national freedom ...

The task of the revolutionary Marxists, therefore, is to explain to the masses, on the basis of their own experiences (which sometimes must be repeated and repeated before their lessons are finally assimilated!) that the democratic rights and democratic institutions which the masses desire cannot be assured by the bourgeoisie in power, but only if the workers continue their struggle to the end of taking power in their own hands, of ruling through the most democratic and representative bodies, the councils of workers and peasants ...

Etc., etc.

Where do these quotations come from? From Wright? From Morrow? From Morrison? From one of the many contributions Cannon has made to the discussion on this question, with that rich Marxian erudition and politico-theoretical insight for which he is justly renowned? Or even from Loris? No, my friend. They are taken from the resolution of our party on the National and Colonial Question, published in the January and February 1943 issues of The New International. This is most unfortunate for your conception of where the “political line of demarcation” should be drawn in this dispute. But the interests of political clarity are the gainer, and that is, is it not, what we are both interested in.

Political clarity demands also, I am compelled to acknowledge, that the formula which you quote from my article (that the struggle for genuine national freedom can be re-launched only by the proletariat) be either revised or elaborated, so that it ceases to lend itself to misunderstanding or misinterpretation. If you read, in detail, our party resolution, you will see clearly the sense of this formula. Even Hitler can “launch” a national movement and struggle, as he did in Iran, or as the Japanese did in Burma. Eisenhower can even “launch” a popular revolution in Italy with the advance of his armed forces. My aim, first and foremost, is to distinguish between the imperialist “national” movements, and the genuinely democratic, plebeian, mass movements for national freedom, which are composed overwhelmingly of proletarians and peasants. My aim is to distinguish between the genuine national movement in France, for example, which was “launched” by the proletarians, and is predominantly proletarian (if you wish, plebeian), and the national “movement” of the French imperialist army of de Gaulle and Giraud. The former must be supported wholeheartedly; the latter opposed and exposed. Yet, permit me to say, even to the former, to the revolutionary underground movement, I would set one “condition” for support: that the movement does not become part and parcel of the Allied imperialist camp, integrated in it and subordinated to it, a situation that may (not will, but may) develop if and when the Allied plus the de Gaullist armies land in France and if they succeed in establishing their domination over it.

Reflection now impels me to conclude that it is not so much your point of view on the national question that I have misunderstood. I misunderstood the real point of the “joke”: Your letter was misdirected – it was meant for the address of the Cannonites! I do not find this so objectionable. Only, I think we should have been given only a copy and that the original should have been sent to them.

5. Which brings me directly to the last point – “demoralization” and the like.

It is quite unnecessary to point out to me the difficulties the German section and its leadership have labored under for years, the lack of full-time party workers, the meagerness of financial resources, etc. That affects many things; it has little to do with my point.

It is equally unnecessary to insist that the German comrades, or you in particular, are not demoralized in the struggle against the class enemy and for the socialist revolution, or that if it should ever come to pass that you quit the struggle, you would not act like those miserable chunks of moral flesh who reproach others to excuse themselves.

My remarks referred simply and solely to the fact that at least some of the German comrades had lost, or failed to display, their “morale” in the fight against Cannonism, and the policy and regime it represents. That is all; but it is enough.

You say you are preparing a reply to Morrow? I will read it with interest. You say that answering Morrow is as good as answering anyone else, if the interests of the cause require it? Agreed, even if it is not always pleasant or even profitable. But let me give you a few examples of what I mean by demoralization in the concrete case.

You allowed the Fourth International to be undermined and reduced to a fiction without a serious struggle.

I will not dwell upon the German participation in the farcical “international conference” which was brought together for the sole purpose of sanctioning our bureaucratic expulsion from the SWP by means of a procedure which not even Foster and Pepper used against us in the CP, or Stalin against Trotsky and Vuyovich in the CI. After they expelled us from the CP, Foster and Pepper allowed Cannon, Abern and me to appear before a Plenum of the Central Committee to appeal against our expulsion, and no conditions were attached to our appearance. Stalin allowed Trotsky and Vuyovich to appear before the Comintern Plenum with their appeal, also without conditions. After our expulsion from the SWP, Cannon would not allow us even to appear with our appeal before the “international conference” unless we declared formally, in advance, that we would accept whatever decision was taken. Doesn’t this alone entitle him to a place right next to Lenin as an expert in Bolshevik organizational principles and party democracy? A pity that the documented “incident” is not included in his recently-published book.

But I want to speak really of what has taken place after the installation of the new, “safe” Executive Committee and Secretariat, both qualified as “International.” Will you be good enough to inform me of a single action that these bodies could take, or have taken, against Cannon’s veto? Will you be good enough to inform me of what action it took, or word it uttered, in connection with the scandalous refusal of the SWP to issue a political declaration on the war, when the United States became a participant? I know what your opinion was. I know what was the opinion of the German comrades generally. But where was the International “leadership,” or, more simply, where was the International? Does it exist only for ceremonial purposes? Is it merely a costume that Cannon dons on special occasions to show that he, thank God, is an internationalist? Is it valuable to him only to the extent that it “supports” him against us, and thereby proves the “isolation of the petty-bourgeois opposition in the ranks of the Fourth International”?

There is a vitally important discussion going on in the International on the national question in Europe. The French section has taken a stand, more or less. Your section, too. The English comrades are discussing it. The SWP has taken a “position” (the saints preserve us!). Where is the International? Where is its leadership? What does it have to say on the question? What guidance does it offer in the discussion, and in the decision that must be taken some day on a world-wide basis?

Here is the answer to the riddle: The leading international comrades are opposed to the SWP position on the question. Therefore? Therefore, the “Executive” or the “Secretariat” of the Fourth International keeps its mouth shut. It confines itself to the world-shaking act of excommunicating Quebracho from the Argentine movement. There’s leadership for you! A real subject for Volume Two of Cannon’s Collected Works on the organizational principles of Bolshevism! Do you begin to see what I meant specifically by “demoralization”? The Germans are part of this “leadership of the International,” aren’t they? But I have yet to see an “open letter” from them on this question.

Again: One of the most, if not the most, important political acts of the Trotskyist movement since the war began was the conduct and policy of the leaders of the SWP in the Minneapolis trial. We have deliberately refrained from dealing with the question for reasons which I suppose you understand. Be that as it may. One of the leaders of the Fourth International, Comrade Grandizo Munis of Mexico, did deal with the question. He wrote a sharp criticism of the policy followed by Cannon and Goldman in their trial testimony. He was not dealing with some trifle, some petty incident, but with the most important wartime political action of the leading section of the International. Cannon understood this. He wrote a reply, and both documents were “in the end” printed in pamphlet form. Without for a moment implying that I agree with Muniz on all points, I will nevertheless say that Cannon’s reply proved all over again that “the style is the man,” and that the contents are worthy of him.

Now, I ask: Where was the International in this most important political dispute? Did it intervene in any way? Did it express an opinion one way or another? Did it endorse the policy of Cannon, or the criticism of Muniz, or what the devil did it do? Does it exist only for the purpose of mumbling “Amen” to everything The Leader says, or, failing that, to remain silent? And the Germans – did they have anything to say, or didn’t they consider the matter of importance?

It is not an “outdated” matter. It is still current. Here is what Goldman writes in The Militant, as recently as July 10, 1943:

... The Supreme Court said [in the case of the Stalinist, Schneiderman] practically what the defense in the Minneapolis case contends in its brief, namely, that the Communist Manifesto must be interpreted in the light of the conditions under which it was written; that in 1848, when the Communist Manifesto was issued, there was no democracy whatsoever in Europe; hence, there could be no way of effecting a revolution other than through violence.

Yes, my friend, there it is, word for word and in bold-face type. What a garland of roses for the grave of Eduard Bernstein! The very essence of the thoughts of Marx, eh? And of Lenin. And of Trotsky. And positively saturated with the dialectical spirit.

What does the “International” say to this? What can it say when one of its embittered leaders (not demoralized, not disheartened, just embittered!) found it possible to speak of the Secretariat as “Cannon’s wastebasket”? It says nothing. Why? Because it doesn’t exist. The Germans, however, do exist, whether or not they have professional workers. What do they say? They write “open letters.” To whom? To Goldman? To Cannon? To the SWP? No – to Shachtman! You see, I do get the “joke,” after all!

Again: At the September 1940 Plenum of the SWP, the Cannonites adopted the slogan of “workers’ control of conscription.” The best that could be said for it was that it was equivocal. It became for a while the chief point of distinction between the “revolutionary” Cannonites and us “pacifists.” We hammered away at it. As you know, they dropped it completely and it hasn’t even been mentioned in The Militant for I don’t know how long. Where, dear friend, were you in this fight?

And where were you, or the German section, or the “International,” in the fight against the social-patriotic formula put forward at the same Plenum by Cannon, as his “new” contribution to Marxist policy in the imperialist war? He said, you will surely recall, that in reply to the social-democratic question about what to do if Hitler attacks us, “we answered in a general way, the workers will first overthrow the bourgeoisie at home and then they will take care of invaders. That was a good program, but workers did not make the revolution in time. Now the two tasks must be telescoped and carried out simultaneously.” (My emphasis – M.S.) In our criticisms of this “new” policy, we tore it to shreds, if you will permit me to say so. Cannon never even dared defend or repeat this “original” contribution of his. It was dropped into oblivion, where it belongs and where, I hope, it will remain. What did the “International” say? Good, a waste-basket cannot be expected to say anything in a political dispute. But the Germans, who are not a waste-basket, might have tried an open letter. They did not. Evidently, the rationing of paper in England is exceptionally severe.

Or finally: How is the silence of the German comrades on the recent past of the SWP to be understood, the SWP which cannot be a formal part of the “Fourth International” because of American laws, but which is certainly a political part of it? Are you unaware of the Cannonite policy of “preserving the cadres during the war,” which is interpreted in practice as complete passivity in the unions and the class struggle, self-effacement, what Lenin used to call khvostism (tail-endism), which is taught to the SWP membership as the quintessence of Leninist wisdom, in contrast to our “adventurism”? (Yes, yes, we “petty bourgeois democrats” have turned with iron dialecticality into “adventurists” and even “putschists”!)

Have you nothing to say, either, on what is being substituted for class struggle activity in the SWP – the vulgar and ludicrous iconization of Cannon? Surely, you do not regard this as a “personal” question, or a trivial “organizational” matter. By now we should all have learned better.

People with well-hinged knees write repeatedly in Cannon’s magazine, without smiling, of “Marx, Lenin; Trotsky and Cannon.” Nobody protests indignantly, not even Cannon. Indignation at Byzantinism is reserved only for Russia. A special Commission is solemnly set up by the SWP Political Bureau to assemble the writings (don’t laugh!) of Cannon for publication as collected works. (I do not envy the commission its task; it is still scratching its head: “Where do we even start to look for the stuff?!”) All his factional trivia and bluster of the last party fight is painfully gathered together and blown up into a book on the fundamental principles of Bolshevik organization, which its editor coolly classifies as superior to anything ever written by Lenin or anyone else on the subject. Unrestrained adulation is the weekly rule of The Militant in its series of reviews of the book which every member of the intimate clique writes (or is obligated to write). The membership is taught that there were only three really Bolshevik organizations in history – Lenin’s Party, the Russian Opposition, and Cannon’s party. The Fourth International? Its sections? Dreck, as we say in German. Is it not a fact that Wright said just that in his introduction to Cannon’s book? We learn from the friends we still have in the SWP that under stiff protest of international comrades, this passage was finally deleted and the introduction reprinted. A good beginning! But though the words are gone (in one case, at least), the “education” remains.

How is it possible to make an icon out of a man who so perfectly fits what Marx once shouted at Weitling? Well, Trotsky once reminded us, in writing about the ridiculous attempts to do the same thing with Sen Katayama, that there is a Japanese proverb, “Even the head of a sardine can be worshipped, the main thing is to have faith.” But we have always regarded this sort of thing not only as undignified in the working class movement, but as a means, and a symptom, of the corruption of the movement – not as a mere personal matter, which makes you sick to see, but which you try to shrug or smile away, as Goldman does.

I note that in this “trifling matter,” too, you have not found it necessary to express yourself. No open letter, and, so far as I know, no closed one.

But enough for now. From what I have written, you will understand, even if you do not agree, why I must decline to accept what you call the “political line of demarcation” in the national question, and reluctantly refuse to withdraw my remarks, which I hope you now understand a little more clearly, about the demoralization of “some” of the “comrades.”

August 18, 1943

Max Shachtman

P.S. – I now hear that the Cannonites have received a copy of your open letter to me for publication in their press. My friend, it is for their archives! Have you any idea that it will be printed by them, even “in the end”? I have no such idea, although I should be delighted to be disillusioned (once!) by Cannon. I do know that if one of my comrades sent an open letter of criticism to the press of an opponent, then, whether or not the opponent published it, I would most certainly favor publishing it in my party press. What then is the difficulty for Cannon? Simply the fact that he could not publish your letter without making some political comment of his own on it! And what could he say, my friend, what could he say? Und das, again as we say in German, ist des Pudels Kern!

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