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
My Defense and Critique of the ICFI’s Practice: Jan 29th 2021 by Shuvu Batta
The following is an ancillary document for the article In the wake of the union defeat at Bessemer expelled SEP comrades speak out. It relates to the expulsion of Shuvu Batta. Links to all the documents can also be found here.
Thank you for your letter.
I will begin my response by recalling the events of the last two weeks. As a member of the New York branch committee, I had requested the document submitted by former SEP provisional member C detailing his critique of the party line on the trade unions. I requested this document three times, to no avail, after which I felt compelled to reach out to C myself. After reading the document, and expressing my agreement with its conclusions, I emailed the branch declaring my intention to share the document with the entire membership of the ICFI.
In response, you have issued a letter accusing me of “violations of party discipline, disloyalty and actions aimed at disrupting the work of the party in the working class.” A basic examination of the facts demonstrates that these accusations are not only false, but patently absurd.
Your letter accuses me of “disloyalty” and describes me as an “enemy” for attempting to engage in political discussion with other comrades. As I stated in my initial letter, requesting and internally sharing a document which critiques our party line is not a breach of democratic centralism, nor can it possibly be interpreted as a sign of “disloyalty.” You have, like a lawyer, carefully avoided even addressing these points.
If my actions were a breach of party discipline, the logical conclusion is that members cannot be allowed to share critiques of our party line with other comrades, unless approved by some—yet unidentified—leadership.
Furthermore, if disagreement with the Statement of Principles on any political question disqualifies one from membership, as you seem to imply, it follows that this document is to be treated as inviolable, not subject to critical examination or revision.
You twice refer in your letter to the branch committee as “the basic unit of the revolutionary party,” as if this were some sort of sacred principle of the Trotskyist movement. My attempts to engage in discussion with party members outside of the branch committee are referred to as “unprincipled use of contact information” and acting “outside of the organizational structure of the party.” This has nothing to do with democratic centralism.
The reason I believe that C’s document has been suppressed is because it thoroughly dismantles our sterile and impotent practice and calls into question decades of our history.
You write: “Within hours of receiving this document, you declared your complete agreement with it. You have not offered any explanation of what it was you agreed with.”
Thank you, sir! I will happily oblige.
The Objectivism behind our practice
Comrade Dan concludes his letter with a quote from, In Defense of Marxism, a collection of correspondences by Trotsky, in which he attempts to defend the dialectical method within the Socialist Workers Party against petty-bourgeois opportunism. As a leader of the Russian Revolution and the Red Army, Trotsky knew well that without the assimilation of dialectical thinking, revolutionaries could not effectively perform their duties to the working class.
Trotsky’s discussion of dialectics in these letters was motivated by a debate on the character of the USSR. Was it a worker’s state or not a worker’s state? The answer, as Trotsky masterfully outlined, was that it both was and was not, hence the designation, degenerated worker’s state. It was a worker’s state insofar as property relations were based on proletarian foundations, but it was not insofar as the political machinery was controlled by an alien, petty-bourgeois caste. This analysis was not conjured out of thin air, but was the result of a concrete assessment of the state. Trotsky’s analysis in The Revolution Betrayed recognized the totality of the state in all of its contradictions, particularly the contradiction between the bureaucracy and the working class.
The reason I so quickly declared my political agreement with C’s document was that I was making a development from the utilization of primarily formal logic to that of dialectical logic, aided by my review of the Transitional Program and some of Trotsky’s writings on fascism. Furthermore, my own practical experience within the party, with a significant role in logistics, and my personal experience as an Amazon warehouse worker led me to the conclusion that our stance on the trade unions was utterly impotent and infantile.
In practice, what we are telling workers is to make the jump from A to Z, from trade union to independent rank-and-file committee, without developing any of the transitional steps and the experience within the working class necessary to wage an effective struggle. Our practice in regard to the eruption of mass struggles boils down to the following:
1. Gain interviews and contacts
2. Develop an article
3. Share the article through on-the-ground contacts or social media
4. Call for a break with the union to form rank-and-file committees
5. Reach out to the handful of contacts we made
6. Hope for a result and pat ourselves on the back for making a “big impact.”
We have essentially followed this same line for decades — decades of capitalist decline which have provided fertile ground for the resurgence of a mass socialist movement. What result has this achieved? If one looks concretely at the interviews and contacts we gain from our interventions, they are primarily older, demoralized workers conditioned by decades of betrayal by the union bureaucracies. We rarely, if at all, gain agreement from militant young workers. In our further outreach to these workers, we may initially get a response, but few follow up. Even fewer decide to try our rank-and-file committee experiment.
As C notes in his critique, under the weight of an immense crisis of world capitalism, we have gained experience with rank-and-file committees among teachers, a very militant group within the working class. What has been the result of our experience?
In practice, the R&F committees are not at all democratic organs of workers. The meetings are called by us, the resolutions are introduced and created by us, and the workers, while thankful for the political education, are not very enthusiastic in actually further developing the
work. What they take from our education is the need to bring these ideas back to the mass of workers within the union, which is itself areflection of their class instinct for unity. A vulgar critique launched at C’s document by Comrade Dan during a branch discussion, attempting to cursorily explain his resignation, was that he was attempting to direct the party’s efforts toward the unions entirely, while completely ignoring the fact that in his critique he notes:
“However, our Party’s primary strategic objective remains focused on bringing all of the most militant rank-and-file workers already organized in these organizations under our influence and with this human element continue building and strengthening the coordinated network of rank-and-file committees and all other similar bodies necessary to form organs of dual power based on the working class.”
A truism, known by most workers but ignored by our party, is that the critical mass, of workers in the most powerful sections of industry (dockworkers, transit workers, teachers, etc.) are organized within the trade unions. The contradictory nature of the union is ignored, in that at present the union is a form which the bourgeoisie is forced to utilize, and within this form is contained the contradiction between the bureaucracy and the working class.
In our mechanical analysis of the betrayals of union workers, we constantly note that we “support the strike” but not the union, thereby making an abstract argument divorced from reality. Do tell, using the recent example of Hunts Point, how the strike took place if not initiated within the framework of trade-unionism? How can you both “support the strike” while ignoring the concrete form under which it takes place? Furthermore, in our analysis we ignore the role of the revolutionary party beyond that of purely journalistic activity. How did the party intervene? Was it able to influence the class and expand the strike?
The reality of the situation is that within the bounds of the union, the bureaucracy is forced to call a strike in response to the uncontrollable energy of the working class. Without the active intervention of the party within the union, constantly injecting revolutionary consciousness, constantly exposing the degenerate bureaucrats, the working class will not have the revolutionary leaders it requires to break from trade union consciousness, expand the strike, grow their class unity, and make the move en- masse to form rank-and-file committees. The reason why the role of the party is generally missing from our analysis is because the party had virtually no role. At best, it played the role of a journalist, passively spectating and encouraging workers to immediately form adventurist organizations.
The ICFI often discusses the trade union question from the perspective of its polemics with the Spartacist League, which, pursuing the formulaic approach that characterizes all of its politics, defines the unions as “defense organizations of the working class.” Fetishizing the unions by arguing that they can be turned into organs of revolutionary struggle, the Spartacists refuse to acknowledge the role of globalization in changing the character of the unions and attribute everything to the subjective decisions of the union “misleaders.” While rightly characterizing this line as stemming from an orientation to the trade union bureaucracies, the ICFI proceeds to advance its own set of mechanical theses.
Just as the Spartacists formulaically define the unions as “defense organizations of the working class,” we have used the betrayals of the trade union bureaucracies as further justification for a bankrupt theory which characterizes the whole of the unions as “anti-worker organizations,” despite their contradictory parts. Just as the Spartacists tear quotes by Lenin and Trotsky out of context like passages of scripture to “prove” that their line is correct, so the SEP uncritically cites Trotsky to conclude that the unions are “an organization of scabs,” as if that settled the matter.
If the workers are in an organization of scabs, then we must go to the organization of scabs. It is not a matter of subordinating ourselves to the union bureaucrats, but of fighting, using transitional demands, to raise the consciousness of the working class.
When noting these truths, one is labeled within the party as a “pragmatist,” but this label is coming from the standpoint of its equally degenerate opposite, that of an objectivist.
The objectivist sees no need to issue transitional demands to workers and provide a bridge from trade-union to revolutionary consciousness. The objectivist believes that simply the strength of his “perspective” is enough to reel workers in, provided sufficient suffering and attacks from the bourgeoisie. The objectivist denies the active and human element necessary to raise class consciousness, instead believing that it is enough to focus his work on propaganda, refining his “objective analysis” while denying the day-to day leadership required, with the workers where the workers are.
The objectivist, while noting it in words, denies the role of the subjective element, the communist cadre, in deed. In essence, the objectivist clearly understands and describes the objective world in its continuous development, in often vivid detail, but in almost limitless impotence is incapable of rallying its forces to change the course of history.
In our own particular form of objectivist practice, we have confined our cadre to propaganda activity.
The practice of the rank-and-file cadre consists of the following:
1. Writing and editing of articles
2. Distribution of articles and conversation through social media and newsletters 3. Participation in numerous “political meetings:” essentially a regurgitation of the day’s WSWS page
4. Calls to petty bourgeois elements and workers asking them to donate and join the party. 5. Weekly educationals, which in essence consist of rote memorization through repetition of passages
As objectivists, we have denied that the worker learns through his own subjective experience, through a series of successive approximations, and furthermore that it is the role of the communist to enrich these collective, practical experiences with scientific theory, by walking hand-in-hand with the worker, ruthlessly exposing the treachery of his so-called leaders, proposing concrete forms of struggle within the union such as strike committees and winning the worker’s respect as his real leader, a respect that can only be gained through constant practical activity with the worker.
By denying this education to workers, our practice has become fully divorced from the day to-day struggles of the working class. The closest we have come to workers is in our rank and-file committee meetings, more accurately termed Socialist Equality Party lectures and Q&As, which as noted above, are severely limited.
Our adoption of objectivism is a result of our degeneration into sectarianism, features of which Trotsky described in Sectarianism, Centrism and the Fourth International:
The sectarian looks upon the life of society as a great school, with himself as a teacher there. In his opinion the working class should put aside its less important matters, and assemble in solid rank around his rostrum: then the task would be solved.
A sectarian does not understand the dialectic action and reaction between a finished program and a living, that is to say, imperfect and unfinished mass struggle. The sectarian’s method of thinking is that of rationalist, a formalist, and an enlightener. During a certain stage of development, rationalism is progressive, being directed critically against blind beliefs and superstitions (the Eighteenth century!). The progressive stage of rationalism is repeated in every great emancipatory movement. But rationalism (abstract propagandism) becomes a reactionary factor the moment it is directed against the dialectic. Sectarianism is hostile to dialectics (not in words but in action) in the sense that it turns its back upon the actual development of the working class.
The sectarian lives in a sphere of ready-made formulas. As a rule, life passes him by without noticing him; but now and then he receives in passing such a fillip as makes him turn 180 degrees around his axis, and often makes him continue on his straight path, only … in the opposite direction. Discord with reality engenders in the sectarian the need to constantly render his formulas more precise. This goes under the name of discussion. To a Marxist, discussion is an important but a functional instrument of the class struggle. To the sectarian, discussion is a goal in itself. However, the more that he discusses, all the more do the actual tasks escape him. He is like a man who satisfies his thirst with salt water; the more he drinks, the thirstier he becomes.
Our weekly aggregates, which more closely resemble religious sermons than critical assessments of our practice, exemplify exactly what Trotsky is talking about above. Almost every contribution is dedicated to the invincibility of our perspective, each attempting to outdo the other. Our consistent assertion in these meetings is that the pandemic has proven the correctness of our line, despite the slow growth of the party, proven ineffectiveness of the rank-and-file committee, general inability to recruit the heroic elements of the youth (including those that participated in the George Floyd protests), and a lack of influence within the working class.
Trotsky wrote in, Fascism: What it is and How to Fight It, that “The first characteristic of a really revolutionary party is—to be able to look reality in its face.”
It is one thing to see the punch clearly flying towards you. It’s another thing entirely to dodge and launch a counterattack. Contemplating the quote by Trotsky, can we honestly say that we have been able to look reality, in all of its contradictions, in its face?
The Dialectic and the ICFI
The evident problems with our party raise the need for a critical examination of its history, especially in the period leading up to and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when the party began to advance an abstentionist and anti-Marxist political line. That the party has pursued these policies for 30 years, apparently with little opposition, raises serious questions about the growth of opportunism within the International Committee, including how the finances of the party are generated and to what ends they are utilized.
From my roughly two and a half years in the party, including half a year as an IYSSE member and two as an SEP member, my suspicion is that party funds are generated primarily through donations to the WSWS, which we have no way of knowing has a primarily working-class readership, and is more likely than not read diligently in large part by members of the intelligentsia and professional layers.
It is also a very concerning fact that the rank and file has essentially no knowledge of basic facts about the party’s numbers, class composition, and the growth of our forces over time. I am not even sure whether these questions can be answered by most of the branch secretaries of this party.
We do, however, get regular updates on the growth of the readership of the WSWS, which if statements from the leadership are to be believed, has experienced massive growth over the past year, although Alexa.com records a steady decline over the past 90 days, with an average reading time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
My estimate, as a member of the second largest branch in the US SEP, with roughly 25 members, is that we have perhaps 300 members worldwide, or not much more. A significant portion of this number is not active, aside from participation in political discussion and payment of monthly dues/book orders from Mehring books.
For our party, which claims to be the vanguard of the world working class, this is pitiful. Thirty-five years have passed since the split with the WRP, through successive periods of economic crises and the resurgence of strike activity within the working class. We cannot pass off our slow growth merely to the unfavorable objective situation. The objective situation has been extremely favorable; we have no legitimate excuse!
In order to defend my revolutionary integrity and further develop C’s critique, I am researching our history—in all of its concreteness—over the past several decades, in order to draw the correct conclusions.
Despite the limited information that I have access to at present, broad conclusions can already be drawn. For the past several decades, we have focused the bulk of our activity towards the development of the World Socialist Web Site, while abandoning the work within the trade unions, instead replacing this essential practical work with developing the readership of the website through various methods: social media work, IYSSE club meetings and public lectures discussing articles, etc. This has placed the party in a contradiction.
As the literary output of the WSWS increased and its readership grew, the party drew in layers primarily from the intelligentsia, the professionals, and middle-class youth: those who were scouring the internet to find the answers to the social questions that plagued them and could afford the time to read through the often-dense material. At the same time, the distancing from work within the trade unions alienated the party from the working class, rendering it for the most part unable to both recruit workers and gain influence within the working class as a whole, despite our self-proclamation as the “leadership of the working class.”
Over the past few years, given the election of the fascist Donald Trump, and particularly this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, the weight of the objective crisis has pulled in a new layer of revolutionary youth and workers to the party who, despite our distance from trade union work, have been drawn to our rhetoric of opposition to the capitalist system. We have gained experience with rank-and-file committees, despite their extremely limited nature.
However, the internal balance of forces is still decisively in the favor of the petty-bourgeoisie, and as long as we do not correct our course, this is the layer from which we will gain the most recruits. Unable to influence the working class in any significant way, our primary influence has been polemical, most prominently against the historical falsification of the New York Times thus drawing a layer of the intelligentsia towards us, with a significant product being our new recruit, Comrade Victoria Bynum.
Our literary activity opposing internet censorship has drawn the attention of the Rolling Stone, the journalist Matt Taibi and a brief and sour encounter with Jimmy Dore due to our reporting on Hunts Point.
Unless our course is corrected, the ICFI will be forced to rely more and more on the petty bourgeoise for the continued expansion of the party, and thereby fall deeper and deeper into the depths of political degeneracy due to the lack of a proletarian counterweight. The very fact that Fox News, a far-right outlet, reported favorably on our anti-union stance with regard to New York teachers should ring alarm bells. Far from being a vanguard of the working class, on our current trajectory, we will end up becoming its steadfast opponents—whether individual members realize it or not—injecting confusion rather than class unity and playing an important role in its division.
Our inability to cognize reality dialectically has placed us in an ultra-left position, with a concrete (and ossified) recipe for revolution, although comrades will, of course, not admit to this. Our recipe for revolution, in practice, is as follows:
(Break workers from the trade unions and the pseudo-left parties +Build rank-and-file committees +Recruit workers and youth into the Party) = Revolution
Decades of dedication to this dogma, in hysterical fear of liquidationism, has led to a party that is tiny and unable to influence the working class. In virtually every meeting, one is subjected to hearing the “correctness of our political line,” with the dominant opinion being that our line is infallible and what is needed, in the words of a leading comrade is “inner party clarification because inner party struggle would indicate the presence of factional conflict and major political differences.”
Trotsky described the ultra-left as follows in Ultralefts in General and Incurable Ultralefts in Particular:
The “ultralefts” conclude their analysis just where it should really begin. They counterpose a ready-made schema to reality. But since the masses live in the sphere of reality, the sectarian schema does not make the slightest impression on the mentality of the workers. By its very essence, sectarianism is doomed to sterility.
According to Natalia Sedova, Trotsky’s wife, one of the primary works that the “Old Man” wanted to complete above all was “a study of the relationship between Anglo-American thought and the development of the dialectic method.” The dialectic was so important to Trotsky because he understood that dialectics is “as necessary to a revolutionary fighter as finger exercises to a pianist.”
As a youth within the party, I have had to learn the basics of dialectics on my own, with my first real introduction of an application of dialectics to the contemporary world being that of C’s document, which had an almost immediate and revolutionizing impact. The education that one is subjected to within the party is one of rote memorization, that of memorizing the daily WSWS, the SEP Historical Foundations document, and, The Heritage We Defend.
What about the most important training, the training of not what to think but how? On the WSWS, we have very few articles devoted to dialectics and even these approach the issue from a very superficial level. Our refusal to teach our members the dialectic has led to a party that is in effect unable to practically fight for the immediate interests of the working class while taking care of its ultimate historical mission: Conquering political power and effecting the socialist transformation of society.
My history and demands
In his letter Comrade Dan calls me a “petty-bourgeois anarchist”, referencing Trotsky’s response to Shachtman and Burnham as evidence:
“a disdainful attitude toward theory and an inclination toward eclecticism; disrespect for the tradition of their own organization; anxiety for personal ‘independence’ at the expense of anxiety for objective truth; nervousness instead of consistency; readiness to jump from one position to another; lack of understanding of revolutionary centralism and hostility towards it; and, finally, inclination to substitute clique ties and personal relationships for party discipline.”
I would like to point out, first of all, that the “inclination to substitute clique ties and personal relationships for party discipline” applies above all to the leadership of the ICFI. A result of our party congress last July was the promise of a thorough social media guide, after repeated demands by the rank-and-file. It has been more than half a year. Where is this document? Why is the leadership acting outside of party discipline?
The refusal of the New York branch secretary to share C’s critique of our stance on the trade unions to a member of the leadership of the New York branch is another example. After I requested the release of C’s document three times over the span of a week, I was rejected, leaving me no choice but to reach out to C to request the document. Cde. Dan’s letter states that “It was explained to you that this document would be circulated, along with other materials, for the discussion within the branch.” If not the branch committee, the formal leadership of the branch, with whom did Dan feel the need to discuss how to circulate the document and the other materials? This indicates that within the branch, there is a leadership behind the formal leadership, that is to say, “clique ties.” This needs to be investigated.
Dan makes the mistake, in line with our party’s objectivism, of formally using Trotsky’s quote to criticize my actions without analyzing the concrete and contradictory conditions at play. I will thus provide an account of my political history.
I made contact with the party roughly two and a half years ago in New York. I was a middle-class college student attending UCLA and back home on my summer break. The two years since the election of Donald Trump, surrounded by the dizzying effects of inequality and homelessness in LA and the growth of political violence, made me very disoriented, looking for answers.
Originally a “libertarian” in high school due to Ron Paul’s supposed opposition to imperialist war, the Trump election shifted me to brief support for Sanders because he spoke of an end to inequality andwar, then support for the worker-cooperatives model of Richard Wolff as they seemed like a means to control the negative effects of capitalism. After use of online “left forums,” I came to the conclusion that it was the socio-economic system of capitalism that needed a violent overthrow through revolution, leading me to Lenin. It was the WSWS that led me to Trotsky, through its review of the Russian Revolution and the Old Man’s world-historic role, particularly his elaboration of the Permanent Revolution, the strategy for the conquest of power on a world scale.
After a brief stint in the DSA, I left due to their uncritical support of Sanders, and made the decision to reach out to the WSWS and join the party, because it seemed at the time that the WSWS told the whole truth, which I fully appreciated.
After making initial contact, I was instructed to join the IYSSE and assist with youth work, which in practice consisted of setting up a table, handing out fliers, and attending educationals.
I aided the development of a club on campus for the remainder of my time at college. I left campus with almost $180K in student loans, a full SEP member, and worked at the NY branch thereafter. I contributed to the work to the best of my ability, performing “interventions” several times a week and contact work, despite deteriorating finances and an inability to gain steady employment.
The onset of the pandemic accelerated these tendencies. I worked harder than before in party work, writing as much as I could despite lack of ability, and contacting workers and youth despite little result.
Through all my time in the NY branch, my objective position in class society sharply deteriorated as my debts came due, unemployment ran out and furthermore was considered additional debt by the state. My extended family cut off contact with me, alongside some of my friends, and all of them, including my nuclear family, viewed me as a dogmatic freak to be pitied.
It was only through a concerted study of My Life, Problems of Everyday Life, The Young Lenin and other Marxist literature, alongside an enforced regimen of exercise and meditation, that I was able to steel my mind to face the tasks that confront me.
In order to pay the monthly demands of my debts, I had to enter and become part of the proletariat, as a warehouse worker in an Amazon Fresh facility. Living as a worker myself, in a COVID-infested facility, living with elderly family with pre-existing conditions, reality became a lot easier to cognize and things became a lot clearer. The lashes of injustice abstractly displayed on the WSWS were in my daily life made material reality.
As an atomized member of the workforce, I found myself even thinking whether I would vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to unionization should it occur in my facility. Due to years of party propaganda, I initially thought ‘no’ but the answer ‘yes’ lingered in my mind because unionization would mean that the workers within the facility would be organized under a common banner, providing the battleground for a communist to conduct political work within the organization and among his class brothers and sisters.
As an active member of our logistics work, I witnessed for myself how consistent, practical work with Amazon workers is generally unfeasible within the bounds of social media, for the simple reason that young militant workers do not know who is behind the keyboard and at best respond to us to give an account of their experiences at Amazon for the sake of publishing an article. Even the two workers in our R&F committee are generally older and not strong supporters, listening to us primarily for the purpose of education, not action, and as an outlet to let out their frustrations. During the past month of my proletarianization, concerted study of Trotsky’s writings on fascism, in which he encouraged communists to work in even fascist trade unions, even encouraging entryism as part of the United Front tactic into the bourgeois-led SPD, countered the line of the party, a line which views itself arrogantly as a “pole of attraction,” a line thoroughly critiqued by C’s document, which the party still refuses to discuss, pushing it off for the distant future if at all. The Transitional Program , calling for a bridging of consciousness, also countered our line of immediate formation of rank-and-file committees.
The most damning evidence was my own practical experience as a worker, which in turn set up the ideal conditions for C’s document to make such a powerful impact.
I have been accused of a lack of discipline. If one were to objectively look through the full content of my work within the party, in its various areas, one would find this to be false. In regard to the Hunts Point intervention, I should indeed have had a much more active role, despite the overwhelming disgust and rage I was feeling for the realization that my practice was that of abstentionism: rage which boiled over after the realization that for all my hot air of revolution to workers, I was not at all fighting with them, but instead telling them what to do from the outside, with the arrogance of an intellectual, not a vanguard fighter. I was leaving the worker defenseless against the bureaucratic wolves within their unions.
Inactivity, in accordance with established norms, should not be grounds for expulsion. If this were the case, the party would have to eliminate from its ranks a significant number of members.
As I am now placed in a position in which I will have to mount a defense against the NC, composed in part of a small battalion of trained and accomplished lawyers, I must be given the appropriate time to prepare my defense, which as indicated in the section above, requires a thorough evaluation of the ICFI’s history.
If documentation is needed to substantiate my claims, I will provide them.
As this initial defense is a critique of our party line, I will share this to the rank-and-file membership, who have every right to question the abstentionist position which we have taken, a position which turns its back on the working class.
I would like to once again state, as I did in my initial letter, that “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.”
In order to prepare for my defense against the NC, I demand the following
1. Temporary suspension from all party duties
2. Documentation of the party’s history, especially it’s practice, since the split with the WRP
3. Disclosure of the details of total party membership, its composition, and its growth over time to the entire rank and file
4. One month’s time to prepare my case
I have not forgotten all that the party has done for me, in that it introduced me to revolutionary politics. The leadership of the ICFI, unlike the demoralized peers of their generation, continue to fight valiantly. However, their fight is running up against clear limitations, limitations which must be shattered through a change in orientation. The upsurge of working-class struggle, and the changing composition of the ICFI, provide the objective basis for a reorientation of the party and a return to a genuinely Marxist political perspective. It is for this reason and this reason alone that I am waging this struggle, for we are above all servants to the historical mission of the working class and we must do what we can to fulfill that obligation.