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24 H... [street]
Glen Ridge, New Jersey
December 28, 1950Mr. Leonard V. Harrison
105 East 22nd Street
New York, New York
Dear Mr. Harrison:
I have examined the prospectus, dated November
1950, entitled "The General Service Conference of Alco-
holics Anonymous" consisting of a Proposal to create a
Conference and a form of temporary Charter purporting to
be offered by the Trustees, the late Dr.R. S. and W. W.
It seems clear that the Proposal of 1950 has received not
only the approval of the Trustees but will receive, as in-
deed it will require, the active assistance and support of
the Foundation. Presented thus with a fait accompli it
would seem to be a vain and futile gesture even to comment
upon the Proposal of 1950 soon to ripen into the actuality
of 1951 were it not for the fact that in view of past
events certain matters need to be set out for the record.
Let us recapitulate. [fait accompli = A thing done and made irreversible
"Organization" has been the bête noire of the
Movement since it reached adolescence and since 1945 the
question of reorganization at the top level has been the
subject of discussion and communications among W. W. and
ourselves and others. [bête noir = black beast, a terrible thing which one
On April 8, 1947 W.W.[Bill Wilson] issued a three-part document
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Tomorrow " Under Part Three, a Plan was suggested for a
"General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous."
This was the Plan of 1947.
The Plan of 1947 was not adopted.
Later, the Statement of 1948 was adopted. That
is, the Trustees at their quarterly meeting in July, 1948
adopted a Statement of Principles Governing the Policies
and Activities of the Board of Trustees of The Alcoholic
The Statement of 1948, so adopted, was formulated
and presented to the Foundation by a working group compris-
ing the A.A. Trustees and other older members apprehensive
over the attempt to convert the Movement into an Organization.
The Statement of 1948, together with the "Steps"
which gave it validity and authority, constituted until
now the organic Rule of the Movement .
The Proposal of 1950 is substantially the Plan of
The Plan of 1947 which was rejected and the Pro-
posal of 1950 which was accepted are both antithetical in
letter and in spirit to the Statement of 1948.
The Statement of 1948 was not distributed among
the Groups nor was it published in "The Grapevine" except
in emasculated form. The Proposal of 1950 is being repro-
duced, in part, in "The Grapevine" and free distribution of
50,000 copies is planned. The membership as a whole, there-
fore, will probably never be informed about this volte-face
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on the part of the Trustees. "The Grapevine" is no longer
the Voice of the A.A. Movement; it is the "kept" organ of
the new dispensation. Hence, it is necessary that these
facts be summed up for the record.
The Proposal of 1950 is one to expand central
organizational activities; the purpose of the Statement of
1948 was to contract them. Thus, the Statement said in part:
tradition is represented by the political character of
the Proposal of 1950. A substantial portion of the
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pamphlet is devoted to a witches' brew of elections,
assemblies, representatives, delegates, tellers, chair-
men, secretaries, treasurers, committeemen "available"
and committeemen not "available", election by trial,
election by lot, reports, duties, panel No. 1, panel
No. 2, one-year delegates, two-year delegates, extra
delegates and so on, all of which means "politics" in
anybody's vocabulary and understanding, vehement pro-
testations to the contrary notwithstanding.
The tongue-in-cheek pretension of "keeping
politics out of it" and the fatuous nonsense about
delegates being servants and not senators could well
have been omitted and a recommendation made that a
body be established, frankly legislative in purpose,
of whose policies the Trustees would be the mere execu-
tants. For, under the proposal of 1950, the Trustees
are to "traditionally favor all resolutions [of the
Conference] passed by a two-thirds vote" and "unques-
tionably look with favor on any advise [sic] offered
by two-thirds of the Conference respecting the com-
position of the Foundation Board." I call your at-
tention to the following excerpt from the Statement
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tenure of the Trustees will be at the pleasure o f politi-
cally selected delegates, amateur Warwicks; the "off
center" position for which you have long struggled will
be forever lost; and the Movement will be permitted to
be shackled "by the fetters of organization" and no longer
"kept free from the corroding effect of political pro-
But above all, the Proposal of 1950 is patently
a meretricious scheme to create a swift, swelling and
continuous stream of revenue which shall flow into the
New York treasury, there to be used for the aggrandise-
ment of a bureaucratic Headquarters. This is to be ac-
complished by the establishment and operation of a politi-
cal machine efficiently organized from the grass roots up.
"One more word about money", states the brochure, and then
runs on for many, many words about money, concluding
"* * * hundreds of Groups not now giving to the Foundation
will commence to do so." Thus, the Grand Purpose of it
all is starkly revealed in all its crudity and crassness.
Money and politics which killeth the spirit be-
come the deus ex machina of the new regime.
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Those who would retain their personal freedom
and adhere to historic principles -- and their name is
legion -- will renounce the "legacy". There should be no
question and there need be no difficulty about the choice
to be made. They will repudiate the Organization and re-
affirm their original faith. They will continue their A.A.
apostolate on an individual and cellular basis in a quiet,
unassuming and humble way.
assess blame or recommend repentance and reparation on
the part of those responsible for perpetrating a catas-
trophe or attempting to thrust upon the members a Hobson's
choice. For it is not a Hobson's choice. There is an
alternative. [Hobson's choice= take what is offered or nothing]
The purpose of this letter, as stated at the
outset, is to keep the record straight. Copies thereof
go out to your colleagues.
Very sincerely yours,