Reprinted from the No. 4 -- 1960 issue The Western Socialist, pages 8-10


A Chicago reader, Frank E. Satell, raises some points of criticism of the article Political Potpourri (WS No. 2, 1960). Specifically, in his letter of March 28th, Satell sets forth four objections to statements made regarding the Socialist Labor Party: (one) The fact that the S.L.P. does not know the "proper term" to label the Russian state-capitalist society does not mean that they are therefore advocates of state capitalism; (two) on the question of the S.L.P. advocacy of "labor-certificates" in a socialist society he fails "to see wherein it is concluded that if the labor certificates system is used at first, that this will negate the system of production for use. To equate the labor certificate set-up with state capitalism is something that I would like to have explained further"; (three) "As a reader of the People, I do not recall the S.L.P. advocating resistance by the Russians to the German invaders...", and he goes on to point out that he, himself took this position and argued it against "the S.L.P. viewpoint"; (four) "Now, I remember distinctly that the S.L.P. did not accept the Russian Revolution as a move to Socialism, because Russia was not ready for this as it was in a feudal state. At no time did I read" he continued, "that the revolution was in question because there was no industrial union in Russia. Neither do I recall that the Russian System was referred to in the Weekly (People) afterward as a Workers' republic. If they referred to Stalin as having sold out the revolution, then of course they are wrong, not because they did not know the facts, but because of an unfortunate use of words."


1. The particular statement Satell objects to in his first criticism where makes reference to the Socialist Labor Party reads as follows: "... despite differences in tactics, despite different degrees of emphasis on the role of the workers and the nature of the society they advocate, there are similarities which place them all (S.L.P., Socialist Workers' Party and S.P. of America) in the camp of state capitalism." Leaving aside for the moment the attitude of the S.L.P. toward the Soviet system we would ask our critic to consider the following statement:

"The Socialist Industrial Union organizes each plant of production into ONE union, that is the unit which would correspond to the present county. All the units in the land that yield the same output are combined into ONE national union which would correspond to the present state. All the national unions are combined into ONE all-embracing union, which corresponds to the present nation...." De Leon (quoted in S.L.P. leaflet "The Industrial Union").

Here, as it is in S.L.P. literature generally, is seen the substitution of he industrial union apparatus for the political state; nor have they eliminated the idea of a political group at the top of their heap. In the blueprint they distribute entitled "Visualized Graph of Socialist Industrial Union," they even describe the National Executive Committee of the Party as the "government of the future." This concept, we maintain, is a form of state capitalism, especially since --

2. The S.L.P. advocates the use of "labor certificates" as a recompense for work performed. Obviously if workers are in a situation where they receive labor certificates, there must e others (the N.E.C. ?) in the position to hand them out. In a socialist society there could be no reason for measuring the value of one's contribution to society nor any other sort of economic value. Values can only exist in a commodity society where exchange and consequently the measurement of labor power is needed. In a socialist society each man, woman, and child would have the right of access to what is produced, and nothing short of this could be conceivable where common ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth exists.

3. On the S.L.P. attitude toward the Russian phase of W.W. II, although W.W. II was a war "for conquest and maintenance of imperialist power," in which "the stakes are grossly materialistic -- markets, spheres of influence, colonies, and, above all, maintenance of capitalist wage slavery with (to be expected) increased exploitation of the workers." (Socialism, Hope of Humanity - 1947 reprint) nevertheless; "It is entirely logical ... to maintain the position of denouncing Stalinism as demonstrated treason against Marxian principles, and yet hope for success to the Russian toilers in their struggle against Hitlerism. For once they realize that in their efforts to secure Socialism they have been betrayed by Stalinism, they can, as no doubt they will, settle their score with their betrayers; whereas a conquest by Hitlerism would not only mean a still more brutal and relentless master, but a disrupted union, a disarmed people reduced to absolute economic serfdom and political helotry, with no prospect whatever, under such a regime, of resuming the positive and direct process of a real Socialist Reconstruction in the vast Russian land."

"For the reasons (among others) briefly outlined in the foregoing, it is, we repeat, altogether proper to hail the workers of Soviet Russia in their efforts to expel the actual Nazi-bandit invaders and despoilers of the workers...." (ibid, emphasis theirs). *

It is important to note, however, that there seems to be no record of the S.L.P. urging the workers of "Socialist" Denmark or "Socialist" Norway to resist and expel the actual Nazi-bandit invaders. The S.L.P. is apparently blind in one eye when it comes to this sort of a question.

4. For a complete picture of the S.L.P. attitude toward Soviet Russia, (see Western Socialist for May, 1940, and Sept.-Oct. 1940. The point made here, and others, are handled in a detailed manner, citing the record in all instances.

We hope these comments have cleared up the points raised by our critic and look forward to further correspondence from him.


* The first printing of Socialism, Hope of Humanity, was in December of 1941. In the July 5, 1941 issue of the Weekly People, the following statement appeared: "The war between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany has not changed the essential character of the Second World War: it is now what it was when it broke out in September 1939, a war of capitalism, an imperialist war... Stalin has betrayed the Russian workers, and has shattered the hopes of the world's workers."

And on July 26, 1941, the following statement appeared in the Weekly People:

"What defeat would mean to the Russian masses Stalin does not venture to say. He does not tell them it means the restoration' of private property, wage slavery, and exploitation."

The Western Socialist for July-Aug. 1941 accused the S.L.P. of being cowardly, since they did not support the Russians in their fight for their life, especially since the S.L.P. maintained the Bolsheviks had abolished wage slavery. Apparently the DeLeonists had thought over their contradictory position and taken the stand quoted from their pamphlet.