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Leon Trotsky 19380919 The Totalitarian "Right of Asylum"

Leon Trotsky: The Totalitarian "Right of Asylum"

September 19, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 22-23]

The function of the journal Futuro is to show the readers that Lombardo Toledano has neither program nor ideas. The journal achieves this task completely. In its September issue, Futuro declares that in "principle" Lombardo Toledano is for the right of asylum, but it does not at all consider that this right should be accorded to those for whom Lombardo Toledano does not entertain feelings of political or personal tenderness. Such are the views of these gentlemen on democracy. By freedom of the press they understand the right of the press, or rather its obligation, to praise Toledano and his boss, Stalin. By the right of asylum they understand the right of entry into Mexico for agents of the GPU. Lombardo once more discloses his basic solidarity with Hitler, who not only recognizes but even widely applies the right of asylum in relation to fascists who slipped away, earlier from Austria, now from Czechoslovakia or the United States. Toledano has approached the "ideals" of Hitler through his boss, Stalin. The October Revolution proclaimed the right of asylum for all revolutionary fighters. Now Stalin is exterminating them by tens of thousands – Germans, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Poles, Finns, etc., etc.–only because their views do not coincide with the interests of the ruling Bonapartist clique. Toledano is still not the boss in Mexico. He cannot, like his teacher and master, shoot or poison defenseless emigres. There remain means at his disposal: slander and persecution. And he uses them as widely as possible.

Toledano, of course, will repeat that we are "attacking" the CTM. No reasonable worker will believe this rubbish. The CTM, as a mass organization, has every right to our respect and support. But just as a democratic state is not identical with its minister at any given time, so a trade union organization is not identical with its secretary. Toledano has the totalitarian outlook on all questions. "L'etat, c'est moi!" said Louis XIV. "Germany – that's me!" says Hitler. "The USSR – that's me!" asserts Stalin. "The CTM – that's me!" proclaims the incomparable Toledano. If this cynical gentleman came to power, he would become the worst of totalitarian tyrants to the Mexican workers and peasants. Fortunately, his personal insignificance is an earnest guarantee against this danger.