Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Letter to the National Committee
By D.G and R.S.
December 17, 1963
December 1963 Plenum
Socialist Workers Party
We came into the party during the McCarthy witch-hunt period. Our struggles in our trade unions and in civil liberties organizations against the injustices of those days contributed to the social consciousness that led us to the SWP and into the general revolutionary struggle. Some eight years later we find ourselves struggling in the party against the same kind of practices that helped to propel us into the party in the first place.
We carry no brief for the Robertson-Mage-White tendency. Politically we characterize them as petty-bourgeois. We regard them as fundamentally incorrect on the questions of China, Cuba and the Negro struggle. We have opposed them polemically many times in both floor and literary debates. And we do not condone the opinions expressed in the Robertson-Ireland document of September 6, 1962. (It is the thoughts and opinions in this document that constitute the main basis for the so-called disloyalty charges against the tendency.) It would be very easy, therefore, to find excuses and justifications for removing them from the party. But our concern for the principles of socialist democracy and for the future viability of our party will not allow us such opportunistic indulgence.
The Swabeck tendency has been called “Stalinist” by leaders of the party and leaders of the youth. Yet here are we alleged “Stalinists” struggling against the same techniques used by Stalin against Trotsky and the Left Opposition. Only now they are being used in the name of Trotskyism against political opponents in the Trotskyist movement.
The leadership of our party accuses a minority tendency of a hostile attitude, a split perspective, and double recruiting. All three really fall under the category of perspectives and attitudes, for the charge of double recruiting was not substantiated by actual evidence either in the PC charges or in Comrade Dobbs’ presentation to the New York branch. They are “suspended” as disloyal not for any specific acts but for “attitude” and “perspective”–that is, for thoughts and ideas. This is the technique of thought control.
Thought control techniques and concepts have been used throughout history as one of the main weapons against the revolutionary progression of society. To the extent that the SWP leadership uses the counter-revolutionary weapon of thought control against its political opponents, to that extent it will cease being revolutionary. Before their conviction and jailing under the Smith Act, suppose Comrade Dobbs and Comrade Cannon had used within the party concepts of thought control similar to those the PC is now using against the Robertson-Mage-White minority. Would they not have been in a compromising position? (Unjust expulsion from the revolutionary party is tantamount to a jail sentence to anyone who regards himself as a genuine revolutionary.)
The charges of split perspective, hostile attitude and double recruiting (unsubstantiated) taken together form the basis for the party’s charge of disloyalty. None of these is alone sufficient to support the charge. They are dependent on each other. Therefore, the party leadership just fuse the three to give them weight in lieu of any acts of disloyalty. This is a familiar technique.
Hostile attitude and split perspective are abstract ideas, not actions. Double recruiting, on the other hand, is concrete; it is an action. Therefore, it must be examined separately.
Double recruiting, as an accusation implying disloyalty, appears to have a factional motivation, because if logically extended and rigidly applied such a concept would restrict party membership to people in complete agreement with all of the party’s current majority positions.
Take the members and sympathizers of Uhuru in Detroit as an example. They have been described by one of their spokesmen as Mau-Mau Maoists who use as basic texts the writings of Mao Tse-tung. If they joined the party they would quite naturally be members of the Swabeck tendency, irrespective of whether they joined the party on the basis of the party’s line on the Negro movement. But what if the Swabeck tendency were instrumental in recruiting such people? Is the Swabeck tendency to be charged with disloyalty for “double-recruiting” and expelled from the party? Will prospective black revolutionaries whom the Swabeck tendency might recruit be refused admittance to membership if they share the Swabeck position on China? Obviously if such a course were adopted the party would be committing hari-kari.
Is the Seattle branch, which in the main supports the Kirk resolution, to be expelled by use of such criteria as has been used against the Robertson-Mage-White group if their members should recruit people supporting the Kirk position, as would be almost unavoidable in the circumstances? And what about the Milwaukee branch? It supports the Freedom Now resolution, but most of its members also support the Swabeck position on China. If they should recruit Negro militants with a predilection for the Swabeck position on China, are they to be “suspended” and the prospective members rebuffed?
The party is suicidally impaling itself on the horns of a self-defeating dilemma. Comrades, isn’t the party small enough after 35 years without further reducing its potential by the introduction of these undemocratic strictures?
In order to purge out dissent, the party leadership is touching all the well-known bases used both by the bourgeoisie and by Stalinism. It is with a horrible fascination and deep indignation that we watch this process unfold in the SWP.
By such compromising acts and unprincipled tactics the SWP discredits itself and the entire Trotskyist movement, and forfeits any right to lead the masses in the name of and toward the revolutionary conquering of power for socialist democracy.
We protest the suspension of the Robertson-Mage-White tendency by the Political Committee and request the National Committee at its Plenum to reverse this decision.
/s/ D. G.
/s/ R. S.
NOTE: This communication represents the personal views of the writers. We have not consulted with the Swabeck tendency, of which we are a part, as to agreement or disagreement on its contents. We opposed the “suspension” of the minority in the discussion following comrade Dobbs’ presentation of the PC position at a New York branch meeting.