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Socialist Appeal, Novemeber–December 1935, Volume 2 No. 2,

Transcribed, Edited and Formatted by Marty Goodman and David Walters in 2012 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line and the Left-Opposition Digitization Project, a joint venture of the ETOL, Holt Labor Library and the Riazinov Library.

From FRAGMENTS of pages reprinted in the 1968 Greenwood Reprints edition. Greenwood in 1968 apologized for this incomplete copy, noting they searched ‘every major collection in the United States’ for an intact copy, without success.

Eight pages were reprinted. Each was missing about 10 to 25% of the page at the bottom or corners or edges. The first page seems to be missing. MOST of these articles, thus, are missing portions of the text.

x’s are used to indicate missing portions of text. There is NOT an exact 1 to 1 correspondence between number of x’s and number of missing letters. But there is a rough and vague (tho not really proportionate) one. Brackets [] are used where there was compelling reason to guess at what a partly wiped out word was. The letters IN the brackets are those guessed at. NOTE that only relatively compelling (from context) guesses resulted in letters being filled in, and in all cases when this was done, it is indicated. Eventually PDF files of all this material will be made available, so others can make their own guesses based on the fragmentary and damaged pages presented by Greenwood Reprints of this issue. —M. Riazanov


Old Guard Defies Decision of N.E.C.

The New York old guard came to the last N.E.C. meeting with the request that the N.E. C. cancel the debate between Norman Thomas and Earl Browder arranged by the Socialist Call. The N. E. C. refused.

Every thinking Socialist understands the necessity of defending the viewpoint of the Socialist party against all other parties. Under no circumstances can we afford to refuse to debate any party with a substantial following. The Old Guard composed of people who are unable to think at all when it comes to the questions of communism, plays in into the hands of the communists by refusing to defends its point of view.

Most important of all, however, is the fact that the debate is held under the auspices of the Socialist Call. The old guard, determined to put the Call out of existence, seized upon the debate as a pretext to expel or suspend leading elements of the Militants.

Charges have been preferred against Norman Thomas, Jack Altman, Max Delson and other Militants for promoting the debate. Since the N.E.C. approved of the debate these charges constitute a violation of discipline by the New York old guard.

It is obvious that the New York right wing is determined to suspend or expel leading Militants and thus precipitate a split in the party. The debate will go on regardless of the action of the old guard. What will the old guard do?

The left-wing throughout the country must be prepared to meet the situation. It must back up any Militant suspended or expelled with all the forces at its disposal. The right wing moves to split, the left wing must move to unify the party.

Atonement by the N.E.C.

Is it in the nature of the present National Executive Committee of our party not to be able to act decisively and consistently for a long period of time. There is no majority representing any definite tendency and consequently the actions of our N.E.C. have a contradictory character just as the resolutions of the N.E.C. on almost all important matters are full of contradictions aiming, as they invariably do, to please every tendency in the party.

A legitimate and praiseworthy desire to achieve harmony [wi]thin the party leads the N.E.C. to favor the right wing at one time and the left wing at another time. This middle of the road path does not and cannot solve any problems and simply means that the party not only cannot grow but must actually lose members and influence. As a matter of fact the party has lost over 6000 members within the last two years. A Weak and indecisive N.E.C. is unable to lead the party in any direction.

Hope surged high in the breasts of many influential party [me]mbers after the ‘peace pact’ between the N.E.C. and the old [gua]rd. Now we could work and grow. Those of the left wing xxxx openly stated that no problems were solved by the agreement xxx consequently the party could not proceed to function, [especi]ally since the old guard had come out with all it wanted [from] the agreement, were looked upon as born distrupters but xxx [h]ave confirmed the prognosis of the revolutionary Marxists xxxxx of the optimistic utopians.

[It must] be stated here that in any struggle between two ten[dencies in] the Socialist party there can be peace only by adhering xxxx xxwing two propositions: (1) that the minority doexxx xxxx decisions and actions of the majority; xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx

xxxxxx old guard utilized every unfair means to prevent the minority of New York to present its viewpoint and achieve power in a normal manner the division between two groups could not be reconciled on the basis of a minority obeying discipline. There can be no discipline if the minority is not permitted full freedom.

It is the desire of the old guard of New York to crush the growth of revolutionary ideas and it does not hesitate to use any means to achieve that aim. Consequently there can be no peace so long as these right-wing tactics continue. The attempt of the N.E.C. to achieve peace was doomed to failure.

The majority of the N.E.C. realized that it had made a mistake by giving in to the old guard at the New York session. No peace has been consummated in New York and the party was not growing as predicted. The old guard was using the pact to exterminate the ideas of revolutionary socialism. If the majority of the party depends not upon the old guard but upon the virile left wing forces the trend of events subsequent to the pact should have convinced it.

With the failure to achieve peace in New York and the obvious failure of the party to go forward as a background, the N.E.C. met in Chicago and the general tendency of the meeting was an attempt to undo the damage wrought at the New York meeting of the N.E.C. A turn towards the left wing was made but again in such an indecisive manner that it cannot possibly satisfy either the right or the left.

Actually nothing that was done by the N.E.C. can be characterized as left wing. That could not be expected from the very nature of the composition of the majority of the N.E.C. The best that can be said is that the N.E.C. did not do what the old guard wanted it to do. It did not prohibit the Thomas - Browder debate; it did not reelect James Oneal as delegate to the International; it did not place the New York Yipsels under the domination of the old guard; it did not pass a resolution on war favoring sanctions. This and this only was the extent of the concession to the left wing.

Obviously the left wing prefers the N.E.C. to what it did at this last meeting to what it accomplished at the New York meeting. But it would be a colossal act of self-delusion to act on the assumption that from now on the N.E.C. has turned to the left. The left wing of the party, now being hammered into a unified group by the Boundbrook conference and the mid-west conference, should and does realize clearly that without an N.E.C. the majority of the members of which are revolutionary socialists, the party cannot grow.

But to achieve an N.E.C. with a majority of revolutionary socialists it is first of all necessary to educate the membership so that a majority of the party will be willing to struggle and support revolutionary policies. To educate and guide such a majority is the task of the left wing.

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