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Leon Trotsky 19390509 Letter to the POI Central Committee

Leon Trotsky: Letter to the POI Central Committee

May 9, 1939

[Writing of Leon Trotsky, Vol. 14, New York 1979, p 823-826]

Dear Comrades:

In a situation as critical as the present one, and by that I mean the objective situation as well as the situation within your organization, half-measures are fatal. One must decide one path or another and not remain in the middle. You may remember that in September I was on the whole against the entry into the PSOP. What were my reasons? (1) I imagined that the social composition of the PSOP was much worse than it was; (2) I had no idea, being far away, that the state of the POI was as bad as it was; (3) France was passing through one of its most critical periods, and it could be feared that our organization would be paralyzed at the outbreak of the war.

This evaluation of the situation has been proven incomplete, one-sided, and even false. Your activity since the last congress and the split does not allow you the glimmer of a perspective for the future. You wish simply to continue publishing La Lutte, that is, to present the appearance of continuing the party’s activity. You wish, it is true, to have your “essential forces” enter the PSOP, inviting Rous and his comrades to “coordinate” their activity with yours. Until today the difference seemed to be limited to the entry question. Now that you have decided for the entry of your “essential forces,” you speak of “coordination,” that is, you would maintain the split within the PSOP. What are your political reasons? You do not indicate them at all.

At the same time you want to maintain a nucleus outside the PSOP with La Lutte and Quatrième Internationale. In other words, what you want is that side-by-side with the faction of Bolshevik-Leninists in the PSOP under the direct influence of the IS, there will be another faction, under the influence of the nucleus “which is going to publish La Lutte and Quatrième Internationale.” Thus you want to maintain not only the split between the two Bolshevik-Leninist groups inside the PSOP but also your quarrel with the IS. What are your political reasons? The conflict had the entry question as its origin; the majority of the IS was against you. So what are your differences with the IS now? You say nothing of them.

When the POI was a united and independent organization it proved incapable of regularly publishing a newspaper and a magazine. How do you suppose you will accomplish publishing them after the split and after the entry of your “essential forces” into the PSOP? Do you think you can get financial support from the members of the PSOP for your publications? But this is impossible from all points of view. On the other hand, you naturally cannot imagine that the American comrades are going to subsidize an isolated little nucleus, independent in fact of every organization, including the IS. The American comrades wished and still do wish to help you get out of your stagnation. They have made an exceptional effort in this regard. But I very much doubt if they are ready to subsidize the existence of a problematical nucleus which would have no other meaning but to maintain the name of the firm.

Comrades, you have lost too much time! The fact that the Molinier clique has gotten hold of the PSOP youth is the result of this delay. There can be no more beating around the bush. A radical decision is called for. The entire POI must enter the PSOP, with the exception of two or three comrades who are necessary for the work of the IS and who, I fear, would have difficulty being accepted into PSOP membership.

But then, one may object, the Fourth International will be left at this critical moment with no publication in the French language. You know that our American section was in fact left for a certain period without its own paper and it nevertheless came out of this difficult situation strengthened and seasoned. But I don’t think we need to be left without any French-language publication. The Bolshevik-Leninist faction within the PSOP has undertaken to publish a magazine. Why can this not be the tribune of the united faction of the Bolshevik-Leninists? This is the only possibility of having an organ which is a true expression of the experience of the Bolshevik-Leninists in the PSOP, that is, an instrument of political action and not the expression of the individual ideas of some little nucleus, cut loose, in reality, from all national and international control. What remains is only to assure an adequate composition of the editorial staff of this internal magazine.

For their part, our American comrades envisage the publication of a monthly or bimonthly magazine under the sponsorship of the IS to serve the needs of all the French-speaking countries, in the first place, of course, France. The editorial board of this magazine would be made up of one or two POI comrades who would not enter the PSOP for the reasons mentioned above, a representative of the Belgian Central Committee, maybe one or two representatives of other Latin countries who do not have their own organ. In short, we are talking about an organ of the Fourth International, one of whose tasks would be to aid the Bolshevik-Leninists inside the PSOP. The American comrades, as I see from letters from New York, would be completely prepared to guarantee the existence of such a magazine. In my opinion it should appear twice a month with a richer and much broader content than Quatrième Internationale. The discussion among Bolshevik- Leninists, in particular among the different French tendencies or currents, would in no way be excluded, but would be within the framework of common work in the PSOP and under the IS’s leadership.

These are the proposals adopted in the National Committee of our American section. For my part, I entirely support these proposals. I propose to the IS that it adopt them not as proposals (this procedure has outlived its usefulness) but as a firm and categorical decision. I am especially appealing to the Central Committee of our Belgian section to support our American comrades’ initiative with all necessary energy. Besides, a theoretical organ with the direct participation of the Belgian section would have the greatest advantages for the section itself.

There is no need to seek those “responsible” for the stagnation of the POI. It is only necessary to emerge from it. All of the members of the POI need a new milieu. There is no more time to lose. The Fourth International, through its executive body, must direct its French section in a complete reorientation, and the French section should carry it out as an act of discipline. There is nothing humiliating about obeying the decision of one’s international organization, and I am sure it will be obeyed.

My most fraternal greetings,

C. [Leon Trotsky]