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Leon Trotsky 19390616 Letter to James P. Cannon

Leon Trotsky: Letter to James P. Cannon

June 16, 1939

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 349, “For a Courageous Reorientation”]

Dear Friend:

I have just received Goldman's letter. Concerning the Marxist center, it is a purely tactical question and I believe we can give the IS full freedom in maneuvering on this question. I see no principled objection to a repetition of the experiment of direct contact with the centrists busy with the creation of the new international. Our representatives can lose nothing and gain something if they are firm in the essence and elastic in the form.

The prewar situation, the aggravation of nationalism, and so on, is a natural hindrance to our development and the profound cause of the depression in our ranks. But it must now be underlined that the more • the party is petty bourgeois in its composition, the more it is dependent upon the changes in the official public opinion. It is a supplementary argument for the necessity for a courageous and active reorientation toward the masses. (The Negro question takes on a new importance. The Negroes will hardly be patriotic in the coming war.)

The pessimistic reasonings you mention in your article are, of course, a reflection of the patriotic, nationalistic pressure of the official public opinion. "If fascism is victorious in France, . . " "if fascism is victorious in England, . ." and so on. The victories of fascism are important, but the death agony of capitalism is more important. Fascism accelerates the new war and the new war will tremendously accelerate the revolutionary movement. In case of war every small revolutionary nucleus can and will become a decisive, historic factor in a very short time. It is shameful that revolutionaries see only one side of the present historic development-its dark, reactionary side -and ignore the approach of a general denouement in which the Fourth International will have the same role to play as did the Bolsheviks in 1917.