Letter from James P. Cannon to Farrell Dobbs, July 9, 1953

Documents 3 to 17 and 19 to 24 originally published in Internal Bulletins of the SWP and the International Bulletins of the International Committee

New York
Dear Farrell:

I enclose herewith a letter to Tom which I wish you would ask Reba to forward, as I don't have his address. I think we ought to wait for a report on the IS Plenum before coming to a definitive conclusion as to just what its resolution saluting the Plenum's outcome signifies. I have given quite a little thought to the whole matter as no doubt you have. I am disposed to suspend final judgment until we get the missing information, as to what the resolution signifies and just what brought about such an apparently sharp reversal of the previous trend over there. There's much food for thought in Tom's observations on many points. I will write on this at length a little later. Meantime if any opinions have been formulated in New York I would be glad to hear about them.

I am eagerly awaiting the translation of the draft resolutions for the Fourth Congress. This time, at any rate, we will go over all such documents with a fine tooth comb and make sure that our point of view is made clear and taken into consideration, and eliminate all possibility of contradictory interpretations of supposedly official documents.

Our resolution on American Stalinism will have to be considered as a serious contribution to the international discussion on this question. It is true, as Tom says, that Stalinism is not merely an American phenomenon, but American Stalinism happens to be that part of it which we have to understand and deal with. I read this resolution over again yesterday. I think it is 100% correct and that in the next stage of the discussion in our party this resolution should be elaborated and expounded at length.

If we really succeed in clarifying this question of the nature and perspectives of American Stalinism we will do a great deal to reinforce party peace and unity. That will still leave the question of the role and perspectives of the trade union bureaucracy and the perspectives of our party in relation to it. When we finally succeed in clarifying this question we will have eliminated the greatest danger to the peace and unity of the party and the self-confident work of its cadres in preparation for their great future.

I was well pleased to see The Militant's treatment of the German events again in this current issue. But again I was disappointed to find no reference to the position of the American Stalinist press. I haven't been able to get these papers out here, but I strongly suspect that they have laid themselves wide open for a devastating attack in defense of the German workers. By the way, if these German manifestations signify the beginning of the political revolution against Stalinism, and the Stalinists are answering with armed force and firing squads, what becomes of the precious theory that these scoundrels can no longer betray?

Or, are we going to sponsor the possible variant, as Clarke seems to intimate in the end of his article in the latest magazine, that the Stalinist bureaucracy will right itself without a political revolution? Under this head I would like to know the name and address of any previous privileged social groupings in history which have voluntarily overthrown their own privileges.


J.P. Cannon

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