[Book] Ted Grant Writings: Volume One

Index

3. The internal debate of WIL on revolutionary military policy [February-March 1941]

Introduction

The lead article published in Youth For Socialism and Workers’ International News of February 1941 written by Andrew Scott on behalf of the EC Majority developed the approach already present in the July 1940 article by Ted Grant, reproducing the same slogans as a conclusion.

The approach towards the war provoked a differentiation within the leadership of the Workers’ International League. The important change in the attitude of the WIL towards the war was a necessary step in the direction of the adoption and application in the conditions of Britain of Trotsky’s “proletarian military policy”. Different opinions arose within the EC of the WIL around the formulations contained in the articles that we reproduce in this section, and this provoked a sharp debate in the pages of the internal bulletin.

The debate was kicked off at the end of February by Millie Kahn and Sam Levy with a sharp criticism of the lead article of Youth For Socialism. This was soon followed by an article by Jock Haston that supported and developed the same line of argument. What these comrades feared was that the application of the military policy proposed by the EC Majority represented a capitulation to chauvinist pressure.

Although the documents reveal the tension of this debate and the arguments were raised in very sharp tones, we have to underline the extremely scrupulous attitude of the EC Majority in dealing with the arguments raised. Instead of weakening the cohesion of the WIL, this debate helped the organisation to grow politically and to develop an understanding of all the implications of the military policy.

The EC Majority around Ted Grant successfully argued their case, answering point by point the criticisms raised by the Minority, acknowledging some points where an agreement could be reached. In doing so, they managed to turn the League towards a successful intervention within the British army, forging an even greater degree of solidarity amongst the leading cadres of the organisation.