James P. Cannon & Max Shachtman

Joint Statement on Unity

(March 1947)

From The New International, Vol. XIII No. 4, April 1947, p. 98.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

In 1940 an internal struggle in the Socialist Workers Party resulted in a split, the Minority forming the Workers Party as an independent organization. The split has continued up to the present time. Attempts made in recent times to find a basis for the unification of the two parties satisfactory to both sides, given the existence of the recognized disagreements on a number of important questions, did not meet with success and the discussions of the project were discontinued.

Question of Unification Reopened

In recent days the question was opened again. New discussions between the leading committees of the two organizations have taken place. On February 10, the National Committee of the WP presented a written declaration in favor of unification. In this declaration the National Committee of the WP obligated itself to accept the decisions of an Extraordinary Party Convention projected for the coming fall. This obligation was undertaken with the understanding that the WP, like the SWP, would have the right to participate in the pre-convention discussion and to be represented at the EPC with full rights and in proportion to its numerical strength; and that fusion of the two organizations into a united party would be achieved. On this basis, the WP pledged itself to abide by the discipline of the united party, politically as well as organizationally, even if the EPC should adopt decisions which would place the members of the WP in the position of a minority.

The plenum of the National Committee of the SWP, meeting in New York, February 15–16, accepted this declaration as providing a realistic basis for unity and unanimously voted in favor of unification on this basis. In view of the WP declaration, the plenum of the SWP on its part agreed that the WP should have the right to participate in the preparatory discussion of the EPC in a special discussion bulletin which will be distributed to the members of both parties. This discussion is to be completed in the branches of the separate organizations before the formal unification.

Committees Recommended Unity of Parties

As to the specific forms of the proposed unification, it has been agreed by both sides that the members of the WP and the SWP, as of February 10, 1947, as well as all those recruited by each party subsequent to that date shall be admitted into the ranks of the united party as a body, without prejudice or discrimination. However, while the unity negotiations are in progress, neither party will admit into its ranks any individuals or groups who are now or who have formerly been members of the other party, except by agreement. During the same period it is agreed that no exclusive measures will be taken by either party against any members or groups in its ranks in disciplinary cases arising out of the discussion on unity without consultation with the other party.

On the basis of the agreements and conditions outlined above, the two National Committees are recommending the unification of the two parties. If this recommendation is approved by the members of the two parties, as preliminary consultation indicates is most probable, the formal unification will take place as soon as the discussion now proceeding in the ranks of the two organizations is concluded. In the meantime, a joint committee of the two organizations has been established, which is empowered to organize and arrange a program of cooperation and joint activities of the two parties in all possible fields of the class struggle, designed to lead up to and prepare the way for the informal unification.


James P. Cannon,
For the National Committee
ofthe Socialist Workers Party

Max Shachtman,
For the National Committee
of the Workers Party

New York, March 11, 1947

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