Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

The New International, March 1935


A Picture of the Socialist Party

From New International, Vol. II No. 2, March 1935, p. 80.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


BELOW, WE publish a copy of two letters which were sent out to members of the socialist party in New York just as our forms were being closed. They give a revealing picture of the situation within that party at the present time. The second letter in particular gives the reader a political portrait of the titular leader of the party, under whose direction the party was guided to the land of revolutionary principle where it would be the proletarian party in the United States. To aid in this noble endeavor, all “unattached radicals”, all the politically homeless, were urged, not only by him but also by several gullible and not so naive persons, to join the party. The results to date are far from inspiring. Frightened by the furore of the Right wing’s resistance to their first steps, the “Militant” leaders have since been engaged in heaping apology and lamentation upon capitulation and retreat. Where yesterday the crusaders spoke bravely about principles, their slogan now is: Unity, unity above all and before everything else, unity at all costs. Meanwhile, with no strong motor, no real captain, no firm rudder, the SP ship is disintegrating in the storm.

The first letter, inspired by the “Militants”, is signed by one of their leaders. Sent along with it was the letter from Norman Thomas. They follow:

March 11, 1935

TO ALL COMRADES – Left, Right or Center:

DO YOU WANT a healthy functioning Socialist party in New York, which will take a vigorous part in all labor and socialist activities?

DO YOU KNOW that nine branches have been illegally dissolved without a hearing?

DO YOU KNOW that the action was taken on the recommendation of an investigating committee that had never investigated, but had its only meeting for ten minutes prior to the Executive Committee session?

DO YOU KNOW that the City office has deliberately colonized several branches by transferring members who had already voted in their own branches, to other branches in order to elect pro-administration delegates to the City Central Committee?

DO YOU KNOW that the City office has refused to admit hundreds of nineteen-year old Yipsels to membership, despite the instruction of the Detroit convention, and the NEC?

DO YOU KNOW that the City Executive Committee has systematically rejected many applicants for membership because their viewpoint on theoretical questions differs from the position of the City office?

DO YOU KNOW that several new branches have been immediately given delegates to the City Central Committee in order to increase the administration vote, whereas the precedent established last year in the case of the proposed Staten Island Branch (not a pro-administration branch) was to put new branches on a six month probation period before granting a charter?

COMRADES, show your belief in our socialist traditions, and your indignation at this un-socialistic, un-democratic series of acts.

Come, and bring all your comrades and branch members to Stuyvesant Casino, 192 Second Ave., Friday, March 15, 8:00 P.M.

Listen to reports on the activities, and join in the discussion. Admission by party membership card only.


[Signed] Max Delson

Statement by Norman Thomas
To the Membership of New York City

The time has come when, irrespective of our belief about any of the questions which have agitated our party, those of us in New York, who are loyal to an American Socialist Party must save it from suicide by violent split, or death by creeping paralysis.

As long as there was hope that by truly democratic procedure New York City could settle its own affairs, I have been inactive in most controversies. I have made my general opinion known, but I have taken little part in the battles in the Executive and Central Committees. Now I ask you to read this enclosed statement. It shows that in a frantic desire to keep a majority in the Central Committee at all costs, a faction in the party has flouted all constitutional and democratic procedure. To submit to this is to complete the destruction of any idealistic and vigorous socialism in New York. I believe that there is a chance that a carefully selected committee, appointed by the NEC, might perhaps bring about an amicable reorganization in New York, or at any rate, guarantee rights of democracy to New York socialists. Let us unite to demand action from the governing body of our party before it is too late.

In thus taking the lead in New York to try to remedy a situation which makes our socialist struggles impossible, and nullifies ll that I and others have been trying to do in the nation, I want to make it plain that I stand ready to renounce my right to vote in the NEC on this particular question, provided, of course, that Oneal, who is editor of the New Leader, a purely factional organ over which the party has no true control, is similarly disqualified. Certain it is that socialists cannot advocate democracy in the world, and then in their own affairs, practise methods worthy of the old parties in order to maintain power.

I ask your support in order to save our party. This, be it remembered, is an issue independent of, and infinitely more important than any opinion you may have on the Declaration of Principles, or the united front.


Fraternally yours,
[Signed] Norman Thomas

Top of page

Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 26 February 2016