Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Letter to the Political Committee
By Geoffrey White
November 5, 1963
To the Political Committee of The Socialist Workers’ Party
I have received official notification of the action taken against me and others by your meeting of November 1st. On every level your action is a shocking violation of the principles which I had been led to believe governed our organization in relation to its internal life, and which I believe to be appropriate to a genuinely revolutionary party.
In the first place, we are suspended purely on the basis of opinions, attitudes, perspectives, forebodings, anticipations, and the like. No overt act is charged. Not only have we done nothing, we are not even alleged to have done anything; we are being disciplined for criminal thinking, for alleged criminal intentions. This alone is sufficient, I believe, to condemn your action. The effect of your edict is to illegalize the process whereby a tendency arrives at its positions, and develops its tactics. The issue is not whether the Robertson-Ireland contribution to an internal discussion is correct or not, but whether a comrade who holds such views can, in the absence of overt acts, be penalized for them, and all others associated with them likewise regardless of whether or not, and to what degree they are in agreement.
However, even were it admitted that alleged criminal intentions without criminal acts should merit punishment, you have not established a case even on this basis. Your method is to wrench out of context, a context of sharp struggle within our tendency, a series of admittedly somewhat overblown statements and various conjectures as to possible future developments, to give these the most damaging possible interpretation, and then to recoil in horror at a spectre of your own creation.
There is, for example, the question of double recruitment. Persons recruited to the party by one or another individual almost without exception enter the party with the general outlook of the person or persons recruiting them. This is an inevitable outcome of the recruiting process itself, and does not mean that they are therefore, if recruited by minority comrades, automatically committed to a struggle against the majority line. Rather they are predisposed to favor those who recruited them and their views. This elementary fact of political life, which is of course well known to you, I take to be the basis for this passage in the Robertson-Ireland document. Actually, to avoid double recruitment in the sense which the document uses it, not in the sense the PC [Political Committee] abuses it into, a minority would have to cease recruiting to the party altogether.
As for the ‘loyalty to a diseased shell’ passage of which much is made, the basis for this statement is merely the concept which is, I trust, held by all comrades of a Marxist as opposed to a religious persuasion, namely, that the party is a means, and not an end in itself.
The remaining specific points made by the PC based on the two documents before it are of even slighter merit, and the whole procedure is that of a prosecutor waving about a particularly titillating piece of evidence and not that of a responsible leading political body evaluating a tendency within the party. To do the latter would require an objective assessment of the whole history and development of our tendency, and would include how alleged disloyal thoughts were implemented in disloyal actions. Both the objectivity and the reference to acts, however, are missing from the motion of the PC and the CC [Control Commission] report on which it is based.
The foregoing objections, however, do not exhaust the defects of this action of yours. Even were it admitted, as I deny, that the Robertson-Ireland document and the Harper statement are in themselves actionable, no justification can be found in them for the suspension of Comrade Shane and myself. These documents do not have and never have had official status in our tendency. Section III of the CC report which refers to these as documents of the Robertson-Mage-White tendency is factually false. These documents were circulated in the tendency by the authors as individuals, and were withdrawn before they even came up for discussion in this area. At no time and in no place were they voted on by our tendency. Under these circumstances only a concept of conspiracy law derived from the seamier side of the bourgeois law courts could justify the inclusion of Comrade Shane and myself in your action.
Finally, I would like to point out that up until the time I received Comrade Dobb’s letter of November 2nd informing me of my suspension, I had received no notification from the Control Commission or any other authoritative party body or leader that the tendency was under investigation or that disciplinary action was contemplated. Surely it would have been possible to set up a sub-committee of the CC in this area to take my testimony, or failing that, I could have been questioned in writing by the New York CC. The fact that this was not done further suggests factional motives for this action, and furnishes an additional example of your disregard for the essence of internal party democracy.
I plead guilty then, only to being opposed to your political line, as I have stated before the party on numerous occasions. It should be needless to say that I regard this fact not as a fault but as a merit.
In sum, then, and in formal reply to your charges, I state that I am not guilty on all points charged against me, and specifically:
1. I deny that I have practiced or advocated or believed that other leaders of our tendency advocated double recruitment of the type claimed in the charges.
2. I deny that I have wished to split the tendency from the party or believed that other leaders wished to do so.
3. I deny the intention to flout or evade the legitimate discipline of the party or that I believe that others intend to do so.
4. I deny willful violation of any party statute, rule, or constitutional provision whatsoever.
5. I hereby file notification of intention to appeal your action to the December Plenum of the National Committee.
Geoffrey W. White