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Socialist Appeal, August-September 1935 1935, Volume 1 No. 5, Page 10-12
Transcribed and Marked Up by Damon Maxwell in 2009 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line.

Notes On The “Peace Agreement” Between The N.E.C. And The New York State Committee

By Haim Kantorovitch

1) The “peace treaty solemnly entered into” by the N.E.C. of the Socialist party of America and the nine members (a majority) of the New York State Committee of the Socialist party is hailed all over the country as the great victory of the right wing. Not wishing to fool ourselves, we readily admit that it is a great victory for the right wing. We deny however that it is a defeat for the left wing. It is a defeat for the party and its N.E.C. Henceforth, the N.E.C. of the party stands out as a group of timid and scared people that can be coerced into anything. The N.E.C. does not want to lead the party. It would rather let the party drift on the theory that maybe it will reach some shore, and maybe not.

2) The N.E.C. was not called upon to decide matters of program and principles. The N.E.C. has no jurisdiction in such matters; it has no right to change the party program and principles; this can be done only by a national convention or a national referendum. What the N.E.C. had to decide was this: Can an organic part of the party violate the constitution of the party, disregard all rules of inner party democracy, conduct an open fight in its own and the capitalist press against everything that the party stands for, declare publicly that “the S.P. was captured by shady personalities with no records” (that was in a full page headline in an article by the infamous Louis Hendin, in the Jewish Daily Forward),disregard all decisions of the N.E.C. and still not only remain a part of the party, but also dictate its will to the N.E.C.

The N.E.C. in fact decided that such things are, permissible, that any part of the party may do it, provided it can threaten to starve out the N.E.C. financially and split the party.

3) The N.E.C. had before it a report of its Committee on Inquiry and Mediation. The New Leader christened it the “smell committee” and called on the N.E.C. to stop its “gangster methods”. The report of the committee corroborates all the charges of the Militants, but the N.E.C. entirely ignored the report of its own committee and acted solely on the purely practical (if practical) consideration that, if “we” don’t admit, “they” will split the party. Did the N.E.C. realize what a dangerous precedent it was creating?

4) The fight in New York as it is indeed all over the country, is between the “militants” and the “old guard”. The N.E.C. wanted to bring peace between the two warring factions. Its way of doing it was really very original. It held a peace conference with one faction (old guard) and did not even ask the other faction to participate in the conference, neither were they asked to sign the peace agreement. The Militant members of the N.E.C. had voted against the peace agreement. The result is that we have peace now between the N.E.C, and the New York State Committee, but not between the “militants” and the “old guard” certainly not between the “right” and “left” wings of the party.

5) If the old guard in New York will really keep its promises and stick to the peace agreement, it will be of a great advantage to the militants. The vast amount of time, energy and money that had to be sacrificed in this purely organizational fight will now be turned to the much more profitable task of building up in NY as well as nationally a well organized left wing, based on a definite left wing program. In the long run it is of greater importance than an organizational victory in N Y. This must not however be interpreted to mean that the fight for party control locally as well as nationally, is not important. It certainly is. Both tasks, the fight for organizational control and the organization of the left wing, must go hand in hand, they are the two sides of the same medal.

6) The only real advantage of this strange peace is that it will help the militants extirpate themselves from a very unnatural alliance into which they were forced by objective conditions since the Detroit convention. To scare the timid souls in the party, the old guard raised the cry that the N.E.C. was “left”; it always referred to it as the “militant” N.E.C. We always knew of course that the present N.E.C. is, in its majority, neither left nor militant, none of us was so blind as to think that Dan Hoan, or Hoopes, or Graham are left wingers. Conditions in the party were such, however, that the militants had to claim the N.E.C. as their own, stand behind it, fight for it, defend all its mistakes and incongruities, bear ins responsibility for it – and all the tine knowing that we are fighting a battle which is not ours, and that this unnatural alliance puts us in a false and often ridiculous position. The reason for this, of course, was that the N.E.C. had been elected on a program which was considered to the left of the party’s previous program and the N.E.C was identified with the new program. At last this unnatural alliance is broken. The majority of the N.E.C. made its stand clear. Now we have no more obligations to the N.E.C. than Louis Waldman has. The way us clear for a left wing now; let us waste no time and take up the difficult task at once. It will be hard work, but it will pay in the end.

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