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Leon Trotsky 19381231 To the Pillory

Leon Trotsky: To the Pillory!

On the Last Congress of the CGT

December 31, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 171-173]

If anyone still had even the slightest illusion regarding the character of the leadership of the General Confederation of Labor, the last congress of this organization would have dispelled it. If anyone, even yesterday, might have hoped that the leadership of the CGT was capable of evolving in a progressive direction, today we have to bury those hopes. Ramirez and his cronies have shown, with laudable frankness, the depth of their degeneracy and their fall. The political vocabulary does not contain appropriate terms to characterize the present political physiognomy of this gang.

Faced with the approaching election campaign, and the plots and searching for sinecures that go along with it, the leaders of the CGT have suddenly dropped their "anarchist" and "internationalist" masks to unite with the bourgeois nationalist state. On the pretext of fighting Stalinism, they turn a proletarian organization over, to the worst bourgeois reaction in the service of foreign imperialism. For the petroleum magnates and other capitalists, Ramirez is now nothing more than a second-rate agent. No one has done or could have done greater service to Lombardo Toledano and to the whole agency of Stalinism in general than the CGT gang.

The great majority of working class members of this organization, obviously, have not the slightest idea of the traitorous intrigue which has been carried out behind their backs. The workers are merely victims of the personal and factional machinations of the "leaders." This makes even more criminal and shameful the reactionary turn that reached its peak at the last congress of the CGT and has opened an era of real and shameless political prostitution.

The slanderers of the Stalinist camp are circulating the rumor that the Fourth International and its sympathizing groups are soliciting a political bloc with the leadership of the CGT. We reject this slander like all the rest, with an understandable disgust. The elementary duty of the revolutionary Marxist consists in carrying out systematic work in the mass proletarian organizations and above all in the trade unions. This duty includes the CTM, the CGT, and trade unions in general. But systematic work inside the unions, and education of the rank and file in the spirit of revolutionary Marxism, are as remote from a policy of adventurous blocs with corrupt union officials as the heavens are from the earth. If you give the devil your finger, you risk your whole hand. But there is not a single revolutionary Marxist who would give even a fingernail, let alone a whole finger, to the gang currently leading the CGT. An implacable struggle against it, in full sight of the working class, is a basic revolutionary duty. Ramirez and his friends should be pilloried forever by the proletarian vanguard!

The Toledano-Laborde gang organizes physical persecutions of the CGT: attacks on its headquarters and its meetings, technical sabotage, radio broadcasts, etc. This type of gangsterism, given currency in the world workers' movement by Stalin, has nothing in common with a real struggle against reaction; it is nothing more than a normal method used by the various groups within the labor aristocracy to work things out among themselves. The task of revolutionary politics is not to mechanically stop a trade union leader from speaking, but to teach the masses to distrust reactionary leaders and to get rid of them.

It is impossible not to point out once again that the Stalinists, imitating their master, employ ever more insolently and openly for their own ends all sorts of "totalitarian" repressions; however, since they are not in power in Mexico, they are obliged to limit themselves to the struggle within the working class movement. Totalitarian methods used in a bourgeois state, that is, in a society based on private property, are nothing other than fascism. In this sense, the actions of Toledano-Laborde open the road to fascist dictatorship. All restrictions on democratic rights in a bourgeois society in the last analysis bear down with all their weight on the working class. The true precursors of fascism in Mexico are not only Ramirez, the agent of open reaction, but also the Stalinists Laborde and Toledano. Nevertheless, it should not be presumed that they will find absolution under the fascist dictatorship they are preparing. No, in the event of a fascist victory, they will find themselves in a concentration camp if they don't flee in time. Once in the concentration camps, they will probably understand at last the meaning of the warnings we repeatedly gave them.