Leon Trotsky‎ > ‎1939‎ > ‎

Leon Trotsky 19390418 Letter to the Political Committee of the SWP

Leon Trotsky: Letter to the Political Committee of the SWP

April 18, 1939

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 311-313]

Dear Friends:

I continue to be very disquieted about your complete silence in general and on the French question in particular. The decisions about the matter in the National Committee minutes seem to be correct, but they are not concrete concerning the dates, the practical means, the persons, and so on.

I had some propositions to make, but I waited for word from Comrade Cannon in order to check them in the light of his experience before presenting them to you. However, I see now that Comrade Cannon is on a leave of absence and I am afraid to lose much time, which is very precious in this affair.

My preliminary propositions are:

1. To send immediately one or two comrades to France with credentials giving them full power from the SWP, the Pan-American Committee, the Mexican section, a letter from Crux [Trotsky], and so on (I believe even with special resolutions from party meetings in New York and other important branches).

2. During two or three days, these two comrades together with the IS [should] examine the work of the POI during the last critical period in order to establish: whether they have changed their methods; whether they have had some success; whether there is a chance of their having success in the near future.

3. In the same manner check the activity of the Fourth Internationalists inside the PSOP — since their entrance.

4. If it happens that the PO I has not advanced at all, the IS, with the American comrades, should make, not a proposal, but a definite decision approximately as follows:

a. All members of the POI and the youth are obliged to enter the PSOP within the next week.

b. Naville (and two or three others) are not to enter the PSOP but should devote all their work to the IS.

c. La Lutte Ouvrière will be discontinued.

d. The magazine, Quatrième Internationale, becomes a publication of the IS for all French-speaking countries. The editorial board is composed of Naville, some other French comrade, one Belgian comrade, one American comrade, and one from the youth. The magazine becomes a semimonthly.

e. Those who refuse to follow this decision will be abandoned to their own fate without any subsidy from the International. They will not be expelled, under the condition that in their independent activity they do not try to sabotage the work inside the PSOP. After three months or so, the IS will check the activity of these "outsiders" and make a definite decision.

The propositions are more or less self-explanatory. It would be very difficult for Naville and some of the others to work in the PSOP and it is not at all sure that they would be accepted. The proposed decision would settle the matter with a minimum amount of friction.

Our theoretical and political superiority over the leadership of the PSOP can very well be demonstrated in the semimonthly magazine (under the condition that the composition of the editorial board excludes a specific anti-entrist policy).

A small part of the French fund can be utilized for the support of the semimonthly magazine. The bulk of the fund should be preserved until such time as the organizational matters are settled and a large activity can be developed.

Every means should be applied in order to make the decision of the IS as authoritative and imperative as possible. For example, the whole National Committee of the Belgian section should be involved in the action. The decision should be signed by all the members of the International Secretariat, the American representatives, all the members of the American National Committee, all the members of the Pan-American Committee, and so on.

We must act immediately and with extreme vigor, otherwise the disintegration of the French section will have a most dispiriting effect on all the other sections and would terribly handicap the development of our party in the States.

This letter is not at all destined for any kind of publication. It can be communicated only to the National Committee and to the Pan-American Committee. For France and other sections, I shall write another letter when I know your decision. I hope to receive your reply as quickly as possible.