Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Political Committee Motion Suspending Robertson-Mage-White-Harper-Ireland
(plus cover letter and appended Control Commission Report)
November 2, 1963
305 West 103rd St.
New York 25, New York
Dear Comrade Robertson:
You are hereby officially notified that, effective immediately, the Political Committee has suspended you from membership in the party.
As stated in the PC decision, you are barred from internal party meetings, denied access to internal party material, and excluded from participation in any and all forms of internal party life and activity.
Copies of the PC decision and the Control Commission report of October 24,1963, dealing with this matter are attached for your information.
Excerpt from P.C. minutes #4, November 1, 1963 Attch. #1
Motion by Secretariat
The basic organizational resolution, ‘On the Internal Situation and the Character of the Party,’ adopted by the 1938 Founding Convention of the Socialist Workers Party, contains the following provisions:
‘The party requires of every member the acceptance of its discipline and the carrying on of his activity in accordance with the program of the party, with the decisions adopted by its conventions, and with the policies formulated and directed by the party leadership. Party membership implies the obligation of one hundred per cent loyalty to the organization, the rejection of all agents of other, hostile groups in its ranks, and intolerance of divided loyalties in general… The party as a whole has the right to demand that its work be not disrupted and disorganized, and has the right to take all the measures which it finds necessary to assure its regular and normal functioning… All inner-party discussion must be organized from the point of view that the party is not a discussion club, which debates interminably on any and all questions at any and all times, without arriving at a binding decision that enables the organization to act, but from the point of view that we are a disciplined party of revolutionary action… The decisions of the national party convention are binding on all party members without exception and they conclude the discussion on all these disputed questions upon which a decision has been taken. Any party member violating the decisions of the convention, or attempting to revive discussion in regard to them without formal authorization of the party, puts himself thereby in opposition to the party and forfeits his right to membership. All party organizations are authorized and instructed to take any measures necessary to enforce this rule.’
As indicated in the Control Commission’s report of October 24, 1963, the foregoing provisions of the 1938 resolution are violated by the leadership practices of the Robertson-Mage-White group. Assuming the guise of a ‘study circle’ the group leadership projects a discussion policy that disregards convention decisions to close discussion or disputed issues and goes ahead factionally on a business-as-usual basis. In external activity they purpose to function as ‘united blocs,’ seeking to work as free lancers in areas where they are unhindered by the presence of comrades loyal to the party. They undertake the recruitment of outside contacts into the group on the basis of the group’s program, methods and practices. New people recruited into the group are considered ready to apply for party membership only after they have first been indoctrinated against the program, convention decisions and organizational principles of the party.
Group discipline is put before party discipline. Group work within the party is cynically projected as ‘the best possible opportunity for building our tendency and not through any mistaken concepts of loyalty to a diseased shell.’
Such are the concepts, methods and practices with which the Robertson-Mage-White group is indoctrinated by its central leaders and by the Harper-Ireland propagators of the leadership policy. Those concepts, methods and practices are alien to our party, wholly disloyal and utterly intolerable.
Because of their violations of party loyalty the Political Committee hereby suspends from party membership Comrades Robertson, Mage, White, Harper and Ireland. Although suspension from membership does not constitute outright expulsion from the party it has the same force and effect concerning the exercise of membership rights during the period of suspension. Those suspended are barred from internal party meetings. They are denied access to internal party material. They are excluded from participation in any and all forms of internal party life and activity.
The Political Committee refers to the plenum of the National Committee the question of further disciplinary action against the Robertson-Mage-White group.
Adopted by Political Committee,
November 1, 1963
October 24, 1963
To the Political Committee:
Report of Control Commission on Robertson Case
As requested by the Political Committee in its motion of August 2, 1963, we submit on behalf of the Control Commission the following findings in our investigation of the Robertson-Mage-White tendency:
During our investigation we obtained the text of the Robertson-Ireland document, ‘I. The Centrism of the SWP (and) II. The Tasks of the Minority,’ which had previously been withheld from the party. A copy of the document is attached. (Appendix # 1). We call your attention to the following statements contained therein:
‘12. The majority rank and file … contains many valuable elements who will more and more become disgusted … One of our major tasks must be to recruit these comrades to our tendency. This in fact is our first line of recruitment … But this process … is but one of the ways in which we will increase our numbers; it is by no means the only one and we must seriously begin to consider the possibility that we will not gain a majority following within the party…
‘13. We seek to recruit to the tendency. All organization tasks must be undertaken with this concept in mind … At present, largely because the SWP is the ostensible revolutionary party in the eyes of the radical public and the party membership, we work through the SWP. But we can have no intention of building centrism. We work within the party because it provides us with the best possible opportunity for building our tendency and not through any mistaken concepts of loyalty to a diseased shell.
‘14. …our discipline must be with the minority until that time when program and form are again united… but… it is likely that this will take some time. In the interim, we must not allow ourselves to drift back and forth confusing, now, discipline with the form of the SWP and, then, with the minority.
‘15. Ours will be a problem of ‘double’ recruitment. As we seek to build the tendency, therefore, and as we have the perspective of working within the SWP in the coming period, recruitment of new cadres from outside the party will involve considerable effort. There can be no question of meekly handing this raw material over to the party for conversion into careerists or a probable speedy disillusionment… this source of cadres for our tendency is second only to recruitment within the party and is therefore of the utmost importance.
‘16. As our tendency builds its ranks, the SWP will become more and more reluctant to accept members… who are evidently supporters of the minority… We cannot drop these comrades! On the contrary, we must keep them in as close a contact as possible with the functioning and activities of the Socialist movement. Under no conditions must this vigorous new material be allowed to wither up and drift away because of insufficient political and organizational contact with revolutionary Marxism…
’19. … there is no reason why we cannot act as united blocs within the party when approaching some outside activity as a strike, campus activity or the like. This will always be a highly difficult proposition because of our position with the SWP, but we must attempt to utilize every opportunity possible for recruitment…
‘21. The situation facing our forces is qualitatively the same in the youth as in the party. But in the youth a more open and revealing process takes place, paralleling the course of the SWP… at no time must we fall into the trap of lending other than critical or conditional support… to the various proposals and activities…
‘24. …a latent or explicit desire for minority comrades to shirk from mass contact and (centrist) party building concomitant with a preference to discuss revolutionary work as abstractly as possible… One of the most noteworthy complaints of these comrades is not that they do not wish to do party work, but that they do not care to be reduced to cogs in an autocratically managed centrist party, that is, a party which limits the areas of political usefulness. Our comrades want to be active, but they want to be active as revolutionary Socialists. Therefore, one of our major tasks at this moment is to become a study circle! … The carrying out of these tasks necessarily presupposes study on all problems facing the proletariat as a class engaged in struggle as well as on all problems before its vanguard.’ (Emphasis in original.)
The Robertson-Ireland document also states: ‘22. The document submitted by Comrade Harper (Orientation of the Party Minority in Youth Work [draft]) on 8 August 1962 to the New York Tendency contains our basic position in regard to youth work. This document should be supported, developed and implemented at every opportunity.’ The text of the Harper draft is attached. (Appendix # 2.) It contains the following statement which we call to your attention:
‘6. … we should pick and choose, channeling our energies into that work which will be most fruitful for our purposes. Examples of this sort of fruitful activity would be work on campuses and in organizations where we are relatively free from the hindrance of large majority fractions and actions where we can independently bring in contacts, work with them, and offer them our views of whatever struggle we are engaged in.
In these statements by the Robertson-Mage-White minority their hostile and disloyal attitude toward the party is clearly manifested.
Anne Chester (CC member)
John Tabor (CC representative)