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
Notice of disciplinary action against Shuvu Batta by the NY SEP Branch: February 21st 2021
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.
February 21, 2021
This letter is to inform you that the New York Branch has found that you violated the discipline of the party as outlined in Section XI of the SEP constitution. The branch hereby suspends you for a period of 30 days. Your return to active member status is contingent upon acceptance of the conditions laid out in Point 5 below. You have until 5pm on February 24, 2021 to indicate whether you accept these conditions. If you refuse to accept these conditions in writing by the deadline, the alternative is expulsion from membership in the Socialist Equality Party.
This decision is subject to ratification by the Political Committee and you are entitled to appeal to a higher body.
1. The New York Branch has determined that your unauthorized solicitation of a document opposing the political positions of the SEP from a non-member was an action detrimental to the interests of the SEP, therefore a violation of Section XI.b of the Constitution.
2. The New York Branch has determined that your dissemination of the non-party document and demands for immediate discussion on it throughout the SEP and International Committee was a violation of the decision of the branch committee to conduct discussion within the framework of the branch, and therefore in violation of Section XI.b of the Constitution. Your violation of the decision of the branch committee, of which you are a member, came less than one day after you indicated your support for that decision.
3. The New York Branch has determined that your behavior, replete with contemptuous statements and slanderous accusations against the party, was detrimental to the interests of the SEP and the working class, therefore a violation of Section XI.b of the Constitution. Examples include the following:
a) In your email to the Branch Committee on January 20, you expressed your indifference to “sow[ing] chaos within the IC,” then acted upon that by seeking to spread the non-party criticism as widely as you could.
b) In your email to the Branch Committee on January 20, you accused the SEP, without any attempt at justification, of “a method utilized by Stalinism in order to suppress the democracy contained within Democratic Centralism.” For a member of a movement that was the target of the most brutal physical violence at the hands of Stalinism to make such a reckless charge is reprehensible.
c) You denigrated the elected leadership of the party and the branch, referring in your email to the Branch Committee on January 20 to the “so-called leadership,” and writing that you “cannot be intimated [sic], and am not in the slightest afraid to stand alone against the entire party apparatus.” In your letter of January 29 you wrote of a “lack of faith of the leadership of the party to defend it’s line to its ranks,” characterized the National Committee (which you falsely state you must defend yourself against) as partly “a small battalion of trained and accomplished lawyers,” and falsely accused the party leadership of acting outside of party discipline with respect to the Congress resolution on social media (which you never bothered to cite).
d) In the letters of January 20 and January 29 you falsely claimed that criticisms were suppressed and that you were refused access to the document. While not automatically entitled to correspondence between a former provisional member (who never sought to have his document shared) and his sponsor, the very day you made your differences known you were informed the document would be compiled with other material and shared with the entire branch. You arrogantly and falsely choose to interpret this as refusal.
e) The language you use in your letters of January 20 and 29 is not that of one conducting a principled political struggle but of one extremely hostile to the party and seeking to disrupt it. To cite a few instances, you write of your “overwhelming disgust and rage,” of the party’s “disgusting betrayal,” of the “cancerous growth of opportunism,” and of “the dominance of sectarianism and dogmatism.” This provocative and extreme language began less than two days after your first indication of any differences.
4. The New York Branch rejects your attempts to frame the disciplinary action for the conduct explained above as an act of suppression of political differences. Every member has the right to develop and raise differences over any aspect of the party’s program and perspective. But the leadership has the right and responsibility to arrange for discussions of those differences in an orderly manner. The revolutionary party, while paying the highest attention to inner party discussion and struggle, is not a debate club. You have no right to dictate the terms of the discussions or to disregard the decisions of the branch leadership.
The New York Branch also rejects your assertions that anything that is not expressly forbidden is permitted and that as a member of the branch committee you had authority to go outside the party to solicit criticisms without prior approval. These claims are absurd and make a mockery of democratic centralism. If the SEP were to adopt your stance there would be nothing left of party discipline.
Conditions for returning to active status
5. Upon the completion of the 30-day suspension period, the branch authorizes a return to active party status under the conditions listed below. If you refuse to accept these conditions in writing by 5pm on February 24, 2021, the alternative is expulsion.
a) You accept and acknowledge that you violated party discipline as described in Points 1-3 above. b) You retract the baseless allegations described in Point 3 above.
c) You agree to present your differences in a disciplined way as established by the Constitution. The branch is the principal forum for raising and discussing differences. You also have the right to submit documents to the Political Committee for circulation within the party before the next National Congress. You must abide by the decisions of the branch and all leadership bodies in matters related to the discussion of your differences and all other matters.
d) You agree to uphold the line of the SEP, established by party Congresses and developed daily on the WSWS, in all public political work.
Daniel de Vries
New York Branch