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Albert Goldman

Minority Statement

(June 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 23, 10 June 1946, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Comrades:

Our leaving one Trotskyist group, the Socialist Workers Party, and joining another Trotskyist group, the Workers Party, requires an explanation for the advanced workers of this country and all other countries.

Ours is a group composed largely of comrades with ten to fifteen years of service in the Trotskyist movement. We left the Socialist Workers Party because it rejected our proposal for unity of the two Trotskyist groups. We joined the Workers Party because it accepted our proposal for unity.

We left the SWP because in rejecting unity, and in using the most dishonest methods to do so, the leaders of that party clearly indicated that what they want to build is not a revolutionary Marxist party, a Bolshevik party, but a monolithic party.

We joined the Workers Party because the leaders and members of that party want to build the kind of a party we are interested in building – a living, thinking revolutionary socialist party.


The Minority (in the SWP) had a sharp political difference with the Majority at the party convention of 1944. The Majority, basing itself on the proposition that we are living in an epoch of imperialist wars and proletarian revolutions, denied the importance of democratic demands for the European countries. The Minority, accepting the same basic premise, insisted on the great importance of democratic demands as a means of mobilizing the European masses against the capitalists, Stalinists and Social-Democrats.

But it never entered the mind of any comrade in the Minority to leave the party because of that difference.

We had sharp differences with the Majority on minor organizational questions. They were important only because the position of the Majority on those minor organizational questions indicated the existence of a Stalinist trend on the part of the Majority with reference to the nature of the party.

An article which was clearly a build-up of Cannon was permitted in the Fourth International; a letter by comrade Goldman mildly criticizing the tendency to leader-worship evidenced in that article, and insisting that leader-worship is hostile to the tradition of Bolshevism, was refused publication.

A letter written by James T. Farrell criticizing articles that appeared in the Fourth International was refused publication. The Minority protested vigorously.

Four comrades were censured by the Majority for organizing a discussion with members of the Workers Party on the Russian question. The Minority objected, declaring that to prevent members from discussing with opponents was a characteristic of Stalinism and was completely alien to Trotskyism.

Although the Minority fought against the Stalinist attitude of the Majority on these questions it never occurred to anyone of the Minority to leave the party because of these differences. It was our view that we could combat the growing monolithism in the party through pressing for free discussion of political and organizational problems.

It was the dishonest attitude of the Majority on the unity question, an attitude which clearly revealed the Majority’s monolithic conception of the party, that is the fundamental cause of our decision to leave the party. A subsidiary cause was the refusal of the Majority to permit the Minority to fraternize politically with the WP.

The Minority’s Argument for Unity of WP and SWP

The Minority raised the question of unity after the SWP recognized that the defense of the Soviet Union was no longer an important question, and that the defense of the European Revolution against Stalin was far more important. True, we always accepted the position that differences on the nature of the Soviet Union or the defense of the Soviet Union do not justify a split. But it was only natural that the end of the war, which brought the necessity of defending the European Revolution against the Stalinist army, should have turned our attention to the question of unity. On the question of the defense of the European Revolution against Stalin the two parties had an identical position.

The position of the Minority on the question of unity was simple indeed. The two parties had the same fundamental program for the overthrow of capitalism; they carried on approximately the same agitation on the important immediate questions. Why not unite? Why continue a split that weakens the Trotskyist movement? Why have two parties with two weekly agitational organs, with two monthly theoretical magazines, with enormous duplication of effort and with resulting confusion created in the ranks of the advanced workers?

There are of course differences, but a Bolshevik party without differences is inconceivable. The Minority had no hesitation in saying that the differences were compatible with membership in one party.

The Minority did not propose immediate unity. It proposed that the two parties go on record in favor of unity and proceed to joint work in the trade unions, to joint election campaigns, to joint anti-fascist campaigns – all for the purpose of preparing the parties for unity. It was necessary to eliminate the personal animosities resulting from the sharp factional struggle of 1940. Common work in the interest of the working class would show whether unity was possible without the danger of a factional struggle immediately following the unification.

Without the slightest hesitation the leaders of the majority rejected the proposal for unity. Cannon, when confronted with the resolution, stuck to his line previously enunciated: “We must deepen the split.” He had encouraged the SWP members to consider the WP members as “renegades,” and unity with “renegades” was out of the question. His first and honest reaction to the proposal of unity was a definite “no.”

WP Declares Itself Clearly for Unity

The WP, on the other hand, accepted the proposal of unity. The leader of the Majority claimed that the acceptance was only a maneuver, that in reality the WP wanted to enter to prepare another split. On the face of it the claim is absurd. The WP comrades were willing to give up their organization and their public press; they were willing to submit to the discipline of the Majority. To do that in order to unite with a small party in the hope of making a bigger split would not enter the minds of the most inexperienced people. And the WP is led by experienced revolutionists.

The Minority was absolutely convinced of the sincerity of the WP comrades in accepting the proposal for unity for there is only one test: readiness to accept unity. And the WP so committed itself.

Because the WP accepted the proposal, Cannon could not continue with an open opposition to unity. He shifted his ground from open and honest opposition to a shifty, dishonest one. Whereas at first he took the position that there was nothing to discuss, that the press of the WP gave us all the information we needed, he began a farce of insisting on a “thorough discussion and probing of the differences.”

As a decisive objection to unity, the Majority leaders cited the fact that the WP insisted on publishing its own internal party bulletin after unity, something that every group has a right to do in a Bolshevik party. To remove that pretext the Minority requested the WP to promise not to publish its own organ provided the Majority recognized the right of a minority to publish an internal bulletin if it so desires. The WP consented, but the Majority in no way changed its mind.

The Minority became convinced that the real motive of the Cannon clique in opposing unity was the fear of having in the ranks of a united party a large number of revolutionists who would not blindly follow the leader, that Cannon and his clique want to build a monolithic party.

It was this conviction that led the Minority to state: either unity or we belong with the WP. It was this conviction that led the Minority to launch upon a course of political fraternization with the WP in disregard of the policy of the Majority which considered the WP comrades to be “renegades.”

Minority Rejects SWP Ban on Fraternization

To the charge that we were violating the principle of democratic centralism we answered: that principle is a means to build a revolutionary party; when it is used to prevent unity of revolutionists it is used in a criminal manner. Under the circumstances, the Minority refused to abide by the policy of the Majority against political fraternization with the WP.

The Minority was confronted with the question whether to leave the party immediately or remain in the party and continue fraternizing with the WP. For a time we followed the latter course since that enabled us to exhaust all possibilities for achieving unity and it was unity that we wanted above everything else.

We chose a most difficult course, and followed it until it became absolutely certain that we could not have unity. The fakery of a discussion with the WP was continued when the Political Committee of the SWP issued a list of questions for “discussion.” The list included all the possible differences – major and minor, past and present – for the obvious purpose of confronting an inexperienced membership with the statement that there are too many differences for unity to be practicable.

The fact that the fundamental anti-capitalist program of the two parties is the same; the fact that in day to day agitation of the parties there is a great similarity if not identity; the fact that the WP expressed its willingness to abide by the decision of the Majority on those questions where there were differences – all that was completely ignored.

After the death of Trotsky, Cannon is bold enough to introduce completely dishonest methods as a substitute for political arguments!

Responsibility for Split Rests on Cannon Clique

When, at the last meeting of the National Committee, a warning was given the Minority to give up its course of political fraternization with the WP with the threat of expulsion if the Minority refused, it became evident that it was useless to remain in the party.

Characteristically enough, Cannon accused the Minority of “disloyalty.” What was essentially a political question he, in the manner of a policeman, transformed into a question of disloyalty. There can be no criticism of a majority expelling a minority that refuses to abide by the decision of the majority; but honest and understanding Trotskyists do not pursue the method of Stalinism and then raise accusations of disloyalty.

Upon the shoulders of the Cannon clique rests the responsibility of the continuation of a tragic division of forces in the American Trotskyist movement It is responsible for perpetuating the split in the American Trotskyist movement.

The comrades of the SWP Minority, in joining the WP, do not give up the platform of unity. Together with the other comrades of the WP they are ready to unite the Trotskyist forces. It is entirely up to the Cannonite clique.

To the question as to why we chose to leave the SWP instead of continuing the struggle we answer: Since there is another Trotskyist party in existence led by comrades who have our point of view on the nature of a revolutionary party, it is far more fruitful for us to join that party and help build it than to waste our efforts in constant factional struggle with opponents who are not interested in honest discussion but in mere distortion and name-calling.

Until unity is achieved we shall be in the WP helping to build a revolutionary party without a trace of Stalinism. In the WP we shall work to effect the two Trotskyist organizations. And we call upon our comrades who have remained in the SWP to continue their fight for unity.

We appeal to all unaffiliated revolutionists to join the party of unity, the Workers Party. Join the Workers Party with us! Join us in building the kind of party that led the Russian masses to victory in 1917!


Albert Goldman,
for the SWP Minority

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