Marxist Bulletin No. 4
Expulsion from the Socialist Workers Party
Appeal to the “United Secretariat of the Fourth International”
By James Robertson
New York, N.Y.
23 February 1964
United Secretariat of the Fourth International
c/o Pierre Frank
The National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party at its December 1963 plenum expelled five party members, supporters of the Revolutionary Tendency. The comrades involved are Shane Mage, Geoffrey White, Laurence Ireland, Lynne Harper and myself.
Having exhausted all presently available recourse within the American party, we are now writing to formally request that the United Secretariat express its opinion on behalf of the restoration of our organizational rights in what is, politically, your American section. Over the past several months, copies of all relevant documents have been sent to the United Secretariat. This material makes it superabundantly clear that the expulsions took place exclusively because of our intransigent adherence to our opinions, and through no breach of democratic-centralist discipline on our part. A systematic summary of the issues to the time is found in our document, “Rescind the Suspensions!” of December 10, 1963, by the five then-suspended RT supporters. (Subsequently another supporter of our Tendency, Roger Abrams, was also expelled from the party on trumped-up charges.)
We would like to remind the United Secretariat of the resounding guarantees, regarding party interna1 democracy, found in “For Early Reunification of the World Trotskyist Movement” (March 1, 1963). This document was advanced by the SWP Majority itself as the summary of alleged basic positions upon which unity with the International Secretariat forces would stand or fall. The entirety of the relevant section of the resolution is as follows:
“(4) The Fourth International as an international organization, and its sections as national parties, must adhere to the principles of democratic centralism. Both theory and historic experience have demonstrated the correctness of these principles. Democratic centralism corresponds to the need for quick, disciplined action in meeting revolutionary tasks while at the same time assuring the freedom of discussion and the right to form tendencies without which genuine political life is denied to the ranks. In its adherence to internal democracy, the world Trotskyist movement stands at the opposite pole from the stifling regimes imposed on working class organizations controlled by bureaucrats trained in the schools of Stalinism, the Social-Democracy or reformist unionism.”
Fine words! And words which are presumably binding upon the United Secretariat. For at the July 1963 SWP Convention, the party resolution hailing the international reunification the previous month noted that:
“The Convention of the Socialist Workers Party is especially appreciative of the fact that the basic document, which received unanimous approval both at the conference of the majority of the sectors adhering to the International Committee and at the World Congress called by the International Executive Committee, was the statement issued by the Political Committee of the Socialist Workers Party, “For the Early Reunification of the World Trotskyist Movement.” The unanimous adoption of this document, which reaffirms the programmatic foundations of world Trotskyism, is proof of the thoroughly principled character of the unification and a most favorable augury for its durability.”
Regarding the major international implications of our expulsions, we would draw your attention again to sections 12. and 13. of our “Rescind the Suspensions!” There is, moreover, a further consideration. We have heard it put point blank by friends of the European sections of the “Reunified” International group that part of the unity deal with the SWP was an agreement that all affairs of the American party were to be outside even the moral jurisdiction of any international body–in short, “Hands Off!” If this is true and the United Secretariat is unable or unwilling to offer a significant objection to the flagrant organizational abuse by the SWP Majority leadership, then it would be proved that your Reunification Congress created not a real international body at all, but a deliberate illusion!
But we would rather find to the contrary. We want readmission to the SWP. We reaffirm for the hundredth time our disciplined acceptance of the line of the Majority. In exchange we know that, within the SWP, we will have the opportunity with minimal organizational obstruction to press for our viewpoint in an orderly way among the largest number of declared Trotskyists. All this we spell out clearly in the “Editorial Notes” of the enclosed periodical, Spartacist, which we have now begun to publish for the period of our exclusion from the SWP.
We await your early reply.