Documents 3 to 17 and 19 to 24 originally published in Internal Bulletins of the SWP and the International Bulletins of the International Committee
We have received your letter of October 12 and the discussion article by Tom, which we are putting in the bulletin. We are still awaiting your view on the memorandum on the 'Rise and Decline of Stalinism.' It seems best that this document not be circulated beyond the leading people of your own group until after our Plenum.
Since Jim's arrival in New York, we have been reviewing the trend of the international struggle and assessing the latest developments. We have read attentively all of your letters and they have had a profound influence on our thinking on the international question.
Most sinister of all is Pablo's ultimatum to you signifying his intention to move in and help the revisionist minority overthrow the majority in your party. We note that while launching this vicious attack on you, he remains much more cautious in his attitude toward us. There is a reason for that. He wants to keep us immobilized on the international arena and preoccupied with the struggle against our own revisionists to whom he has given only clandestine support, while he tries to cut to pieces, one at a time, your group and other orthodox Trotskyist groups.
We think the best service we can render the international movement is to cut through the whole web of Pabloite intrigue with an open challenge of their revisionist-liquidationist line. We think the time has come for an open appeal to the orthodox Trotskyists of the world to rally to save the Fourth International and throw out this usurping revisionist clique. The movement must be put on guard against the Pablo tactic of splits and expulsions, against his abuse of administrative control in an effort to repeat on an international scale their trick in France of overthrowing a majority with a minority.
In line with this decision to pass over from the defensive to the offensive, we are changing the whole character of the draft appeal we sent you. That draft limited itself to a description of revisionism in our party and Pablo's support of the revisionists, with an appeal for the aid of world orthodox Trotskyism in our fight. We now intend to issue from our Plenum an open manifesto to the world movement sounding a call to arms against the Pabloites on the international field.
The manifesto will take as its point of departure the criminal policies of Pabloism with regard to the revolutionary events in East Germany, France, Iran, and the new developments in the Soviet Union. We will demonstrate that the lines of political cleavage have become so deep and the Pabloite organizational methods so alien to our movement that a modus vivendi is no longer possible. The conduct of the Pabloites shows they disdain the real relationship of forces in the movement. They act as though Pablo and his coterie own the international. The orthodox Trotskyists must kick out Pablo and the whole clique around him who leave no room for a modus vivendi apart from complete submission to their criminal line.
It is necessary to recognize that a showdown cannot wait until the next Congress, as many had previously expected. The Pabloites have already shown by their actions in France and their movements and threats against you in Britain that they will not permit a democratic Congress. Their plan is to get rid of the orthodox Trotskyists before the Congress ever convenes. We must act now and act decisively. This means we must launch a counter-attack without delay. We can have no illusions that there can be a peaceful settlement or compromise with this gang.
This change in tactics, which has been unanimously decided on here, has arisen particularly from our deliberations of how we can best help you in your fight. As matters now stand, you are caught in a web of slanders and trumped-up legalisms that keep you on the defensive. You are compelled to fight on Pablo's ground with inexperienced comrades who can be taken in by his sowing of political confusion and his use of organizational intrigue.
A direct and open political challenge of Pablo by our Plenum turns everything around, cuts through his confusionist strategy and provides an excellent basis for you to pass over from the defensive to the offensive in support of our manifesto. You can thus quickly mobilize and arm for battle all the orthodox Trotskyists.
The fight we are now up against is no less vital and decisive for the future than the great battles waged 25 years ago, in which the original Trotskyist cadres were assembled. In the face of these political imperatives, petty scandals and organizational manoeuvres pale into insignificance. Through an uncompromising political challenge you will quickly weld your forces together in a faction which will become the future movement in England.
If we permit the fight to be conducted much further on the present level, you run the unavoidable risk of having demoralization and confusion disrupt your movement. And that is what we fear most at the present time.
We had a preliminary test of the effectiveness of this change of tactics at an internal debate on the French general strike here in New York last Thursday night. In this discussion for the first time we opened up on the sacred cow, Pablo. The Cochranites seemed surprised and shocked that we dared to do so, while our own forces were elated that the war with Pablo is finally out in the open. The Cochranite surprise at our slashing attack on Pablo tends to confirm our estimate that he thought we were afraid to join open battle with him. He thought that by playing a crafty double game with us, he could keep us immobilized in the international fight until he had finished doing a French job on the British party.
The most decisive factor about the debate was the eagerness with which our rank and file responded to the signal that we are opening war on Pabloite revisionism and liquidationism in the world movement. We think this healthy reaction will be duplicated everywhere in the movement among those who have not forgotten what Trotsky taught them and who, as you have mentioned several times,have been waiting for the SWP to speak. Our movement everywhere was brought up on the teachings of Trotsky. As Morris said in our discussion yesterday, they have all read the same books as we have read and they know just as much as we do. As you indicated in your recent letter, there are manifold signs of uneasiness throughout the movement over the revisionist line of Pablo.
For all these reasons, we are absolutely confident that once the open challenge is made we will rapidly mobilize a decisive majority in the world movement for the defence of our orthodox principles. But to do so, the time has come to call everything by its right name, to speak out openly and that without delay.
By adopting an open manifesto against Pablo at our Plenum, we will be putting the gun to the head of his Cochranite supporters in our party. This means that the de-facto near-split that has existed in our party for the last several weeks will quickly be transformed into an open break. For our part, we have absolutely nothing to lose from it and everything to gain. We do not contemplate any future reconciliation with these people.
A number of actions will naturally flow from this basic decision that is going to be made by our Plenum. We will work these out as we go along. The main line of them is already clear. The gist of it is that we are not going to be trapped in any legalisms by this usurping clique. We are going to have an open fight for control of the world movement.
Immediately after the Plenum, we must establish close organizational and consultative relations with orthodox Trotskyists everywhere, including those who have been unjustly expelled. We think a co-ordinating committee must be set up without unnecessary delay. We will send someone right after our Plenum to discuss this problem with you directly.
P.S. There is going to be a lot of material in our paper which will be most useful to you in your fight. If you will send us a list of all your people whom you want to get our press -- either single copies or bundles -- we will put them on our mailing list.
Last updated 17.8.2003