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Leon Trotsky 19380612 Letter to Leon Lesoil

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Leon Lesoil

June 12, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York ²1976, p. 362 f., “On the Edge of a Precipice”]

Dear Comrade Lesoil:

I consider the situation in the Belgian section to be quite delicate. I find that Comrade Vereecken's politics are developing in an increasingly anti-Marxist direction. Since 1933 there has not been one important question where we have not seen him take a wrong position – sometimes sectarian, other times opportunist. It seems to me that his own zigzags and flights of fancy have embittered him so much that he tries to pick fights with anyone – except the opponents of the Fourth International. What can possibly come of this attitude? It is absurd to think that the national sections can accept the proposal to turn themselves into a collection of groups and cliques that "proclaim allegiance" to the Fourth International. Such a course would mean simply canceling out the theoretical and political struggle we have conducted for the past ten years, the lines of demarcation, the ruptures and splits that were the product of this struggle, in order to wipe the slate clean and begin the whole business afresh. No, really, such a nihilistic attitude toward one's own political tendency is astounding even in the case of such an individualistic and capricious man as Comrade Vereecken. I repeat: What can come of all this? Moreover, I do not see an adequate reaction from the Belgian section. It is in no way a matter of secondary questions or of "method," as Vereecken insists with rather naive obstinacy. It concerns the very cornerstones of our movement. No one in our ranks, as far as I know, is any longer inclined to allow Vereecken to play games with principles that have been established at such great cost. No indeed!

You ask me whether perhaps I want a split with Vereecken and his faction. I will reply quite frankly – no. I tried to do everything possible to prevent in time the criminal split Vereecken provoked. I have tried to help the Belgian section restore its unity. I have not lost hope of saving Vereecken for our movement, but I must tell you frankly that I regard the next conference as the last opportunity to remedy the situation.

You are well acquainted with the Molinier affair. Those we lost were his closest friends. I had a hundred discussions with them (Henri M., Frank, Meichler, and others), attempting to persuade them that Molinier could only be saved for the movement by subjecting him to the firmest discipline. I did not succeed. I felt duty-bound to give the same advice to Vereecken's friends and associates. He is standing on the edge of a precipice. It is necessary to seize him firmly by the shoulders, shake him in a friendly way, and make him understand that one cannot practice politics with flights of fancy, improvisations, and petty personal combinations. That is my opinion, my dear friend. You can use this letter in any way you see fit. It is inspired solely by concern for the interests of our Belgian organization.

Best greetings, L. Trotsky