Max Shachtman, national chairman of the
Workers Party, before the Loyalty
Board of the United States Depart-
ment of Commerce, on January 14
MAX SHACHTMAN was called as a witness,
was duly sworn, and testified as follows:
By Chairman Short:
Q. Will you state your full name to the reporter!
A. Max Shachtman.
By Mr. Migdal:
Q. Mr. Shachtman, will you identify yourself
please, for the Board? A. I am National Chairman
of the Workers Party.
Q. Do you know T.? A. I met him this morning
Q. Had you ever seen him before? A. No.
Q. Had you ever heard his name before?
Q. Do you know the members of the Workers
Party? A. Yes. By and large, I am acquainted
with them personally.
Q. How does it happen, Mr. Shachtman, that you
know the members of your Party personally?
A. We are a very small organization, and in my
capacity as National Chairman I travel about the
country from branch to branch of our Party, and
I meet the members of the organization, and am
therefore familiar with them.
Q. Did you, at my request, make a check to de-
termine whether Mr. T. was a member of your
Party, or was carried on your rolls in any way?
A. I inquired of our New York Organizer, who is
even more intimately familiar with the members
of this City than I am, and he knows of no T.
Q. Now, may I ask you some additional ques-
tions: Do you know J. or N. D.? A. No.
Q. Are they members of the Workers Party?
A. I don't know them.
Q. Do you believe if they were members of the
Workers Party that you would know them? A. Yes,
unless they are members in some small community
1 haven't visited recently.
Q. If 1 tell you they are residents of the City of
Buffalo, New York, would that help you in any
way? A. Yes. I know all the members of our or-
ganization in Buffalo; at least, I have known them
up to quite recently and unless they joined in the
last three or four months, I am quite sure I would
know who they are.
Q. And you do not know who they are? A. No.
Q. Do you know W.I A. How?
Q. W.? A. From where?
Q. Buffalo, New York. A. No. I am not fa-
miliar with that name at all.
Q. Is he a member of the Workers Party?
A. As far as I know, no.
Q. Do you know S., of Buffalo? A. Yes, I know
Q. Is he a member of the Workers Party?
A. No. To the best of my knowledge, he is a very
close sympathizer of our party, but not a member.
1 know him quite well, as a matter of fact.
Q. You are certain he is not a member of your
Party? A. Quite certain, in his case—perfectly
Q. Did you ask him to join? A. I, personally,
Q. Has he had opportunities to join? A. Oh,
yes. Everyone has an opportunity to join.
Q. And has he taken that opportunity? A. No,
So far as I know, no.
Not a Secret Organization
Q. Now, I would like to ask you some questions
about your Party generally: I would like to know
whether your Party has a position with regard to
the Soviet Union? A. Yes, formally adopted by
resolution at the last National Convention.
Q. Speaking generally, would you say that your
Party is pro-Soviet Union or anti-Soviet Union?
A. I think the answer to the question would be more
enlightening if you asked about our attitude to-
ward the present regime. We have nothing against
Q. Will you describe your attitude, then, toward
the present regime of the Soviet Union? A. I
would say it is irreconcilably hostile to it, and has
been since the inception of our organization.
O. D» yon suppose that any member of your
Party, ar anyone in sympathy with the aim of your
Party, would, under any circumstances, act with
other, la the interests of the Soviet Union? A. No.
Utterly inconceivable. I might add that there I| a
mats of evidence to demonstrate this incontrover-
tibly that would occupy this board for several days.
Q. Could anyone who has a sympathy for the
Workers Party, or could any member of the Work-
ers Party, have a loyalty to or above any country
other than the United States of America? A. No.
That is likewise inconceivable.
Q. Could any member of your party be inter-
ested in any way with destroying the constitutional
form of Government of the United States? A. Well,
will you be a little more specific about that?
Q. Well, what I mean it, ii year Party prepared
to use force or violence or subversive or secret and
conspiratorial methods foe tho purpose of overthrow-
ing tho Constitution of tho United States? A. It is
a long question. In tho first place, we are not a
secret organization In any SENSE. We are a public
political organisation. Members of our organisation
conduct campaigns for public office. I have been on
the ballot. Their position on the ballot has not been
contested. Our propaganda, educational and general
political activities are quite well known, especially
in the labor movement where we function most ac-
tively—so far as the question of secrecy and con-
spiratorial methods aro concerned.
I might add further that the meetings of our
branches, which are the basic units of our organiza-
tion, are always open to non-members. We hold pub-
lic meetings at all times. Our press is public and
has been accorded second class mailing; rights by the
Post Office Department.
Our membership press, that is, our bulletins, are
publicly available. By press, I mean that press in
which we discuss our own Party problems. Those
arc publicly available.
Q. Well, will you address yourself to tho ques-
tion of force and violence? A. The answer is no.
Q. Will you elaborate on that? Does your
Party have any policy with regard to the use of
force and violence in achieving any change? A. I
wouldn't say that our Party had adopted any for-
mal document on the matter. I can give you the
general consensus of our Party that is more or less
codified and formalized in literature that our Party
Q. Will you do that? A. I could refer you—I
regret 1 don't have a copy with me—to a little book-
let that I wrote recently on tho Program and Prin-
ciples of our Party, and which is considered a stand-
ard presentation of our Party position, so to speak.
On that score, I would say that our Party holds
tho position that It Is necessary to win tho support
of a majority of tho population In order to carry
through a radical, fundamental transformation of
tho social order In tho United States.
This radical, social transformation is far us the
establishment of a socialist society. We are a So-
Q. Is it your intention, as a Party, to nominate
candidates for election to public office? A. We
have done so within the limits of our strength, or,
I should really say, of our weakness. We are a very
small organization, I state again. We have run can-
didates in New York. I have been a candidate of
our Party on several occasions. We have had candi-
dates in Pennsylvania, in Illinois, in Michigan, in
The Meaning of "Subversive"
Q. Has your organization had a hearing for the
purpose of determining whether your organization
is subversive within the meaning of the Executive
Order of the President and the Directives there-
under? A. No.
Q. Has your organization ever made an appli-
cation to be delisted? A. Yes. In my capacity as
National Chairman of our Party, and under the in-
structions of the Executive Committee of our Party,
1 addressed a letter to Attorney General Clark re-
questing that he grant a hearing to our representa-
tives in order that they might submit the position
of our Party and demonstrate the injustice, the in-
iquity of the Department of Justice having placed
our name on the so-called subversive list.
Mr. Clark replied, saying in effect that he would
be glad to listen to a representative of our Party at
his office in Washington. I said Mr. Clark. It was
an error. It was his assistant—Assistant to the At-
O. Has a hearing yet been held on tho question?
A. No. Upon discussing tho matter, our Executive
Committee decided, and tho decision was made in
consultation with the American Civil Liberties Union,
to request the Attorney General, once ho had agreed
to listen to our representative, to Inform us of ex-
actly what charges had been directed against us.
what evidence had been presented to him, and what
evidence he had at his disposal to sustain those
charges. We considered, of course, that It was Im-
possible for us to appear before the Attorney Gen-
eral without so much as the remotest Idea of what
charges had been presented against us to |justify
placing us on tho list, or what evidence had been
adduced before the Attorney General to sustain any
The Office of the Attorney General thereupon re-
plied saying that in accordance with the Executive
Order which directed the Attorney General to com-
pile such a list, his office was not authorized to in-
form us of what charges had been directed against
us, our Party, or what evidence, if any, had been
submitted to sustain these charges.
Under those circumstances, we were absolutely
helpless. I, for example, as a representative of our
Party, cannot appear before any body, or any Board,
or any Governmental institution in order to refute
charges, the nature of which I am utterly unaware
of, to reply to evidence the nature of which I am
entirely unaware of.
We are, therefore, holding the matter in abey-
ance until further consultation with the American
Civil Liberties Union, which has interested itself in
the case of the Workers Party, and which on pre-
vious occasions has already intervened with the
office of the Attorney General in Washington in
Delay has been occasioned by the fact that the
Director of the American Civil Liberties Union,
Roger N. Baldwin, has, for some time now, been in
Germany. Upon his return the matter will be pur-
sued by our Party.
Q. Is your Party, or can your Party be described
as Totalitarian, Fascist, Communist, or subversive,
or any of them? A. I will take the last one first.
It is not exactly clear to me what is meant by sub-
versive. I know all sorts of invidious connotations
have been given to it. If the question were a little
more precise, 1 could answer more precisely.
Q. May I ask you to leave that for a minute?
Take the first three. A. The first three are much
Q. Could your Party in any way be designated as
Totalitarian, Fascist, or Communist? A. In no
sense whatsoever. In no sense whatsoever. We are
an anti-totalitarian organization, and have been
since our inception.
So for as being a Fascist organization is con-
cerned, our Party has not only been emphatic in its
opposition to Fascism In all its forms, but has even
organized public demonstrations against Fascist or-
ganizations in this country. If I may, I can call your
attention to tho fact that I personally led sack a
demonstration in tho City of New York In 1938,
against the German-American Bund which was hold-
ing what we considered a very provocative meeting
in Madison Square Garden.
So far as being a Communist organization, if
by that is meant an organization in sympathy with
the present regime in Russia, or in sympathy with
the Communist Party in this or any other country,
anyone familiar with the activities or program of
our Party would consider the question an offense-
ridiculous. Our organization was founded, as a mat-
ter of fact, on the basis of three leaders having been
expelled from the Communist Party and the Com-
munist International on October 27, 1928. Since
then, if anything, the gulf between the two move-
ments has widened unbridgeably. I think it would be
enough to read almost any issue of a periodical pub-
lished by the Communist Party in this country to
see what it says about our organization, and there
will be no doubt in anyone's mind as to what view
it has of us. Or read any issue of our periodical to
see what view we have of the Communist Party.
Q. Now, will you define for me, in your own way,
whatever you think the word "subversive" used in
this connection means, and tell me then what your
attitude is about the possibility of holding the
Workers Party as a subversive organization? A. I
might say that in the sense in which it is currently
used, the Workers Party is decidedly not a sub-
The general connotation of the term "subversive,"
as I gather it, is some sort of a conspiratorial, or
semi-conspiratorial organization which is plotting for
a sort of coup d'etat, violent overthrow of the Gov-
ernment by a minority, or which is operating as an
agent of some foreign reactionary institution. None
of these current concepts of the term "subversive" In
any degree applies to our Party.
Q. Has your Party ever adopted a policy of ad-
vocating, or approving the commission of acts- of
force or violence to deny others their rights under
the Constitution of the United States? A. No.
How could that be? A good deal of our activity is
necessarily devoted to righting for democratic and
constitutional rights for minority groups, one of
which is the Workers Party itself. Far from advo-
cating or supporting the restriction of democracy,
we devote ourselves to a considerable degree to a
fight to extend them.
Q. What, for example, would be the attitude of
the Workers Party to the recent change of Govern-
ment and methods used therein in Czechoslovakia?
A. We have attacked and denounced that in most
vigorous language in the popular press and in our
scientific press, at public meetings and inside our
own organization, in Europe.
Goal, Method of Socialism
Q. Would you say that the Workers Party could
be described in any way as seeking to alter the form
of Government of the United States by unconsti-
A. No. Decidedly, we ask to alter the form of
Government of the United States. We are Socialists.
We are opposed to capitalism. We are for Socialism.
There is absolutely no secret about that.
As for employing force or violence to impose the
will of the minority upon the population, from our
point of view that is preposterous. That could not pos-
sibly lead, leaving aside all other considerations, to
our objective, a Socialist democracy.
Q. Would you say that the Workers Party, its
members or anyone in sympathy with the Workers
Part, could or would, under any circumstances, en-
gage in sabotage, espionage, or attempts or prepa-
rations therefor, or knowingly associate with spies
or saboteurs? A. No. I mean, there may be some
sympathiser attracted to our Party on the basis of
Lord alone knows what. He is, perhaps, an irre-
sponsible person. I don't know of any such person,
in any case. But anyone attracted to our Party, as
a member or a sympathizer, on the basis of what
the Party stands for or does—I don't know how
that could be conceived of, no.
Q. I repeat to you substantially the same ques-
tion with regard to members or sympathizers of
your Party, the question being: Could they in any
way engage in treason or sedition, or the advocacy
thereof? A. No.
Q. Could they, under any circumstances,— A.
(interrupting)—May I elaborate on one point in
particular? Q. Surely.
A. Which, if I may say so, strikes me as particu-
larly absurd. Take the matter of treason. Treason
is, as I understand it, defined constitutionally or
by statute, I am not quite sure now, as collaboration
with some foreign government against the interests
of the United States—roughly. But we are not less
hostile to any other government on the face of the
earth than we are to the Government of the United
States. It simply could not enter the mind of any of
our members to collaborate with other governments.
All the governments In the world, so far as we can
see, are capitalistic governments, in most cases much
more reactionary than the capitalistic government in
the United States, or Stalin's government, for which
we entertain a particularly vigorous and irreconcil-
able opposition. To collaborate with such govern-
ments for tho purpose of opposing Hie Government
of tho United States Is. from our political point of
view, a complete absurdity.
I might add that if any member of our Party
were mad enough so much as to contemplate such
collaboration, though we are extremely lenient
about differences of opinion in our Party, we would
nevertheless promptly expel him from our ranks.
Q. Now, as to any intentional unauthorized dis-
closure to any persons under circumstances which
may indicate disloyalty to the United States of docu-
ments or information of a confidential or non-
pubic character obtained by the persons making the
disclosure from the government of the United
States, is it conceivable to you that any member of
your Party, or anyone in sympathy with the ideals
of your Party, would, under any circumstances
make such an unauthorized* disclosure? A. Abso-
lutely out of the question. We are not an espionage
organization. We are a political organization for
the purpose of pursuing, certainly at the present
time, almost exclusively educational aims.
Q. As to the question of performing or attempt-
ing to perform one's duties, or otherwise acting so
as to serve the interests of another government in
reference to the interests of the United States,
would you say that any member of your Party, or
anyone in sympathy with the ideals of your Party,
could so act? A. Flatly, I say that would be impos-
Q. As to membership in, or affiliation with, or
sympathetic association with, any foreign or do-
mestic organization, association, movement, group
or combination that could be described as Totali-
tarian, Fascist, Communist, or subversive, or as
having adopted a policy of advocating or approving
the commission of acts of force or viplcnce to deny
other persons their rights under the Constitution
of the United States, or seeking to alter the form
of Government of the United States by unconsti-
tutional means, will you say that any member of
your Party, or any person in sympathy with the
aims of your Party, could be described in that
fashion? A. It is implicit in what I have said to
the preceding questions, that that would be abso-
Democracy in the WP
MR. MIGDAL: I propose now to have Mr.
Shachtman say something about the nature of the
aims of the Party, and the kind of Party discipline
exercised, so that I can then in that way lay some
foundation for my feeling about what sympathetic
association with one of the members would mean,
and that will be the direction of my next questions.
By Mr. Migdal:
Q. Mr. Shachtman, does your Party require any
special discipline of its members? A. We require
the payment of dues. A prolonged lapse of that
would mean that the offender is dropped from the
rolls of the Party. But that is normal in any organ-
We require a certain minimum of activity from
every member: attendance at meetings more or
less regularly; distribution of our press; assisting
in the convening of public meetings where we pre-
sent our point of view.
Discipline outside of the organization is con-
fined more or less to the following:
We require of every member that he shall so con-
duct himself In his political Ufa as not to throw any
discredit upon or do harm to the labor movement in
general or his own Party, the Workers Party, In par-
ticular. Inside of the organization I doubt If you will
find another political party or group in this country
which not only admits but encourages as wide a
range of differences of opinion as the Workers Party.
That, too, could easily be documented.
I referred before to a bulletin that we issue
primarily for the Party members, but which is gen-
erally available to the public. This is a discussion
bulletin which takes up all sorts of problems of the
Socialist movement. You would see controversial
articles in there written by different members, and
even leading members of our organization, which
represent a considerable range of difference of
In no case, in the almost nine years of existence
of our Party as an independent organization, has
there been a single case of discipline being exer-
cised against a member, or expulsion of a member
from our Party because of differences of opinion
he may have had with the officials of the Party.
As a matter of fact, I know of only one single
case of expulsion for any ground from our Party.
That was quite recently. We expelled a member
of our Party for having failed to support the work-
ers in a given plant who went out on strike. Wc
consider that any member of our Party who docs
not go along with the decisions of the trade union
to which he belongs cannot properly represent our
Party among the workers. That is the only case I
know of, of an expulsion in the almost nine years
of the existence of our Party.
Q. Within your Party, do you have major dif-
ferences of opinion with regard to such current
issues as, for example, support of the Marshall
Plan, the position of the United States with re-
gard to functioning within the United Nations, the
Palestine question, domestic legislation, and will
you say something about all of them, please?
A. Except for the question of the functioning of
the United States in the United Notions, which has
not arisen as a dispute in our organisation, all of tho
other questions you mentioned have been the subject
of discussion, dispute, controversy In our Party, In
which extreme differences of opinion have been pre-
sented, and, without saying tolerated—I shouldn't
say tolerated—that sounds—well, it Is inadequate—
encouraged. I can give you two or three examples
if you wish.
On the Marshall Plan, for example, there are
many of our members who oppose it, and many of
our members who are for giving it a form of con-
ditional support, or partial support. Both points of
view have been presented inside our Party, in the
bulletin, and in our public press which—almost
every issue has a section devoted to discussion.
Or, take the matter of Palestine: There are not
less than three or four different points of view that
exist in our Party. Some are for the support of the
movement to make Palestine a Jewish State; others
are for supporting the movement to make Pales-
tine a bi-national State; still others are for support-
ing a movement which would give the native Arab
population such political parity with the Jewish
population as would, in effect, make it bi-national.
but in which the Arabs would have a majority.
That seems a wide range of difference of opinion—
at one extreme, those who would convert it into a
Jewish state, and at the other extreme, those who
would want Palestine converted into what would
be an Arab state. I doubt if more extreme positions
on such a question could exist. Nevertheless, they
do exist. They are being currently discussed—as a
matter of fact, particularly so in view of the fact
that the Party is on the eve of a National Conven-
tion. Preceding the National Convention there is an
especially intensive period of discussion of the
Opposite of Stalinist Party
Q. Now, may I ask you to describe for me what
you consider to be the chief difference between the
Communist or the Totalitarian parties and your
own Party? A. There are several, and they are
fundamental. When I say fundamental, I mean they
make any collaboration, any cooperation between us
in almost any field a political impossibility.
The Communist Party, as Is commonly known, Is
In tho service of the present Russian regime. I can
only repeat that we ore Intensely hostile to that
regime. Those who used to bo akin to as In Russia
have either been executed or Imprisoned, or are in
concentration camps, or In slave labor camps. Under
those circumstances, It would be very difficult for us
to entertain the slightest sympathy with the present
Q. May I interrupt, for I don't think you under-
stand the question. 1 mean, in terms of party dis-
cipline and loyalties outside of the United States,
can you describe any serious differences between
yourselves and, say, the Communist Party? A. As
far as relationships abroad are concerned, I can
really repeat my position in a somewhat different
way. We consider, and we have denounced the Com-
munist Party as being nothing more than a tool of
the Kremlin. We have no international affiliation
ourselves, and certainly with regard to Russia, we
have a hostile attitude that I described before.
As far as internal discipline is concerned, there
is no party democracy in any Communist Party.
There is no discussion in any Communist Party. De-
cisions are simply arrived at at the top, in the
leadership. Those decisions are usually transmitted
from Russia, and the ranks are simply required to
carry out decisions arrived at without consulting
That Is impossible In our party. All decisions
taken in our Party are preliminarilyy discussed by the
membership. They are decided by the membership.
Our leading committee is an executive committee in
the literal sense of the word. It executes decisions
arrived at by the members.
Q. Now, if someone were in sympathy with the
general ideals of the Party, would it be possible to
describe the way in which that man would act under
any special circumstances?
If I may explain my question just a little more,
what I mean is this: If I were a member of the
Communist Party—I think all of us in this room
would agree, for instance, if it took a hostile atti-
tude towards the United States, I would; or con-
versely, if it took a soft attitude toward the United
States of America, then 1 would; or, if they took a
specific position—if the Soviet Union took a specific
position with regard to Palestine, then the members
of the Communist Party in America and elsewhere
in the world would take that kind of attitude.
So that, with regard to the Communist Party, it
would perhaps be possible to say that you can de-
termine the attitude of the members of that Party,
or their sympathizers, by knowing wliut tliu Soviet
Union is doing at any given moment? A. I would
agree with that, yes.
Q. Now, with regard to a sympathizer with your
Party, could you define the way in which he felt
about anything from knowing that he was a sympa-
thizer with the general ideals of your Party? A. In
no way. Our position is not determined by nor de-
pendent upon the position taken by any government,
let alone the Russian government.
Q. Would it necessarily be so that a sympathizer
with the ideals of your Party could be assumed to
agree with any position of the Party taken by even
the majority of its membership, as an automatic
thing? A. No, of course not. I tried to point out
there are differences of opinion inside our Party,
and if that prevailed, then there must certainly Be
an even greater range of differences with the official
positions of the Party among our sympathizers,
that is, among those less intimately associated with
Problem Before the Board
Q. Is there anything more you would like to say
to the Loyalty Board convened here that you think
would be of assistance to it in coming to a determi-
nation of this case? A. Well, perhaps I could sum-
marize the problem as I see it, that is, the problem
that confronts this Board.
Unless I am radically mistaken, what the Board
is concerned with, and what the authorities who are
responsible for setting up this, and what similar
Boards are concerned with, at least primarily, is
that government institutions shall not make possible
or facilitate the work of those who in any way serve
the Russian regime.
My impression is that that is a primary consid-
Mr. T„ as I understand, is involved more or less
on such a basis. If Mr. T is a sympathizer of our
Party, then I am all the more anxious to see that he
is not unjustly discriminated against, or discrimi-
nated against on unwarranted assumptions. If his
offense is supposed to be his sympathy for our
Party, I consider there are no grounds for any ac-
tion to be taken against him.
Our Party was actually formed in the United
States in April 1940—literally on the basis of its
opposition to the support of Russia in the war, some
months after the Stalin-Hitler pact had been signed.
The majority of the Party to which we belonged
at that time, called the Socialist Workers Party,
while hostile to tho Stalin regime, nevertheless con-
sidered that Russia was some sort of workers state,
and that It should be supported in tho war, not be-
cause of the Stalin regime, to which, I repeat, they
were hostile, but In spite of that regime. We repre-
sented a minority of that party. I belonged In that
minority personally. We said that under no circum-
stances could we support Russia In the war, that we
had, as socialists, nothing In common with the Russian
You will certainly understand the gravity of
the dispute and the seriousness with which we took
it, if I say that it is on that issue that the Socialist
Workers Party split in two.
The then minority constituted itself as an inde-
pendent organisation, the present Workers Party.
That was in April 1940, a few months after the
Second World War began.
It may be thought that once the Stalin-Hitler pact
was broken, and Russia, by political and military ex-
pediency, found herself on the side of the United
States, that the position of the Workers Party would
change. In no way did that occur. We opposed the
Russian regime before the war, during that period of
the war when it was allied with the Western Powers,
and since the war came to an end.
Q. May I ask you whether the members, of the
Workers Party served in the Armed Forces in the
United States during the war? A. Of course. We
are not pacifists. We have no conscientious objectors
among our members.
Q. And you consider yourselves loyal American
citizens who would participate in a war? A. Cer-
tainly. Any number of our members served in the
Armed Forces, in our battlefronts as well, and with
distinction. All of them, so far as I know, entered
the Army as ordinary soldiers, as privates. When
they were discharged, some of them ranked as high
as Lieutenants, Captains. At no time that I know
of, and I think I am familiar with virtually every
case, was any question raised about the conduct of
any of our members in the Armed Forces. Not once
that I know of.
Mr. Migdal: Docs the Board have any questions?
Mr. Ryan: I have one or two.
Defining a Trotskyist
EXAMINATION BY THE BOARD
By Mr. Ryan:
Q. Mr. Shachtman, you have testified that the
Workers Party has gone on record as opposing the
present Russian regime. A. Yes.
Q- Have they gone on record favoring any for-
mer Russian regime? A. Yes. In the general sense,
yes. We were supporters of the Russian Revolution
of 1917, yes. We considered that a socialist revolu-
Q. The Trotsky Revolution? A. Well, what is
commonly called the Lenin-Trotsky Revolution, yes.
Q. Well, I would like to ask you this question:
The Board has heard several definitions, and I
would like to have your expert definition of a Trot-
skyite. What is a Trotskyite? A. Well, now, I can
give you only my own opinion. If you read the Daily
Worker, an organ of the Communist Party, you
will read some rather violent definitions of what
a Trotskyite is.
Far from feeling any friendliness toward us,
or toward any Trotskyite, we are described as fas-
cists, vipers, wreckers, and other names which only
the presence of our reporter prevents me from re-
In general, I can say this: Our support in a gen-
eral way, that is, not the support of every single
word and every single act of Trotsky—while we
supported it in a general way, it was based upon
One, that it was Trotsky primarily who began the
fight against the bureaucratisation of the Russian re-
gime as early as 1923. and who thereby became the
arch enemy, and finally the victim of the Stalin bu-
reaucracy. Trotsky raised a demand and carried on
a fight for workers' democracy in Russia as against
bureaucracy and against the totalitarian regime. We
in the United States—I was a member of the Com-
munist Party almost from its founding in this country
—we In the United States were so far from Russia
that we really know vary little of what was going on,
although we had the impression wo knew everything.
It was only In 1928, five years after Trotsky began
the straggle, that we began to get the details. Wa
took a position In favor of that fight and against
Stalin, and we were immediately expelled from the
Communist Party, although we had been founders and
leaders of that party.
The second question—I am speaking of the
Q. About what time was this?
A. October 27. 1928—a little better than 20 years
ago. Three of us who were members of the Executive
Committee, It was called at that time—yes, the Ex-
ecutive Committee of the Communist Party—were
summarily expelled from that Party after a trial
which lasted a few minutes, really. I think It is that
time that dates our opposition to brief trials, you
know—it developed almost into a prejudice on our
port. We were expelled because we supported Trot-
sky in his fight for democracy, and because we sup-
ported him in his fight for internationalism and
against the nationalist position taken by the Stalin
This nationalist position, which some of you may
know, or should know, finally degenerated into the
present imperialistic position of the Russian re-
gime, the occupation of foreign countries, the sub-
jugation of people, the suppression of all social and .
democratic institutions, especially of labor move-
ments, and the like.
The hostility against us was from the beginning
very strong. I c»n tell you that we suffered very
heavily at the hands of the Stalinist leaders in the
United States. The very first public meeting we
attempted to hold, in November, 1928, to present
our point of view as to why we had been expelled
from the Communist Party, was in the Labor Tem-
ple in New York, at Second Avenue and 14th Street.
I remember it very vividly. A big crowd of thugs
and tough guys, organized by the Communist Party,
was sent there to break up our meeting by physical
violence. We defended ourselves as best we could.
The meeting was broken up. It was only the second
meeting that was successful, and because we had
on the platform a representative of the American
Civil Liberties Union, and, frankly, it was because
we had prepared to defend ourselves from the Com-
munist Party. More than one meeting, especially
in those days, when we were even smaller than we
are now, was broken up by the Communist Party,
and I, myself, personally, physically, felt how they
broke them up. Such attempts have not been made
in recent years, because we are a little more ex-
perienced in defending our meetings, and, frankly,
where attempts have been made, we have given as
good as we have gotten. It has discouraged that
sort of thing.
If the committee had unlimited patience, which I
am sure it does not have and should not have—I will
say I can give you a wealth of details to show the
absolute abyss that exists between us and the Stalin-
ites. In this country or any other country, and how
completely inconceivable it would be for any of our
members or sympathizers attracted to our movement
on the basis of what we actually stand for to act as
collaborators or agents of the Communist regime or
the Stalin party—such things as espionage, or steal-
ing documents—It simply Is not possible.
Q. You mentioned your publication a moment
ago. What is the name of it? A. We have a weekly
publication called "Labor Action." We have a month-
ly magazine, a more or less scientific magazine, called
"The New International." And then we publish a
mimeographed bulletin for discussion of the problems
of our Party, or socialism in general, called "The
Bulletin of the Workers Party." All three of those
are the public press.
Q. I have one more question, and you have been
very kind in answering my questions so far. A. I
consider it not only a duty but a pleasure.
Presidential Election Policy
Q. The Socialist Workers Party have what rela-
tion to the Socialists? A. Well, now. we are not the
same as the Socialist Workers Party. That is the or-
ganization to which I referred before as the one
which split in 1940 over the Russian question.
I can only reply for our own Party, the Workers
Party, as to its relationship with the Socialist Party.
We have many differences with the Socialist Par-
ty, but I might point out that in the last election, the
last Presidential election last November—this No-
vember past—we. ourselves, had no presidential can-
didate—that is. no one nominated by our own Party.
We do not pretend to a strength we do not actually
enjoy. I do not boast about this fact. I simply state
it as a fact. We are a tiny organization primarily oc-
cupied with educational work. It is only on rare
occasions, and in local situations, that we even put
up candidates for election.
Having no candidate of our own, being opposed
to the Democratic Party and the Republican Party,
being opposed likewise to the Progressive Party,
which we consider as being too Intimately connected
with the Communist Party to deserve the support of
the Socialists or workers In general, we told our sup-
porters In our press to support any one of the three
existing small socialist organizations which did have
presidential candidates. We asked them to choose—
it was a matter of indifference to us—the candidate
of the Socialist Party, Mr. Thomas, or Mr. Teichert
or Mr. Dobbs.
We, so to speak, endorsed all three, and offered
our support of the choice of one of those. We had
none of our own.
MR. RYAN: Thank you.
WP and Russian Question
MR. MIGDAL: I would like to ask one more ques-
tion, and I think we will be through,
By Mr: Migdal:
Q. You have described the history of the Work-
ers Party, and its being rooted in a feeling about
Trotsky, and what Trotsky was doing within the
Communist Party, and of the Soviet Union.
Now, I ask you whether someone—take someone
at maturity in 1940 or 1941, and who is now, has
been a sympathizer with your Party, would be a
Trotskyite. or whether, from that sympathy with
the aims and ideals of your Party, would you say
he is or is not a Trotskyite?
A. Here I have to be a little more precise. I
consider myself a Trotskyite in the broad sense, sup-
porting in general the socialist views that Loen
It does not follow from that, it could not for me,
it does not follow for any of our members, that we
agree with Trotsky on every question, that we agree
with him in small questions, or even in all large im-
I refer you to the fact that in the dispute in 1940
which led to the split in the Socialist Workers
Party, the main dispute was carried on between my-
self, as representative and spokesman of the minor-
ity, and as spokesman for the majority, Leon Trot-
sky, who was at that time in Mexico, on the ques-
tion of Russia. That can easily be documented.
Trotsky wrote a whole book—a whole book which
is publicly available—called "In Defense of Marx-
ism" the bulk of which is devoted to a polemic
against me and against our friends, our comrades,
because we took the position on Russia that we did
take, a position with which he disagreed.
We, in turn, of course just as vigorously—and
permit me to say respectfully, because we had, and
still have, a great respect for Trotsky as a socialist
—to which we just as vigorously replied. For any-
one who is familiar with the radical movement in
the United States, that event is quite well known.
Since then our distinguishing feature, that which
either attracts those whom it does attract, or repels
those whom it does repel, has been the position we
took on the so-called Russian question.
Q. That position was in opposition to the posi-
tion that Trotsky took on Russia? A. Oh, in almost
Mr. Migdal: I have no further questions.
Force and Social Revolution
By Mr. Waddel:
Q. There is just one point that isn't clear to me.
Is it not true that prior to 1928 the Communist lead-
ers—that would include Lenin, Trotsky, and the oth-
ers—adhered to the Marxian view that while social-
ism should be introduced through at least demo-
cratic practices wherever possible, if that were not
possible, then violence should be used, and that the
existing capitalistic government should be over-
thrown by violent revolution? Is it, or is it not, true
that that was the general belief of the early Rus-
sian Communists? A. No. The general interpreta-
tion of their belief, that is, a much more accurate
way to state it, if I may—actually, all those who
consider themselves—how shall I say it—more or
less orthodox Marxists—the term is not too strictly
interpreted, and Lenin was one. and Trotsky was
one—took the point of view held by Marx and En-
gels, who are the two founders of what we call
Our aim—the form of government which Is most
conducive to tho advance of socialism Is the demo-
cratic republic. It Is for that that we form political
parties, present candidates, seek to get thorn elected,
try to get tho greatest amount of support from the
electorate, and so forth.
When is violence indicated? I don't want to dip-
lomatize with this Board at all. I am absolutely in
favor of violence under certain circumstances—no
question about that. If that statement imperils Mr.
T.'s job, I regret it, but I am compelled to make the
statement. But only under certain circumstances,
Any intelligent socialist would be preposterous
to be for violence for the sake of violence, since the
aim of socialism is to establish an order of peace,
and it is inconceivable that they would be for vio-
lence just for the sake of seeing blood shed.
Violence, however, is justified from the socialist
point of view when the regime against which social-
ism directs itself makes it impossible for the socialist
movement or the labor movement, or the people at
large, to enjoy and to exercise their democratic
I will give you two examples that actually oc-
curred, and one hypothetical example:
Under the Czarist regime, which was autocratic
despotism, no politically thoughtful and progressive
or social-minded or liberal person in the United
States ever dreamed of frowning upon those Rus-
sian revolutionists, of all schools of thought, who
more or less openly proclaimed that they sought
to overthrow the Czarist regime by violence inas-
much as there was no other way to alter the regime.
It was a regime of violence, and there was nothing
else one could do except overturn it by violence. I
might say that the sympathy of all of the United
States was with the Russian Revolution back before
Take a more recent example—the Hitler regime.
How can I change that regime, I, a German? Simply
by educational activity? How change it except by
putting up candidates in an election and getting a
majority of the Parliament? There is no Parliament,
there are no elections! How can I change the Hitler
regime? By force—an army. You sent an army. I don't
think those are peaceful means. If they weren't vio-
lent, they were very vigorous, and in that manner
the Hitler regime was changed.
How can peaceful means be conceivable under
Now, suppose in the United States a Ku Klux
Klan regime were to replace the present regime,
or some fascist regime which denied us all demo-
cratic rights, and when I say us, I mean not only
the Workers Party but the people in general, where
you would have no elections—none that could be
called genuine elections? How can such a regime be
altered in any way by peaceful means?
We would unhesitatingly, those of us alive and
those retaining courage, unhesitatingly propagate
the idea that it is necessary, once we are strong
enough, to overturn this regime by violence.
During the war our Party supported the national
underground resistance movements in Europe that
were lighting with violence against the Hitler re-
But to speak about our seeking violence against
tho regime in the United States today—it is ludi-
crous. Why? I regret to say this, but we are an in-
significant minority. Our Party members, plus our
Party sympathizers, plus those who vote for us,
multiplied by ten, are still an insignificant number.
If every single one of us, every single one of us
enumerated, had a ride in his possession now, we
could all be dispersed by five policemen, if we
were mad enough to think in such terms.
As I said, gentlemen, we are an educational or-
ganization. We seek first, over the whole next pe-
riod—I hope it is shorter than it probably will be
—to win the minds and the hearts of the bulk of
the people of this country.
I might add something that may be of interest
to you, gentlemen. So much are we an educational
organization that at this very moment there is nn
active discussion in our party ranks over a propo-
sition submitted by myself, personally, to relinquish
the name "Workers Party," not because of the first
word in it, but because of the second word, because
I have contended that we can't deceive ourselves,
let alone anyone else. We are not a political party
in the proper sense of the word. An organization
with a few hundred members should not call itself
a party. The Democratic Party is a party. The Re-
publican Party is a party. The Communist Party is
a party, that is, In the sense it has enough strength
to accomplish things, good or bad—I leave that aside.
We, unfortunately, are not. I have therefore pro-
posed that we take a name which will indicate more
clearly than does the name "Workers Party" that
we are an educational organization. We hope one
day to become a party, but we are not one now.
I have reason to believe that at our convention a
sufficient majority of the delegates representing the
membership of our organization will support this
proposal to abandon the name "Workers Party," and
to adopt one which will indicate primarily the edu-
cational nature of our movement.
By Mr. Ryan:
Q. Will the convention be held in New York?
A. In all probability.
Chairman Short: We certainly thank you very
Mr. Migdal: I would like to ask one more ques-
By Mr. Migdal:
Q. You do not, or do you, attribute any of the
views you have here expressed to Mr. T.? A. I am
sorry for this, but I do not know Mr. T.—what his
views are I do .not know. I know only what you
have told me, namely,.that he is a sympathizer of
our party. If I know him—I am trying to say, if
he is as much of a sympathizer as those I know per-
sonally, I would say, broadly speaking, in a general
way, he would undoubtedly sympathize with the
general aims of our Party.
Q. But you don't know how close, a sympathizer
he is. and you have never known him before In your
life? A. No.
Mr. Migdal: Thank you.
The Loyalty Board decided that
the Workers Party sympathizer,
whose name has not been
made available to the press, is con-
firmed in the position he has held in
the Department of Commerce for a
year and a half in view of the board's
finding that there were no reason-
able grounds for the charge of dis-
loyalty in the first place. The
department has therefore closed the
Labor Action, 21 March 1949
Labor Action, Mar 21 1949
COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF TESTIMONY BY W P CHAIRMAN IN LOYALTY BOARD HEARING
Is Socialism Subversive"? Shachtman Testifies for Workers Party
[Labor Action Introduction, 1949
We publish here the official tran
script of the testimony given by Max
Shachtman, national chairman of the
Workers Party, before the Loyalty
Board of the United States Depart-
ment of Commerce, on January 14
1949, in the case of an acknowledged
sympathizer of the Workers Party who
was under "disloyalty" charges as an
employee of the department. The tes-
timony is taken from the official rec-
ords of the board, which have been
made available to us through the cour-
tesy of Lester C. Migdal, attorney for
the department employee in the case.
The only changes made in the tran-
script have been minor corrections of
stenographic errors.—Editor of Labor Action].