The Founding Congress of the Fourth International:
Resolution on Canada (1938)
At the beginning of 1937, a serious split divided the Canadian
Trotskyist group in Toronto. The majority voted to join the CCF, and a
minority refused to accept the decision.
The two groups were reunited following meetings held in Chicago, during
the founding convention of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party at the
beginning of 1938. They continued participation in the CCF, working as the
"Socialist Policy Group," until they were expelled early in 1939 and
formed the Socialist Workers League.
The Founding Congress of the Fourth International was held in secret in
France on September 3, 1938. The following resolution was adopted by a
preconference meeting of the All-American and Pacific Bureau.
The "Field group," mentioned in this resolution was the "League for a
Revolutionary Workers Party," a Canadian group of followers of B.J. Field,
who had been expelled from the Trotskyist organization in New York in
Resolution on the Work
of the Canadian Section
1. The All-American and Pacific Preconference, having heard the report
of the Canadian delegates, welcomes the successful fusion of the majority
comrades with the active nucleus of the minority on the basis of the
program of action agreed upon during the Chicago Convention.
2. The Preconference endorses the action taken by the Canadian comrades
in forming an open Socialist Policy Group in the CCF [Cooperative
Commonwealth Federation] on the basis of a declaration on the war
3. The Preconference, after discussion with the Canadian delegates,
suggests the following plan of action for the immediate future:
(a) The Canadian comrades should continue to concentrate their main
efforts on work within the CCF, with a view to climaxing their activities
by a complete programmatic and political fight at or around the national
fall convention of the CCF, with a perspective of completing the
experience within this declining reformist organization and reestablishing
the Canadian section of the Fourth International.
The declining membership and activity of the CCF has increased the
specific weight of the petty bourgeois elements and the corresponding
entrenchment of a right wing bureaucracy. While our general line is
oriented toward an early establishment of an independent Canadian section
of the Fourth International, this does not preclude the possibility of
continued concerted work in the CCF, in provinces where the objective
conditions are more favorable than in Ontario.
(b) The comrades should endeavor to further strengthen our own fraction
within the CCF and the group by systematic education and concerted and
disciplined action in every field of their activity. The Socialist Policy
Group will undoubtedly attract some confused centrist elements who, in a
later stage, especially at the moment of split, may oppose our program.
Consequently it is of great importance to combine educative work upon our
new recruits with revolutionary vigilance against centrism.
(c) The comrades should make immediate attempts to extend the Socialist
Policy Group into a national tendency within the CCF, by establishing the
cooperation of our comrades in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and elsewhere.
(d) The comrades should elaborate the political documents of the SPG so
as to create a thorough line of demarcation between the reformists, the
centrists, and themselves on every important national and international
(e) The conference expresses the firm belief that this activity should
be expressed through a regular mimeographed or printed organ (appearing
weekly or fortnightly) rather than through casual bulletins. A name should
be chosen for the organ which can also be used later for the organ of an
independent organization, so as to continue the tradition of our
revolutionary fight within the CCF. The Vancouver comrades should be
invited to collaborate in the creation of such an organ.
(f) In view of a possible premature organizational attack by the CCF
bureaucracy, our comrades should be ready to answer every organizational
maneuver by energetic politicizing of the issues in order that a full
principled record of our position may be established. The experience of
our French, Belgian, and American comrades can be studied in this
4. It is most likely that the reestablishment of our comrades in an
independent organization will not occur with sufficient forces to make
possible the immediate creation of a party, but rather only a broadened
propaganda group. Preparatory steps for the new activity of this group
should be taken even now.
(a) By systematizing and extending our trade union work, to be carried
out with firm democratic centralism and comradely collaboration between
the executive and the trade union activists.
(b) In view of the existing ferment within the Stalinist ranks, efforts
should be made to establish contacts within their organization for the
purposes of information and, if possible, organizational fraction work.
The new organ of the SPG should carry on a steady and vigorous campaign
against Stalinism both as it appears within the CCF and without. The
possibilities of public meetings against the Stalinists should also be
considered, in exploiting the "democracy" of the CCF constitution to its
(c) Concerning the Field group, the Preconference considers that any
political negotiations with this group should take place only on the basis
of an uncompromising stand on the principles and platform of the Fourth
International. While our political discussions with the CCF members need
be conducted in a spirit of patient education, the purpose of any action
concerning the fossilized sectarian Field group should be that of
splitting away progressive elements and rendering the group powerless. The
progress of our work within the CCF, and the subsequent reestablishment of
an independent group, together with the formal foundation of the Fourth
International at the coming European conference, will establish our
comrades on firm ground for gaining any progressive elements in the Field
group through an energetic political attack against their sterility and
international isolation. While the necessity of occasional united front
action is not precluded, it should not be extended to a degree where the
leadership of this stagnating group gains fictitious prestige.
5. Concerning the possible development of the Labor Relations
Association, the Preconference suggests that further information be
prepared and that discussions be held in Canada as well as in New York so
that a definite position may be taken. The same procedure should be
followed in estimating the possibilities of applying to Canadian
conditions a program of action arising out of the international thesis (Death
Agony of Capitalism) adopted by the American section at its last
(April) National Committee plenum.
Copyright South Branch Publishing. All