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Socialist Appeal, October 1935, Volume 2 No. 1, Pages 1-2
Transcribed and Marked Up by Damon Maxwell in 2009 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line.

From Our Viewpoint

Right Wing Of New York Moves To Expel Militants

Almost at the very last moment prior to going to press we received a communication from New York to the following effect:

1) The State Executive Committee of New York directed Local New York to expel Abe Kruger from the Socialist Party for “the advocacy of communism.” (See section of article by Jack Altman and Harold Siegel dealing with the Kruger Case). The Central Committee of Local New York refused to concur in the action of the State Executive Committee. The right wing could not muster the necessary two-thirds vote. The right wing has openly stated that the State Committee will revoke the Charter of Local New York and reorganize the Local.

2) The New York City Executive Committee passed a motion to the effect “that only literature and newspapers approved by the City Executive Committee shall be distributed and sold at all meetings (street or hall) arranged by the Socialist Party of New York City and all branches of the Socialist Party.”

The determination of the New York old guard to expel all those who do not agree with the decrepit socialism that it stands for should now be clear even to those who were naive enough to believe that the “peace pact” agreed to by the right wing and timid centrist majority of the National Executive Committee, would bring harmony into the party.

If the State Executive Committee reorganizes Local New York there will in effect be two Socialist Parties in New York. To be more accurate there will be two parties called ‘Socialist’ one of which, dominated by the right wing will be nothing but a tail to the La Guardia administration. The revolutionary left wing of the country will recognize the left wing of New York as the only real Socialist Party.

What will the National Executive Committee do? We of course have very little faith that it will do anything. In a critical situation Hoan and his followers will support their blood-bothers of New York.

At any rate the militant revolutionary socialists of the whole country must. in resolutions and communications to the National Executive Committee, make it clear that they will not permit the expulsion of the left wing of the New York party.

The fate of the revolutionary socialists in the whole country is tied up with the fate of the New York left wing. The majority of the N. E. C. should not forget that.

The motion of the City Executive Committee that literature sold at Socialist meetings must first have its approval has the obvious purpose of preventing the sale of the Socialist Call. The only effective answer to such an unwarranted motion is to triple and quadruple the sale of the Call not only in New York but all over the country.

The Socialist Call Institute

IN THE development of the socialist movement the conference held at Boundrook, New Jersey during the weekend of September 7-8 has a significance which cannot be overestimated. It was held under the auspices of the Socialist Call and consequently can with justification be designated as a conference of revolutionary socialists. It is true that the Call has weaknesses which do not as yet entitle it to be considered a revolutionary socialist propaganda paper but it does represent to a certain extent the revolutionary tendencies in the Socialist party and any conference held under its auspices will necessarily be a conference of those elements within our party that strive to make of the party a revolutionary instrument.

The great significance of the conference lies in the fact that for the first time the leftward moving elements in the Socialist party have attempted to come together and formulate a program and work out resolutions on important problems confronting the world socialist movement which program and resolutions would form the basis of an organized left wing movement on a national scale. For a long time the question could be and was asked of those members of the Socialist party who consider themselves Militants or left wingers: What do you stand for? What principles and tactics do you advocate? The answer could at best be vague. There were no documents to which the questioner could be referred. Every one with left wing tendencies could give his own interpretation of the basic principles and tactics of the left wing.

That the declaration of principles adopted at the Detroit convention could not possibly serve as a theoretical basis for an organized left wing movement became clear to everyone after the New York meeting of the National Executive Committee where the notorious “peace pact” was adopted. It must now be accepted without argument that any document supported by Hoan and all other municipal socialists is fundamentally defective and cannot form the basis of a left wing movement. What was absolutely necessary was to formulate a theoretical position which would sharply distinguish the revolutionary socialists from the right wing and also from the hesitating centrist elements.

To claim that this important task was accomplished at the Boundbrook conference would be absurd. We can and we do claim that only a beginning was made at that conference. The consummation of that task is still in the future. A provisional program was presented which no one claims to be a perfect document; skeleton resolutions were prepared; various viewpoints were presented during the discussion; the documents introduced were referred to a committee to be revised and amended. To dismiss all this as unimportant and to declare, as does the New Militant, organ of the Workers Party, that “Militant’s Confab Proves a Failure” because it was “inconclusive and took no definite steps” is a shortsighted attitude which has nothing in common with Marxist criticism.

Other similar conferences are scheduled to take place. There will be a mid-west conference held at Chicago; there will be one held in one of the New England states. Discussions with reference to the program and resolutions will continue. A final draft will be formulated only after these discussions.

We can even assume that the final draft will not be perfect. But only pure revolutionary sects are able to produce perfect programmatic documents. The declaration of principles of our critics from the Workers’ Party is severely criticized by the leftist, sectarian groups. And the very criticisms which the writer in the Militant makes of the draft program are made of the Workers’ Party declaration of principles by the sectarians. The phrase “armed insurrection” which to all leftists is the sine qua non of any revolutionary program is omitted from the W. P. declaration and it is hardly in good taste for any member of that party to criticise the draft program for failure to describe “the nature of the civil war attending the conquest of power”. Even if the W. P. declaration did describe in detail the exact nature of the armed insurrection attending the conquest of power we would feel that it would be perfectly correct to omit such a description. As it is we can, in addition to contending that we are correct, also say something about people who live in glass houses.

We are far from resenting criticism. We shall have opportunity to criticize the program in detail. Some of the points made by members of small revolutionary groups with reference to the provisional program are undoubtedly correct and we hope that the final draft will correct the errors. But a criticism which sweeps away the whole program and declares the conference a failure is not even worth discussing.

At the Boundbrook conference the left wing began the laying of a firm foundation for an organized revolutionary left-wing movement. The program that will ultimately come out will be a program which the left wing will present to the whole membership of the Socialist party to be accepted by the party at its next convention. It will not he a program for the left wing exclusively but a program of the left wing for the party. It will be a program which, if accepted by the party as a whole, will steer it in the right direction, in the direction of organizing the American workers for a victorious struggle for power.

We have been careful in saying that all the Boundbrook conference did was simply to make a beginning. In the socialist movement too frequently has it happened that revolutionary principles are accepted in the abstract without having any effect upon the daily activities of those who accept them. This is a typical centrist fault. It is true that revolutionary practice is impossible without revolutionary theory but it is also true that a revolutionary theory does not necessarily result in revolutionary practice. With the acceptance of a revolutionary program our task is far from ending. We must all the more carefully watch our daily activities so that they be in consonance with our revolutionary theory.

In the bitter struggle that lies before us there must be no hesitation. We must not hesitate to criticise ourselves and those with whom we are closely connected. Only by adopting a revolutionary Marxist attitude which above all means a critical attitude can we succeed in building a left wing and a party that will be more than a mere haven for tired radicals and ambitious bureaucrats and careerists.

The Boundbrook conference will be of historical significance if we carry out all its implications.

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