Leon Trotsky‎ > ‎1938‎ > ‎

Leon Trotsky 19381205 Problems of the Mexican Section

Leon Trotsky: Problems of the Mexican Section

December 5, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 143-149]

In his statement Galicia says that he is "abiding by" the decision of the Fourth International. But this only means that he either failed to understand this decision or he is being hypocritical, or he is combining his lack of understanding with hypocrisy. The decision of the Fourth International calls for a complete, radical change of policy. If Galicia understood the need for a new course, he would not have written his absurd and criminal declaration.

Like all petty-bourgeois individualists of anarchist bent, Galicia is making an appeal for democracy. He is demanding that the International guarantee complete freedom for his individuality. He completely forgets about centralism. But for the revolutionist, democracy is only one element of organization; the other no less important element is centralism, since without centralism revolutionary activity is impossible. Democracy guarantees freedom to discuss: centralism guarantees unity in action. Petty-bourgeois windbags restrict themselves to criticism, protests, and conversations. This is why they make an appeal for democracy, unlimited and absolute, ignoring the rights of centralism.

Where is the violation of democracy with respect to Galicia? Over a long period of time Galicia and his group defied the fundamental principles of the Fourth International regarding the trade unions. If the International is guilty of anything it is excessive patience. When it became clear to Galicia that the International could no longer tolerate a policy of petty-bourgeois dilettantism and intrigue, Galicia disbanded the section of the Fourth International! No more, no less! To disband a revolutionary organization signifies a shameful capitulation to opponents and enemies; it signifies the betrayal of our banner. What did the International do in this instance? It dispatched a delegation of three authoritative and internationally respected North American comrades to Mexico to examine the matter firsthand and try to persuade the members of the Mexican section of the need to change their policy. When Galicia saw that despite his criminal activities the Fourth International was still willing to place some moral confidence in him, on credit, Galicia quickly proclaimed the Mexican League "reconstituted." By so doing he again showed that for him the organization is not an instrument for the class struggle but an instrument for his personal combinations; i.e., he laid bare his nature as a petty-bourgeois adventurist.

Representatives from twelve sections gathered at the international congress. The facts on the internal struggle of the Mexican League had been well known to them for a long time from our press. For them these facts contained nothing new. As has already been said, Galicia is only repeating in a caricatured form the activities of Vereecken, Molinier, Eiffel, and those like them. The congress had before it all Galicia's documents and the report from the delegation of the Socialist Workers Party of the United States. What the congress was faced with was no mystery. The best representatives of the Fourth International brought forth their opinion on the basis of this material. "This is bureaucratism!" Galicia shouts.

Why bureaucratism? By what other course could a judgment be rendered under the circumstances? Or is Galicia in fact claiming that generally the International should not dare to examine the problems of the Mexican movement? The charge of bureaucratism is in this instance the slander of a sectarian clique that is concerned with neither Marxism, nor the collective experience of the Fourth International, nor the authority of its international congresses.

Galicia is trying to present matters in such a way as to claim that he is trying to conduct a revolutionary policy but the "bureaucracy" of the Fourth International is hindering him in these efforts; that this bureaucracy wants to blunt the class struggle in Mexico; that this bureaucracy is applying strangulation methods in pursuit of that goal, trampling on "democracy," not listening to Galicia and his friends, and so on and so forth. All this is false from beginning to end. By his entire conduct, Galicia has revealed that he is not a revolutionary, since a revolutionary is first and foremost a person of action. Galicia has not the slightest understanding of action, he does not attempt to take action, but on the contrary, refrains from participating in any serious struggle. During meetings which the Stalinists and Toledanoists arrange for the struggle against so-called "Trotskyism," Galicia is always conspicuous by his absence. In fact, why subject oneself to the risk of an open struggle? Why bother to organize groups Of activists, to defend the organization, to protest, and to make one's existence known? It is much simpler to remain on the sidelines and attack the "bureaucrats" of the Fourth International. Sectarian intrigue always goes hand in hand with political passivity. This is again borne out by the example of Galicia and his group.

Galicia asserts that the Fourth International is allegedly attempting to force him to function in an alliance with the bourgeoisie and government of Mexico. This is a repetition of Eiffel's vile slander. "Revolutionaries" of Eiffel's type are distinguished mainly by their abstention from revolutionary struggle. They lead a parasitic existence. They always have a thousand explanations and arguments for abstention and passivity. Their political life consists of smearing revolutionaries who are taking part in the class struggle. Galicia belongs to this school.

But let us suppose for a moment that on the basis of some special circumstances the International should decide to apply more "peaceful," more "cautious" methods in Mexico in the interest of the international struggle as a whole. How should Mexican revolutionaries act in this case? They would have to decide whether the International's directive, dictated by a concern over the general interests of the movement, was right or wrong, i.e., whether this directive serves the end that had been posed. But Galicia and his group are not even trying to explain why the International is "imposing" on them a policy that they consider to be opportunist. Or are they trying to say, like Eiffel, Oehler, and Company, that our International is opportunist in general? No, they say that the International is making an inadmissible exception in Mexico's case. However, they do not analyze this "exception"; they do not say whether it was really prompted by international concerns or not. In other words, they are not trying to take an international point of view. Even on this question they remain petty-bourgeois nationalists and not internationalist Marxists.

Is it true that the International is prescribing different methods of struggle for Mexico? Is it calling for an alliance with the bourgeoisie and the government? No, this is a lie from beginning to end, a lie thought up not by Galicia, but by Eiffel, Oehler, and similar plotters and sectarians. The trouble is that Galicia does not understand what the class struggle against the bourgeoisie and the government means. He believes that in order to fulfill your duty as a Marxist it is perfectly sufficient to once every month or two publish a shallow newspaper in which you rail against the government. To date, this has been the sum total of his r-r-revolutionary activity. Yet in Mexico, more than anywhere, the struggle against the bourgeoisie and its government consists above all in freeing the trade unions from dependence on the government. The trade unions in Mexico formally embrace the entire proletariat. The essence of Marxism is to provide the leadership for the class struggle of the proletariat. The class struggle demands the independence of the proletariat from the bourgeoisie. Consequently, the class struggle in Mexico must be directed toward winning the independence of the trade unions from the bourgeois state. This demands of Marxists a concentration of all efforts inside the trade unions against the Stalinists and Toledanoists. Everything else is trifles, chatter, intrigue, petty-bourgeois betrayal, and self-deception. And Galicia is no beginner at this kind of betrayal and self-deception.

Work in the trade unions means work in the proletarian unions. Of course, participation in the teachers' union is necessary; but this is an organization of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia and is not capable of playing an independent role. Those who do not play a systematic role in the work of the proletarian trade unions are dead weight for the Fourth International.

When Galicia enigmatically insinuates that he was prevented from carrying out a revolutionary policy against the bourgeoisie, he apparently has in mind his pathetic experience of "struggle" against high prices. As is well known, Galicia issued an absurd poster with a call for a "general strike," "sabotage," and "direct action," without explaining how he thought a general strike would be organized, without having the slightest influence on the trade unions, and without explaining what "sabotage" means or precisely what sort of "direct action" he was calling for. As far as the workers were concerned, the entire appeal bore a resemblance to a provocation. But considering that he had not the slightest influence and was not even concerned about his lack of influence, the provocation was not tragic but comical. For Galicia the matter comes down not to involving one or another section of the masses in active struggle but to shouting some ultraleft phrases that have no connection with the real life of the class. A blend of sectarianism, adventurism, and cynicism is extremely typical of a certain category of petty-bourgeois pseudorevolutionaries. But what has this to do with Marxism? What has this to do with the Fourth International?

To date, there is not one key question on which Galicia has presented his own theses, countertheses, or amendments. With his own brand of ideological parasitism he confines himself to picking up rumors and gossip here and there, translating into Spanish ultraleft articles against the Fourth International from all corners of the world, entering into dealings with enemies of the Fourth International, taking no direct responsibility for anything or anyone, but simply playing the role of an offended disrupter. Does this type really have anything in common with a revolutionary fighter?

Galicia's crude and unjustified attacks on Diego Rivera form a necessary part of his petty-bourgeois politics. The fact that an artist of world importance belongs fully and completely to our own movement is of enormous value to us. It is well known that Marx valued highly the fact that the German poet Freiligrath was a member of the International, although Freiligrath neither by his revolutionary commitment nor by his artistic talents could compare with Rivera. The same thing could be said about the attitude Lenin had toward Gorky, who in revolutionary attitude always represented a vague blur. Marx and Lenin proceeded from the fact that Freiligrath and Gorky, with their artistic creativity, rendered great service to the cause of the proletariat, and by their support for the party enhanced its world authority. All the more should we appreciate Diego Rivera's participation in the Fourth International! It would be ridiculous and criminal to assign to a great artist perfunctory, day-to-day work, tearing him away from artistic creation; it is still more criminal to cover up the mistakes of one's own organization by constant personal attacks on Rivera. This fully characterizes the envious, plotting, petty-bourgeois psychology of Galicia and those like him.

Who is supporting Galicia in the international arena? Molinier, who reprints Galicia's documents and gives his own to Galicia for reprinting in turn; Vereecken, who gets Galicia's support on all his declarations; Oehler, who encourages Galicia and Company, slapping them on the back in a friendly manner and counseling them to go all the way, i.e., to openly break with the International. What camp does Galicia belong to in the last analysis? To the camp of the Fourth International or to the camp of its enemies? Galicia makes statements about "abiding" by the decision evidently for the sole purpose of remaining inside the Fourth International and pursuing his disruptive politics.

Galicia finds it possible to suggest that the congress of the Fourth International was guided by some sort of behind-the-scenes or personal considerations. The majority of our organizations lead an illegal or semilegal existence entailing extraordinary sacrifices and demanding, therefore, an extraordinary level of idealism and heroism. And now it appears that these organizations sent their delegates in order to condemn Galicia on the basis of some sort of ignoble considerations. Is it possible for his own nature to be more clearly betrayed? Is not Galicia showing that he is simply an exasperated petty bourgeois?

Galicia takes the liberty of likening the Fourth International to the Stalinist International. In fact, Galicia himself is a legitimate product of Stalin's International. Bureaucrats or aspiring bureaucrats-to-be can as a general rule be divided into the satisfied and the dissatisfied. The former apply the most rabid repression in order to preserve their posts. The latter conceal their wounded ambition with frenzied left-wing phraseology. One type shifts into the other as easily as a poacher becomes a gendarme. If Galicia finds it possible to suspect the congress of the Fourth International of unworthy motives, what is it in general that is binding him to this organization?

What conclusions flow from what has been stated here? Galicia has obviously failed to understand the purpose of the decisions of our international congress, just as he has obviously failed to understand the purpose and spirit of the Fourth International. It is not surprising that he has failed to understand the significance of his own mistakes. He is continuing and accentuating these mistakes. He is ignoring our International in the name of solidarity with all the centrist and ultraleft cliques. This is why, in our view, the decision concerning him at the international congress is today already inadequate. It must be supplemented. It is impossible to admit Galicia into the organization on the basis of his obviously false "recognition" of the congress' decisions. These decisions make the old politics of Galicia and his group no longer permissible. Galicia may be given another half year to deliberate, while he remains outside the threshold of the Mexican section of the Fourth International. If during this half year Galicia comes to understand that the Fourth International is a revolutionary organization based on definite principles of action and not a discussion club created for petty-bourgeois intellectuals, he will again find a way into the organization. Otherwise, he will forever remain beyond the threshold. As regards the other members of Galicia's group, they can join the organization only on the basis of a real–and not a diplomatic –recognition of the congress' decisions. Otherwise, the organization will be built without them. Such is our proposal.