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Leon Trotsky 19390308 Letter to Joseph Hansen

Leon Trotsky: Letter to Joseph Hansen

March 8, 1939

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p. 829 f., title “Utilize the Opportunities in the Communist Party”]

Dear Joe:

I see again from your letter, as from my discussion with two women comrades who came here from New York, that there exists a very poor state of affairs as regards the work of our party inside the Communist Party. There are no connections at all and there is a certain fatalism in this respect. “We are too weak. We do not have enough manpower to begin a systematic action. Etc.”

I find it absolutely false, dangerous, almost to say, criminal. It is my opinion that we must register all the comrades who came from the Communist Party within the last two or three years, those who have personal connections with the Stalinists, and so on. Organize small discussions with them, not of a general, but of a practical, even an individual character. Elaborate some very concrete plans and rediscuss the matter after a week or so. On the basis of such a preparatory work a commission can be crystallized for this purpose.

The end of the Spanish tragedy, the truth about the activities of the Stalinists in Spain, and such articles as the excellent correspondence from Terence Phelan in Paris, will inevitably create some disintegration in the Stalinist ranks. We must be present to observe these processes and to utilize the opportunities presented. It is the most important task of the party in this period.

As you can imagine, it is with the greatest impatience that I await your ultimate information about the manuscript^4 Your procedure is not clear to me, but I am inclined to suppose that it is good. We will see the results.

We are glad to hear that your and Rebas personal situation is more or less OK and that you have the full possibility of devoting yourself entirely to the Socialist Appeal.

We learn from the Socialist Appeal that our friend Andrews has been arrested. We saw the photos in which he was participating in the “bull fight,” not of the Mexican but of the Yankee “breed.” We should be very glad to have some personal lines from Chris himself.

Friendliest greetings from Natalia and myself to you both.



P.S. I see no reason for writing to Malamuth. He happened to be a poor translator. I did everything in my power to smooth the matter over and not to offend him. He sent me a very appreciative letter. Then, against all my warnings, he permitted himself a condemnable indiscretion with my manuscript. I protested. His elementary duty should have been to apologize for his mistake and everything would have been in order again. I also find that Comrades Burnham and Shachtman committed an error in entering into a discussion with him about the quality of the manuscript without asking him whether or not he had my authorization to give them the manuscript. The best thing would be for Comrades Burnham and Shachtman, on their own initiative, to explain that they, together with Malamuth, committed something of an indiscretion and that it was best to recognize it as such and let it go at that.

Malamuth seems to have at least three qualities: he does not know Russian; he does not know English; and he is tremendously pretentious. I doubt that he is the best of translators…