Letter from James P. Cannon to Farrell Dobbs, December 7, 1953

Documents 1 through 9 and 11 originally published in Internal Bulletins of the SWP and the International Bulletins of the International Committee

Dear Farrell:

I read the two Germain letters, also Breitman's reply. This is one of the most important developments, in my opinion. I do not think Germain is a revisionist or a Pablo cultist; politically he belongs rather with us. All the machinations of Pablo and his cult have obviously been carried out behind Germain's back without his knowledge or participation. He has simply been trapped and they are now trying to use him as a front man and attorney to rope in those who are neither revisionists nor cultists. Pablo cannot approach such people on the spurious grounds of organizational formalism and loyalty to the 'International,' which the Pabloites interpret as Pablo and his obscene cult. They need Germain for that, and for the time being, they don't mind his emphasis on his 'orthodoxy.' In practice they will 'interpret' that as they see fit.

Breitman's answer to Germain is a masterful explanation of the processes by which our thinking developed on the International question and led us step by step, on the basis of real developments and concrete facts to the decisions of the Plenum. It would be very good if this letter of Breitman's could be published and circulated in the International. It might be argued that Germain can be influenced better for the time being by purely personal communication. In normal circumstances this would be the best procedure -- at least for a certain period. We have to remember, however, that the international struggle is developing at break-neck speed. The problem in the circumstances, is not so much to influence Germain personally important as that is -- but to counteract the effect of his influence as attorney for Pablo.

We can't afford to delay our fire at this target while Germain is making up his mind. Public opinion in the various sections may be crystallized very quickly. Our task is not to compile excellent material for the archives, for the benefit of students of history after it is made, but to throw everything we have into the scale to influence the decision in the next few weeks. Besides that, the public pressure which will be exerted by the publication of Breitman's letter, and other material along the same line, may very well add to the persuasiveness of this material as Germain studies it personally.

I think these are the overriding considerations. For that reason I recommend the publication of Breitman's letter, and that copies of it be dispatched immediately to all sections with a request that they publish it also.

I agree entirely with George's letter, including his estimate of Germain. In fact I have been thinking lately about this side of the problem more than anything else, because I regard Germain as the only barrier standing between Pablo and the complete collapse of his whole strategy to split the international movement. It is ironic that Germain, who sincerely wishes to avoid a split and is really anti-revisionist in his basic conceptions, is virtually the sole instrument Pablo has to carry out the split and impose in practice, a revisionist policy on the rump of a minority, which he will call 'The Fourth Congress of the Fourth International.

For some time I had been trying to think of some way to induce Germain to write directly to me, which would prompt an answer. I am most gratified that George has already written him much of what I would have said; but I can think of many more things to say. We want to come to an agreement with Germain; or in any case to neutralize his influence as attorney and front man for Pablo. The latter at the moment is of course the more important consideration. That's why publication of George's letter and similar material is imperatively dictated.

We will not, however, under any circumstances, agree to any more common resolutions with the Pabloites, as Germain in the next stage of developments may propose. I fully agree with the French comrades in this respect, that Pablo will sign any kind of a joint resolution as long as he retains administrative control and can use it to force his 'interpretations' of the resolutions by administrative pressure, threats of 'discipline,' and top-lofty talk about 'the line of the International,' meaning himself and his spineless lackeys.

We have had enough experience with that already, not only internationally, but also here at home. You will recall how we were all flabbergasted at the brazen way our homegrown Pabloites represented our Convention resolution as meaning the direct opposite of what we meant when we wrote it and allowed them to add a section -- which we did not consider as a contradiction to the main line -- for the sake of 'unity' on a common resolution. That kind of machiavellianism is a deliberate technique of Pabloism, I am now convinced. It never happened before in our party or in our international movement, and we must never let it happen again in either sphere.

I would also like to make the suggestion that Burns, taking advantage of Ernest's letter to him, also write him a detailed and extensive account of the development of the struggle in the English section and the reasons which brought him unavoidably to the open clash with Pablo and the split. Such a letter by Burns should also be published.



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Last updated 17.10.2003