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Labor Action, 24 March 1947


WP, SWP Open Negotiations on Uniting Parties


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 12, 24 March 1947, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Negotiations for the purpose of uniting the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party have been resumed.

Readers who have followed the reports on this question in Labor Action know that the question of reuniting the Trotskyist movement in the United States, which split into two parties in 1940 over a dispute on the defense of Stalinist Russia in the war, was first raised a year and a half ago. Led by Albert Goldman and his friends, a group in the Socialist Workers Party proposed that the SWP take the initiative In uniting with the WP. It was pointed out by this group that the WP had proved during the course of the war that it remained true to the interests of the working class and the principles of revolutionary socialism. In addition, it pointed out, the SWP had decided to put into the background the call for the “unconditional defense” of Russia, thus reducing the proportions of the difference of opinion which brought about the split in 1940.

The National Committee of the WP took a position in favor of unity with the SWP in spite of the many differences of opinion that separate the two organizations. This position was endorsed by the WP membership as a whole.

Previous Negotiations

The WP communicated its decision to the leadership of the SWP with the result that exploratory negotiations were opened up between the two parties late in 1945.

The representatives of the WP made a number of concrete proposals to serve as a basis for unify between the two organizations, they laid special stress upon the importance of genuine party democracy in the united organization, which would assure any minority group or tendency adequate possibility of presenting and defending its own point of view inside the party while maintaining unity and discipline in action.

The representatives of the SWP refrained for a considerable period of time from committing themselves clearly on the question of unity until their party convention in Chicago, November 1946, at which the delegates voted to reject the proposal for unity.

The documented details of the correspondence exchanged between the two parties on this question during the past period are available to interested readers of Labor Action in the form of a pamphlet on The Question of Unity by Albert Goldman, published by the Workers Party.

Collaboration Set

Recently, negotiations for unity were reopened between the two parties. The preliminary discussions show that prospects for a solid unification of the Trotskyist movement in this country are now very favorable. Readers of Labor Action will be kept informed of developments as they occur.

Plans have already been agreed upon by both organizations providing for joint activities in a whole series of fields, about which further announcement will be made shortly. In addition, the discussions have progressed to the point where the National Committees of the two organizations have adopted a joint statement on unify. Discussions between the two parties are continuing with the aim of arriving at an agreement on those questions that must still be resolved.

The joint statement of the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party appears boxed below.


Text of WP and SWP Statement on Unification

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 and prepare the way for the formal unification.

New York, March 11, 1947

James P. Cannon
For the National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party
Max Shachtman
For the National Committee of the Workers Party

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