G.F. Eckstein

Malraux, with Aid of Times, Slanders Trotskyism

(1 March 1948)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 9, 1 March 1948, pp. 1 & 4.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

All over Europe, particularly France, many former Socialists and ex-radicals are eager to serve as agents of American imperialism and its native allies. They plump for the Marshall Plan, collaborate with all the reactionary sections of the ruling class. But to be really effective they have to maintain the confidence of the workers.

To lull suspicion, they seek to cover up their present crimes by their previous connections with the labor movement. And Wall Street is not at all adverse to lending them a helping hand now and then.

One of the most notorious of these renegades among the intellectuals is André Malraux, well-known French novelist. After many years of service to the Kremlin, Malraux has joined de Gaulle’s fascist-minded party, “The Rally of the French People.” Malraux now wants to refurbish himself in order to facilitate the passage of Social Democrats and ex-revolutionists to this new reactionary movement in France, and to facilitate acceptance of it in the United States.

Lies and Slander

The N.Y. Times correspondent C.L. Sulzberger helps out Malraux by his Feb. 14 Times article. Sulzberger’s article is full of inaccuracies and downright slanders both about the current policies and the past history of the Trotskyist movement. It seeks to link up Malraux with Trotsky himself. And the name of the deceased Victor Serge is dragged in for the same purpose. On top of this, it is stated that “there is a segment of French Trotskyism who would be inclined” – to follow and support de Gaulle-Malraux.

What connection did Malraux have with Trotskyism? His political connections were with the Kremlin. He took part in the Chinese Revolution of 1925–27 and embodied his experiences in a novel, Man’s Fate. Trotsky warmly reviewed it, but at the same time ruthlessly exposed the perfidious Stalinist policy in China, supported by Malraux.

Later Malraux visited Trotsky in France, publishing an account of his visit in the Modern Quarterly (March 1935). Here he expressed some Platonic sympathies for Trotsky.

But even this literary enthusiasm was short-lived. The Moscow Frameup Trials and the Spanish Civil War proved a turning point for Malraux. as for so many other intellectuals. He went to Spain and in the beginning of 1937 came to the U.S., soliciting aid for the Spanish Republic.

Help the Kremlin

At that time the Dewey Commission of Inquiry – which later completely vindicated Leon Trotsky and his son, Lev Sedov, and condemned the Moscow Trials as a gigantic judicial frameup – was starting its work.

Trotsky at the time accused Malraux of coming to the US for the purpose of aiding the Kremlin in stifling this movement to unmask its crimes. Trotsky also pointed out that Malraux had worked hand in hand with the Stalinists in China, just as he was doing in Spain.

These accusations appeared in a UP dispatch from Mexico, March 8. 1937. They, together with Malraux’s reply, were published in the Nation, March 27, 1937.

Malraux claimed that Trotsky’s attack was due solely to Malraux’s political differences with Trotsky on Spain and accused Trotsky of being ready “to hurl any accusations to dramatize his personal conflicts.” This was the sum-total of Malraux’s “Trotskyism.”

Malraux took part in the resistance movement during Hitler’s occupation of France, and, after the expulsion of the Germans, appeared in the cabinet of de Gaulle as Minister of Information. In that post he refused to issue a publication license to the French Trotskyist paper La Verité.

The fascistic aims of de Gaulle and his “corporate state,” are now no secret. Malraux therefore is in desperate need of using his past to deceive the workers about his present politics. According to Sulzberger, Malraux “always says that had Leon Trotsky won his party battle with Joseph Stalin, he himself would today be a Trotskyite Communist.” Not only Malraux but many others would have gladly attached themselves to a victorious state-power.

Uses Serge

Malraux uses another device. Sulzberger quotes extensively from a letter shown to him by Malraux, allegedly written by Victor Serge. The quotations, though lengthy, are not precise. But there is no mistaking what they indicate and still less what use Malraux is making of them. Serge reportedly hails de Gaulle’s electoral successes, states that he endorses Malraux’s political position and indicates that were he in France he would do what Malraux is doing, i.e., “collaborate” with de Gaulle. The use of this letter shows that Malraux is aiming not only at the French workers but at his American public which is fittingly aghast at his new political role. But Malraux will not be able to cover himself with the name of Serge whose friendship with Trotsky is heavily emphasized in Sulzberger’s article.

Serge and Trotskyism

Victor Serge was a distinguished revolutionary and writer of many years’ standing. After taking part in revolutionary struggles in Europe he went to Russia, worked with the Bolsheviks, and joined the Trotskyist Left Opposition. He bore himself heroically against the Stalinist persecution of all supporters of Trotskyism. Through his reputation abroad and the pressure of his friends, he was able to get out of Russia and to expose the crimes of Stalinism.

But for Serge, too, the Spanish Revolution was a decisive turning point in his relations with Trotskyism. Victor Serge publicly became a member of the POUM, a party which joined the Popular Front and carried out a vacillating policy. The break between Serge and Trotsky soon assumed an extremely sharp and well-publicized form.

Trotsky took every opportunity to denounce publicly Serge’s political theories and policies especially in relation to Spain. Thus he wrote in 1938: “Serge plays with the concept of revolution, writes poems about it, but is incapable of understanding it as it is.” The sharpness of the polemic and its comprehensive character show how necessary Trotsky thought it to break all political ties with Serge. All this appeared in the Pioneer Press edition of Their Morals and Ours.

Sulzberger, however, writes of Serge that in Mexico ‘‘he was a great friend of Trotsky until the latter was assassinated.” After 1938 Serge could not possibly have been “a great friend” of Trotsky in any place. It also happens that Serge arrived in Mexico after Trotsky was murdered.

As for the pretense that there are French Trotskyists who would consider Serge’s letter as a good reason to “the left” to join de Gaulle, it is a brazen lie in the GPU manner. The French Trotskyist movement knows de Gaulle for what he is, the mortal enemy of the French proletariat, and is in the vanguard of the struggle against him.

Last updated on 8 October 2020