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Leon Trotsky 19300400 A Big Step Forward

Leon Trotsky: A Big Step Forward

Unification of the Left Opposition

April 1930

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 2, 1930, New York 1975, p. 187-190]

On April 6 the preliminary conference of the International Left Opposition took place in Paris. The following organizations were represented: the Communist League of France, the Communist League of America, the United Opposition of Germany, the Opposition Group of the Communist Party of Belgium, the Spanish Opposition, the Left Opposition of Czechoslovakia, the Hungarian Communist Opposition, and the Jewish Opposition group in France. The Left Opposition of the Russian Communist Party, which could not be represented for police reasons, sent a letter declaring its support to the conference. Two Austrian groups did likewise. The Opposition groups of China, Mexico, and Argentina did not take part in the conference because of the distance. But those three organizations fully share the point of view of the International Communist Left and have insisted in a number of letters on the necessity of international unity. Their adherence to the decisions of the conference is beyond doubt.

The delegates to the conference made detailed reports on the state of the Opposition in their countries. The overall situation may briefly be characterized in this way: the last year has been a year of incontestable revival of the Opposition. This began with a clarification and refinement of the foundations of principle and with a demarcation from elements foreign to the Leninist Opposition who had become associated with it by chance. The regrouping of forces which arose out of this struggle at once enlivened the work of the Opposition and led to the setting up of militant printed publications and the formation of organizations.

In France there has existed for the last six months a regularly appearing weekly paper, La Vérité, which to a certain extent has become the center not only of the French but also of the International Opposition, especially the "Latins" (Italians and Spaniards, including Spanish-speaking South Americans). Along with this there has been appearing in France since January of this year a serious Opposition monthly, La Lutte de classes*, which with the support of Marxist forces from other countries promises to develop into one of the best Marxist publications. In Germany, after the split in the Leninbund, a unification occurred of all groups in solidarity with the Russian Opposition, namely: the former Opposition of the Leninbund, two groups of the Wedding Opposition, and the Pfalz (Palatinate) Opposition organization. The United Opposition, which has one deputy in the Prussian Landtag, has started to publish its own organ, Der Kommunist, whose first issue came out in April. The journal is starting as a biweekly, but there is every reason to expect that it will soon become weekly. The American League issues an excellent weekly paper and is beginning to publish pamphlets. In Austria two monthly papers are appearing (unity of the Austrian Left Opposition has not yet been achieved). The Czechoslovakian organization has started to bring out its organ. In Argentina the first issue of a paper in Spanish, Verdad (Truth), has appeared. The Italian group of Bordigists in emigration is issuing a twice-monthly, Prometeo. In relation to the International Left Opposition the Bordigists remain a sympathizing group. The latest split in the official Italian party showed that the Communist Left Opposition has a great number of supporters there; their organizational grouping is a matter for the immediate future. A group of Jewish workers is issuing the Oppositional organ Klorkeit (Clarity) in Paris. The Chinese Opposition is issuing a lithographed journal (illegal) and pamphlets, and is legally publishing works of the International Opposition, in particular a series of Comrade Trotsky's pamphlets.

The Left Opposition does not yet have the character of a mass movement. Its work has not emerged from the preparatory stage. Differentiation from chance fellow travelers, who compromised the ideas of the Opposition and retarded its growth, took up much time, but was all the same a most important precondition for the unification of the Opposition and its transition to broad propaganda and agitational work. It is thanks to this that the possibility and necessity of close international unity of all Left Oppositional organizations has arisen.

Just as the formation of national Opposition factions has not meant the creation of second parties, so the unification of the national factions does not mean a course toward a fourth international. The Left Opposition considers itself a faction of international communism and acts as such. The present split would not exist if the Comintern apparatus were not completely dependent on the Stalin leadership, which is guided above all by the interests of the centrist bureaucracy and has compromised itself theoretically and politically. By the criminal work of the apparatus the Opposition has been placed outside the whole formal framework of the Communist International. But the Opposition feels its unbreakable link with those, alas already few, hundreds of thousands of revolutionaries who formally remain within the Comintern. The aim of the Opposition is to revive the Communist International on Leninist principles.

The April conference had, as has already been said, a preparatory character. It set up an International Secretariat and commissioned it to publish an international bulletin and prepare the convoking of a full conference.

The Secretariat is made up of a Russian, a German, and a French representative, with the possibility of adding a representative from the Belgian Opposition. The technical implementation of decisions is the obligation of the Communist League of France.

The International Bulletin will in all probability come out twice a month and, apart from exchanging documents, resolutions, and all kinds of information on the work of individual national organizations, will serve for international discussion and the working out of an international platform for the forthcoming conference. The basic language of the bulletin will be French; the most important documents and articles will also be printed in German; articles and documents that closely affect the Anglo-Saxon countries will be printed in English. The first issue of the bulletin should come out at approximately the same time as this issue of the Russian Biulleten.

The conference decided to send the following greeting:

"The first international meeting of the Communist Left Opposition, held on April 6 in Paris and bringing together German, American, Belgian, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian, and Czechoslovak delegates, sends its cordial greetings and expression of its close solidarity to the arrested and banished Bolshevik comrades, and to their exiled leader L.D. Trotsky."

At the conference an atmosphere of complete unanimity, faith in the banner, and readiness for struggle prevailed. We do not doubt that the very near future will show dear and incontestable results of the great work of preparation that has been carried out over the last year.

* La Lutte de classes has been appearing in small notebook format for two years. But the journal had no definite ideological direction and was in a period of searching. It is only this year that it has acquired a completely distinct and considerably enlarged format.