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
Finally, I would like to point out that up until the time I
received Comrade Dobbs 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