This analysis was originally published in the Socialist Workers Party pre-convention Discussion Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 14 in 1965.
It is a companion work to the Political Resolution submitted by the then Seattle Branch of the SWP to the 21st National Convention in 1965. Most of the Political Resolution has subsequently been published under the title Crisis and Leadership.
Crisis and Leadership together with Radical Laborism constitute the ideological basis of the split between the SWP and its Seattle Branch in 1966, a division which culminated in the formation of the Freedom Socialist Party.
Part 2 of Radical Laborism was printed in Vol. 3, No.2, the Summer 1977 issue of The Freedom Socialist. This current installment is the first section of the document.
The character of the present leadership.
Thirteen years have elapsed since the fight with the Cochranites.
Until 1961, the stewardship of the SWP was nominally held jointly by the current regime and the Weiss group leaders. With the elimination of the Weiss group, the Dobbs-Kerry group entrenched itself and established a political monopoly of the leadership.
What are the political achievements of the existing leadership since consolidating themselves?
1. The withdrawal from Cuba defense work and from trips to Cuba designed to break the travel ban.
2. The reduction of the once-independent youth to a chattel of the SWP national office, and the prolonged insulation of these youth from the ferment around them in the general student movement.
3. The removal of all political-minority representation on the Political Committee; the avowed intention of destroying all minority formations, pockets and opinions in the Party at large; and the tidal wave of expulsions on ephemeral grounds and in an unprecedentedly compulsive manner.
4. Recurrent disasters in our relations with the northern Black struggle and an absolute self-segregation from the southern struggle that is indefensible, especially on the incredibly organizational grounds of “no forces available.”
5. Rejection of obvious and principled opportunities to enlarge the Party through serious fusion, regroupment or united front tactics.
6. Chronic organizational and political intimidation of all Party advocates of the emancipation of women.
7. Ignominious default in regaining ideological hegemony over the radical movement, rationalized away by the canard of an absence of qualified personnel to accomplish this.
8. Refusal to assume organizational initiative of any kind in any mass movement, and the corollary of elevating basic organizational tasks of the Party (fundraising, sub drives, paper sales) to the plane of political crusades, thereby reducing Party live to internal maintenance plus election campaigns.
It is time to inquire into the nature of a leadership which has basically undermined the interventionist and democratic traditions of the Party, and yet appears before the Party with complacency and with an Organizational Resolution that validates everything it has done and then proceeds to shake the big stick at the remaining Party dissidents.
What is wrong with the regime?
An analysis of its history and modus operandi leads inescapably to the conclusion that the present leadership is Radical Laborite in character and not Bolshevik.
It is laborite because it believes that socialist politics on an extended scale will develop exclusively through the medium of a Labor Party based on the unions. It is Radical because of the powerful residue of the traditions of revolutionary socialism on the Party.
In its social origin, the regime derives from the militant AFL unionism of the thirties, and its vision does not basically project beyond the grade union upsurge of the distant future that will lead to the Labor Party. This myopia lends an anti-political cast to its view of reality.
Not typical syndicalists, nor anti-party in the Cochranite sense, the regime nevertheless does not intervene decisively in the real political life of the time so long as the arenas of struggle and motion remain outside the labor movement and sometimes opposed to it. The regime permits participation in other movements (in a grudging response to pressure from Party branches in the field) but the “participation” proposed by the Center is a follow-the-leader adaption to the prevailing winds of whichever movement strikes its fancy at a given time. When controversy develops, as it must, within these movements, the word is usually, “Get out!”
The rigidly unionistic framework of the regime’s long-range strategy results not only in non-intervention, but in a deep-rooted, anti-theoretical habit.
As a consequence of the single-minded unionistic-laboristic blueprint for revolution, the Party has become increasingly constricted, rigid, conservative and turned-inward. This produces, in turn, deepening errors of theory, program, strategy and tactics in those areas demanding the greatest familiarity and precision of evaluation: the colonial revolution, youth, the peace movement, the Black struggle, the labor movement, women’s emancipation and revolutionary regroupment.
The chief characteristics of the Radical Laborites, then, are fourfold: they are non-interventionist, contemptuous of theory, union-bound in strategical orientation, and politically unstable ni their reactions to any given juncture.
Exclusively focusing on the strategic variant of the Labor Party, the leadership is generally impervious and insensitive toward non-unionistic facets of the class struggle, and where it must evaluate the radical developments of any stage, it is inconsistent and ambivalent, apparently disinterested in fundamental (rather than reportorial) conjunctural analyses and the tactical shifts (other than inspection tours) indicated by conjunctural changes.
The regime recognizes struggles other than large union upheavals for general propaganda purposes only. Somewhat like the Socialist Labor Party clinging to its fetish of Socialist Industrial Unionism and riding out a half-century with election campaigns and journalistic commentary, the SWP seems resigned to a pattern of reporting and general socialist education.
The vital problems and needs of the newly developing vanguard groups in the country are treated superficially; except for correctly urging them to independent political action, The Militant has no more advice from them than the National Guardian, which approves them all, or the Weekly People, which is contemptuous to them all.
What should Malcolm X have done? What should the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party do? Students for a Democratic Society? Progressive Labor? What next for the campus teach-ins? What program for women? Doesn’t anybody have to do anything before the unions move? Evidently not. Evidently no current development involves urgent political problems, demanding direct intervention, initiation and agitation by the SWP.
Today’s real and potential mass movements are considered interesting but secondary and subordinate phenomena, and their groping leaders are viewed by the SWP with an uncritical blindness which sometimes borders on adulation, or with excessive political suspicion and competitive organizational mistrust.
Compounding the error, the regime also neglects probes into the unions, preferring to wait until the time is more patently promising. Comrades working in unionized shops are instructed NOT to appear as “union politicians” but to concentrate on recruiting to the Party. Not only is this a false polarization of interdependent activities, but the logic involved would force the Party not to conduct election campaigns on pain of being labelled “Establishment Politicians” — an accusation frequently made against us which we constantly have to explain.
And today, we must explain it again to the Party leadership; wherever we are, we are revolutionary politicians working within extant structures in order to either change their policies or overthrow the structures themselves. if it is tactical to work within the framework of the bourgeois state via election campaigns, how downright sectarian it is to fear the guilt-by-association charge engendered by working within the framework of the degenerated class organs of the proletariat — the union movement!
We are not spectators of the internal union processes from within the unions; wherever our organizational participation in the union provides us a rostrum for principled propaganda and agitation, we would be foolish to abjure it.
It is significant that the Political Resolution stresses our “propagandistic” nature and tasks, while the Organizational Resolution mentions the multitudinous areas of participation and intervention supposedly characteristic of our Party and evidently supposed to be maintained. But this is a liturgical chant only. Business will proceed as usual, and intervention will be cooled off and discouraged wherever possible. The present projected “intervention” in the youth anti-war movement, for instance, will produce as lasting results and political continuity as did our participation in Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Committee to Aid the Monroe Defendants, Freedom Now Party, etc., because the orientation to mass work is either politically wrong or tactically superficial.
Coming forward in the struggle against the petty-bourgeois intellectual opposition in 1941, and helping to defeat it, the present Dobbs-Kerry leadership gradually converted our suspicion of middle-class intellectuals into the rejection of all theoreticians in politics.
The Dobbs-Kerry regime tolerates “theory” on foreign affairs which do not deeply concern it — China, Cuba, the International — and on questions of abstract philosophy, which are not troublesome as long as they remain abstract. But any encroachment upon its domestic territory by a minority viewpoint is promptly labelled — intellectual! The word has become synonymous with “oppositional” and “petty-bourgeois” and is used as an insult.
The dialectical interconnections of the Leninst concept of worker-Bolsehvik, Marxist-intellectual, organizer-theoretician, etc., have been summarily split in two by the regime with the separate parts reassembled into new units. Theory/ideology is now the exclusive function of the regime, while the ranks and the organizers are expected to work at sub drives, fund drives, forums and campus activities, period. Naturally, this “leave the thinking to us” law results in very little thought out by anyone at all.
Minorities are answered not with logical political disputation, but with muddying, distortion and fabrication of the issues, invective and personal-organizational attacks. Political arguments used to be serious and educational experiences for the entire Party membership; today, any consistent or persistent theoretical, strategic or tactical difference provokes a reflex characteristic of the labor officialdom, echoing its intolerance, prejudices and sewer terminology.
Contempt for theory breeds an inability to tolerate criticism, and both traits are expressed in the anti-intellectualism of the radical laborites.
The Dobbs-Kerry leadership is the second major negative tendency closely associated with labor unionism to appear in the SWP in the post-war period.
Between the present leadership and the Cochranites, an obvious affinity existed, marked by the reluctance and tardiness of the Dobbs-Kerry break with Cochran. However, an important difference exists between these two factions.
The Minneapolis Teamsters Union and the Sailors Union of the Pacific (and Marine Firemen) were the first two mass labor bases won by the SWP and they produced the present leadership of the Party.
These unions, not as socially and politically advanced in terms of overall program and ideology as the newer CIO unions, were nevertheless extremely militant in their pursuit of job benefits and resistance against government intervention into the unions.
They were therefore among the first objectives of the employer-government drive to housebreak the labor movement. The Teamsters came under fire immediately before World War II and the SUP shortly after the war. The hierarchies of these unions joined forces with the bosses and the state to drive out the radicals, and the struggles which ensued forced a sharp and decisive break between the SWP and these unions, cutting off the present SWP leadership from its base of mass support.
The Cochranites, on the other hand, were still more ore less firmly entrenched, mainly in the United Auto Workers, in 1951. They were propelled away from the Party because the had a mass milieu and mass base to lean on and escape into as the witchhunt became general.
Of recent years, several opponents of the Dobbs-Kerry leadership both within and outside of the Party have characterized the majority as Centrist. The prevalence of this term requires an evaluation of the regime with respect to a definition of the word.
The Dobbs-Kerry regime does reveal definite political deviations from revolutionary criteria.
1. The regime certainly flirts with reformism in three areas.
Their approach to the Black question is reformist, as most glaringly revealed in the curious proposition that all-Black political action is the solution to the race question in the North while “Troops to the South” will raise the political level of Blacks there.
Secondly, the Party regime has substituted the 10-40 slogan for Trotsky’s sliding scale of wages and hours, instead of connecting them. While 30-40 is an important demand to press, and may obviously have positive consequences, it still does not, by itself, necessarily constitute a bridge from reformist to revolutionary consciousness. On the contrary, it may become a means of strengthening reformism at a given stage. And in sectors of the economy undergoing automation, the 30-40 slogan doesn’t scratch the surface of the vast unemployment problem.
Thirdly, the very barrenness of the Political Committee’s current Political Resolution, void of either conjunctural analysis or revolutionary perspective, holds the door open to further flirtations with reformism.
2. The political reflex of the leadership to critical events and shifts is demonstrably non-revolutionary.
Forceful intervention by Comrades, Cannon and Graham was needed to rectify the hands-off, Third Camp Policy adopted at the outbreak of the Korean War.
The political line during the Cuban missile crisis was at best ambivalent and at worst bordered on joining the anti-Soviet hysteria, only from the “left.”
The regime betrays an obsession with “security” (as in the Cuba trips) which more often than not attempts to mask an unsure policy. Their unseemly concern with respectability occasionally veers toward panic, as evinced after the Kennedy assassination, revealing marked instability, impressionism and legalistic defensiveness. The reductio ad absurdum of this approach was performed by the YSA leadership when it issued national mimeographed instructions to its convention delegates, including married couples, forbidding them to “shack up” with each other because of “security.”
3. the disinterest in and hostility towards any movement for women’s emancipation reveals another facet of the basically non-Bolshevik outlook of the present leadership.
Al right. Do all these enumerated weaknesses add up to Centrism? Trotsky defined Centrism as unstable political formation in motion between reformism and Bolshevism.
The source of motion in centrism is to be found largely in external social forces which exert both reformist and revolutionary pressures. But the one thing which clearly characterizes the SWP leadership is its ability to insulate itself from all external pressures by means of a rigid sectarianism.
The effects of this pressure have been thus far insufficient to cause motion in the SWP; rather, a certain stagnation grips the Party and its leadership.
If and when the SWP majrity relates itself to the existing mass movements, and permits itself to feel and react to the contradictory and alternating pressures generated there, its true and definitive political character will emerge. Live will show whether the present indefinite state of the core of the majority signifies centrism. Everyone, in fact, will be tested under these conditions.
Meanwhile, we do not yet see that the political designation of Centrism has an important bearing on the problem of Party leadership in the SWP today. More important at this moment and decisive for the future are its sectarianism, self-insulation, irrational suspicion of new vanguard formations — particularly anything emanating from the CP milieu or the South — and insensitivity to the problems and struggles of the most oppressed.
These traits derive not so much from centrist faults as from a Laborite-Economist reflex operating in the period of a degenerating labor movement.
Actually, the regime has not changed very much in the past two decades. Vast changes in the objective situation have simply exposed another side of its character.
The Strategy of the Holding Operation
This is a state of suspended animation which freezes program and cements the cadre in the decades-long cliffhanging position until the resurgence of organized labor — the main question — is at hand. Then, the Party is supposed to drop down to terra firma and move in. The present “tightened’up” propagandistic activism is only a new form of the basic holding operation, designed to make it palatable for energetic youth.
This self-paralysis and self-segregation, this marking time and treading water, is constantly being disturbed by the pressure of changes, turns and crises provided by everyday events. The economy gyrates in abrupt swings and cycles, social relations shift and political repercussions accumulate; the rhythm of revolutionary politics, like that of life, is the rhythm of the see-saw. But the regime will not be provoked into altering its freeze-in; it equates programmatic firmness with the posture of the spectator and tries to modulate and modify the significance of every development to fit its own long-range time-table.
Its perspective and schedule, however, based on a concept of relatively uneventful evolution, leave no room for relating to the leaps and twists of the real political world. The regime hopes to see a growth in the Party from small to big to bigger, and then, someday, on to Power. Unfortunately, such a smooth and predictable progression is not the nature of things, as the German social democracy came to learn. Behind the welfare state facade of U.S. capitalism lie a voracious imperialism, the Mississippi police state, the Vietnamese war, etc., all producing cataclysmic reactions. it is possible to keep one’s head and balance only if the chronic imbalance and inbred surprises of the system are appreciated and anticipated as the norm. But the Party is rocked and disoriented at virtually every new and unexpected juncture because it is not geared to dialectics, materialism or political flexibility.
The very nature of monopoly capital dictates the swift sequence of widely varying conjunctures. A fixed program that does not grow, and a petrified long-range strategy that persists no matter what, are results of the contempt for the changing winds of reality. The SWP today has asserted its superiority over the basic laws of political motion; it promises that hanging on, hanging tough, waiting it out and letting the struggle come to us, is sufficient for eventual victory.
In a revolutionary period, we expect the masses to intervene in their own destiny. We expect a revolutionary party, however, to be doing this all the time.
A non-interventionist, anti-theoretical laboristic and legalistic regime conducting an unnecessary Holding Operation can maintain itself only by tightening centralism and diminishing democracy. So Dobbs and Kerry proceed to maintain themselves precisely through bureaucratic means, flagrantly violating Leninist organizational principles and practices.
A long history of internal conflicts paved the way for the present distortion of SWP organizational traditions.
The expulsion of Field, who thought the party would permit him to adapt opportunistically to the pressure of the mass movement, established the authority of the Party over its mass workers. The expulsion of Zack reinforced this principle and affirmed the right of the Political Committee to intervene directly in the branches.
The debate with Oehler over the “French turn” (entry of Trotskyists into the leftward-moving Socialist Party in France and elsewhere in the mid-30’s) established the polar unity of organizational flexibility and programmatic firmness as the required foundation for relations with centrists groupings.
The struggle against Abern isolated and exposed the disease of clique politics and organizational combinationism.
The consuming and paralyzing daily battles with the Schactmanite petty-bourgeois opposition necessitated formalizing internal discussion by placing constitutional limitations on it.
The fight with Morrow in 1945-46 established the Control Commission.
The main thrust of our advances toward democratic centralism was to acquire a much needed degree of centralism. However, this centralism is now in the hands of an anti-political tendency which uses it to reinforce its monopoly of leadership. Our heritage and tradition of democracy, that other part of democratic centralism, are being steadily eroded.
The Nominating Commission
One example of the ongoing erosion of democracy is to be seen in the recent practices of the Nominating Commission.
Conceived by Comrade Cannon as a bulwark of the rank and file to protect itself against a self-perpetuating leadership, it has turned into its opposite. It has become a means through which the central leadership entrenches itself and its friends without having to take responsibility for proposing this. The Commission perpetrates vendettas against opponents, who may suddenly be dropped from the National Committee without any discussion or explanation; a previous understanding with large voting blocs accounts for this phenomenon, which contemptuously ignores the form, procedure and spirit of the proposal which created the Commission.
The Control Commission
This Commission has similarly changed character.
Shortly after the last convention, a lengthy Control Commission report was submitted of an investigation of considerable duration, undertaking quite awhile before the Convention. This “investigation” of the Milwaukee Branch, was conducted largely by Political Committee appointees. The actual members of the Control Commission, however, dutifully signed the report — an unprecedented, slanderous report that rebuked the organizer and the branch unfairly and illogically. The Control Commission members did not personally investigate, interrogate witnesses or determine the direction of interrogation. No report was made to the Convention of this investigation.
The Control Commission behaves as a non-responsible body; i.e., not responsible to the Party. It is incumbent upon an outgoing Control Commission above all other bodies in the Party to make a full report of its activities to the Convention. But had this been done, even majority supporters might have objected to the unusual procedure of the Political Committee relegating to itself the function of the Commission.
The War against Political Minorities
In his speech tot he New York Branch on the expulsion of Robertson, Comrade Dobbs claimed that the expulsions (which had provoked widespread criticism from all sectors of the Party) illustrated Comrade Cannon’s dictum that principle has primacy over organizational questions. These are empty words. What Cannon meant was one thing, but all these words mean in the new context is that the leadership pretends to be justified by tradition in expelling anyone it can first outvote on political questions.
An even more disturbing proposition was placed before the Party in this speech. Comrade Dobbs justified the expulsion on the grounds that it was a mistake in the first place for Robertson to be allowed into the SWP. We do not invite enemies into the Party, he said. This sinister statement was Dobbs’ way of making two other points:
1. he established the “principle” that an kangaroo court proceedings constitute a fair trial because the real purpose of the “trial” is to rectify the mistake that allowed an enemy to exist within the organization. And how is enemy status determined? By whomever the majority can outvote. And since any minority can be outvoted, any minority is the “enemy” — solely by virtue of being a minority.
The logical outcome of this new principle is obvious; no more minorities in the SWP.
2. The Robertson expulsion was calculated be an epitaph on the political gravestones of those “politically irresponsible” elements who “invited” the enemy into the Party in the first place. So, Robertson was only a relatively innocent bystander, representing a hand vehicle for the repudiation of Regruopment, the old Cannonism, and Murry Weiss, who recruited Robertson from the Socialist Party with the full approval of the rest of the SWP leadership.
AN unprecedented number of threats and disciplinary actions against members of various minorities, on clearly secondary grounds, and often for unclear and even spurious reasons, have occurred from coast to coast:
1. Comrade Arne Swabeck, a leading Party theoretician, was prevented from giving a public talk.
2. High pressure “suggestions” have emanated from various Branch leaderships that worker comrades resign.
3. Threats of expulsion or being dropped for “lack of activity” are prevalent in many Branches.
4. An entire Branch (Milwaukee) was censured for expelling a common thief.
5. Expulsion has resulted for comrades privately expressing disloyal thoughts. (Robertson group).
6. Expulsion has resulted because comrades made an unavoidable press statement, or were guilty of “unauthorized” participation in a mass demonstration. (Robertson group).
7. The Detrout Branch placed Comrade Art Phillips on charges for failure to participate in a sub drive at a time when he was conducting a long and bitterly fought union struggle in his UAW local — and at the very outset of the pre-convention internal discussion in the Party. His fat reveals what is projected for the future:
(a) No minority opinion will be tolerated.
Proletarians will become increasingly unpopular in the SWP.
The New School of Socialist Discipline
As discrimination and prejudice against political minorities and unionists harden and a strange new organizational climate prevails in the Party, young activists are being trained to become Branch organizers of a different and special type. Organization “hard-liners” and super-activists, they are encouraged to transform their Branches into tightly controlled “combat” units, ruthlessly stripped of all “fat,” “deadwood” and dissidence.
The present campaign for “tightening up” the Party is being undertaken at the Branch level by this new stratum which never had a chance to learn the real meaning of democratic centralism. The new leaders have been taught to equate centralism with monolithism, and democracy with unprincipled, social-democratic all-inclusiveness.
The new young activist-leadership energetically procures revenue, organizes literature distributions and keeps Branch wheels turning. All of this is highly commendable, necessary and basic. However, they have been endowed by the majority leadership with virtually unlimited authority over all areas of Party activity in quite a few Branches, and their high-handed methods are being unfortunately endorsed by some “old timers” — another new term of contempt — who are intimidated by the image of omnipotence projected by the new leader-technicians.
These new super-disciplinarians operate in the ideological image of the central leadership and attempt to emulate it in every way. They are largely, nevertheless, petty-bourgeois, stemming from an essentially middle-class student origin. Consequently, the scare tactics they deploy against “non-activists” (usually political dissidents) tend to introduce a class friction into Party relations similar to that fomented by Gould, Glotzer, et al. — the hardcore of the petty-bourgeois intellectual opposition in 1940. But one key difference prevails: the present student youth leadership, mimicking the majority leadership, tends to be an anti-intellectual petty-bourgeoisie.
This is not to say that the miseducated young socialists in the SWP are responsible for the regime. No — they are its captives. The central leadership, and its close supporters, have ordained the course of the Party, and it is they who control the Party. AN ingenious youth may counter the charge that the SWP is making a satellite out of a youth movement with the rejoinder, “But the youth runs the SWP!” Nevertheless, the youth in its present form has been molded by the SWP regime and the excesses of the youth — sterility, rigidity, conservatism and harshness — are clear harbingers of things to come in an SWP finally rid of the last vestige of “disloyalty.”
Except for the lies, deceit and manipulation of organizational minutia involving political minorities, the organizational practices of the leadership to not often appear to be illegal. But a higher criterion than formal legality exists: the dialectics of democracy and centralism in the service of a revolutionary policy, i.e., principled politics. There are no Constitutional provision which defend the Party against unprincipled politics, yet this is the fundamental organizational basis upon which a regime must be judged.
The present organizational document before the Party, purportedly drawing the lessons of the last period, studiously ignores the most tortuous organizational convulsion of the decade; the destruction of the Weiss group, and how and why it was driven from the Party.
The fundamental political organizational axis of internal Party live since the Cochranite split in 1953 (aside from the Marcyites, who were a party unto themselves) was the reciprocal relation between the central leadership and the Weiss group, and their counter-relations with the Wohlforth-Robertson group.
Any resolution on Organization which avoids discussion of this conflict is an abstraction. The present Resolution does not scratch the surface of the organizational question in life, except to re-exhibit the leaderships flair for evading concrete reality.
The “Weiss group” comprised virtually an entire generation, at that time a younger generation in the secondary leadership. They were loyal activists with a deep theoretical interest, particularly in the relation between theory and practice. They stood for principled politics and for interventionist tactics.
The relentless annihilation of this group and its reduction to the status of non-persons in the Party history are the crowning achievement of the present regime and the basis of its consolidation and impetus. The effective purge of the Weiss group is supposed to be a demonstration of superior politics — how to achieve the destruction of an opponent in a “soft” split. Yet not one word about how this marvel was accomplished appears in the Resolution.
What are the words? They exist and they aptly describe the process: Unprincipled organizational combinationism. AN old malady of American Trotskyism, this practice has hardened into a habit of the central leadership and has become typical of its relations with Party minorities ranging from Cochran to Wohlforth.
Basically unconcerned with theory and program, the regime cynically consummates organization deals with its political opponents at the expense of its political allies.
The Regime Helps Organize the Cochran Faction
The Weiss group was in the forefront of the struggle against Cochran after he declared war on the fundamentals of Trotskyism in 1952. Comrades Dobbs and Kerry at this time were in close organizational alliance with Cochran. Even though they were in basic political agreement with Weiss and rejected Cochran’s revisionism, the refused to defend the Weiss group “intellectuals” and “professional revolutionaries” whom Cochran was fiercely attacking.
Instead, Comrades Dobbs and Kerry helped organize the Cochran faction in at least the Seattle Branch, where Dobbs, in person and on the scene, conferred official approval upon the factional organization of an absolutely unprincipled combination of Cochranites, Bartellites, and Marcyites. Dobbs then proceed to encourage the new faction to undertake a power struggle against the Branch leadership on purely organizational issues. He even reported back promptly to the appalled majority faction this bestowal of his blessing on an anti-Party group, justifying it on the grounds that his national post demanded that he be “fair, impartial and democratic.”
Only after nationwide resistance to Cochran-Clarke was generated by the secondary leadership and membership did the central leadership reluctantly break its unprincipled bloc and help repel Cochran’s struggle for power.
The Regime Protects Wohlforth Against Himself
Eight years later, when Wohlforth and his anti-Cuba faction were leading the youth, Comrades Dobbs and Kerry consummated an organizational agreement with him which prohibited any opposition to him from youth comrades loyal to the Cuban revolution and in firm support of SWP policy on Cuba. In Spite of this unwarranted deal between the leadership and Wohlforth, many youth comrades felt they had to defend the Cuban revolution among the youth and the entered into a struggle against Wohlforth.
Comrades Dobbs and Kerry threatened disciplinary action against the loyal youth for breaking the calm of their unprincipled block with Wohlforth. challenged by Comrades Murry Weiss and Dan Roberts, and prevented from pursuing their unprecedented course by the Plenum of the National Committee (1961), they withdrew their charges against the majority youth. But in a shocking revenge maneuver, several of the loyal SWP youth were eliminated from the National Committee by means of the silent black-balling technique used by Dobbs-Kerry adherents on the Nominations Commission.
When open discussion of the Cuba question finally isolated Wohlforth among the youth, the majority leaders who had initiated the fight against him and who were therefore the logical candidates for youth leadership were bypassed. A new leadership was manufactured, the chief criterion being loyalty to the SWP regime.
This signified the end of the organizational independence of the youth, the end of the attempt to develop a self-reliant leadership, and the end of the Weiss group — as a result of its demoralization over the outrageous tactics wielded against it.
The Regime Punishes the Wrong Man
After this disgraceful “victory,” possibilities for the continued exercise of unprincipled politics were by no means exhausted. The final relations of the regime with Wohlforth-Robertson add a fitting post-script to the history of the Weiss group.
The main grievance of the Political Committee against the Wohlforth-Robertson minority was that they were agents of Healy. Robertson then split from Wohlforth because he refused to take orders from Healy. Did this not create a new and more favorable relation between Robertson and the Political Committee (the New York leadership?) By all of the criteria of principled politics, it should have. But Wohlforth was willing to maneuver with the PC. He has previously informed on Robertson about petty matters to camouflage his own continuing ties with Healy, and he expected a payoff. He got it — Robertson was expelled and Healy’s agent remained, until in his own good time he chose to be expelled.
The fundamental modus operandi of the regime — unprincipled politics — has prevailed for 13 years and is now deeply ingrained. The unparalleled conduct of Comrades Dobbs-Kerry is connected to, and the product of, their grim antagonism to the Weiss group.