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Ben Hall

Pro and Con: A Discussion Page

On Political Action Policy

Resolution Proposed by Ben Hall

(15 May 1950)

From Labor Action, Vol. 14 No. 20, 15 May 1950, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The slogan “For a Labor Party” serves the ISL as a means of putting forward the concept of the class struggle in popular language and of pushing the labor movement toward a break with the existing capitalist parties. The orientation of the labor movement today, including its most leftist sections, is generally toward the Democratic Party, in particular its Fair Deal wing. Our Labor Party slogan, put forward essentially as a slogan for breaking with the Democratic Party and for the formation of a new party, does not allow for the support of candidates on the .Democratic ticket either in the primaries or the general elections.

The [Shachtman] resolution is conceived of as a second-trench defense of class politics after the Labor Party proposal has been defeated. The principled argument for the Labor Party must reject the concept of an alliance with Fair Deal Democrats. If the new tactic is. to have any meaning from the point of view of the ISL it must be proposed in the same sense. Once the proposal for a Labor Party (or an independent labor ticket) is defeated, the proposal to contest the Democratic primaries with union candidates, and to support them if victorious as Democratic candidates, can only appear as ludicrous or deceitful. In attempting to apply the proposed tactic, our union comrades can only escape from such a dilemma by abandoning the slogan for a Labor Party completely in practice or relegating it to an unimportant place.

The new policy presumably is especially applicable among the more advanced militants, as in the UAW. Yesterday these militants looked toward the formation of a new party but today, under the pressure of rightists tendencies in the labor movement, they have retreated back toward the Democratic Party. By initiating proposals for primary fights within the Democratic Party, the ISL will appear to endorse their retreat and Will find it impossible to contrast their correct leaning of the past with the false tendency of.the present.

Where unions actually do run candidates in the primaries, they will run them as part of a laborliberal coalition within the Democratic Party against its right wing. Support to these candidates in the primaries as in the regular elections will not be support of independent labor candidates but of a Fair Deal coalition.

The [Shachtman] resolution is rejected because, in the specific conditions of labor’s role in the Democratic Party at the present time, it would make it impossible to present a consistent pro-Labor Party position with a genuine working-class content.

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