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Leon Trotsky 19350000 Remarks on Our General Orientation

Leon Trotsky: Remarks on Our General Orientation

Late 1934 or Early 1935

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p. 560 f.]

No one among us doubts the correctness of our general orientation. The only question is whether the tempo of events confirms this orientation. To this we reply:

a. Political forecasts can never pretend to fix in advance the tempo of events.

b. Our assessment was not only a forecast but above all a warning: workers, events can develop very rapidly, we must prepare. We are dealing not with astronomy but with revolutionary action.

c. Nothing has happened yet to indicate that the tempo of events has moderated for an entire period. The lull can be fleeting, we do not yet know what this winter will bring.

The immediate perspective could change seriously only on one condition — that the economic conjuncture improves. All classes orient themselves for the moment toward that perspective. If the next months show an increase in economic activity on a world scale, that would affect the political situation in France very materially, even if France lags behind economically, which is almost inevitable. Improvement of the conjuncture would not change our general orientation but it would change the pace and the stages, which is very important for practical work. Improvement of the conjuncture would create a favorable basis for immediate demands and would thus unloose a wave of strikes, reinforce the trade unions, etc. For us that would mean an additional period for education, for preparation on the basis of the everyday activity of the masses.

If the crisis is continued or aggravated, disappointment will take more acute forms among all the classes, even in the very near future. Flandin’s corporatism does not change very much. He himself may be swept away by a new “explosion” like that of February 6. Under such conditions, fascist reaction, like the revolution, will have a new and powerful impulsion.

It seems to me that today, like yesterday, we must stress this last possibility and draw all the political consequences. At the same time we must keep our hand on the pulse of the country’s economy in order to recognize changes in time. A comrade should be specially assigned to study the economic conjuncture in connection with the activity of the capitalists and the strike movements.

In any case, it must be foreseen that any new “prosperity” will be very unstable and, giving rise to great hopes, will be followed by a new crisis, perhaps more acute than the present one, and that this new crisis will have enormous and almost immediate political consequences. It should be well understood that this epoch, with its social instability and economic changes, brings profound political repercussions, which, despite their instability, are proof of the tension of class relations.