Howard H.’s resignation from the Spartacist League U.S.
RESIGNATION FROM THE SL/U.S.
by Howard H.
[Reprinted in SL/US Internal Bulletin, August 1983]
5 Sept., 1981 Oakland
Keith D.–District Organizer
Spartacist League–Bay Area
I am resigning from the Spartacist League, U.S. and from my post on the Central Control Commission. I have considered this action carefully since last Sunday’s District Conference and have concluded that it is impossible for me to remain within and under the discipline of the organization.
Statements made by the District Organizer and the T-2 fraction organizer make it probable that in the future I will be prevented from working weekends; a punitive action which would create an insoluble conflict between my personal obligations and the demands of the organization.
If I were to attempt to remain within the S.L. the tensions deriving from my distrust of and contempt for the central leadership and the expected ongoing campaign to destroy and discredit me politically will inevitably result in a confused, unclear confrontation over secondary questions.
I would have preferred to remain in the organization and attempt to open a fight over the real question of the defensive regime, the increasingly cult-like internal life of the organization, and the consequences of these trends in the work of the S.L.
For about a year I have been moving toward the conclusion that distortions in the leadership of sections, locals, and fractions have developed and matured–at least in part from an internal life characterized by a defensive, hierarchical regime combined with a personalistic, Jesuitical method of internal argument and discussion. This process is advanced to the point where the S.L./S.Y.L. membership is increasingly composed of “true believers” or cynics. I suspect that the incidents of political and tactical incompetence in the S.L. are connected with this deterioration of internal life. I think the central leadership has consciously and cynically concluded that the membership of the S.L. is too weak politically and personally to allow even the slightest disagreement with the leadership. There is an implied arithmetical equation: disagreement with the leadership equals hostility to the leadership equals disloyalty equals betrayal. Carried further, these trends will see the S.L. come to resemble less a principled, proletarian combat organization than a theocratic, hierarchical, political cult.
I remain in political agreement with the S.L. and will continue to politically support the program as expressed in the public life of the S.L. and the public work of its supporters and members. If as I fear, the deterioration of,the S.L.’s internal life leads at some time in the future to a departure from Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism in the direction of centrism or sectarianism, I will inform the S.L. of my differences and whether I feel it necessary to publicly disagree on those positions or actions.
I am retaining my notes on the T-2 El Salvador discussion and my notes around the PATCO strike discussions. I have destroyed (as I usually do after the passage of time) all other notes on internal discussion or reports. All questions leading up to and arising out of the events surrounding my resignation will not be revealed to non- S.L./S.Y.L. members. Although it will handicap me in my intention to continue to study and analyze the question of the internal life of the S.L., I will return the internal documents.
On Lisa S. I tried to defend Lisa against what appeared as a vicious, personalist attack on her to discourage her from fighting on a political question and to drive her out of the S.Y.L. In my zeal to protect her I over-reacted and did not do a very good job of protecting her political/organizational rights from unprincipled organizational methods. I don’t think it would have been possible, no matter what I did, to protect Lisa from what the youth leadership with the probable encouragement of the S.L. district leadership was trying to do to her. As a result of my anxiety to offer what limited protection and defense I thought she had, I failed to act with sufficient care procedurally. Consequently, the real issues around Lisa’s motion and the S.Y.L. district meeting’s motion were obscured. This lack of care made me vulnerable to the lies, distortions, and demagoguery employed at the 29 August district meeting.
I will pay up all outstanding financial obligations to the S.L. as soon as possible.
s/H. -Bay Area S.L.
[Full member SL/U.S.; member CCC until 31 August 1981 when CCC began poll for immediate suspension from post (quit before vote complete).]