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Leon Trotsky 19380622 To the Congress of the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Belgium

Leon Trotsky: To the Congress of the Revolutionary Socialist Party

of Belgium

June 22, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York ²1976, p. 367-369]

Dear Comrades:

I have just now received the news that Comrade Vereecken has resigned as a member of the party. This is quite a sad thing for our movement, for Vereecken has uncommon qualities of devotion and energy. But it is an especially tragic thing for Vereecken himself; because our movement, which is thoroughly revolutionary and no less thoroughly realistic, is the only one that could save him from his own negative characteristics: his sectarianism, lack of solidarity, and a quite exceptional sensitivity. Vereecken is gravely mistaken if he thinks he can "serve his class" outside our movement. For my part I can only hope that, now or later, he will again find the road of the Fourth International, for that is the one and only way to serve the proletariat in our epoch.

The reasons Vereecken gives for his resignation are far from permissible and only expose the state of permanent frenzy that has become so characteristic of Vereecken. He accuses T., the IS, and "those who support them unconditionally" (?) of wishing to "liquidate" him at all costs. What could be the reasons for such an inexplicable and abominable purpose? We are not wealthy in comrades, especially in experienced comrades who devote themselves completely to our movement. On the contrary, I think that all the leading comrades of our movement have done and are prepared to do everything in their power to keep Vereecken in our ranks. Everything but one thing: to give way to him on the very principles of the Fourth International. It would be easy to show that far from being attacked or persecuted by others, it is Vereecken himself who has attacked the IS and the leaderships of nearly all the sections, except for those who trampled on the principles of Marxism, made a mockery of our international discipline, and fraternized with our worst enemies. The documents that serve as the immediate pretext for Vereecken's resignation were nothing but acts of self-defense against the absolutely unjustified attacks coming from Vereecken. By means of these attacks he sought to cover up his own past mistakes. This state of frenzy is not at all an individual quirk. Rather, it is characteristic of a particular political state of mind. This is what the draft Transitional Program says about it: "Since sectarians, as in general every kind of blunderer and miracle-man, are toppled by reality at each step, they live in a state of perpetual exasperation, complaining about the 'regime' and 'the methods' and ceaselessly wallowing in small intrigues."

Several days ago I received the statement of Comrade V. concerning the municipal elections. V.'s arguments against participation seemed to me false from beginning to end. You know that I considered and still consider our party's support to Van Zeeland to be an extremely serious and dangerous error. When V. reaffirms this he is right. But this mistake is no reason for abstentionism. If the party, because of the sectarian tendencies of its leadership, is so weakened that it cannot participate in the elections, it must say so openly and not cover its weakness with artificial and scholastic arguments.

"The labor notes (for La Lutte) grow fewer week by week." I read that in your minutes of June 8, 1938. This simple fact sums up an entire political line, that is, its weaknesses. When the party turns its back on the workers, the workers respond in kind. It is necessary at all costs to sink roots in the unions. You must sink roots in the youth. In my opinion the orientation of your congress should be: enough hollow phrases, enough repetition of abstract formulas for their own sake. To the masses; again to the masses; always to the masses!

We observed in France in 1936 a movement of incomparable power and vigor. We said: this is a prerevolutionary situation in the most concrete and immediate sense of the term. Can one doubt for a minute that if this movement had found a leadership that had expressed its aspirations even the least bit the proletarian revolution in France would today be an accomplished fact? But all the official organizations joined together to trick, break, mislead, sabotage, and paralyze the revolutionary movement. Have they succeeded? Yes, at least to a certain extent; that is, they have lessened the chances of proletarian revolution in favor of fascism. We have had a new demonstration of the power of the apparatuses of three Internationals – the Second, the Third, and the Amsterdam – power which has its most basic source in the bureaucracy in Moscow and the crude and perfidious treachery of the Comintern. Under these conditions to wish to remain outside the working class, waiting for it to turn its eyes definitively toward us, is a program fit for the most sterile sectarians, who are revolutionaries only, as Engels put it, in their own imagination.

I think, dear comrades, that the draft program presented by the IS in its general outline speaks well to the needs of our Belgian party. It is only a question of not being content with an abstract acceptance of the program, but of passing over to its immediate application. The prerequisite is ruthlessly to have done with all the vestiges of sectarianism. In this situation the resignation of Vereecken can take on a symbolic character.

Comrades, time is more precious than ever. Do not waste it. Carry out a courageous turn. Let the hesitant, the weak, the dilettantes leave! Sink roots in the unions; sink roots in the youth; make your newspaper into the instrument and the expression of your work among the masses. If you succeed in executing this turn, your congress will mark a crucial stage in the development of your party.

My best revolutionary greetings accompany your work.

Fraternally, Leon Trotsky