Ernest Germain

An Open Letter to the Editor of New International

(July 1946)

From Fourth International, Vol.7 No.11, November 1946, pp.345-346.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

I have just seen the May 1946 issue of your magazine in which you reprint an article as well as political theses which I authored.

In general, I have no objection in principle against the reprinting of my articles in the workers’ press. But I must strongly protest against the method you constantly employ, a method which consists in printing articles written by people outside your organization, in order to create the impression – by affirming “complete” agreement with these articles – that there exists complete agreement, if only on the concrete subject, between your party and the author. So first of all, I wish to state very explicitly that neither I, nor to my knowledge, any member of the Belgian Section of the Fourth International, is in agreement with the position of the Workers Party on the national question, the role of democratic slogans, and the strategy for the present stage in Europe, to the extent that your position differs from that of the Socialist Workers Party.

Moreover it is not very difficult to understand that you attempt to utilize this article is a polemic solely against sectarian tendencies, and not a complete exposition of the role of democratic slogans, as a means of demonstrating the “contradiction” between the political line of various European sections and that of the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party. Know then that this maneuver is too obvious to take in anybody who is aware of the facts of the case. Tactical differences will exist and do exist inside the Fourth International, but they have only a secondary importance compared to the programmatic differences which separate the whole International from the conceptions defended by the Workers Party and the A.K. of the I.K.D. Know moreover that there does not exist, to my knowledge, any serious differences on the question of democratic slogans between the leadership of the SWP and the Belgian Section of the Fourth International. In any case both organizations have expressed complete agreement with the formulations on the role of democratic slogans in the political Resolutions at the April 1946 International Conference of the Fourth International.

The articles you printed were written during the discussions with sectarian tendencies, ultra-leftists, who condemned our movement to sterility at the time when it was emerging into “legality.” Without claiming that the struggle against sectarianism has from this moment on been “terminated,” – unfortunately it will never be ended before the complete victory of our cause; and will continue, even then, a long time after it – it is necessary to observe, however, that at the present time the struggle against opportunist tendencies is posed with the development of our organizations and their penetration into the masses.

You would have acted much more loyally if you had first asked the opinion of the author concerning the publication of his articles in your magazine, and if you would have permitted him to introduce them with an explanatory note, reviewing his general conceptions in relation to the subject. Having failed to act in this fashion you have forced me to trace the line of demarcation between Leninism and opportunism on the subject in question in greater detail. But since the organizations which vegetate on the periphery of the Fourth International have not yet reached the same physiognomy on the question of the utilization of democratic slogans, all the opportunist traits which I denounce in the following article are not yet united in any one tendency or in any one person but are held by different organizations. That is why, without wanting to create “amalgams,” I prefer to fight opportunism “in general,” without citing names. Do not think, for this reason, that I am simply fighting windmills. The implacable logic of opportunism, like all other deviations, is consistent only in its errors. Every tendency which is characterized by the defense of this or that argument whose opportunist character I am trying to show, will evolve more and more to the defense of all the arguments, if it continues on the road on which it has started.

Brussels, July 5, 1946


Last updated on 10.8.2008