MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: World War II: Emergency Conference: 1940

Emergency Conference Of The Fourth International

Resolution On The Internal Struggle In The
Socialist Workers Party

Adopted by the Emergency Conference of the Fourth International
May 19-26, 1940

1. The recent split in the Socialist Workers Party, official section of the Fourth International in the United States, came as the result of an attempt by a petty-bourgeois minority to revise the fundamental program of the Fourth International for unconditional defense of the Soviet Union and the refusal of this minority to abide by the decisions of the majority in the convention called to decide the issues in dispute.

2. In attempting to revise our program calling for unconditional defense of the Soviet Union without at the same time relating the proposed revision to the question of the class character of the Soviet Union, which the Fourth International has exhaustively analyzed as a degenerated workers’ state, the petty-bourgeois opposition was guilty of a fundamental revision of the methodology of Marxism. On the part of James Burnham, ideological leader of the group, this attempt at revisionism was extended to complete rejection of the basic principles of scientific socialism as first propounded by Marx and Engels and subsequently developed by Lenin and Trotsky.

3. The attempted revision of our fundamental principles was begun by the petty-bourgeois opposition immediately after the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact and gained impetus with the outbreak of the Second World War, thus clearly indicating that the force pushing the petty-bourgeois elements of the party into opposition to the Fourth International was the war pressure of the democratic bourgeoisie.

4. Not only did the petty-bourgeois opposition attempt to revise the fundamental principles and political conclusions of the Fourth International, it attempted also to revise Bolshevik organizational methods. The opposition participated in the April convention of the Socialist Workers Party, thus recognizing the authoritativeness and validity of the convention. Nevertheless it rejected the majority decisions and, in flagrant violation of democratic centralism, launched an independent press in or-der to appeal to the public in its attack against the Fourth International.

In view of the previous discussion which was conducted with the fullest democracy in accordance with the best traditions of Bolshevism, and in view of the guarantees for the minority to continue its factional existence, to present its views to the party in an Internal Bulletin even after the convention adjourned, and to hold posts in all the leading bodies regardless of the views of the members of the opposition and without penalty for their previous infractions of party discipline, this rejection of the convention decisions by the members of the opposition and their subsequent desertion from the party can be interpreted in no other way than as additional evidence of the petty-bourgeois character of the opposition.

The Emergency Conference of the Fourth International endorses the action of the American section of the Fourth International in suspending all those who violated the decisions of its April convention.

The conference suggests to the National Committee of the SWP that it set a definite time limit of one month after publi-cation of conference decisions within which the suspended mem-bers must signify their acceptance of the convention decisions under penalty of unconditional expulsion from the party.

5. The Emergency Conference of the Fourth International views the struggle of the proletarian majority in the Socialist Workers Party as a struggle in defense of the program of the Fourth International, from the heights of its Marxist theory right down to its Bolshevik organizational principles. The Emergency Conference calls upon all the sections of the Fourth International to solidarize themselves with the Socialist Workers Party in this struggle.

Last updated on 12.5.2005