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Socialist Appeal, December 1936, Volume 2 No. 12, Page 9-10
Transcribed, and Marked Up by Damon Maxwell in 2008 for the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line.

The Left Wing Stands for Its Rights in New York

EARLY in November, a meeting of more than 200 of the most active left wingers in the party and the Y.P.S.L. was held for the purpose of considering the problems facing revolutionary Socialists and the measures that should be taken to resolve them. The discussion that took place showed that although an organized left wing had ceased to exist in New York since the Cleveland convention at which the break with the Old Guard was consummated, the need for a broad left wing organization was now greater than ever. Many had joined in the fight against the Old Guard for a variety of reasons. The internal fight was often conducted in such a manner that the fundamental political issues involved were obscured. Numerous other reasons were adduced to emphasize how necessary, for the further development of the party, was an organized left wing group, how signally it could contribute towards promoting the ideas of revolutionary Marxism in the American socialist movement.

Despite the opposition of a few comrades present, who denied the need of an organized group, the overwhelming majority of the audience adopted a motion to constitute the Revolutionary Socialist Educational Society as a membership organization in New York City, based upon general agreement with the Boundbrook program of the old Militant group, the Cleveland anti-war resolution and advocacy of fraction work in mass organizations. In recognition of the strengthening of the left wing forces by virtue of the adherence to the party of the former Workers party members, two leaders of the latter organization were included in the Board of Directors of the R. S. E. S.

In accordance with the aims of the Society, the Board proceeded to plan the holding of regular educational meetings at which the standpoint of the left wing on the important problems of the party would be discussed and clarified. The mere fact that, though bound by general left wing conceptions, there were and are differences of opinion on many points within the R.S.E.S. itself, not only made necessary such a discussion in its own ranks but was by itself adequate refutation of the charge made by centrists concerning the “power” nature of the Society.

Right Wing Opposition

To the astonishment of many who were not alert to the situation that has been developing in the party, the mere constitution of the R.S.E.S. immediately evoked an offensive from centrist and right wing elements in the New York organization. A group of the latter forces suddenly appeared behind an anonymously-presented standard resolution, introduced simultaneously in several party branches and finally in the City Central Committee which proposed nothing more or less than the prohibition of all groups!

Taken off guard, the left wing failed to prevent the passage of this incredible resolution in a couple of branches and later, despite a vigorous debate, its passage by a 28 to 21 vote in the C.C.C. The resolution is almost unprecedented in the history of the party; a parallel can be found only in the bureaucratized Stalinist movement. It not only seeks to prohibit groups in the party but also provides, in effect, for a censorship by the party.

It goes without saying that the resolution was not aimed at groups “in general,” for the simple reason that its very initiators constitute, in actuality, a group which is both secret and anonymous. It is aimed at the R.S.E.S. not because the latter is a “Society” but because it is a Revolutionary Socialist Society, that is a left wing group. It is unfortunate that, by virtue of the suddenness of the stroke, a number of good rank and file left wingers were humbugged either into voting for it or passing it off lightly. They will soon learn to see more clearly. But the important point is that its real sponsors are pursuing aims of a distinct political and factional nature the aim of preventing the free association of comrades who seek to promote the consistent revolutionary development of the party and the Y.P.S.L.

Left Wing Accepts Challenge

The R.S.E.S. responded immediately to the challenge. An open membership meeting of the Society was called on December 6, to which all party and Y.P.S.L. members were invited by notification in the Socialist Call (now made compulsory by the C.C.C. resolution!). Following the report of the Board of Directors to this excellently attended meeting (some 400 comrades, despite an all-day driving rain), an offer was made to give the floor to anyone who wished to debate the report and advocate the dissolution of the Society. The anonymous and not so anonymous friends of the C.C.C. resolution proved to be a most reluctant lot. Only after a stiffer challenge, did one of them take the floor to advocate dissolution, although even he designated the C.C.C. resolution as “stupid” and unsupportable. A thorough discussion followed in which his arguments were torn to shreds. At the close of the meeting, a resolution prepared by the Board of Directors was presented and adopted by a show of hands which resulted in a unanimous approval of the proposal to continue the Society, and of the determination of the group to insist upon its democratic rights and to combat the dangerous tendency revealed by the adoption of the C.C.C. resolution.

The unanimous resolution says, in part: “This resolution (of the C.C.C.), adopted in a moment of factional prejudice, is definitely a move against the traditional right of inner-party association and therefore against inner-party democracy. A precedent of this kind once established, might in the future serve a more unscrupulous party regime as a weapon against all criticism, and can lead eventually to the setting up of a bureaucratic regime which would deprive the membership of all rights and convert them into political automatons. We have seen this process in other working class political organizations and must understand its dangers.

“The R.S.E.S. believes that its existence is necessitated by the inclusive character of the party at the present time, by the existence within the party of other viewpoints besides that of revolutionary Marxism. Not through legislation or suppression, but through education and comparison of views can a unified policy be evolved. The R.S.E.S., like the left wing throughout the country, has only the interests of the party at heart; it will fight vigorously against any party-splitting moves; it favors a disciplined, centralized party, by which it understands a party which acts as one in the class struggle, all of whose members follow one line among the masses and which is based upon a revolutionary policy. But the R.S.E.S. will vigorously oppose all efforts to institute internal bureaucracy in the name. of centralization, dictatorship in the name of discipline. The R.S.E.S. calls upon all members of the party to defend vigorously their party rights.”

Demand Repeal

It should be added, finally, that a number of branches have already demanded the repeal of the resolution of prohibition, which is such a disgrace to the party. Almost everybody is now calling himself a “left winger” and a “revolutionary socialist” stylish words! Yet, there are countless genuine revolutionary left wingers who not only know what their rights are and intend to exercise them, but who are serious about their Marxian position. They are determined to band together as an educational force to see to it that, collectively, they accelerate the revolutionary development of the party to the point where Marxian principles will not merely be something that is set down on a piece of paper, but becomes a living reality in the daily life and activity of the party.

Certainly, a revolutionary socialist would be unworthy of the name if he permitted supinely the carrying through of such a resolution as that adopted by the C.C.C. in New York at the instigation of comrades who seem to be of the opinion that once their former faction brought them to office, other groups no longer need to nor have a right to exist!

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