Reprinted from the No. 2 -- 1973 issue The Western Socialist, pages 18-20.


A defender of the Socialist Labor Party and critic of the World Socialist Movement speaks his piece in the following


Dear Sir:

I received and thank you for your letter, and the copies of "The Western Socialist." You wrote in the letter. "... we insist that the image De Leonism holds of the nature of a socialist society is not consistent with revolutionary Marxism."

In the program, "Stravinsky Remembered," on WGBH-TV on Feb. 26, when someone accused the distinguished composer, the late Igor Stravinsky, of changing his mind on an important matter, Stravinsky replied that he had not changed his mind, but that he had gained additional knowledge. Thus, it was with De Leonist and pre- De Leonist Marxism; and, thus, the Socalist Labor Party can call itself Marxist as well as De Leonist.

In your "The Western Socialist," No. 4 - 1967, article, "The Socialist Labor Party & Religion," you quarrel with the views of the SLP in regard to religion. If I should want to learn the facts about plumbing, I would speak to a plumber; if I desire to learn the facts about Socialism, I consult a true Socialist; and if I wish to learn about religion, I similary would consult a clergyman. Karl Marx is not a proper person to consult about religion. He was an expert in regard to economics, true; but he had little if any insight into the true meaning of religion, as he was not a devout believer in any religion. As did many German Jews of the time, Marx's family, for reasons of expediency alone, had renounced its Jewish religious heritage, and had ostensibly adopted Christianity. Therefore, Marx was neither devout nor warmly devoted as a Jew or as a Christian; and, therefore, he cannot well be considered an authority in regard to the nature and meaning of religion. Marx's words on economics bear truth and authority; his words on religion are merely his unfounded personal opinion.

The World Socialist Party Declaration of Principles, number six, states, in part: "The working class must organize consciously and politically fot the conquest of the powers of government." When you advocate "conquest of the powers of government," without utilizing the country's electoral process of the ballot, you become unjustifiable, and thus conspiritorial, subversive, and beyond the law. This is not true of the Socialist Labor Party.

As for your organizing "consciously," you will agree that the workers are mere wage slaves; and, thus, they are subject to the crippling and emasculating evil effects of the slavery. Aristotle wrote: "The slave has no deliberative faculty at all; the woman has, but it is without authority; and the child has, but it is immature.... slaves stand even more in need of admonition than children." ("Politics," Bk. I: Ch. 13.)

I believe this to be the chief obstacle to the success of the Socialist Movement of today. This does not mean that the Socialist Movement cannot succeed, but that it must grow through its assimilation of additional and more fundamental knowledge.

The French philosopher and author, Jean Jacques Rousseau, wrote: "Our country cannot well subsist without liberty, nor liberty without virtue."

Finally, Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, stated: "A man that seeks truth and loves it must be reckoned precious to any human society."

I remain,

Sincerely yours,




The copies of The Western Socialist to which our correspondent alludes had articles dealing with the Socialist Labor Party in which the following points, among others, were demonstrated:

(1) The SLP picture of socialism, in operation, viz., an "industrial union government," is not in harmony with the goal of scientific socialism.

(2) The SLP attitude on Religion, i.e., that it is a "private matter" is inconsistent with an understanding of the Marxist Materialist Conception of History.

Mr. Frankel chose to ignore the other points and to answer the first with a quotation from Igor Stravinsky, the second with that old saw about the cobbler sticking to his last, and bolster his overall weak case with citations from the writings of others that are strictly in the category of non sequitors.

(1) To begin with, the gaining of additional knowledge and its application is fine providing such knowledge is not in conflict with one's original intentions. The aim of world socialism (and socialism on a national level is a bad dream) is the abolition of class society and the ending of the nation state. The goal of De Leonism is the changing of governments, congresses and parliaments from geographical to an industrial union orientation. Not that the SLP is altogether consistent or sound on that policy, either, as their long drawn confusion over the nature of the Soviet economy and sympathy with it bear witness. * World Socialism must bring with it the change of government, itself, into an administration over the affairs of man, rather than over man, himself. And such a society could only bring with it a condition in which the very need of unions -- of any sort -- would be inconceivable.


* See the Western Socialist, No. 6 -- 1962.

(2) The Marxist Joseph Dietzgen, in the Preface to his The Positive Outcome of Philosophy had an apropos answer to this gem of wisdom, to wit:

"If any one should feel justified in telling me: 'Shoemaker, stick to your last!' I would reply to him with Karl Marx: 'Your non plus ultra professional wisdom became enormously foolish from the moment when the watchmaker Watt invented the steam engine, the barber Arkwright, the loom, the jeweler Fulton, the steamship.' "

But to believe that one must be a clergyman to understand the origins and purposes of Religion is truly to have the faith "of a little child" which is what, the clergy is wont to tell us, is needed to accept the Scriptures. We do not know whether or not Mr. Frankel is actually a member of the Socialist Labor Party but we must note that his faith in the word of "God" as relayed by the various clergy is not inconsistent with membership in that organization and it speaks volumes for the "scientific" attitude of the American DeLeonists.

And now Mr. Frankel leaves the area of defense and goes on the attack! He notes that our Principle No. 6 calls for conscious and political conquest of the powers of government, suggests that we do not call for the utilization of the "electoral process of the ballot," and charges us with being "conspiratorial." Alas. The superficiality of his study of socialism, generally, is only matched by the lack of attention he gave our journals in particular. We have never advocated any other means to our end but the ballot (although we never support non- or anti-socialist candidates or measures). In fact, one of our Party Rules states emphatically that one who advocates violence in the struggle for socialism cannot be a member of the World Socialist Party.

Nor does he help his case against us by quoting Aristotle. For Aristotle lived in a different era, an era in which slaves were not a potentially revolutionary class, a class that could have an interest in a higher society. It is a different story with the slaves of capitalism, the wage slaves. They are the "grave diggers" of capitalism and of class society in toto. Chattel Slave society, under which Aristotle lived, was a dead end social system that was by no means universal at the time and which created no revolutionary class. But just as Feudalism created the instrument of its own overthrow -- the bourgeoisie -- so has Capitalism created its own revolutionary class, the modern proletariat, or working class. Mr. Frankel's problem is that he has his eras mixed. In fact, he might find it profitable to spend more time on the socialist classics than he seems to spend with classical and bourgeois philosophers.

-- Harry Morrison