Note from the Editors: Classconscious.org is publishing a series of articles and documents relating to the break of Shuvu Batta and Peter Ross from the SEP. The crux of this break was over the issue of revolutionary work within trade unions.
Based on the writings of Trotsky and Lenin we disagree with the ICFI’s position that workers must break with trade unions and form a network of new “rank and file committees”. (Read our position on Trade Union work here). It is only through and open and robust discussion that scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed in the past. We invite anyone who disagrees with this position or has something to add to this debate to consider submitting an article to classconscious.org
These documents were first published on Permanent Revolution and have been republished here with permission of the authors.
In the wake of the union defeat at Bessemer an expelled SEP member speaks out – by Shuvu Batta and Peter Ross
Ancillary documents for article ‘In the wake of the union defeat at Bessemer expelled SEP members speak out
Once Again on the Question of Trade Unions and the Tasks of the Party – by Comrade C
Initial letter of Shuvu Batta to New York SEP branch leadership: Jan 18th 2021
As a member of the branch committee, the so-called “leadership of the branch”, I had requested the document submitted by former SEP member C detailing his critique of the party line to Comrade X three times over the span of a week, the third after learning that his critique mirrored my own, a critique which I was organically developing as upon review of Trotsky’s writings on fascism and the transitional program, I began to think dialecticaly, recognizing the internal contradiction contained within the trade union, that between the bureaucracy and the working class.
As I had not received the documents requested, I reached out to C myself to request it, as is well within my right not only as a party member but as a thinking being. Just as it would be ludicrous to condemn Lenin or Trotsky for discussing fundamental political issues with non party members like Gorky and John Dewey, so it would be to condemn my action as a breach of revolutionary centralism.
Upon review of this document, I have come to declare my agreement with it’s political conclusions. As such I have shared this to a few comrades outside of the branch who I feel would view the document with a critical lens and share to others if they so choose. I have now shared this to the entirety of the branch committee with the intention that this be discussed within the whole branch and indeed within the entire membership of the ICFI. This too is not a breach of revolutionary centralism, as it is a sharing of a critique on our party line, a line which is featured publicly on the World Socialist Web Site. If this is considered a breach of centralism it would mean that the Trotskyist Party has adopted a method utilized by Stalinism in order to suppress the democracy contained within Democratic Centralism. Furthermore it would indicate a lack of faith of the leadership of the party to defend it’s line to its ranks.
My intention is not to sow chaos within the ICFI, though if that is a result, so be it. My intention is to fully clarify all of the political issues that are currently latent within the entire membership, particularly its vacillating and disaffected elements, and out of the blazing fires of the inner party struggle forge a true combat party, ready to not only critique the bourgeoisie but to physically lead the proletariat in the revolutionary conquest of power.
C’s critique raises a fundamental question about the party line, a line which we adhered to for almost thirty years, thirty years of global capitalist decline and several economic shocks and crises, thirty years of fertile ground for the growth of Marxism. At the present, in the greatest economic crisis in human history, we still have not been able to develop worker cells or a significant influence within the working class, or for that matter recruit the heroic elements within the youth, which as the George Floyd protests can attest to, certainly exist. This fact alone indicates a severe crisis within the party.
If his critique proves correct this would mean a profound historical failure of the party, and would mean more than just a tactical error, but the cancerous growth of opportunism within it’s leadership and ranks, namely the dominance of sectarianism and dogmatism.
The International Committee of the Fourth International is the vanguard of the working class. This party is the culmination of an almost 200 year long struggle initiated by Comrades Karl Marx and Frederich Engels against the Young Hegelians, declaring in the 11th theses on Feuerbach
“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways;
the point is to change it”.
At the present historical crisis, as the hammer of Fascism weighs ominously over the working class and the prospect of nuclear world war lurks ever closer, it would mean suicide not only for workers but for all of humanity if the party blindly moves forward with the incorrect line. It would mean a disgusting betrayal of the greatest historical leaders of the world proletariat and the countless communists, socialists, workers, and the oppressed who have perished carrying forth this struggle.
In my attempt to make this criticism public to the entire membership of the ICFI, I am performing my revolutionary duty as silence and complacency would mean a rejection of the fundamental principle that Comrades Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Leon Trotsky lived and died by: To orient oneself to the needs of the objective situation regardless of the difficulties it may cause.
I am fully aware of the consequences of this action and the likely sequences of events which it will generate. However, in the pursuit of truth, I have no trace of fear, cannot be intimidated, and am not in the slightest afraid to stand alone against the entire party apparatus if need be.