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Leon Trotsky 19380827 Trade Union Congress Staged by CP

Leon Trotsky: Trade Union Congress Staged by CP

August 27, 1938

[Writings of Leon Trotsky 1937-1938, New York ²1976, p. 426-428]

Question: What is your opinion of the coming Pan-American workers' congress, which will be celebrated in this capital?

Answer: The closest unification of the workers of the American continent is a vital necessity. Only such unity can assure the influence of the workers of each of the American countries on internal as well as on foreign policy. In particular, only a firm and decisive policy of the united proletariat can prevent America's being involved in a war. Will the forthcoming congress accomplish this aim? I doubt it.

Q: What in your opinion is the real aim of this congress?

A: In the convocation of the Pan-American workers' congress different elements pursue different aims. The working class masses semi-instinctively strive for unification and independent policy. Some of the leaders pursue entirely different aims. In the name of the Mexican proletariat appears, as stage manager, Mr. Lombardo Toledano. He is a "pure" politician, foreign to the working class and pursuing his own personal aims. Toledano's ambition is to climb to the Mexican presidency on the backs of the workers. In pursuit of this aim, Toledano has closely intertwined his fate with the fate of the Kremlin oligarchy. From there he receives instructions and all kinds of aid. Moscow subjected the Mexican Communists to Mr. Toledano, that is, to his struggle for power. Toledano's recent trip to the United States and to Europe as well as the forthcoming congresses in September have as one of their aims to provide a springboard for Toledano. In this field Toledano works completely hand in hand with Moscow. One need not doubt that at the forthcoming congresses in Mexico all international agents of Moscow, open and secret ones, will participate.

Q: What do you believe will be its practical result?

A: The results of the Pan-American Trade Union Congress will depend to a great extent on whether or not Lombardo Toledano will succeed in subordinating the working class movement of this continent to the orders of his Moscow chiefs. I am convinced that he will not succeed. In tying his fate to the GPU, Lombardo Toledano is preparing a catastrophe for his policy and for his career.

Q: How does the opposition look upon the congress?

A: It is very doubtful whether the opposition will be able to enter the congress. The congress does not consist of delegates elected by the masses. The tasks of the congress were not discussed by the masses. The organizational work is carried on behind the stage with the GPU agency performing the greater part of the work. Consequently there is every reason to believe that the congress will be a congress of a carefully selected workers' bureaucracy. I shall be glad to be mistaken.

Q: In recent declarations William Green declared that it would be a congress of Communists and extreme leftists, and said that the AFL would not accept the invitation to attend.

A: William Green falsely represents the congress as a "revolutionary" one in order to justify his own reactionary policy. Green does not want the unification of the workers of all the Americas because he himself represents the workers' aristocracy of the United States and views with contempt the Indo-American workers.

Q: What significance does the presence of John L. Lewis of the CIO have at the congress?386

A: What aims Lewis pursues in his participation at the congress I cannot say as yet. This will become clear from his attitude at the congress itself. It is absolutely clear, however, that Lombardo Toledano and other agents of Moscow – North American and Mexican – have as their aim the submission of the CIO to the dictates of Moscow. For Moscow diplomacy this question is now of decisive importance. It is a question of transforming the workers' organizations of all America into obedient instruments of Stalin and his GPU. With this aim the Comintern, as is known, sharply changed its policy. Browder became a Rooseveltian, Toledano – a Cardenist. But this is only to lull the adversary. Their real aim is to penetrate the state apparatus at any price. Precisely because of this Moscow supports the ambitions of Toledano. If these aims should be achieved, this would mean, in the full sense of the word, a catastrophe for the American working class and for American culture. We do not want the transformation of Mexico into Catalonia, where the hirelings of the GPU, no better than any fascist, now strangle all that is honest and independent in the proletariat and in the intelligentsia. As I have already said, I firmly trust that these designs will suffer a fiasco. The GPU and its methods are far too compromised, in particular, due to the investigation of the New York commission headed by Dr. Dewey. The American working class will find its own road and methods of unification for the defense of its historic interests.