From New International, Vol. 6 No. 3, April 1940, p. 66.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
THE CONVENTION of the Socialist Workers Party, held at the end of several months of internal discussion, has just been concluded in New York, A majority of the delegates elected to the convention voted for the resolutions on the Russian and organizational questions presented by the Majority faction, and which can be read in the post-convention issue of the Socialist Appeal.
How deep-going and vigorous was the discussion in the SWP may be judged by the fact that it has brought the party to the brink of a split, the danger of which is by no means dispelled. What is important to bear in mind, however, is that the discussion revealed the existence in the Party, and in the Fourth International, of two politically irreconcilable tendencies. Yet, though the tendencies were, and are, politically irreconcilable, each group declared that the views of the other group were compatible with membership in the Fourth International.
The problem to resolve, therefore, was how to maintain the unity of the party and at the same time make possible the ideological existence of whichever group proved to be the minority in the convention. We regret to record the fact that the Majority group took the position, in effect, that if the Opposition was voted down at the national convention, it must simply submit and remain silent. Naturally, in view of the tremendous and urgent importance of the issue in dispute, the deep convictions that animated the contending groups and – above all – the feeling among the Opposition that the party regime of the Majority had proved in practise that it did not offer sufficient assurances that the democratic rights of a minority would be preserved – in view of these considerations, we repeat, it was impossible for the Opposition to accept the proposal of the Majority faction.
We proposed, on the contrary, that considering the existence of the two clearly-defined tendencies and of the exceptional situation in which the dispute was going on, the only assurance that a minority could have of the possibility of continued ideological existence was the right to issue a political-theoretical journal of its own and under its own control. The Opposition insisted that it could not concede this demand, although it had made enormous concessions in the past. Primary among them was the care taken by the Opposition not to bring the dispute beyond the ranks of the party itself, although the issues were and are of the most vital concern to the entire radical and even the entire labor public. We did this although it was criminal to keep the sympathizing circles of the Fourth International in this country totally uninformed about the dispute, although it was with the greatest effort that we refrained from condemning the official line of the party (that is, of the Majority faction) which, in our view, served only to give objective support in the war to one of the two imperialist camps.
We must further record with regret that our demand for the right of the minority to publish a political journal of its own – entirely in harmony with the best traditions of the revolutionary Marxian movement but, of course, entirely out of harmony with all the traditions of the Stalinist movement – was met by the Majority faction with the threat that if we published our periodical, even though it was based, as it is, on a defense of the general and fundamental program of the Fourth International except in so far as the question of “unconditional defense” of the Soviet Union is concerned, we would be expelled wholesale. Such an interpretation of the revolutionary party principle of democratic centralism, we consider absurd, formalistic at best and bureaucratic at worst. The carrying out of such a threat, we consider catastrophic, above all for those carrying it out. The Opposition represents not less than 40% of the membership of the party and a good three-fourths of the membership of the Youth organization; taking them together as the organized movement of the Fourth International in this country, the Opposition constitutes a clear majority of the total membership.
Under these conditions, to continue to remain silent inside the ranks of the party would be unforgivable in a revolutionist. Under these conditions, to place confidence in the democratic guarantees offered by the official party leadership which has given the minority no cause to place confidence in it during the course of the internal party discussion, would be quite unwarranted.
It is inadmissible and therefore impossible to remain silent any longer! The official position of the SWP is wrong, tragically and horribly wrong. Involuntarily, to be sure, but nonetheless surely, this position serves objectively the interests of one of the imperialist camps, however sincerely and genuinely it is motivated by revolutionary and internationalist considerations. It is absolutely imperative that the voice of the third camp be heard! No device, no ruse, no appeal, no threats can sway us from our determination in this respect.
It is upon our readers that we rely for the same generous and warm support they have given us in the past. We need this support now more than ever. We are sure we are not asking for it in vain.
In no sense of the word is ours a “private” undertaking. We speak formally for the Opposition group. But in a truer sense, we speak for the third camp in the war – and that is a camp of millions. Today, it is unorganized, inarticulate, unclear. We shall work unremittingly for its organization under one banner, the banner of the Fourth International; we shall work unremittingly to see to it that its voice is heard; we shall work unremittingly to see to it that its mind is cleared of the poisonous fog of social-patriotism, of class collaboration, of lack of self-confidence.
Long live the Fourth International!
Long live the victory of the Third Camp in the war!
Long live the struggle for the liberation of all mankind!
Last updated on 6.7.2013