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The New International, September 1946


Notes Of The Month

Welcome SWP Minority


From New International, Vol.12 No.7, September 1946, p.200.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Since this is the first opportunity to do so, The New International bids welcome to that significant number of the former Minority Group of the Socialist Workers Party who joined the Workers Party and participated in its fourth convention. This is an important event for it marks a new turn in the relations between the two organizations and a new stage in the struggle for those ideas held in common by the WP and its new members against the sterile sectarianism and bureaucratic concepts of the Cannon leadership of the SWP.

Readers of The New International have more than a passing familiarity with the struggle that developed inside of the SWP between the bureaucratic leadership and the Minority. In the best of revolutionary traditions, the NI published many documents, letters and articles of the Minority, the SWP leadership, and the Workers Party on that struggle. Throughout the fight the warmest fraternal relations existed between the Minority and the WP and that, too, was in the best tradition.

The fight in the SWP, while it did not embrace all political questions in dispute, was a political struggle nevertheless. The fact that the major battle was fought around the so-called “organizational question” does not eliminate the above truth, unless one views a struggle over organizational questions narrowly, i.e., as an administrative conflict. The fight in the SWP was certainly not that kind of fight.

The Minority Group fought for the concept of the revolutionary party as a democratic party whose democracy should not and must not be violated by its centralism. It fought against the Zinoviest-Stalinist concept of a monolithic party. It fought against the corroding and stultifying bureaucratic atmosphere which pervades the whole SWP, a condition created and nurtured by the Cannon leadership of that party. In this respect, the Minority was continuing the struggle which the forces that now make up the Workers Party began in 1939-40.

But that was not all. There were political differences between the two factions (question of the defense of Russia, the national question in Europe, the r61e of democratic demands) though the struggle around them did not fully develop. One of the reasons why this was so is the enormous difficulty there is in trying to engage the Cannon clique in a normal political discussion and debate. One meets with evasion and the inevitable transformation of such political debates in organizational maneuvers.

But on one issue there was no turning. The Minority raised the question of unity with the Workers Party. It proceeded on the theory that the sharp, divergent political differences and groupings were compatible within the framework of a single party, provided there is agreement on a fundamental program (in this case the program of the Founding Conference of the Fourth International).

This view was similar to the views held by the Workers Party. Thus, when the Minority publicly raised the question of unity the Workers Party did not wait until it was asked where it stood on this question. It immediately adopted a declaration in favor of unity and expressed its readiness to meet with representatives of the SWP for an immediate discussion of the problem.

These discussions were short lived for, together with the kind of struggle Cannon led against the Minority, they revealed that the ruling group of the SWP entered into “negotiations” as a maneuver; that it was against unity and would do everything within its power to prevent it.

We were presented with still another spectacle: before there could be serious, concrete discussion on unity, before there could even be any joint activities, the SWP demanded to know, six years after the formation of the Workers Party, where the WP stood on a whole series of political questions!

The trick was obvious: interminable discussions on that which was known by everyone and forestall endlessly the question of unity! The largest section of the Minority Group concluded correctly that the first stage of the struggle for unity and against the Cannon regime in the SWP, as in the Fourth International, had ended. There was little more to be gained inside the SWP, under the existing conditions, except to wage a continuous and endless brawl with a constantly shifting factional opponent. The first stage of the fight for unity had ended. It therefore determined that the continuation of this fight could best be carried out by uniting within the ranks of the Workers Party.

The Workers Party had demonstrated in practice that it is possible to build a revolutionary party based on the Leninist principle of democratic centralism without bureaucratic rule, without the outlawing of factions and ideas, and with the greatest freedom of thought necessary to the growth of such a party.

The members of the former Minority Group take their place in the ranks of the Workers Party as equals, with a continuity of membership, with the same rights as other members of the party to express and fight for their political views. But they will be working unitedly to build a party which is their own.

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