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Leon Trotsky 19350324 Letter to Léon Lesoil

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Léon Lesoil

March 24, 1935

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p. 570 f., title: “After the Belgian Conference”]

Dear Comrade Lesoil:

It has been called to my attention that our Belgian friends were dissatisfied at the time of their last conference over the fact that I did not say anything in my letter about possible entry into the POB. I deliberately did not want to do this. The general line was determined by the last [ICL] plenum. In this case it was only a question of the concrete appreciation of the prevailing situation in the POB and the possibilities that flow from it. Unfortunately I am not sufficiently acquainted with Belgian affairs to form a definite opinion on the above.

I was inclined to believe that the Belgian comrades should await the positive results and experiences from the entry of the youth and of the French League in order to be able to effect the entry with a minimum of losses.

The necessity of giving up La Voix [Communiste] in order to enter appears to be a dangerous symptom. A column in L'Action [Socialiste]? Do you find that adequate? And what are the guarantees for this column?

The latest issue of Le Temps reports that the leadership of the POB was unanimously in favor of Spaak’s proposal authorizing the leaders to enter a cabinet of national unity. If this is true, it would be an act of consummate betrayal. In this case we should unleash a relentless campaign against Spaak. Unfortunately Spaak’s general attitude does not allow me to speak in advance: the information in Temps might be false. Spaak’s position remains ambiguous and we cannot identify ourselves with him even if the dispatch in Temps is false.

La Voix frequently writes: “The leaders of the POB do not understand, do not see, etc.” This is not correct. They understand and they see everything but for the most part they are beneficiaries of the bourgeois regime. Our mission is not to educate Vandervelde, Anseele and Company but to denounce them. We can do this in a reserved manner if conditions require it, but never on a false note.

It is shocking to read in La Voix that the general strike is a “legal” method, etc. The general strike has always been emasculated in Belgium by restricting it into the bed of legality. The very essence of the general strike is that in paralyzing the governmental apparatus, it thereby paralyzes conditions of legality and obliterates the dividing line between legal and illegal actions. It is precisely by this procedure that the general strike poses the question of power.

These are a few observations which I want to make to you.

My best greetings,

Crux [Leon Trotsky]