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Breitman Minority Caucus Statement

I am speaking in place of Comrade Steve Bloom who had to leave the convention because of a medical emergency in his family.

I am speaking on behalf of the steering committee of our caucus, which consisted of the five regular convention delegates elected on this basis, and the two members of the National Committee who supported the amendments [“Amendments to the Political Resolution,” by George Breitman, SWP Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 12]. Four of these seven comrades are no longer here at the convention, two of them having had to go back to work, and one other having had to leave because of the air controllers' strike. But all seven of them participated in the decision of the steering committee, which was a unanimous one, to dissolve the caucus as of this convention.

A meeting of our supporters last night expressed overwhelming, even enthusiastic, support for this decision. Our caucus came on the scene late, only two weeks before the convention. It came on the scene because of the majority's decision on how to vote, which led us towards creating a caucus that I, for one, had had no intention of helping to organize.

Anyhow, as a result of coming on the scene late, we did some things late, and we omitted other things altogether that we should have done. According to the law of uneven and combined development, there are benefits and advantages in being latecomers as classes, nations, or as technologies in the economy. I have tried to detect such advantages or benefits in our latecoming as a caucus, but I haven't been able to find any yet. So, if I am ever asked how or when to start a caucus, now that I have had my first experience in this field, I will have to advise them to start early.

The steering committee decided, and a meeting of the supporters last Saturday concurred in this, that our main aim at the convention was to clarify the differences and show why we thought the new line of the majority on Cuba presented serious dangers to the future of the SWP. This required that we try to break through the misrepresentation and exaggerations that created so much confusion over our real positions. It also required, at the same time, that we present our views clearly and unambiguously and that we should try to improve the tone of the discussion, which had become excessively sharp and unrestrained in the final weeks before the convention.

In our opinion, we registered progress in all these areas. Many comrades of the majority thanked us for helping to clarify the issues. The number of our supporters at the convention increased—not vastly, but in sufficient numbers to encourage us—as comrades who had abstained or not voted said that they now agree with the general line of our amendments. And a few said they had changed their minds.

Exaggeration was lessened, we think, as the convention proceeded. And some of the preconvention excesses were not repeated here, as it became clear it was a case of differences among comrades in the revolutionary party, not class enemies. So we see definitely positive aspects in the convention discussion and how it developed. And we feel confirmed in our conviction, expressed by Comrade Bloom in his report, that the majority and the party as a whole will, as a result of further experience and new events in the international class struggle, be able to rethink and reassess our new line and reduce or eliminate the dangers we see in it.

Our steering committee also had to decide on whether or not to dissolve as a caucus, or continue as a tendency. All minorities since Adam and Eve have felt that, if only a little more discussion could take place, the result would or might be different. But the convention not only decided the line, it also closed the debate for the time being. And usually when that happens, it is best to proceed with our common work and leave further discussion to the future when debated questions can be reopened.

It was all the easier for us to decide to do the usual thing because of the coincidence that the international discussion will be opening in a few months on the very questions we were debating here. Our caucus was confident that supporters of our amendments would want to, and be able to, participate in that discussion the same way as all the other supporters of the Fourth International. And that in the meantime, until the International Executive Committee resolutions and counterresolutions have been read and studied, it would be better for all concerned to discontinue the intense discussion that we have had on the Cuban and related issues, and pitch in to make up for lost time on our various campaigns.

Whether tendencies will emerge from the international discussion, we didn't know, we don't know, and we won't try to predict. Anyhow, all that is minor when compared to the opportunities we will have to continue to debate the issues during the next year or more.

Another thing our steering committee did was to nominate four comrades representing our point of view for the National Committee and to present to the Nominating Commission our own reasons why they should be elected. The four were: Frank Lovell, a member of the National Committee for thirtynine years whom his branch did not nominate; and Steve Bloom, also not nominated by his branch (both of whom we nominated for regular National Committee membership); and Joanna Misnik and George Saunders, whom our caucus nominated as National Committee alternates. We hope they have been nominated by the Nominating Commission and will be elected by the delegates tomorrow.

If I may close with a few personal words about the decision of the Weinstein/ Henderson group to maintain their tendency after the convention. I think this is a mistake politically, not warranted by the present conditions in the party. And I hope these comrades will reconsider this decision in the months to come.

Despite our disagreements with them about this, I will defend their right to remain an ideological tendency, while abiding by party discipline and party norms. And I am sure that is the case also not only with the members of our former caucus, but also with the members of the majority and the party's leadership as a whole.

Despite the heat of the discussion, the democratic rights of the minorities were recognized and respected by the party leadership. And I see no reason to expect any change in this respect in the future, least of all in the international discussion which is about to open up relatively soon. Our confidence in this was one of the reasons why we found it so easy to make our decision to dissolve our caucus.

George Breitman

August 7, 1981

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