Michel Pablo

Letter from Michel Pablo to George Novack

From Toward A History of the Fourth International

Written: May 28, 1953
First Published: 1974
Source: Struggle in the Fourth International, International Committee Documents 1951-1954,, Volume 1 of 4 from the colleciton “Toward A Hstory of the Fourth International”, Part 3, Volume 1 of 4, pages 50-51. Education for Socialists bulletin; issued by the National Education Department of the Socialist Workers Party (US)
Transcribed/HTML Markup: David Walters, September, 2005
Edited and proofread:Andy Pollack
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line, 2005. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the internet address to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.

May 28, 1953

Dear Friend,

You have not written for a long time, nor have I received any news on the trip to . . . despite my insistence concerning this matter.

A letter arrived yesterday signed by Jim commenting on conversations by Stone. To whom was this letter addressed: to me, or to others beside myself—I do not know.

I do not yet wish to reply to Jim for this reason.

The meaning of this letter could be that we ought to intervene now in the discussion and to clarify our viewpoints on the disputed questions, at least myself personally.

In any event it becomes evident that we cannot delay in intervening in one way or another. The discussion has actually been open in the movement if only by the fact that your bulletins have been somewhat circulated everywhere, have been read and discussed. At the 13th Plenum, numerous delegates, surprised, some even disturbed, posed the question to me and wanted to know what the position of the IS was on it.

So far as the observations by Stone contained in Jim’s letter are concerned: naturally it is impossible to prevent this one or that one from claiming themselves to agree with my personal opinions. I want only to remark on this point that personally I have no other views and opinions than those of the official line of the movement, as well as my written texts, which are sufficiently explicit to permit no equivocal interpretation.

On the other hand, it is absolutely correct, and I have said so very loudly both to you and to everyone else, that George, during his stay here, very considerably contributed to the elaboration and success of the Third World Congress. Here he showed an entirely different political countenance than the one currently attributed to him. I do not deny the possibility that he could have changed since his return to your country and undertaken a wrong line in flagrant contradiction with his entire course there, more especially on the question of Stalinism and our perspectives in the United States.

But I confess that no text appearing up to now from the minority establishes this in a clear and convincing manner.

Naturally it may also be that orally amongst themselves the leaders and members of the minority discuss in quite a different manner than in their writing and that their real views are actually expressed orally amongst themselves. But you will have to admit that could not be a basis for us to make a serious and responsible judgment.

What I see up to now in the writings of the minority is above all tactical divergences—moreover of secondary importance—so far as the wholly immediate present stage in the United States is concerned.

On the other hand I do not at all share the manner of wishing to extract from these divergences, as well as from the criticism of the past line of the leadership on this or that point, a founded condemnation of the leadership for sectarianism or incapacity.

So far as the discussion on the special question of Stalinism is concerned up to now it has produced two important documents, Hansen’s and Frankel’s. I regret that Jim rushed to congratulate Hansen so warmly for his work. It does not contain errors as such, but simplifies too much, erases nuances and can give rise to summary and mechanical interpretation.

Frankel’s work is considerably more developed and on the whole remarkable.

If it is false to accuse any tendency whatsoever in the party for “sectarian Stalinophobia,” it is rash to accuse another tendency as “pro Stalinist” for having produced a document like Frankel’s.

I don’t know what you will do at the Plenum. But I have already written you and I now repeat it: In my opinion the real discussion ought to revolve around the prevailing concrete situation in the United States, of the situation of the workers’ movement, the tasks and perspectives of the revolutionary party.

This ought to be the axis of the discussion, without sacrificing the context to it, the latter naturally being nothing else but the world situation in its entirety.

Perhaps this discussion is now necessary but could be useful both for yourselves and for the entire movement only if it unfolds in a less heated atmosphere and without any obligatory perspective of an almost inevitable split at the end.

If during the developments of this discussion any people challenge by writing, in documents, or texts, the political or organizational principles of our movement, they will receive the reply and treatment that they will then deserve.

Finally, a last remark: The present struggle amongst yourselves is the result of a difficult situation of the organization, being subjected to the enormous pressure of the atmosphere now characteristic of the country and reflecting its consequences. This situation is in contrast with that of the whole of the rest of our movement, which in a general manner finds itself on an ascending curve realizing the greatest progress since its birth. Our achievements and even more our possibilities everywhere in addition are really remarkable and are even becoming ex

Excellent to the extent that the crisis of capitalism is amplified and the disorientation of the Stalinists increases.

The necessary condition for maintaining this ascending rhythm in the whole of the movement, and fully realizing the new possibilities, is the homogeneity, the solidity, the capacity likewise for constant political elaboration of its leadership.

In the entire struggle you are now conducting, it would be well if you do not lose sight of the global interests of the movement in its present stage.

It is absolutely necessary that I be able to see you this summer. Do not forget that.

Very fraternally, Gabe

Last updated on 19.8.2005