C L R James
The World Revolution 1917–1936

Chapter 14


WE HAVE NOTED WALTER DURANTY’S OBSERVATION IN November 1932 as to the attitude of Stalin and the bureaucracy to revolution in Western Europe. Stalin had been actively preparing for the German defeat before that. On August 17–29, 1932, the International engineered the World Anti-War Congress at Amsterdam under the patronage of Henri Barbusse. It was the first of those futile peace congresses with which Stalin, using bourgeois men of letters, pacifists, and all and sundry have dragged the working-class movement more and more away from the only method of struggle against war – the struggle against Capitalism. This congress, however, did condemn the League of Nations and call upon the workers to turn imperialist war into civil war. Marcel Cachin and other Communist speakers followed official Communist policy. But a foundation had been laid for the future Right turn. It would appear also that Stalin had been preparing the way with the bourgeois governments since November, 1931, that is to say, one month after Moscow had announced capitulation in Germany. While he assured the International that Hitler’s coming into power was merely a preliminary to the revolution, he and Litvinoff were acting in a way which showed that nothing was further from their minds.


In that same November Molotov, in Moscow, had for the first time expressed the Soviet faith in international capitalist law. “Our policy of non-interference in this Manchurian question arises from our respect for the international treaties to which China is a party, from our respect for sovereign rights and the independence of other nations, and from our unqualified rejection of any policy of military occupation and intervention.” [1] This, not at Geneva or to the bourgeois, but to the Russian proletariat.

Now as soon as Hitler came into power, Stalin hastened to edge himself still further into the capitalist camp and disclaimed publicly any further connection with revolution. On February 6, 1933, at the Disarmament Conference, Litvinov submitted a definition of an aggressor and made an attack on Japan such as any League of Nations delegate might make against another. That in itself was of little importance. For all revolutionary Socialists have realised that a Soviet diplomat or statesman might have to do or say things to bourgeois statesmen which are obvious lies, such as, for instance, the time-honoured fiction that the Soviet Government has nothing to do with the Third International, but merely gives it a home. What is of importance, however, is what the Soviet Government tells the Russian people and, through the International, the world proletariat. In March, 1931, despite all the journeyings and diplomatic courtesies of Litvinov, Molotov was still preaching revolution, “Our purpose is the establishment of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. and the carrying on of the world struggle for the cause of Communism, for the complete victory of the causes of Marx-Engels-Lenin”: a statement met with thunders of applause. But to Litvinov’s declaration about international law Stalin now gave whole-hearted corroboration inside Russia. Said Izvestia of February 8, 1933: “Litinov’s declaration not only is aimed against intervention in a country where there is a revolution, but in the name of the U.S.S.R. undertakes the obligation not to intervene in a country where there is a counter-revolution.” Neutrality in regard to Spain was therefore no surprise. Stalin had three years before openly joined the upholders of the status quo, that is to say, ultimately of the counter-revolution. The later stages followed with monotonous inevitability. In October Germany left the League of Nations, and three months after Litinov told the Congress of Soviets that the League, to which the Soviet attitude had never wavered since Lenin called it a thieves’ kitchen, might now be a force for peace. He was preparing the country for the entry and the subsequent alliance with France. In September 1934 Russia joined the League. In May 1935 the Franco-Soviet Pact was signed. It was an open military alliance, of doubtful value because France’s adherence is subject to the approval of Great Britain. Yet none but a fool can object to the Soviet Union making non-aggression pacts (for what they are worth), making an alliance with France or even entering the League of Nations; and revolutionary policy on this point should be made quite clear.


Both Lenin and Trotsky in 1918 fully endorsed the acceptance of help from the British and French against the Germans. Let us accept the help of the British and French brigands against the German brigands, said Lenin quite openly, but never ceased to call upon the proletariat of France, Germany and Britain to carry on their revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie. Lenin never moved from that position. In 1920 he was in process of coming to arrangements with Britain. The British demanded the cessation of revolutionary propaganda in the East. Lenin agreed. But before the agreement was signed the Eighth Congress of Soviets met and Lenin told the delegates of the negotiations:

“But we are now prepared to make the utmost possible concessions and we think that it is in our interests to obtain a trading agreement, and as quickly as possible buy some of the main things that are necessary for the restoration of our transport, i.e., locomotives, for the restoration of industry, for electrification. This is the most important thing for us. If we get this, then in the course of a few years we shall strengthen our position to such an extent that, even if the worst comes to the worst, if in a few years military intervention takes place, it will break down because we shall be stronger than we are now. The policy of our Central Committee is to make the utmost possible concessions to England. And if these gentlemen think they can catch us on any promises, then we declare that our Government will not carry on any official propaganda, that we do not intend to touch any British interests in the East. If they think they are going to get anything out of that let them try, we shall not suffer.“ [2]

The British Foreign Office could read it if they liked. He was anxious for such support as the Liberal bourgeoisie might give to a trade agreement with Russia. But he knew that any arrangement that the bourgeoisie entered into was for its own benefit. He could tell them anything, but never would he deceive the international proletariat of which the Russian proletariat was a part. He was always ready to manoeuvre, with a political judgment and souplesse that Stalin’s crude cunning has tried in vain to ape. But however much Lenin might manoeuvre he would never deceive the masses, because he always knew that Fascists, Conservatives, Radical or Liberal bourgeois, Social Democratic bureaucracy, were all, in the ultimate test of war and revolution, “one bloody lump,” and that Soviet Russia could be saved by the proletarian revolution and the proletarian revolution alone. He would have entered the League of Nations and signed a pact with France, but the International would have remained a revolutionary force. Was this impossible? The International did, for one year after the entry, continue its revolutionary propaganda. Russia was many months in the League when the British Labour Party met in conference at Southport and decided that if necessary it would fight a League of Nations war. The British Communist Party violently attacked this reactionary policy. Said R.F. Andrews (in emphasised print):

“The Soviet Government is in the League of Nations to pursue the working class objective of fighting for peace and exposing imperialist war plans. British imperialism (whether working through a Labour Government or not) is in the League to pursue its own imperialist ends, which enormously increase the peril of war. If Socialists ought to support the Soviet Union’s work in the League, for that very reason it follows that they should expose the Labour Party’s conception of the League as a ‘collective peace system.’”

Andrews asked himself the question: “But supposing Fascist Germany attacks the U.S.S.R.: are you not in favour of the workers supporting the British or French Governments in an attack on Fascist Germany?” [3]

The emphasised reply was, “Under no circumstances.”

“Such action,“ said Andrews, “would help the German Capitalists to represent the war as one of self-defence, it would strengthen British Capitalists and weaken British workers, it would put British imperialism in the event of victory in a favourable position for attacking the U.S.S.R., it would mean suppressing the inevitable revolts in India and the Empire. On the contrary, by supporting the workers in their struggle against exploitation, profiteering and oppression in wartime (a struggle which is unavoidable in any case), and developing it into a struggle against the war itself, the British workers would undermine Hitler’s own front which would be the most effective assistance British revolutionaries could give to the U.S.S.R. in such circumstances.“

Harry Pollitt in Labour and War took the same line, ridiculed the notion of aggressive and defensive capitalist countries. Capitalist countries fought for markets by intrigue and peaceful means, until when peaceful means no longer served they used arms. Up to March, perhaps April 1935 Stalin’s obedient fools were still on the line of the proletarian revolution. They know as well as any Trotskyist that what they wrote in 1935 is still true today, is an iron-truth. But when their master spoke they turned. Today they are shamelessly telling the British workers to fight with the British bourgeoisie if Britain allies itself with the Soviet Union. While fighting with the British bourgeoisie the workers must in some miraculous way maintain an independent class policy. “This,” says J.R. Campbell, “would clear the way for the defeat of our own Capitalist class once the main Fascist aggressor was defeated.” [4]

As always, it is Stalin’s foreign policy and not the workers’ revolution that guides these paid agents. It is in France that we can see most clearly the results of Stalin’s new manoeuvre, heading as always to the destruction of yet another working-class movement.

FEBRUARY 6, 1934

The crisis seized France late. There was a steady decline but relative stability in French economy up to 1931, but by that time the country was in the throes and set out on the road which leads either to the Fascist dictatorship or the dictatorship of the proletariat. One by one every European country falls in line behind Russia, Italy and Germany. The French struggle was the last opportunity that the International would have on the continent. The odds were against it. The German defeat and a Fascist Germany were an almost irreparable blow. But France is a country with a great revolutionary tradition, and in addition the French workers had before their eyes the example of what had happened to the German workers. Success or failure, however, lies with the revolutionary party, and for one year the French Communist Party continued with the theory of Social Fascism. The International was tactically bankrupt. It had nothing to say. In the spring of 1933 it had made one hysterical effort to form the United Front. Without intense previous preparation such an effort is doomed to failure. It failed, and the Social Democracy was again proclaimed the enemy.

Trotsky, in this period of ebb, called for a programme based on a demand for a single chamber, lowering of the voting age to eighteen, and full political rights for the army. He was abused as a counter-revolutionary. And all through 1933, while the class-conflict in France sharpened, the French Communist Party remained blind as only the functionaries of the Third International can be blind. On the 6th February, 1934, the French bourgeoisie, using the Stavisky frauds as a pretext, struck for power, aiming at taking the working-class by surprise. Daladier, the Radical, was at the head of the Government, supported by Socialist votes. The bourgeoisie wanted to break not Daladier but parliament altogether. “Down with the thieves,” shouted the Fascists. If they could succeed in entering the Chamber and murdering some of the deputies, parliamentary government in France was finished, and a Fascist regime would have the chance to rivet itself in the offices of government and destroy the French working-class movement. The utter imbecility of all Stalinists was never more completely shown than in the actions of the Communist Party of France in this grave crisis.

The Jeunesses Patriotes, the Croix-de-Feu, the Solidarite Francaise, all the Fascist bands were preparing for the event by demonstrations in the Place de la Concorde and the Champs Elysées. Their aim was to set fire to the Palais Bourbon. High officers in the Government and the police knew. The Fascists demonstrated for one solid month, building up their forces and preparing the public. The revolutionary party must see and prepare. But the Communist Party, with its eyes on the Social Fascists and its ears cocked towards Moscow, ridiculed all warnings. André Marty, a member of the Political Bureau, told the French workers to be calm and not to concern themselves about the Fascist demonstrations. Stoppage in a factory for a few minutes or leaving it in a body before the closing hour, wrote Marty in Humanité have for the workers an importance a thousand times greater than constant impulsive manifestations in a bourgeois neighbourhood.

He wrote this on February 3. Three days after, on the morning of the 6th, the day of the attack, the Communist Party suddenly called on the workers to demonstrate in the Champs Elysées, not, however, against the Fascists, but with them. The U.N.C., the Union Nationale des Combattants, is a Fascist organisation. The A.R.A.C., the Association Republicaine des Anciens Combattants, is an auxiliary ex-servicemen’s organisation controlled by the Stalinists. Let us quote verbatim. Said Humanité: “The war veterans of the U.N.C. will be at the side of the veterans of the A.R.A.C. to defend their lawful rights and arrest all the corrupt, all the robbers.” Humanité therefore called on the workers to demonstrate and attack with the Fascists against the Daladier Government.

The Daladier Government, trembling in its shoes, shot down the demonstrators, and after one of the most critical street clashes in modern European history, beat them back. But the Fascists were only checked, not defeated. They raised the slogan, “Down with the shooters,” striving to get rid of the Daladier Government. Humanité joined them again, calling on the workers to demonstrate and to demand the arrest of Daladier and Fret, and the downfall of their Government for shooting Fascists. The Social Democrats will always fight behind a bourgeois. Blum offered to stand by Daladier and sought a United Front with the Communists. The C.G.T.U., the Red Trade Union, refused. The Communists referred the Socialists to the Amsterdam-Pleyel committees, some vague offshoots of the Anti-war Conference under Barbusse in 1932. For the struggle against Fascism Stalin’s theory still held good, and condemned the Socialists as Social Fascist outcasts. God only knows what was in the minds of Cachin, Thorez and the other Stalinist heroes of the Central Committee in those few fateful February days. It is clear that when Stalin conceived the idea of “After Hitler, our turn,“ he had no idea of what Fascism in an industrialised country really meant. But by February 1934 the whole world knew. It is possible that the French Stalinists had Stalin’s orders to down the Daladier Government, for Daladier was known to be favourable to a rapprochement with Germany. It is, on the other hand, possible that they had said Social Fascism and adopted the revolutionary pose so long that they instinctively acted on the absurdities they had so often repeated. Whatever the reason, Humanité for the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th February and the directives of the Communist leaders are convincing testimony of the malignant influence which Stalin’s monolithic methods, especially since 1929 had been exercising over the whole International. Bureaucratic stupidity, enthroned in the Kremlin, now has its little counterparts in every national Communist Party.

On the 8th Cachin and Thorez woke up to what was happening, and called for a Communist demonstration for the 9th at the Place de la Republique. There could not have been a more criminal blunder. For the Communists by themselves were too few to fight. They had rejected the Socialist offer of the United Front. If the advance guard of the workers demonstrated without sufficient support the police could break them and decapitate the working-class movement at a stroke. Their own workers had not been prepared for struggle; not a week before these revolutionaries had been preaching that there was no need for alarm. It was the sure instinct of the Paris workers which saved them. There was fierce fighting that night and men were killed. The proletariat, the stock of 1789 and the 10th August 1792, of 1830, of 1848 and 1871, came out in their thousands, whether Socialist or Communist. It was in the streets that French parliamentarism was saved. The coup had failed.

Marshal Lyautey threatened to march on the Chamber with troops if Daladier did not resign, and Daladier crumpled. Doumergue took office to screen the preparations for the second assault. But the masses were on the alert. On August 12 Socialists and Communists called for a one-day protest strike and got, all things considered, superb response. But instead of building on this, the Communists once more withdrew into Social Fascism. The Stalinists claim today that after February 6 they began to fight for the United Front. Never was such a lie. Stalinists never see anything until Stalin tells them. As late as April 13, 1934, in the International Press Correspondence Thorez, oblivious to what was happening under his very nose, was as fierce an opponent of Social Fascism as in the days before Hitler. “At this moment some opportunists of the C.P. of France are proposing to the Party that it abandon its policy of the United Front from below and carry out a policy of a bloc with the Social Democracy. At this moment there are forces demanding that the C.P. of France shall finally abandon the positions of Bolshevism in order to return to the Social Democratic rubbish heap,” etc., etc. They might have gone on with it to this day. The terrible blunder of it was that the Social Democracy had had its eyes opened by what Fascism had done in Germany. Its workers were on the alert to fight. After February 6, they formed thousands of United Front Committees, in spite of both Communist and Socialist leaders. Blum and Jouhaux were in a position from which they could not extricate themselves if a revolutionary party had put itself at the head of the mass desire to struggle on a programme of action. What the Stalinists did was to form a pact with Blum and restrain the masses, so as to facilitate the new foreign policy of the Soviet bureaucracy.


Suddenly in the middle of the year the French Communist leaders set out with a will to fight for the United Front. It was a United Front against the Fascist danger. Today, when they are offering friendship to sincere Fascists, the French masses can see how scurvy a trick has been played upon them. But for two years the Communist Party raged against Fascism. In June 1934 the National Conference of the Communist party officially announced the new turn, began to work for it below in the ranks of the Socialist Party, and above by offers to the Socialist leadership. The French masses, now growing more militant day by day, responded. Ultimately on July 27, 1934, the Pact for Unity of Action was signed. But those who in March 1934 considered the Social Fascists the chief enemy now displayed a suspicious friendliness. The Socialists, those incorrigible word-mongers, wanted the word Socialism put into the agreement. The Communists refused. They proposed also that there should be no criticism by either side, breaking an unalterable principle of Leninism. The Socialists, who had not expected this, agreed. Leon Blum was not deceived by them, and wrote his paper that he could see what they were after – they were preparing mass-support for Russia’s new nonrevolutionary foreign policy. Herriot went to see Stalin that summer; Pierre Cot the air-expert visited Stalin, the Franco-Soviet Pact had been discussed, and Russia’s foreign policy was now the Social Democratic foreign policy, and the Communists were therefore ready to embrace Blum, and Blum had no objection since they obviously would now be as devoted servants of French Capitalism as any Social Democrat. The Communists had insisted on Socialism being left out of the joint pact. They were after bigger game than mere Socialists. They wanted the Radicals, particularly Herriot, who was the sponsor of the Franco-Soviet pact. Still making the masses believe that they were fighting Fascism, they launched the slogan of the People’s Front. And while they were looking to the Radical bourgeois the masses began to turn to them. Against the flagrant arming of the Fascist Croix-de-Feu and the savage decree-laws passed by the Laval Government, the proletariat, drawing hundreds of thousands of the petty-bourgeoisie in its train, began to turn to the Communist Party, that is to say, to look to direct action instead of parliamentary maneuvering. Demonstration after demonstration showed the rising temper of the French people. But though the strength and influence of the Communist Party grew and grew, Cachin and Thorez, faithful to Stalin, were fighting to rope in the Radicals.

In May 1935 they succeeded and welcomed everybody except the Fascists. The invitation to the Fascists was to come later. But so little were they concerned with the class-struggle that they offered the alliance to Flandin in his capacity as President of the Alliance Democratique. Flandin, however, refused. Then in May Laval went to Moscow to cement the one-sided alliance, and he and Stalin issued the famous declaration: “M. Stalin understands and fully approves the measures of national defence taken by France to raise its armaments to the level of its security.” It was the end of the Communist struggle against Capitalism. For if France was to be strong against the foreign enemy, the class-war at home could only weaken it. Henceforward the French workers were to be fed with propaganda, but carefully restrained from action.

It is the belief that this came like a bolt from the blue to the Communists in France. The confusion they were in for a few days was lamentable. But the declaration was a surprise only in the sense that Stalin had not informed them that it was coming so soon, and they had not made their ideological preparations for deceiving the masses. Months before they had been laying the foundations. The first move came late in March, and it seems that the Communist rank-and-file (perhaps the leaders themselves) did not know the reason for the new turn. In early March the Stalinist youth signed a pact with the French Socialist youth, which under the leadership of Fred Zeller was very much to the Left. They agreed to form a United Front to fight against the Doumergue Government, against the sacred union of the nation, and the whole military apparatus of the bourgeois State. Both declared that the Soviet Union was to be defended by the revolutionary action of the international proletariat. To win the Socialist youth of Paris and the Seine district to a revolutionary policy was a great victory for the Stalinists. For in this very month of March Leon Blum, like all Social Democrats in this uncertain age, not being able to risk his workers having any illusions about his internationalism, was making his own pro-war policy unmistakable. “In case of Hitlerite aggression,“ he told the Chamber, “the workers will rush to the frontiers.“ Against these and similar declarations Socialists and Stalinists organised a campaign. But before that month was ended the Stalinist youth began to draw out of the pact. The French Communist Party ceased to struggle against the two-year military service law and Circular 3084, also dealing with military service. They refused to demonstrate in front of the barracks, they refused to fight the Fascists by independent working-class action. The Stalinist youth declared that it was not necessary to fight the Fascists. In the 3rd and 4th arrondissements they made pacts with the Fascist youth and the Jeunesse Patriotes. They formed the Grand Youth Community, “in order to struggle against war.“ They abandoned Turn Imperialist War into Civil War.

Early in April came Kossarev and Chemodanov, President and Secretary of the Russian Communist youth, sent to Paris by Stalin to turn the Socialist youth against the pact they had signed a month before. Chemodanov, a typical product of official Stalinist Russia, impudent, brazen and with specious arguments to prove his policies true Leninism, argued as follows: “If there is a war it will undoubtedly be against the U.S.S.R. This will not be a war between classes ... If Hitlerite Fascism wages war against the U.S.S.R. it will be a war of Fascism against Communism. Your duty, comrades, is at the front. If in this period you make your revolution in France you are traitors.” Kossarev warned the French Socialists against the Trotskyists, “whose policy is at the present moment of great danger for the international proletariat.” Leon Blum and the hardened Social Democratic schemers could accept all this. It made their own position much easier. But the French Socialist youth rejected Chemodanov’s advances. “If in this period you make your revolution in France, you are traitors,” was for them counter-revolution, and they repelled this Stalinist interpretation of Leninism. All this took place weeks before the Stalin-Laval communique, showing that Chemodanov had not been making any mistakes but knew quite well what he was about. Before a few months had passed Zeller and his followers had joined the Trotskyists.

The Communist Party now had its People’s Front against Fascism. In Czechoslovakia there was no Fascist danger, but there was need for a pact with Russia. There, too, the Communists [5] became ardent lovers of their country, and having tied the revolutionary proletariat to the bourgeois war-machine, Stalin called the Seventh Congress in August 1935.


Seven years had passed since the previous Congress. The German proletariat had gone down, and Stalin had called no congress. But the obedient fools turned up in Moscow, and the new policy was consecrated in a series of resolutions with which we shall not weary the reader. By great good fortune Dmitrov, the hero of the Reichstag trial, was available for the post of secretary. Sufficient to say that henceforth monopoly Capitalism did not lead inevitably to imperialist war, war could be prevented, the world was divided into peace-loving democratic Capitalisms like France and Czechoslovakia, and war-making Capitalisms like Japan and Germany, Russia’s enemies. The Congress, without debate, unanimously passed a resolution which declared the final and irrevocable victory of Socialism achieved in the Soviet Union according to the Bolshevik theses of Lenin and Stalin against the counter-revolutionary theses of Trotsky and Zinoviev. There was method behind this madness. For while previously a Communist had to fight to turn imperialist war into civil war, now the circumstances had changed. Socialism was achieved in Russia, it was a Communist duty to save this curious Socialism, even at the cost of sacrificing his own revolution. “The defence of the U.S.S.R.” had reached its apotheosis.

It would be diverting but useless to follow the confusion into which this transparent stupidity threw the International. Italy for attacking Abyssinia was a war-making Fascism, but when Italy was being sounded as to whether she would join with France and Britain to guarantee Locarno there was for a few weeks a possibility of her becoming a peaceloving Fascism. But she joined Germany and it seems has now become a definite war-loving Fascism. Britain was war-loving country under Baldwin. But she might become a peace-loving country under Eden. Sir Samuel Hoare came out for sanctions against Italy, and the French Communists greeted this with joy and called upon Laval to do likewise, so that in France the International hailed Britain as a peace-loving country. But the British Communists did not trust Sir Samuel, and were carrying on a campaign against the National Government. They put their faith in Eden whom they thought would fight for a League policy. Then Eden came out for a Western pact with Germany, omitting Russia. The Communists dropped him and Britain has remained a war-making country. Only thoughtful revolutionaries, however, realise how the International, following Stalin, missed the greatest opportunity in years of at best striking a powerful blow against the colonial policy of imperialism, and at worst rallying round itself the vanguard of the working-class movement in preparation for the coming war. Nothing was more certain than that the capitalists would ultimately do a deal at the expense, large or small, of Abyssinia. Liberals and Social Democrats will always follow Anthony Eden or any glib Conservative behind whose words they can shelter and then claim to have been deceived. Communists have nothing to gain by such practices. The International from the first moment could have pointed out that nothing but working-class action could have saved Abyssinia, and as the whole dirty record of lies and greed and hypocrisy unfolded itself could have driven home nail after nail into the coffin of the League. The Liberals, Social Democrats (particularly the Social Democrats) and pacifists, with their desires to help, could have been challenged every time they opened their mouths with proposals for supporting action by the working-class. Every day that the League further exposed itself the emptiness of their words would have been made more manifest. Abyssinia might not have been saved – Abyssinia is not saved today – but the International would have had a chance to build up around itself a mass-resistance to wars for collective security and international law and democracy and all the shibboleths, new and old, which would have given it a firm base for the internal class-struggle and the international complications that were bound to ensue. Instead they followed the new line, driven by the Russian bureaucracy’s hope that a successful sanctions policy might be a useful precedent against Germany for Russia in the future.

Could short-sightedness go further than to expect a British Government to impose sanctions against Germany on behalf of Russia? The whole adventure ended in ignominious failure. The Communists, however, retain unchecked their faith in the League. But there is one important episode, not generally known, which shows the Soviet bureaucracy approaching the end of the road which leads to the counter-revolution. In August at Brussels the International Federation of Trade Unions was holding a congress. The Abyssinian question filled all minds. Eugen Jagot, of the War Resisters’ International, determined to make an effort to persuade these Social Democrats to make this last attempt to stop war, by calling on their own workers instead of continually begging capitalist Governments. He found sympathetic response among the lower ranks of Trade Union officials, but men like Citrine, Jouhaux and the other leaders were, of course, scared of doing anything which their capitalists did not approve of. Still Jagot was making some progress. Soviet Russia might have turned the scale. If the Soviet Union, the Workers’ State, had come out clearly for a boycott against all war-material to Italy or any other country which interfered in Abyssinian affairs, the hand of those working at Brussels would have been strengthened, and Soviet Russia would have been in an immensely powerful position, the centre of the whole anti-imperialist struggle. As in the General Strike of 1926, while the Soviet Government maintained the formal diplomatic proprieties, the Russian Trade Unions could have expressed solidarity with the Reformist Trade Unions, collected millions and offered concrete proposals to stop imperialist intervention by international workers action. The Soviet workers could have put an instant embargo on the oil that Russia sent steadily to Italy all through the dispute. The mass feeling that had been aroused all over the world would have been directed into a single channel under the direction of the Third International. It was that pressure alone which could have checked Mussolini and weakened him at home, while the self-motivated protests of British Imperialism could only strengthen him. It would then have been an urgent matter for British and French imperialism, and French imperialism in particular owing to the internal situation, to press for a solution, in order to quiet the unrest at home. Abyssinia might have escaped with a certain loss of territory. At worst the International would have doubled its influence for revolutionary struggle and the Soviet Union would have stood higher than ever as a basis for the struggle against Imperialism. But a workers’ bureaucracy cannot think in this way.

Jagot and those others who were striving at Brussels for international working-class action counted on Soviet support. The Third International in good Stalinist fashion had been clamouring for unity of the workers, of the two Internationals, etc., etc. Now when there seemed a possibility of its realisation, Stalin showed the real nature of the Government he represented. From Moscow came categorical instructions to the Communist delegates under no circumstances to support any kind of action except sanctions by the League of Nations. The scheme collapsed. Socialism in a single country had reached the stage where the leader of the international proletariat was as nervous of the action of the world proletariat as any Fascist dictator. Stalin cannot stop now. The day is near when the Stalinists will join reactionary Governments in shooting revolutionary workers. They cannot avoid it. For in the great crises of imperialist war there is only one choice, with Capitalism or with the revolutionary workers. There is and can be no middle way.


The revolutionary wave in France mounted steadily. The French workers, believing in the Communist Party tradition of action, determined to fight Fascism, and ready for a large-scale offensive against the decrees of the Laval Government, rallied around the Communist Party, followed the Communist Party line, joined the Communist Party. Following the 6th of February the membership tripled in the course of two years, rising from 30,000 to over 150,000 in the middle of 1936. The Young Communist League, 4,000 in February 1934, was nearly 100,000 two years later. The circulation of Humanité reached a quarter of a million copies daily. The Communists gave currency to the slogan, “The Soviets everywhere.” It became the most popular slogan in the whole of working-class France, and for all workers Soviets mean the direct challenge to the bourgeois State. One feature of the workers’ meetings which told an unmistakable tale was that the workers were ready for Soviets, they had come out for the general strike as on February 12, they were ready always to pour out in hundreds of thousands to make a counter-demonstration against the Fascists. But they would not respond to any talk about immediate demands or partial strikes. They were worn out, they had no resources, strikes for higher wages would mean long-drawn out struggles when they might be defeated in sections, or win small victories at great cost. They felt that they must move together in a united effort. It is such mass feeling that produces a revolutionary situation.

Not that these millions were thinking in terms of revolution, millions of workers rarely do, but a revolution is made on the slogan of the day, and when the millions of workers are determined, if they feel above them the correct leadership, they will go to the end. But the Communists were not thinking of revolution. They complained that both Radicals and Socialists would not support extra-parliamentary action against the decree laws. Herriot and Leon Blum were quite prepared to attend peaceful demonstrations, however. So the Communists organised demonstration after demonstration, but in all their propaganda and agitation were strictly subordinated to the policy and ideology of the Radicals, chiefly Herriot, the supporter of the Franco-Soviet pact. The Communists sang the Marseillaise, they carried the Tricolour, they became ardent defenders of the Republic, that very republic which was allowing La Rocque’s armoured cars and aeroplanes openly to prepare for the assault on the workers. In addition to the fight against Fascism they were supposed to be fighting the decree laws. But Herriot was a member of the Government which had passed those laws. In the conflict between Herriot and the decree-laws Herriot was easily victorious. The Communists grovelled before the Radicals. For the great demonstration on July 14 the Socialist Youth decided to march in their uniforms of a workers’ militia. At the co-ordination committee of the Socialist Youth and the Young Communist League, Ancelle, secretary of the Paris district of the Y.C.L., threatened them: “If on July 14 you insult the Radical leaders, the Tricolor and the Marseillaise, we’ll break your necks.” In the typical style of Stalinist polemic, perfected in the many campaigns against Trotskyism, they called all who insulted the Tricolour and the Marseillaise, agents of the bourgeoisie, traitors, criminals and counter-revolutionaries. The Socialist Youth, under Trotskyist influence, would not give way. The matter went to the Organising Committee, where the Stalinists complained. The Radical leaders, quite astonished at this zeal on their behalf, replied, “How can these young men marching in uniform affect us? Not at all. It’s quite all right with us and does not embarrass us at all.” The Socialist Youth marched in uniform, shouting revolutionary slogans, and had a great reception. Late in 1935 the Fascist leagues were dissolved by parliamentary decree, a hollow fiction which deceived nobody. Meanwhile the ferment among the masses continued. Negotiations were set on foot for the unity of the Communist and Reformist Unions, the Communists making all the concessions. Under the slogan of unity, every principle of the United Front was being broken. Whereas the United Front is designed to stimulate action, this Stalinist manoeuvre aimed at exactly the opposite.

How great the temper of the French workers was is proved by their reaction to Hitler’s marching into the Rhineland. The Communists raised the loudest scares, “The defence of the country,” “Collective security through the League.” But so indifferent were the French workers that Flandin and Sarraut did not feel themselves able to take the counter-measures that they otherwise might have done. The Right tried to exploit the Hitler scare at the elections. The workers, intent on the class-struggle at home, ignored them. But despite the loud acclaims over the victory of the Popular Front, the elections were a serious blow to the Communists. The results were too good. They had not wanted so many Socialist votes. They did not want Blum as premier. They wanted Herriot, nailed irretrievably to the Franco-Soviet Pact. Blum they knew was favourable to an agreement with Germany, every Social Democrat being always ready to make an agreement with capitalists. So was Daladier, the Radical of the Left. Had the Radicals gained enough votes to be the dominating influence in the Government, the Communists might have gone into it, but they did not trust Blum and Daladier. That was their first disappointment. The second was what no one except a revolutionary of years of theoretical learning and practical experience could have foreseen in the years that had elapsed since February 6 – the sudden, mighty explosion of the revolutionary force that had been generated in the masses of France. With that instinctive discipline which any revolutionary knows is always to be found in the organised masses at the moment when they decide to act, the French workers went into the factories, refused to come out until their demands were satisfied, and by so doing challenged the whole force and pretensions of the bourgeois State.


It was not yet revolution, but it was a revolutionary act of the highest importance. The Government, the Communist bureaucrats in France, practically the entire world except Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition, were taken entirely off their guard. For over two solid years Trotsky and the Left Opposition had been warning the Communist Party that France was approaching the revolutionary stage, that they should build a workers’ militia, and ideologically and organisationally prepare the workers for the inevitable armed struggle. The Communists called all this Trotskyist provocation, and continued with their pro-Herriot demonstrations and complaints in parliament about the Fascist Leagues. Now the workers were in the factories, and the suddenness, the cohesion and the mass-weight of the movement, paralysed the Government.

The workers received reinforcement. As always happens when the workers show courageous and decisive action, large sections of the petty-bourgeoisie, the bank-clerks, insurance-clerks, waiters, the girls in the Galeries Lafayette, all the “Yes, sir” and “No, Madam” elements of the population who are, from the very circumstances of their employment, strongly subjected to the whole bourgeois regime, followed the proletariat and joined in the strike. “The Soviets everywhere.” The words shouted at meetings for years now acquired an immediate practical significance. On the countryside the agricultural workers began to invest the farms. A Communist Party that had used the two previous years in adequate preparation would have been master of the situation with all its potentialities. The stay-in strike was spontaneous only in a limited sense. It was the product of the whole previous historical period which began on February 6. If a Communist Party had placed openly before the workers the ultimate necessity of armed struggle, had prepared for it, but had at the same time given critical support to a Popular Front, their votes would have been no less and, though the suddenness of the workers’ movement might have surprised them, the Soviets so thoroughly popularised would have been formed at once, and workers and State would have faced each other with the workers holding the initiative. Even as it was, despite all the previous misdeeds and treacheries, the Communist Party of France had the leadership of the nation in its hands. The revolutionary impulse of the united masses, always stronger on the day than all but the greatest of revolutionaries can hope for, had transformed the relationship of forces in a day. Breaking at once with the Popular Front the Communist Party could have even then called for the formation of Soviets. The response would have been instantaneous. “Les Soviets partout.“ The words were ringing through all France as Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité had resounded in the days of July 1789.

Still more easy would it have been to demand the expulsion of the bourgeois from the Government. The Soviets could have dealt with the economic demands as a whole, and linked with them political demands, the immediate arrest of the leaders and the disarming of the Fascist leagues, the dismissal of the most reactionary officers, the improvement of the living conditions of the soldiers, and the democratisation of the army, which would have split it for and against the workers at one stroke. The Government was powerless. So it was on July 14, 1789, so it was in the early days of 1848, so it was when the Commune began, in the great strike in the revolution of 1905, in the March days of 1917, in Germany in November 1918, in Germany on August 11, 1923, in Spain in August 1931, as it always is in the first spontaneous outburst of the masses in a revolutionary period. The masses act and create a situation. Revolutionary leaders must recognise it and act on it, for such chances come very very rarely in history. In France in June 1936 the particular method of attack chosen by the workers, seizure of the factories, had made the situation absolutely impossible for the bourgeois. They could not send the soldiers into the factories to shoot a million workers out of them. How many factories would have survived the wreck? And in such circumstances no army can be trusted. It was not only the million and a half men in the factories and the middle-class strikers. The whole working-class of France was supporting the strike. We have statistical evidence of that, for a few weeks after the Trade Union membership had moved from less than two million to over five million, “joining up for the class-war,“ as they told each other. Any movement so vast as to affect over six million of the population would inevitably have serious repercussions in the army, which would only show itself, however, when the army had been called upon to shoot the masses and these had refused to give way.

The petty-bourgeoisie could have been bound to the movement by linking the demands of their strikers to the workers’ demands and refusing to treat separately. Blum, not to say Daladier, would have had to make an early choice, with the workers or with the bourgeoisie, and either supported the Soviets or exposed himself at once to all his followers. The bourgeois Press, frightened at what it saw, lied voluminously about the strike. The workers were polite to the employers, but in many factories always had one of them as hostages. In the warehouses for perishable foodstuffs, the food rotted while they went out and bought what little they could afford, such was their scorn and contempt for the class they were fighting. And how ready for drastic action the men in the basic industries were can be judged from the following. On June 9, 537 factory delegates in the steel industry, representing 243 factories, met at Mathierin-Jaureau Avenue, discussed the situation with great passion, and sharply rebuked the Trades Union leaders who had negotiated the settlement of June 7. These delegates passed a resolution in which they specified that they could not accept the application of the agreement without a real upward readjustment of their salaries. They gave the owners forty-eight hours to accede, failing which they would demand the nationalisation of the factories. [6]

On June 12 the general settlement for the steel industry all over France was to be signed. The factory delegates had entrusted the agreement to Trade Union delegates, nearly all Communists. When they saw the terms, however, they refused to sign and immediately four evacuated factories were re-occupied. From there to revolution is but a single step. The bourgeois gave in. They had to, for this was a very different thing from a British Labour parliamentarian threatening the Tories in the House of Commons with nationalisation of this or that industry unless the employers do this or that.

To have led this movement towards revolution would need enormous courage, audacity and fortitude. But how else was any revolution ever led? And Thorez, Cachin, Marty, and the rest were fortunate in that they were not unknown, shabby men who had been to prison, as were Lenin and his band of Bolsheviks. All France knew them. They had a journal which was widely-distributed and whose circulation would have doubled or trebled itself if they had taken the lead. Outside of France there was Hitler, but every modern revolution will have to face the possibilities of intervention, and the Spanish Revolution was waiting to help them; the proletariat of Belgium was to follow the French almost overnight. If a general European war were ultimately to develop, then it could not begin under better conditions for the Soviet Union and Socialism than with the international proletariat in actual conflict with its bourgeoisie in three countries so closely linked as France, Spain and Belgium. Lenin, in 1917, worked on just such a scale, and because of that was successful. For Marxists the Permanent Revolution and international Socialism are not propaganda phrases. They must form the basis of all revolutionary strategy. That is the reason for the existence of an international. Otherwise the revolutionary words are not only meaningless; they are a positive danger. Only the actual development of events under the whip of their activity and their slogans could have told the French Communists how far they could have gone. Agitation, says Trotsky, is always a dialogue with the masses. The party gives the slogans, and according to the response of the masses knows how far it can go. Such were the possibilities of the situation which developed in June. Ultimate conflict is inevitable, and whether it comes soon or late, the workers’ leaders should have taken the initiative at once. But what they actually did, these infamous scoundrels, was to carry out to the letter the commands of their counter-revolutionary leader in Moscow and fight their hardest to break the strike and demoralise the masses. They did not want the workers to act, and they and the Trade Union leaders sabotaged from the first day.


em>Humanité of June 2 came out with: “The Trade Union militants, as they have indicated, are using all their strength to achieve a rapid and reasonable solution of the conflicts that are in progress.” What this meant the bourgeois knew. Powerless before the masses, they received unexpected help from these renegades. Paris Soir on the same day wrote: “Will they be able to stop the development of events? Those responsible for the Trade Union movement are undertaking this task with the hope of succeeding in it.” The Communists and the Trade Union leaders were not responsible for the movement. It had come from the rank-and-file, but thus early the bourgeoisie could see what they were after. When some eager workers began to run their factories themselves, the Industrial Editor of Humanité for merely reporting it in the paper, was publicly dismissed from his post. But the strike continued, and on June 6 Humanité began to fear a possible insurrection. “It is a question neither of demagogy nor of insurrection,“ they pleaded. “It is simply a question of making the bosses give back a little of their purchasing power to the men who have for four years lost up to thirty per cent of their purchasing power, and in some cases even more.” They knew that at any moment the movement might overflow from economic into political channels and the struggle for State-power begin. They fought to prevent it. “It is in the interests of the entire nation,” said Vaillant-Coturier in the same issue. Thorez, the general secretary, raised the slogan, “One must know when to end a strike.” Every word weakened the workers and strengthened the frightened bourgeoisie. By June 7 they were almost frantic, seeking to drown the class-struggle in the whole nation, Fascists and all. Vaillant-Coturier, in Humanité of that date, said: “What is outstanding in this movement, which grows from hour to hour, is ... the reconciliation of the opinions and religious beliefs, from the Communist and Socialist to the national volunteer, from the Catholic to the unbeliever, and the speed which characterises the work taken up again after victory.” The national volunteers are Fascists. Even the bourgeoisie were laughing at them: “The inspirers of the People’s Front,” said Paris Soir of June 7, “suddenly in the face of the fire that has broken out have adopted the role of extinguishers.”

But nothing could hold back the French workers from the satisfaction of their immediate demands. Blum, more active in those few days than any Social Democratic minister has been in all its life, passed bills hastily through parliament, and, peace being restored, the capitalists began quietly to sabotage by raising prices and at the same time preparing for the second clash which they knew must come. But to the Communists the strike was a warning. The workers’ movement was certain to break out again. Stalin did not want that. He wanted a strong, free and happy France to fight against Hitler. The French workers might go down, but Stalin does not pay the expenses of the International for the benefit of the French workers. The Communists therefore began to find the Popular Front too narrow, and to look beyond Radicals to those on the Right, who were unalterably anti-German. Since January 1936 they had thrown out the slogan, “The unification of the French nation.” Now they began to fight for it. Blum and Daladier were sympathetic to an understanding with Germany, and in opposition to them, Communist propaganda and agitation became one long incitement to hostility between France and Germany. They put forward the new slogan of a Front of Frenchmen. “Unity, unity, unity! It is on this unity that the future of our country depends,” wrote Vaillant-Coturier on July 12. [7] On July 15 they hailed the army: “It is to the honour of the people of Paris to have, in dignity, saluted its soldiers and its army.” They paid tribute to the Senate: “The Communist Party does not intend any more to yield to the popular custom of attacking the Republican Senate.” And on July 29 these anti-Fascists, who had all these years so exploited the French workers’ desire to fight against Fascism, offered the Fascists the United Front. “We shake hands with the sincere Croix-de-Feu and with the sincere National Volunteers, with all those who really wish the well-being of the people.” They began to attack the Socialist Party. It was Germany and the Red Referendum and “After Hitler, our turn” all over again.

The workers had followed with trust and confidence all the way. The advance-guard had begun to recognise, immediately after the strike when prices had begun to rise again, that Capitalism offered them no way out. Next time they would go further. They had submitted restlessly to the class-collaboration policy, and accepted the explanation that it was only a manoeuvre to gain the sympathy of the middle classes. But the hand of friendship to the Fascists began to open the eyes of some. For the moment the Spanish Revolution had carried the Communist Party to its peak. But the Communist Party did not want independent action by workers. It could have armed a battalion of thousands of men, organised public subscriptions for guns and ammunition, and marched them to Spain. The Blum Government dared not ask the army to shoot civilians who were going to fight against anti-Fascists in defence of a Popular Front Government. At that time any attempt at a Fascist coup d’etat would have been met by the full force of the workers, and the revolution would have been on the order of the day. The Communist Party, however, wanted the Plum Government to intervene so as to provoke the conflict with Germany at once if possible. Blum stuck to neutrality, the inevitable Social Democratic policy. Then in late August Dr. Schacht visited France, bringing Hitler’s proposals for getting a free hand against Russia. The Communist leaders, now frantically anti-German, threatened to break the Popular Front if Blum and Daladier so much as sat down to discuss with Schacht. It was becoming clear to more and more workers what were the real motives behind their policy. They continued to invite all who were anti-German, Fascists and all, to their Front of Frenchmen. The current of dissatisfaction began to flow more strongly, and on September 4 Leon Blum moved openly against them. On that day the Permanent Administrative Committee of the French Socialist Party passed a unanimous resolution:

“Roused by the campaign undertaken by the Communist Party in favour of a ‘French Front,’ which would be none other than an attempt at a National Government, it declares that the Socialist Party has never been called upon to give an opinion upon such a formation ... As a class-party the Socialist Party never hesitated to help in the constitution and success of the People’s Front.

“The Commission believes that it would be dangerous for the very aim thus sought after to seek alliance with the Groups that fought and are still fighting democracy and peace, the defence of which constitutes the reason for the existence of the Popular Front.

“It calls upon all Parties and Organisations of this Popular Front to maintain their union and their confidence in a form of action which is far from having exhausted the results that it should yield.“

The Stalinist bureaucracy despite all its clamour for the unity of the workers, was ready to make the International destroy this unity for the sake of its foreign policy.

Fascism in France has not developed for three reasons. First the bourgeoisie made a bad choice. Colonel La Rocque and Sir Oswald Mosley are aristocrats, and can never build a mass movement in the way that Hitler and Mussolini, sprung from the people, could do. Secondly, when the French Communist Party abandoned the revolutionary struggle, the initial cause of Fascism, the threat to bourgeois property was temporarily removed. Thirdly, the French bourgeois, always sensitive to the international situation, know that war may break out at any minute. The Popular Front Government, or some variant either to the left or to the right, will lead the masses into the war more easily than a Right Government. A Fascist attempt would bring civil war, and they would rather not risk that now. The Stalinist version of the United Front is not unity for action, but unity to lead all workers into Imperialist war.

The politically-minded of the workers at this moment when the situation is so tense have been thrown into confusion. The petty-bourgeoisies, without even the nominal gain of the rise in wages, are disillusioned. Doriot, an ex-member of the Communist Party, has turned Fascist and with the support of the whole bourgeois Press is seeking to pull the petty-bourgeoisie away from the Left to the Right. Trained in the Stalinist school of mendacious propaganda, and knowing the cesspool of corruption which the International is, he can supplement his attacks with documents, and is a formidable opponent. With the Stalinists sacrificing everything to anti-German agitation, with Doriot pulling at the petty-bourgeoisie and La Rocque and his armoured cars and planes waiting their chance to strike, the French workers are in serious danger. If they fight a defensive battle for democracy, they will lose. But organised for the Socialist revolution they can win a great victory. Will they reform their ranks in time? There is an even chance that they may. That the chance exists is due to Trotsky and a band of followers, young, inexperienced, with all the odds against them, but fighting the most difficult and critical revolutionary battle of our time. It is not only the bourgeoisie they are arrayed against. Stalin is using all the forces of the Soviet State and the Third International to crush them and their leader. He hopes to conciliate the bourgeoisie, but these implacable revolutionaries he knows he cannot conciliate. And he knows that if they succeed it is the end of him and his regime.


During the years since 1928 the groups of the Left Opposition could not form a successful party. In Germany they were only 750 strong in 1933, and were almost swept away in the debacle which followed the coming to power of Hitler. In Spanish-America they had made considerable headway, and in Canada, Cuba, China, France, Spain and Britain there were small or large groups, hounded always by the Stalinists, and unpopular in the working-class movement generally, because their criticisms of Stalin seemed anti-Russian and formed a suitable background for the unending mud-stream of abuse against Trotskyism. Trotsky, however, continued to write, to explain, to give advice. The Left Opposition always considered itself a section of the International until after 1933. Trotsky hesitated for a few months, but when Stalin declared that the policy of the International had been correct all through in Germany, and ruthlessly broke the German comrades who wanted to rebuild the International on a sound foundation, he realised (even then reluctantly) that the Third International was past all hope and set out on the task of laying the basis for a Fourth International.

In 1934 he gained asylum in France and came into contact with the French section. It was a small group, not quite a hundred. They published a weekly journal, La Verité. In it Trotsky wrote articles, but the group could not make much headway. Both the bourgeois press and the Communists joined in demanding Trotsky’s expulsion, and Humanité ran a campaign against Trotskyism. February 6 brought home to the old Opposition that the revolutionary period had begun in France. They set out on a lone fight for the United Front. When it did come they welcomed it, but quickly realised what the Communists were after. As far back as June, 1934, they began to press for a workers’ militia and a revolutionary programme. Revolution was on the way. The only way to meet it was by placing the perspective openly before the masses and, step by step as the class conflict developed, preparing for the inevitable climax. The Communists called these demands provocations. From that time on “Trotskyist provocations” have been a feature of the International’s propaganda. In August, 1935, the revolt of the workers burst out at Brest and Toulon. The Communists damped it down. The Trotskyists put out posters in Paris calling for demonstrations and action on behalf of the fighters in Brest and Toulon. Side by side with the police the Stalinists went around Paris tearing these down.

In June 1935 still less than a hundred in number, the Trotskyists decided to take the step of entering the Socialist Party, in order to make contact with the masses. The Stalinists, now working in close harmony with the Social Democratic bureaucrats, persecuted them ceaselessly, but their influence grew. The growth of the movement helped them. In America the grouping for the Fourth International, though relatively small, consolidated itself. A strong Dutch party stood for the Fourth International. In Belgium a large grouping inside the Social Democratic Party and a smaller one outside began to wield influence. In Spain, never a stronghold of Stalinism, Trotskyist literature had a wide sale, and a Spanish group with Trotskyist principles was formed. The new groupings began to make their voice heard. In May 1936 the French, now 500 strong and with great influence over the Socialist youth in Paris, were expelled from the Socialist Party, and formed a new party of its own, publishing a weekly paper, La Lutte Ouvrière (The Workers’ Struggle), while the Paris youth published a monthly, Révolution.

In the June strikes they came suddenly into prominence. Alone in France they issued the slogan of Soviets and sought to drive the movement forward instead of turning it back. The bourgeoisie realised where the real enemy was, and the Stalinists initiated a prosecution against them. Their paper was suppressed and warrants of arrest were issued against the leaders. What gave them significance was not so much their own strength but the storm of abuse which filled the Paris bourgeois press against them in this period. Le Temps ran three successive articles describing the Trotskyists and the Fourth International. Echo de Paris, [8] Paris Soir, and all the Right Wing papers wrote articles on Trotskyism and the Fourth International. Paris workers began to listen to them, and young workers began to join the party. Today they are over a thousand strong and increasing every day.

In Belgium the group in the Social Democratic Party put up a candidate in the elections, had 6,000 at an eve of poll meeting, polled 10,000 votes, and were within 300 of winning the seat. They were, of course, expelled, and a party is now being formed in Belgium over a thousand strong. All this has reacted on the French party. But of more immediate importance than all these things is the probable split in the French Communist Party.

Their shameless betrayals had been causing more and more dissatisfaction among the rank-and-file, which broke out when Ferrat, a member of the Central Committee, challenged the policy. He was forthwith expelled for Trotskyism. But he published the reasons for his expulsion, and Cachin and Thorez had to fight down the discussion in their own ranks. The revolt may be stifled, but given time, and time is all important, it must ultimately break out. The Stalinist policy is too flagrant and has reached its limit. Should, as is expected, some twenty or thirty of the younger Communist deputies in the Chamber break away, as they have threatened to do, they will bring thousands with them, and will not have to search for a road. The French section for the Fourth International is always in the public eye, has the ear of an evergrowing section of the younger workers. The Zinoviev-Kamenev trial has accelerated the process of Stalinist disintegration. Should the dissident Communists and the Trotskyists come to an agreement while the dissident Communists are still in parliament, a new perspective opens for the French revolution. The first few thousand members will be difficult to win, but once those are won, the Trotskyist party will play the leading part in the coming struggle and put the new International in the forefront of the revolutionary movement. All this Stalin knows, and knows too that he must at all costs prevent. He has openly abjured world-revolution. He is murdering the old revolutionaries in Russia. He is striving to make the Third International as innocuous as possible by making it shout for democracy, for love of country, for the League of Nations. He may even liquidate it altogether to assure the bourgeoisie that he will leave them alone, if only they leave him and his bureaucracy in peace. But he dare not do this while Trotsky guides the Fourth International. Organisationally the Fourth International is pitifully weak. But the work of preparation goes steadily on. Slowly but surely workers understand Stalinism. Many parties have declared for a new International, but are in opposition to the harsh principles of the Fourth. The various groups quarrel and dispute among themselves. But for Stalin Trotsky’s name as ideological leader of a new International spells disaster. For too long Stalin, and the Stalinists inside Russia and outside, have abused Trotsky and Trotskyism as counter-revolutionary. They cannot turn back now. Should Stalin liquidate the Third International by merging it with the Second, Trotsky’s case will be overwhelmingly proved and the revolutionary movement in Europe despite its bitter disagreements must ultimately regroup itself around the Trotskyist Fourth International. The huge fabrication of lies and slander against Trotsky and Trotskyism in Russia will tumble to the ground, and Stalin and Stalinism will face the masses inside and outside Russia naked.


[1] For this section see World Revolution and the U.S.S.R., by M. Florinsky, pp. 219–248; the writer, though bourgeois in outlook, has grasped the essentials of Russian history since 1924.

[2] Lenin on Britain, p. 291.

[3] The Labour Party and the Menace of War, by R.F. Andrews, C.P.G.B.

[4] Peace – But How? by J.R. Campbell, C.P.G.B.

[5] It is obvious that these people are Communists no longer. The reader does not need inverted commas to remind him of that.

[6] Que Faire, Communist Review, July 1936, p. 15.

[7] All the quotations are from Humanité.

[8] 10th of June, 1936.

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