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Leon Trotsky 19390422 Letter to the Political Committee of the SWP

Leon Trotsky: Letter to the Political Committee of the SWP

April 22, 1939

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 313-315]

cc: Cannon, Shachtman, Abern, Burnham Dear Comrades:

Rous's last letters to you and to me indicate an extremely acute situation between the POI, the fraction in the PSOP, and the IS. An explosion is possible any day, as is also an explosion inside the POI. One almost has the impression that somebody is consciously provoking the dissensions in order to break the movement in France.

The American comrades made an excellent effort to aid the French. But if they stop now and abandon the French organization to itself, the result will be catastrophic. A postponement for several weeks, even for one week, is equivalent to abandonment. We have no time for new discussions about the matter. We must intervene immediately.

In my opinion, two comrades should go to France. One of them should be Cannon, not only because of his intimate acquaintance with the matter, but also to demonstrate that we all agree with the fundamental line of his attitude. Cannon's sojourn in France could be short — one or two weeks.

Shachtman should also go immediately, simultaneously with Cannon, without the slightest postponement, and should remain there for a longer time. We cannot repeat the omission made after the congress and for which we are now paying very dearly.

Since Klement's death we do not have an IS. Naville is now the secretary, but he is in a minority in the IS on the most acute and important matter — the French question. He simply seems not to convoke the IS. His attitude, as in every critical situation, is passive resistance toward the French section as well as toward the IS.

At the same time, I propose the reinforcement of the Pan-American Committee, not only as the Pan-American Committee, but as an unofficial substitute for the IS during the transitory period. It is necessary to introduce very authoritative comrades into the PAC, to publish a semimonthly bulletin in the name of the PAC, not only in Spanish, but in English, and if possible in French. This activity would be a rehearsal for the time of war in Europe.

Regarding my concrete proposals concerning France, which were formulated in my last letter (these proposals are along the line of your own decisions and the activity of Cannon in France) — after receiving Rous’s letters I am more sure of their correctness than before. Naville's attitude shows that he is only waiting for a forceful order and his attitude is s^imply the reflection of the mood of his followers.

The personal question of two comrades who ask to reenter can be resolved only with the help of the American comrades. Rous asks me to intervene through correspondence. It is impossible; I do not know the concrete situation and I have heard only one side.

Everything depends upon the immediate trip to Europe. We have no more time for discussion. We have a military situation in our own ranks as in Europe in general. After tomorrow the war can block the trip. It is necessary to go tomorrow at any price. Please excuse my insistence. It is not an American question. It is not even a French question. It is an international question of vital importance.

I will await your answer with the greatest impatience.


P. S. — To make them wait for some time with their decisions, it is necessary to cable them as to the date on which the comrades will arrive in Paris.