Max Shachtman


on Unity

Letter From Workers Party on Question of Unification
of the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party

(August 1945)

From Fourth International, Vol. 6 No. 9, September 1945, pp. 284–285.
The Resolution was published in Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 35, 27 August 1945, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

August 22, 1945

James P. Cannon, Secretary
Socialist Workers Party
116 University Place
New York, NY

Dear Comrade:

I am enclosing to you a copy of a statement, adopted by the unanimous vote of our National Committee at its recent plenary session, on the question of the unification of the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party. As instructed by our Committee, I request that you bring its statement to the attention of the Political Committee and National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party so that they may be able to consider it at the earliest possible moment and arrive at a decision on the question of unity which will promote the growth and consolidation of the revolutionary Marxian movement in this country.


Fraternally yours,
Max Shachtman,
Secretary, Workers Party

1. The National Committee of the Workers Party takes note of the fact that a minority group of the Socialist Workers Party, led by Comrades Goldman, Morrow and Williams, has presented a resolution to the Political Committee of the Socialist Workers Party in favor of the unification of that Party with the Workers Party. The principal ground given in the resolution for unification of the two parties is that the main political question in dispute in 1939–40, which led to the split in the Socialist Workers Party and the formation of the Workers Party, namely the difference over the slogan of “unconditional defense of the Soviet Union” is today no longer as acute and topical as it was when the dispute first arose; and that the two Parties today have a similar position on the main task in Europe, namely, defense of the European revolution from the threat of Stalinism and Anglo-American imperialism.

2. The National Committee also takes note of the fact that the Socialist Workers Party itself has officially taken the view that the slogan of “unconditional defense of the Soviet Union” does not, at the present time occupy the prominent position it was given at the beginning of the war, that it has receded into the background.

3. The Workers Party stands for strengthening the forces of the Fourth International in all countries, the United States included. Therefore, it also stands for the unity of the Fourth Internationalists in this country in a manner and on a basis calculated to give the greatest assurances of healthy progress.

4. We are obliged to record our disagreement with the motivation for the modification of the Socialist Workers Party’s position on the defense of Russia in the war. It is also well known that we still have important differences with the Socialist Workers Party on a number of political and theoretical questions. However, the range of these differences do not go beyond what is permissible within the ranks of a single revolutionary party. Furthermore, our estimate and criticism of the official regime maintained by the representatives of the majority in the Socialist Workers Party has not been changed. The fact that these representatives are now so categorically opposed to unity with the Workers Party, as well as their opposition to any united action with the Workers Party, is confirmation of our estimate. Nevertheless, the interests of uniting the Fourth Internationalists in the United States on a sound foundation are more important than the regime in the Socialist Workers Party.

5. The Workers Party is therefore prepared to discuss the question of unity with the Socialist Workers Party.

6. However, our National Committee proposes that, in order to test the practical possibilities of living and working together harmoniously in one united Party, as well as to promote the common cause in the working class and the labor movement, the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party, through their National Committees, should arrange for joint consultation and cooperation in all fields – trade union, political, defense, etc. – where it is possible, necessary and fruitful.


National Committee, Workers Party
Max Shachtman, Secretary

Max Shachtman
Marxist Writers’

Last updated on 14 December 2017