James P. Cannon

NC Statement on the Situation in the International Left Opposition

(April 1932)

Written: April 1932.
First Published: The Militant, Vol. V No. 17 (Whole No. 103), 23 April 1932, p. 4.
Source: Microfilm collection and original bound volumes for The Militant provided by the Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, California. Additional bound volumes from Earl Gilman’s collection, San Francisco, California
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Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (May 2013).
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The National Committee, having considered and discussed the most important parts of the material bearing on the present situation in the International Left Opposition, and the French section in particular, has come to the following conclusions:

1. The most important feature in the internal life of the International Opposition in the past two years has been the struggle to free the movement from the influence of alien elements who paralyzed its activities by sterile intrigues, distorted its principles in practical application, and hampered its development as the guiding force of the proletarian vanguard. We are and have been fully convinced of the progressive and revolutionary quality of the struggle for these ends which has been led by Comrade Trotsky. It has been an unavoidable and necessary stage in the preparation of the International Left Opposition to fulfill its great his toric tasks. The National Committee is in full solidarity with the estimate of this struggle and the perspectives of the International Left Opposition outlined in the circular letter of Comrade Trotsky under date of December 22, 1931.

2. The correctness and necessity of this struggle to purge the movement of alien elements is demonstrated, among other things, by the positive results in the German section after the liquidation of the worthless intrigues of Landau and the freeing of the section for its actual revolutionary tasks. The leadership of the German section, which has taken shape in the struggle against Landau and his sterile factional regime, must be given all possible international assistance and support in its tremendous responsibilities and opportunities. The necessity of the struggle for internal renovation is shown with no less force – although in a negative manner – by the present state of affairs in France. The demoralization there ensues directly from the fact that the two-year struggle has not been brought to a conclusion.

3. In our opinion the present situation in the French [Communist] League – which ought to be a matter of grave concern to the entire International Opposition – is not a new one. We regard it rather as the rear end of the struggle to clear the section of the influence of unassimilable and careerist elements, which has been unduly prolonged. The task there, as we see it, is not to seek a solution of the crisis from the standpoint of the episodic questions and differences. This only blurs the real issue. What is necessary is a decisive course toward the liquidation of the crisis by a firm stand against the representatives of the disintegrating tendencies. Among these we count the leaders of the Jewish group, and we particularly condemn their attempt to set up a nationality group as a faction within the League and their resignation from the National Committee in the name of such a group. Such methods and practices are incompatible with communist organization. No less harmful, in the drawn-out internal crisis of the League, have been the ambiguous and diplomatic maneuvers of Naville, against which we have recorded ourselves in our previous resolution. In our opinion it is most necessary for the French League to bring the internal controversy to a conclusion, to draw clear and precise lines and make a selection on that basis.

4. The proposal of Comrade Trotsky for the reorganization of the International Secretariat, by constituting it out of representatives of the most important sections who will be responsible to their sections, is the most feasible plan under the circumstances. As the experience of the past few years has shown, the International Opposition has not yet developed to the point where a secretariat based on the selection of persons – free from accountability to the respective sections – could fulfill the office. The secretariat must become a responsible body standing above the intrigues and helping to liquidate them. We are of the opinion that Comrade Mill misused the office of international secretary and erred fatally by identifying himself with the factional struggle in the French League against the leadership. Thereby he helped to negate the whole progressive struggle against Landau-Naville-Rosmer and, at the same time, undermined the authority and discredited the International Secretariat. The reorganization of the secretariat as a responsible body will help to shield it against such a fate by rendering it less susceptible to personal moods and vacillations.

5. The difficulties of distance, etc., make a timely and effective participation of the American League in the internal questions of the European sections extremely difficult, and preclude altogether any pretensions on our part to play a leading role in their solution. We must not undertake that. Nevertheless, we consider it desirable to participate more directly in the work of the International Secretariat through an elected representative, and the National Committee will propose to select such a representative of the American League as soon as possible. It is necessary to acknowledge a slackness in our international activities and duties, the nature of which and its basic causes have been accurately described in Comrade Trotsky’s circular letter. In order for our League to be useful in the solution of the internal problems of the European sections, and to educate itself in internationalism in the process, it must firmly organize a collective participation. The National Committee as a whole must familiarize itself with the international questions and bring a collective judgment to bear upon them. The most important material must be translated and supplied to the League membership for information and discussion. The progressive elements in all sections, which are struggling for the liquidation of circle psychology, sterile intellectualism and worthless intrigues, and for the consolidation of genuinely revolutionary cadres, must be assured at every step that they have a conscious and resolute ally in the American League.

National Committee of the Communist League of America (Opposition)

Last updated on: 2.6.2013