THE "ULTRA-LEFTIST" SPLIT - 1956
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About eighteen months after Burnham led the right-wing elements in splitting the PPP (in February 1955), the Party was affected by another split, this time from a small group which was headed by Martin Carter, Lionel Jeffrey, Rory Westmass, and Keith Carter. Their political position from time to time received support from Sydney King.
The members of this faction held leading positions in the Demerara Youth League (the front-name of the PYO) and the British Guiana Peace Committee where they took what the Party leadership regarded as some "ultra-left" positions. These exposed the Party to heavy attacks and criticisms from both the anti-PPP forces and the "right-wing" of the Party itself. During the 1953 May Day parade in Georgetown, this group displayed a huge banner of Stalin, even though the Party had decided not to display any banners showing support for the Soviet leader.
Clearly a rift was brewing, and from 1954 they began to attack the party on two issues. First, they stated that the party line of non-violence and civil disobedience against the Interim Government was anti-Marxist and non-revolutionary. Second, they demanded the abandonment of the Party's stand on the Federation issue and wanted unconditional support of the planned West Indian Federation. Their attacks were directed against Dr. Jagan for his support for non-violence and civil disobedience, and for his and the Party's view that the electorate should decide by referendum if Guyana should enter the West Indian Federation.
At the 1956 Congress of the PPP, Dr. Jagan sharply criticised the position of this faction in a paper submitted to the Congress. In this paper, Dr. Jagan described their pro-federation line as "adventurist". He explained that the 1955 split had weakened the national movement and it would be unwise not to consider the views and weaknesses of the masses. He suggested that because of the existing political conditions, the leadership could not move too far ahead of the followers. He also argued that the PPP, as a broad national movement, led by Marxists but appealing to all sections, including local patriotic capitalists who were prepared to oppose colonialism and imperialism, "must guard against right and left opportunism".
In a direct ideological debate with the group who accused the Party of taking anti-Marxist positions - (the members of this faction were also fond of quoting from the works of Marxist ideologies in attempts to back their positions) - Dr. Jagan used the occasion to answer them by also heavily referring to the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, among others, to expose the dogmatic views of this faction.
Dr. Jagan stated: ". . . . up to October 1953, we committed deviations to the left. We definitely overrated the revolutionary possibilities of our Party . . . . We became bombastic. . . . We were attacking everybody at the same time." Since Carter and Westmass, and also King, were regarded as the most "bombastic" Marxists in the Party, they felt that Dr. Jagan's statement attacked them personally and was aimed at blaming the "left-wingers" for the suspension of the constitution in 1953.
The faction finally seceded when the Party took disciplinary action against Keith Carter for refusing to obey Party instructions. Significantly, Sydney King attempted to defend the position of this faction at the congress, but he refused to join them in their secession from the Party.