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Leon Trotsky 19350000 Answers to Questions by Louise Bryant

Leon Trotsky: Answers to Questions by Louise Bryant

Late 1934 or Early 1935

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p. 564-566]

Is it true that while in France you have been occupied with building the Fourth International?

My answer depends on how the word “building” is interpreted. By virtue of all the conditions of my existence in France, I could not be and have not been engaged in any “building,” since I have not participated in the political life of France. It is true, however, that before my arrival in France, as well as during my stay here, I have published a number of articles in which I develop the idea that the Second and Third Internationals have exhausted their historic mission, have become a brake on the world workers’ movement, and should give way to a Fourth International, equally independent of both reformism and the Soviet bureaucracy.

And how do you intend to accomplish this?

It is not at all a question of my personal efforts. In several dozen countries, including the United States, Canada, Cuba, and almost every country in Latin America, there are cohesive propaganda groups which could be called pioneers of the Fourth International. Some exist independently; others have entered parties with more of a mass character and function as factions within those parties. On the whole, these pioneer organizations are already far more homogeneous and influential than the founding groups of the Third International during the imperialist war years.

Then you consider the Soviet bureaucracy no longer capable of leading the international workers’ movement? Why?

It has become a privileged layer that demands of the workers only their obedience. But revolutionary discipline has nothing in common with blind obedience. The Soviet bureaucracy has become a purely national and conservative force. The workers’ movement has an international and revolutionary character. The Comintern, led by the Soviet bureaucracy, has brought about only defeats for the working class over the last decade.

Then you think the interests of the USSR conflict with the interests of the workers’ movement in the other countries?

No, you didn’t understand what I meant. The Soviet state as a new social system should not be identified with the Soviet bureaucracy, which is a social excrescence upon this system. The interests of the Soviet bureaucracy, in many respects, conflict with the interests of the Soviet state.

In what sense do you consider the policies of the Soviet bureaucracy to be conservative?

In the same sense that the leading French newspapers consider them conservative. Just read Le Temps! Soviet diplomacy defends the status quo, whereas the revolutionary movement strives to overthrow it.

But perhaps Soviet diplomacy is only temporarily forced to adapt itself to the status quo?

That is how they [the Soviet bureaucrats] too viewed matters at first. But time has altered their psychology. We, as Marxists, believe that being determines consciousness. The conditions of their existence as an uncontrolled privileged layer, accustomed only to giving orders, inevitably cause them to grow conservative. Soviet diplomats, politicians, and journalists can be seen at every turn issuing statements of a kind that would be absolutely impossible if the authors gave any thought to the fact that the working masses of the whole world would also be listening to them.

Would you consider the rapprochement between the USSR and France to be a workable arrangement?

Yes, for the reasons I have just mentioned, it could turn out to be quite workable.

Do you think the assassination of the Serbian king [Alexander I] was the handiwork of the Hungarian and Italian governments, as Le Populaire and L'Humanité maintain?

I would readily concede that these governments were involved through one agency or another behind the scenes. But it is completely absurd to imagine that the Croatian and Macedonian terrorists are simply the agents of a fascist government. The terrorists’ aim is their own national liberation, in pursuit of which they are seeking some base of support in the antagonisms between states. This is an old tradition, especially in the Balkans. In their struggle against the Turks, the Balkan revolutionists more than once kept their bombs in czarist consulates, but this did not prevent these terrorists from showing themselves, when the time came, as irreconcilable enemies of czarism.

What sort of repercussions, in your opinion, will the terrorist act have?

That is hard to predict. Individual terrorism is an adventurist tactic, the results of which can almost never be foreseen.

Do you think a war is possible in Europe within the next two years?

I would not exclude it.

What are you personally occupied with at the present time?

I am writing a book on Lenin, the story of his life and a description of his theory and strategy. The book takes up all of my time.