Friday, July 10, 2009

WL/SL Exchange on Workers Democracy (1977)

Workers Vanguard No. 143 (4 February 1977)

Look Who's Calling us Comrade

New York, N.Y. , January 23, 1977

Dear Cde. Robertson:

I wish to call to your attention that in recent weeks members of your organization have sought to disrupt both the political work and public meetings of the Workers League and Young Socialists.

On Saturday, December 4, 1976, your organization staged a provocative demonstration outside the election headquarters of the Workers League in Los Angeles. One of our members was physically attacked and thrown through a pane-glass window. The actions of your organization resulted in bringing the police to the scene. As you know, the police raided these election headquarters over the summer, and your demonstration gave them still another opportunity to harass our members.

Less than a week later, in Toronto, two members of the Canadian Workers League were physically attacked by 12 Spartacist members - some of them Americans - as they attempted to distribute leaflets on the university campus to advertise a public meeting.

On Wednesday, January 19, 1977, 13 members of Spartacist physically threatened members of the Young Socialists and prevented them from holding a meeting at California State University in Los Angeles.

Such provocations and use of violence play into the hands of the police and the most reactionary class forces. They can only damage the socialist movement. I urge you to abandon this provocative policy and call your members to order.

David North, National Secretary, Workers League
New York, N.Y., 27 January 1977

D. North, Workers League

Dear Comrade,

We have received your letter of 2nd January. It is evidently either (a) itself a provocation designed to facilitate frame-up attempts by you in connivance with bourgeois police authorities, and/or (b) a tacit announcement, possibly as a result of the current relationship of forces between us, that your organization is contemplating some change in your years-long standard practice against us (as well as other socialists). Both in the U.S. and abroad this has consisted of the eager use of your own violence, limitless slander, and where possible, the employment of the police to do your dirty work. These are facts which can, for example, be testified to first hand by sellers of any other socialist newspaper at your meetings over the years.

We have commented as appropriate in our public press on the motives and purposes behind your long and unbroken record of all-sided attempts to suppress and destroy the processes of workers democracy and we see no reason to pursue these matters here.

As for the particulars which you presently allege, our Workers Vanguard has already noted the very different reality of such incidents (and many others).

Especially significant is the fact that the last two major assaults by your people that we know of were centrally against cameramen in front of Healyite meetings. These comrades were attempting to deter or failing that document your calculated violence against other socialists (see WV No. 130, 22 October 1976 and WV No. 137, 10 December 1976).

To the extent that your organization does not continue to try to deprive us of those rights necessary to the socialist and labor movements, you can assure yourselves that the concerns so hypocritically expressed in your letter will automatically disappear. And we note that in any case we will continue to defend your own legitimate rights should they be threatened from any quarter.

Corresponding to your violence against us has been your previous justification that we are “police agents,” “fingermen of the world bourgeoisie,” etc. (Just try physical assault on genuine police agents sometime!) We therefore find your closing paragraph, with its appeal to us as fellow socialists to stand against provocations and violence, particularly obnoxious and hypocritical. Truly your situation must be precarious for you to certify our “socialist” legitimacy in any case, and in honor of our present elevation by you, we too are giving salutations to you as “comrade” and “fraternally,” although since you also identify us as accomplices to the SWP leaders who are “GPU accomplices” according to your currently most active slander campaign, we do so with repugnance.


J. Robertson